Sunday, March 11, 2018

Beyond The Unicorns

Betrayal, lies, deceit, theft, false identities, professional jealousy, backstabbing, manipulation.

Sounds like a TV movie? A suspense thriller?

It could be.

But it could also be practically any week of the year in the romance publishing world.

Why does this matter?

Because someone, somehow, thought it would be a good idea to promote the concept that the romance world is filled with wonderful people who are always supportive and kind and trustworthy and have your back.

It's the rainbows-and-unicorns thing.

And yes, there are some stupendous people in the publishing world. Talented, lovely, gracious people who are true friends.

But just as with any other profession--and perhaps more with this one, because it is a creative field, and thus includes an immense amount of competition--there is another reality that is the opposite of unicorns and rainbows.

Some people suck.

A lot.

There is a huge amount of money to be made in publishing, and there are people willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get a piece of that chunky pie.

Just because the romance world is primarily women does not mean this harsh reality does not exist. Women are just as likely to be fiercely ambitious as men.

The stakes are constantly rising. More money, more manipulation, more greed.

It's hard to know who to trust. Sometimes, you make mistakes. Someone you think is a cool person who has your best interests at heart actually has *her* best interests at heart.

The first time you deal with this betrayal is like getting sucker-punched. Not only do you feel crushed emotionally--finding out a friend is not really a friend--but you also feel like a chump for giving and caring and helping, and getting tossed into the garbage at the end.

I have heard betrayal stories that are truly horrifying. One person had a betrayal so hideous that if it happened to me, I would have quit writing altogether.

But she didn't.

God bless her, she still has a smile on her face, and determination in spades. And probably a good heaping dose of caution now, which is not a bad thing. It's about self-preservation in this business.

What happened to her, and how she handled it, shows her strength of character and inspiring optimism in a field that is filled with landmines.

I'm sorry if this post seems cynical. It's supposed to be about having realistic expectations, and resilience after getting beat up, and optimism and faith in yourself after setbacks.

Romancelandia is not unicorns and rainbows.

It's the real world, filled with good people, and kind people, and cool people, and plenty of assholes, and wolves-in-sheeps-clothing.

Over time, your skills at sniffing out bullshit become honed, so you're less likely to get blind-sided. But regardless, it's a horrible feeling. 

Some folks are not looking for real friends in this business. They are looking for professional relationships, people who are tools for them, to use to get ahead. And they will climb over a pile of people willing to help to get to the head of the pack.

The trick is to figure out who those people are, and who your true friends are, and then squeeze those true friends tight and never let them go.

So, my advice to newbies starting out and old-timers who are still struggling with this competitive business is this...

Be cautious.

Be smart.

Be careful.

Know your true friends and hold them close.

Don't let the users get you down.

Have faith in yourself and your abilities and work on your strength and resilience. 

This is the real world, not Fabio with his hair blowing in the breeze, gazing adoringly at his gorgeous heroine.

The romance world is more like a middle-aged man with a pot belly and a bald spot. 

Real, but not necessarily a bad thing.

We can do this.



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Five Fun Quirky Films

As you all know, I love quirky stuff. Including movies!

The weirder it is, the better.

I especially respect film makers who are willing to take a risk and break out of the generic mold...even if it means the movie won't experience huge blockbuster status.

Here are some of my favorite quirky films, including some horror/sci fi in the honorable mention category.


This 1992 Baz Luhrmann film has all of my favorite things wrapped up with a bow. Quirky kooky Australian humor, wacky characters, an adorably sweet romance, fabulous soundtrack, and spine-tingling dance scenes. The costumes, the music, the whole ballroom dance vibe is the perfect backdrop for a bizarre Australian movie with one of the greatest happy endings ever.


Watch it!


Wes Anderson is all about quirk. Just the stunning visual component of his films is a good enough reason to watch. The colors, the composition. Swoony goodness! But it's the bittersweet characters, all struggling in their own way, that draw you in and make you hope for a happy ending. This is another crazy love story with a superb ending that will satisfy any romance lover.

Bonus: Bruce Willis!


