#ComedyBookWeek: Review of THE SECRET NOTEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Liz Hedgecock

Welcome back to #ComedyBookWeek, an annual online celebration of humor in writing. Today I'm reviewing one of the books featured in this event: THE SECRET NOTEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Liz Hedgecock.

Before we begin, let's set a little atmosphere, shall we? This photo was taken at 221b Baker Street last fall. As you see, Sherlock and Watson are still very much engrossed in cracking cases.

My Review
This book of short stories had me at the prologue, when we learn of the discovery of Watson's secret notebook at the site pictured above, now a museum. When you tour the museum you really do forget that Holmes was a fictional character, so it's easy to believe some old relic might be found hidden in a secret compartment of a drawer.

These newly discovered stories are from the duo's sleuthing partnership, so they're lighter fare than what we see from them later on. It's entertaining to watch Sherlock puzzle over cases such as how to divert the innocent honesty of a child from becoming an international incident, and what happened to the prize inside a Christmas cracker? What I most enjoyed about the passages in the Secret Notebook was the classic, dry Sherlocky wit.

Since they're all very short, these stories are perfect to have on a mobile reading app to pull out whenever you have a few minutes of waiting in store for you.


Meet Sherlock Holmes before he was famous!

The discovery of a maroon leather notebook hidden in the great detective’s sock drawer caused a sensation. Now readers can join Holmes and Watson on a romp through 19th-century London, in 29 new and remarkable early cases.

These humorous short stories feature appearances by Mycroft Holmes, Inspector Lestrade, and other familiar characters, as well as cameos from several well-known Victorians. They also contain numerous historical liberties.

Can Holmes and Watson solve the mystery of Mornington Crescent? Why are all the policemen whispering at Scotland Yard? Is the world prepared for the case of the Giant Rat of Sumatra? Read The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes to find out...
* Amazon US (FREE in Kindle Unlimited) * Amazon UK

 See the full #ComedyBookWeek schedule of events to hop around the blog-o-sphere for more interviews, reviews, and excerpts with heart & humor.

We'll walk deeper into the woods at Nancee Cain's blog.


On a separate note - don't miss the Amazon Romance Author Giveaways
hosted by Love Kissed Book Bargains.
July 18 - 31


Quickie Interview with Author Karen Tomsovic for #ComedyBookWeek

Welcome to #ComedyBookWeek, an annual online celebration of humor in writing. Today, I'm interviewing Karen Tomsovic, author of feel-good romance in contemporary urban settings. Congrats to Karen on her brand new release, HEART THROBS!

Those of you who've frequented my blog know that there's one question I can never resist asking an author...

Q. Nicki: If you had to pick one song that best captures the essence of HEART THROBS, which song would you choose and why? 

A. Karen: Since this is for an event about comedy, I suppose I should come up with something funny. But the “soundtrack” in my head for this couple is actually quite romantic. And comedy isn’t just jokes; it’s also form. Heart Throbs is a romantic comedy and one of the genre's tropes—whether in Shakespeare or Hollywood—is to have some sort of big wedding scene, either at the climax or as the happy ending.

While writing the first draft, I would listen to this CD of flamenco versions of popular love ballads. It was a CD recommended to me by a co-worker who was friends with the musician who recorded it and it quickly became a favorite of mine. So as I was writing I kept visualizing my couple, that would be Amanda and Darrell, dancing to this music in several scenarios: at their reception and then in the bedroom on their wedding night, and later still as newlyweds on some sunny terrace in a mountain setting.

Darrell’s a bit of a clown and merely a passable dancer, but Amanda’s more refined and graceful on her feet. She classes him up, but in dancing as in their life together, he proves himself worthy to be a suitable match for her.

HEART THROBS by Karen Tomsovic

Famous friends become much more...

Twenty-nine-year-old Amanda Monroe is about to make her white picket fence fantasy come true. The New York actress vows to wrap her role on a hit sitcom, marry the non-actor of her dreams, and put down the roots she’s always wanted—all before she turns thirty.

But when two irresistible movie stars come to guest for a week, one a leading man with a juicy role to cast and the other an old flame, Amanda finds herself torn between the life she says she's always wanted and an even brighter future.

 See the full #ComedyBookWeek schedule of events to hop around the blog-o-sphere for more interviews, reviews, and excerpts with heart & humor. 

Today I'm at:


On a separate note - don't miss the Amazon Romance Author Giveaways
July 18 - 31


A Whole New Meaning for "