This 1971 film based on the Roald Dahl book is pure gold. It captures the whimsy and wackiness of the original story, and casting Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is one of the greatest casting decisions in the history of film. (And I'm not even going to discuss Johnny Depp. Everything about this movie is perfection...the crazy story, the fantastic characters, the Oompa Loompas, the music, the SPECTACULAR scenery. This film is brilliant in every way. A+ QUIRK!

Also, so many quotes! "The suspense is terrible...I hope it'll last." Hee hee!


2013 film with Ben Stiller. There is a sweetness to this quirky movie that I adore. Walter Mitty's life is so miserable he spends most of his time fantasizing in a dream world instead of dealing with the tedium of his real life. What happens when this poor schmo finally gets the courage to break out of his shell? So many wonderful things! Great music, kooky scenarios--including a hilarious scene with a shark that made me snort laugh--and a sweet romance. 

Bonus: Gorgeous Icelandic scenery, which inspired our family trip to Iceland.

Whenever I need a dose of happy, I watch this one again. It's a keeper!


If you love dogs, and you love dog shows, and you love comedy, then BEST IN SHOW is your quirky selection! This is the perfect setting for a bunch of nutso characters obsessed with their pets and this canine competition. It includes laugh-out-loud humor and hilarious performances by Christopher Guest and his comedy group. Clever, snarky, and snort-laugh fun.

Bonus: Eugene Levy

Looking for more quirky options? If you like horror, I would recommend TREMORS, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and SLITHER. If you enjoy sci fi parodies, try SPACE BALLS and GALAXY QUEST.

I also recently watched and loved THE SHAPE OF WATER, a creepy quirky fantasy.


Do you have any favorite quirky films? Let me know!

Have a quirky day!



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope all of you have a wonderful day. I just bought myself some chocolate. 

Some 2018 updates...I have workshops coming up!

See my 2018 Calendar.

April: Southwest Florida Romance Writers Workshop


May: Cambridge School of Weston


June: Three Rivers Romance Writers Workshop


September: Toronto Romance Writers 
Northern Hearts Conference

For more info about workshops, see this link.


Have a wonderful Valentine holiday.

Love, Nina/Penny

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

If you had asked me, more than a decade ago, what my expectations were as I started my writing career, I'm not sure how I would have answered.

Honestly, just the thought of having a book published seemed almost impossible.

I treat my writing the same way I treat all creative endeavors...what can I make?

Can I take the story in my head and put it down on paper and make it sing?

Can I create something with these plants? These flowers? Cook something? Knit something?

Will it fail or will it taste good, look good, read good?

When I started my holiday series, I really only had one simple goal in finish a book.

Beginning, middle, end. Finish. Make the story that had been rattling around in my head take form and become something real.

Throw in a heaping dose of inspiration from the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by JR Ward--I loved the camaraderie of the brothers--and SWEET INSPIRATION soon followed.

I had five brothers. I had plans for five books.

I didn't know the path to get to the end would include a near-fatal heart attack, a bunch of professional bumps-in-the-road, navigating the world of teenage parenting, etc.

But I finally got to the end--last year--when I published the final book of THE KLAUS BROTHERS SERIES.

What did I expect to happen? A huge feeling of relief, a sense of completion, pride in my work. Yes.

But what I didn't expect--never entered my mind when I started writing that very first paragraph about Nicholas Klaus and his crush on Lucy Brewster--was how my readers would embrace this series.

My readers. My small and merry band of totally kick-ass readers who share my quirky sensibility and are lovely and supportive and send me notes and messages and gifts in the mail!

What I didn't expect was that The Klaus Brothers would become a holiday tradition for so many people. A way to usher in the spirit of the holiday. A way to remind ourselves about family and love and generosity. An escape from reality to a magical world filled with elves and Yeti and real heroes.

I honestly cannot believe how many folks tell me they re-read The Klaus Brothers Series every year. It's one of their Christmas traditions!

That is, hands-down, the coolest and most unexpected thing to happen to me as a professional author. 

And so, I would like to say Thank You and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my loyal readers. Hugs to all!

With much love,


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review for WANT IT by Elisabeth Barrett

Review for WANT IT by Elisabeth Barrett

As most of you know, I have a wee little problem with Harlequin in, I read them every day. They are my go-to happy place. To be honest, I have not been reading a lot of non-HP romance lately.

Until now.

I discovered a new-to-me author and she is FABULOUS! Woo hoo!

Order of events...

1. Was wasting time on Facebook and I saw this cover. I thought...Hmm, very nice! 

2. Read the book blurb...saw the words "six brothers" and "distillery" and "bearded" and I thought...Hmm, very nice!

3. I went to Amazon and read a sample. This is imperative for new-to-me authors. I've been burned too many times.

So, I read the first 8 sentences, and I knew. I knew this chick could write. Sometimes that's all it takes. Then I read a few more paragraphs and I bought the book. It had a great hook, was funny, and best of all...GOOD WRITING!

4. I started reading and I couldn't stop. Not only did I read the entire book in one sitting, I also bought book #1 in this series (OWN IT) and read it later that day.

5. Good stuff about this book: Setting that pops off the page in all the best ways. Portland comes to life. Barrett does a superb job with setting, which adds excellent texture to the story. The food, the local hotspots, everything. Now I want to go to Portland!

6. More good stuff: The distillery and its cool details. You can tell Barrett has done her research--particularly in the first book of the series. I love learning new things. I learned about whiskey and beer and wine and cars and...let's face it, a family brewery and distillery is a super sexy setting for a family of six brothers + cousins who are bearded, burly, and hot. Hmm, very nice!

7. I have a real soft spot for "family" romance, and this one is sooooooooooo good! Not only did I love the hero and heroine in this, but the secondary characters were fantastic. Brody's family is full of quirky, sexy men (with beards!) and Juliette's hilarious Italian family made me laugh out loud. The conflicts and dialogue were to-die-for. Barrett excels at dialogue, including the sexy banter between the financial wiz Brody and his gorgeous Italian neighbor Juliette. I really loved this couple!

8. This book is VERY sexy. Maybe a tad too much for me (Vanilla Penny *cough cough*), but it totally worked in this story. If you like sweltering hot sexy scenes, you'll be satisfied. (Pun!)

9. I liked the 2nd book a bit better than the first book only because I am pretty much a low-angst girl. The first book has more angst. WANT IT was just right for me...perfect amount of conflict, etc.

10. In conclusion...if you like well-written, well-crafted novels with plenty of sexy banter, quirky secondary characters, a setting that pops off the page, a satisfying and sexy romance, and bottom line high quality romantic fiction, this book is a winner!

Bonus: Beards. 

Grade: A

Have a nice day,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Viva Halloween! 5 Favorite Horror Movies in Watsonville

It's the most...wonderful time...OF THE YEAR!

No, not Christmas. Halloween! I'm one of those people who LOVES horror movies. But I'm picky. I don't like "torture porn" stuff--rather, I enjoy movies that are clever, suspenseful, and preferably with a huge unexpected scare and/or twist. I also adore humor and horror combo!

Here are five of my all-time favorites...


1. JAWS (1975) is one of the first horror movies I watched, and it made quite an impression. Even without high quality special effects, this film has stood the test of time. The story itself, the characters, and of course the fear of "Bruce" the shark, managed to transform good old-fashioned Cape Cod into a horror lover's perfect vacation spot. Steven Spielberg realized his fake shark pretty much sucked, and so he had to do a rewrite on set. Instead of having the shark be the center of attention, he made the fear of the unknown the scary part of this film. And it worked. I highly recommend getting the Collector's Edition--it includes a documentary on the making of JAWS and it is absolutely fascinating for a horror buff.



2. ALIENS 2...Although I do love the original Aliens movie, the sequel is my favorite. It's so great to see a powerful and courageous woman as the lead in a Sci Fi/Horror film. To be blunt, Ripley kicks serious ass in this film. I could watch it a million times! Also, I used this film as an example of insect colony morphology and development when I was teaching biology class. (You wish you were my student, right?) This film has it all...amazing special effects, the perfect build-up of suspense, and insanely scary moments. The follow-up films have not been as successful in my opinion, but this movie is a classic monster film. Love it!


3. What's better than chocolate and peanut butter? Horror and humor! When it's done right, it is so entertaining. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is possibly the best example of blending horror and humor I've seen. Simon Pegg manages to make us laugh and scare the bejimminies out of us at the same time. I just adore this film. Think quirky characters in a zombie apocalypse.


4. I accidentally watched this one on TV--not having any clue what it was about. I fell instantly in love with it! So clever, bursting with dark humor and horrifying monsters. It plays with the conventions of typical horror movies in a most satisfying way. Really just a brilliant movie. The whole idea of watching a movie within a movie, and how it spirals out of control, is lovely. If you haven't seen this one, check it out.


5. As a long-term horror movie fan, I am somewhat immune to real "scares" in these films. You pretty much know what to expect...scary music, stuff pops out, etc etc. But if I had to confess about the single-most terrifying movie scene I've ever watched, it is from THE RING. There is a scene in this film that literally made me JUMP out of my seat and scream. Literal jump, not figurative. I think my heart stopped. Holy shit. The whole film is interesting and atmospheric and creepy AF, but honestly, that one scene is worth the whole thing. *hides under a rock*

What about you? Do you have a favorite horror film? Do you love October as much as I do! Every year on October 1, I jump out of bed and yell "IT'S THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!" and my husband groans because he hates horror films. Hee hee!



Friday, September 15, 2017

Review for THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS by Barbara Wallace

After writing an impressive collection of romantic fiction, author Barbara Wallace decided to try her hand at cozy mysteries. And I'm SO happy she did!

THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS is an adorable cozy debut, filled with likable (and bitchy!) characters, a very sexy chief of police, a Boston suburb much like my own, and a lot of coffee from the local cafe.

In fact, this town is so very similar to my own Boston 'burb, I sometimes felt like Barb was in our very own Starbucks.

My town also has the gorgeous blonde mummies in their big black SUVs filling up a French Roast frequently throughout the day.

And I know for a fact they have secrets, too!

Not as exciting as the secrets in Barb's book, however. 

My favorite things about this book?

1. Sadie the heroine

She is a widow who is struggling with a career in real estate and firmly enmeshed in the suburban lifestyle...sort of against her will. She is likable and authentic, and I love her witty and often snarky observations about life in the 'burbs.

2.  Chief of Police Dan Bartlett

Yum! Super yum! The sexy new police chief is a romantic interest for Sadie, and their sexual chemistry is delicious. I love how he gets all protective of her. My favorite kind of fictional hero!

3. The town

I love the juxtaposition of pretty tree-lined streets and Boston 'burb charm with the sometimes sleazy stuff that goes on behind closed doors. Nice contrast. And perfect setting for mysteries!

4. The Bitchy Girls

This is so spot-on it's scary. Tight yoga pants and plenty of mean girl-attitude make for LOTS of possible suspects in a murder mystery. 

5. Sadie's side-kicks: her best buddy Rob and her son Tim

I don't want to spoil all the quirky details in this book, but suffice it to say Rob--who is a flirty British billionaire--has a hilarious secret of his own. And Tim is the son with an interest in prepping survival skills. I hope they get more air-time in the next book. Both have a ton of potential for this series.

6. The fantastic and unexpected twist at the end


I loved it.

THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS has all my favorite things in one cozy intriguing setting, an adorable heroine, pitch-perfect writing and a nice tight plot, lots of colorful characters, spots of snarky humor that made me laugh out loud, and best of all...for this romance-lover!...a budding romance with a delicious and protective hero. SWOONY!

Grade: A

I cannot wait for the next installment!

Off for my afternoon Starbucks French Roast...


Want to buy a copy?

Find it at Amazon!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

How I Accidentally Became A Writer Who Doesn't Write, and How It Sort of Saved My life

Folks have all sorts of reasons why they write. Some do it to make a living, some do it as a creative outlet. Some like being part of the community. Some people need it for self-identity.

I do it for the same reason I wrote stories when I was eight-years-old, lugging around my dingy white notebook filled with a first novel about Mandy, the girl who lived in a treehouse.

Because I'm a storyteller.

I actually feel most comfortable with this description of what I do. More so than "author." I get stories in my head and I write them down. Occasionally they win awards or sell a modest amount or make a bit of money. Not a lot. It's never been about the sales/money for me.

I am fortunate enough to have a husband who not only supports our family financially, but he also supports my writing as a creative outlet. 

So how is it that I found myself overwhelmed with deadlines and anxiety and a dread of writing and the publishing world that had turned something I used to love into something soul-crushing?

Well, let's see.

Starting the publishing journey is like rolling down a snowy hill. You start out as an enthusiastic snowflake, gain some momentum, turn into a snowball, roll along gaining more speed, and suddenly this thing that used to be about writing and creativity becomes about promotion and productivity and deadlines and it's not that fun anymore.

And when you have a lot of stress in your life--could be family stuff, other jobs, money, health, whatever--adding more stress because you feel obligated to publish a book every three-six months or get left behind--this becomes the straw that broke the camel's back.

Part of my writing stress is self-imposed. I'm an all-or-nothing writer. Once I dive into a story, I become all-focused. I think about it in the morning when I drive the kids to school, I skip lunch, I skip dinner (families tend to not like that so much), and my brain is pretty much a whirlwind of THE BOOK until it's done. This is just the way my process has always been. I have short intense bursts of creativity--I call it the "punctuated equilibrium" approach to creative writing.
What I noticed as I aged was that my ability to deal with stress--my resilience--was starting to crumble. Things that used to roll right off me were causing insomnia and anxiety. My brain was a jumble of stuff to do for the kids, the family, the dog, the house, and the book. 

Guess what wasn't in the jumble?  


I wasn't in the jumble. 

More specifically, my happiness was not in the jumble.

My days were about to-do lists and I rushed from one thing to the next, not engaged in the moment but focused on getting the next thing done. The next thing to worry about.

We only have so much emotional energy in our lives. If we use up all of it worrying about the kids or family or book, there is nothing left for us.

It's almost impossible to "remove stress" from your life. Being healthy is not really about removing the stress. It's about becoming better at managing the stress.

And so, after pushing myself to finish a holiday romance in time for Christmas (that's a deadline that can't be moved back, by the way), I decided to take a breather and figure out how to manage my stress better.

My initial idea was to take a short break--maybe a month or two--and then slowly work back to a regular writing schedule.

I took a month off. 

I took another month off.

I started to add "WRITE" onto my to-do list. But...interestingly, it didn't happen.

I did this over and over again, feeling guilty each time the day went by and the "WRITING" thing didn't happen. And then...I stopped putting "WRITING" on the to-do list.

The first time I did this, I was giddy! I felt like a kid playing hooky. How could I have a to-do list without writing on it? Impossible!

Actually, it was strangely liberating. I started to figure out stuff that made me happy again.

I made lists that had things like "hike in the forest" "have lunch with the girls" "plant pumpkin patch in the garden."

I told my husband I was stripping my life down to the studs, and then building it back up. I needed to get down to the very basic stuff I need to be happy and healthy, and then add back the extras. Figure out how all these pieces fit.

I spent a lot of time researching simple living and minimalism and Hygge and I came up with a list of things that work for me every day. And my resilience shot up. I became better at managing stress. And believe me, with a 14-year old teenage girl, I have stress that would make your hair turn white. (Yes, my hair is white).

These are the things I do each day to feel centered and happy. After nine months of not writing, I feel...better. Much better. I didn't intend to take nine months off, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Now I'm attempting a new writing process, one that feeds my soul instead of crushing it. I need to find a way to incorporate this into my schedule without it taking over everything else. And I'm ignoring every single thing about publishing and focusing only on writing. Back where I started. Over forty years ago.

This week was the first week back. It felt good to work on my book and to dive back into research and a new writing challenge. But I still managed my walks, cooking dinner for my family, and going out with friends.

It's not uncommon for women to overburden themselves with responsibility and to ignore their own health. I'm talking physical and mental and emotional well-being. We put our kids and family and jobs on the totem pole, but often we don't put ourselves there. Either we're at the bottom of the totem pole, or not on it at all.

I realized this year either I put myself on the damned totem pole, or I'm gonna fail. I needed to replenish my emotional energy.

Most of all, just needed to find my happy.

I found it.

Now I'm ready to write my happy.

Looking forward to a fresh start,


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Here's hoping all of you have wonderful things coming up this new, adventure, exploration, simple pleasures.



Monday, December 12, 2016

Doing It All Wrong...And Liking It

This is my wrap-up-the year (2016) post, and what's-ahead (2017) post.

What happened this year?

I turned fifty. I had a mid-life crisis that went on and on for months. I didn't write anything for almost a year.

I continued to feel like an outsider in Romancelandia...not just as an author, but also as a reader.

Politics gave me insomnia and depression.

On the flip side (the positive, happy place)...I am hugely proud of my kids. I am proud of my husband.

I traveled to Iceland, a beautiful and inspiring country.

I finished my Klaus Brothers series.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by incredible friends...people who are loyal and supportive.

I have an exciting game plan for 2017.

I came to a big conclusion about myself and my "writing career"...I am basically doing this all wrong.

All of the stuff I *should* be doing to have "success" (huge sales, make bestseller lists, etc.) are things I don't want to do...


1. Write a series of full-length books. Be consistent, create a cohesive brand.

Me: I don't want to write a series. I like stand-alone books, and I like shorter stories. I love trying new things. I like challenging myself with every new project. I like switching it up--from women's fiction to fantasy to children's lit to comedy. On the queue for next year is horror and contemporary fiction.

This goes against everything we're taught about making a cohesive, consistent brand for your readers.


My readers know every new book from me will be a surprise. Something new, different, unique. I'm good with that, and my small and merry band of readers are good with that, too.


2. Follow the trends.

Me: No.

I don't want to write NA or sports romance or jerky heroes or whatever the latest band-wagon topic is. I like diving into new ideas. Even if they're not popular. Even if I might fail. That's okay.

My new interest is exploring the relationship between man and nature. My projects for next year are focusing on that topic. I'm blending my background/interest in science with my creative writing. Yippppeeeeeee!

3. Be an aggressive promoter.

Me: No.

I'm not begging for reviews or offering bribes or gaming the system. I'm not interested in street teams or asking my readers to do stuff that is not their responsibility. As a result, I'm not one of the authors with hundreds of 5-star reviews at Amazon or anywhere else.

And I'm good with that.

4. Use social media primarily for sales/promotion.

Me: Do I promote on social media? Sure! Sometimes.

Do I also use social media to socialize? Yes. I like talking about plants and glass and my nature hikes and weight loss and dachshunds and cocktails and books I read and films I watch. Sometimes I talk about politics (on Twitter) and often I post pics of my travels and family (especially on Facebook, where I still have an old-fashioned account not a page).

My favorite thing about social media is socializing. I have friends all over the world, and that makes me really happy.

My main goal for social media continues to be chatting with friends, and occasionally using it to promote my own publications. It might not be the best thing to do from a business standpoint, but it's a good thing to do from a personal standpoint.

5. Crank out books as fast as possible to "feed the beast."

Me: Eye roll.

The treadmill for Romancelandia has gotten completely out-of-hand. Cranking out new material as fast as possible is now the norm. That's just not my thing. I want to take my time next year and create something really special.

I'm jumping onto the old-fashioned idea of "one book a year."

In fact, I'm clinging to a bunch of old-fashioned concepts about publishing that may no longer be popular, but they're working for me.

My take-home message following the mid-life crisis and fiftieth birthday and life-changing trip to what makes you happy.

I'll leave the rules to someone else.

I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Inspiring New Year and Happy Reading and Happy Writing!

Love to all,

Friday, December 2, 2016

Festive Holiday Reading Recommendations

Happy December!

Time for a few holiday recommendations...

1. The Seven-Course Christmas Killer by Rosie Genova

I just discovered the Italian Kitchen Mystery series by Genova this year, and I inhaled all three books within days. It is an adorable cozy series with a writer heroine, a family restaurant, lots of fun characters found on the New Jersey shore, sexy romantic tension, and plenty of delicious Italian dishes. This series is full of win! This holiday novella is a quick festive read. It has the perfect balance of Christmas cheer, tasty Italian recipes (like Nonna's Wedding Soup and Shrimp Scampi), and suspense. Treat yourself to the whole series! (The novella is only 99 cents!)

2. A Hanukkah Miracle by Julia Barrett

My friend Julia has released a very sweet Hanukkah novella this season. It includes "mature" characters, an interfering Jewish mother, and an unexpected romance. If you're looking for a lovely Hanukkah story, this is it. I loved it! On sale right now for only $1.99.

3. I read two fabulous books by Barbara Wallace recently, Winter Wedding for the Prince and Christmas Baby for the Princess. These are both part of the Royal House of Corinthia Series. Wallace always does a superb job capturing Christmas magic, and these two novels really got me in a festive mood. Both have plenty of romance and wonderful happy endings. Happy sigh.

4. Melting Mr. Frosty's Heart by Liz Fielding

This was my first read by Fielding, and it won't be my last. I was super impressed with her writing. She really packs it into this quickie story--gorgeous writing, characters who pop off the page, and vivid imagery. Now I want to read the rest of the series.

5.  An American Mail-Order Bride Christmas Collection by E. E. Burke

Burke is an author who does not get nearly enough attention...I am always impressed with her books. These stories were perfect for the holidays...charming, sweet, romantic, and filled with great historical tidbits. This is an excellent deal for only 99 cents!

More books to come...


Love, Penny

Monday, November 28, 2016



Purchase Sweet Destiny at...

The print edition will be out in a couple of weeks.


Happy Holidays To All!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane...Santa Style

About ten years ago, I got an idea for a romance novel that just wouldn't go away. It was weird and wacky and when I queried an agent she looked at me like I had lost my mind.

Which I probably had.

She gave me half a dozen good reasons why I would never publish this book, and why it would never see the light of day.

I thought my best selling point was originality. NO ONE ELSE HAD THIS IDEA.

Also, I was winning writing contests.

She didn't care. In fact, the originality was working against me. She didn't want original. She wanted this book to fit into a tidy little box.


I said, "I thought I was supposed to be one-of-a-kind, unique, original?"

I was a dumb-ass. I didn't understanding marketing.

A published author told me to delete the "Christmas" out of my Christmas story. I could sell it easily if it was just a regular contemporary romance.

A big name author told me I had to shave my hero. Big beards were not popular at that time, and she said this would turn off readers and publishers.

My book was too short. It was seasonal, the kiss of death. Newbie writers didn't get asked to join anthologies. Sex and Santa were a bad combination.

Well, the most effective way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't do it.

I didn't pad my word count. I didn't remove the Christmas from my Christmas story. I didn't shave my hero.

I kept querying publishers.

A year later, a small publisher told me they loved the book. They had a special section for holiday books! They loved the length! They thought it was sweet and whimsical and romantic!

A year after that, SWEET INSPIRATION was published.

Here I am, ten years later, and I am publishing the final book in the series. Is it a NYT-bestseller? No. Do I have an adorable bunch of readers who love the sweetness of this holiday romance series? Yes, absolutely yes. The best readers ever!

I learned a lot of good lessons with this series. I learned that there are two ways to approach this writing/publishing business. Neither one is better or worse, they're just different.

Some folks write to market. They see what sells, they write accordingly.

Some folks write the story percolating in their brain, regardless of market. They understand it might not sell a lot. It might not appeal to a publisher.

The Klaus Brothers have been on a rocky road with me. I learned about rejection with them. I learned how to write with them. I had a heart attack with them. I learned how to self-publish with them. 

I feel like Santa is patting me on the back and pushing me into 2017, a year for new beginnings.

Thanks, Santa!

And HUGE JUMBO GINORMOUS THANK YOU to my readers who have stuck with me on this journey, the bumpy road, the quirky path.

Gearing up for the holidays,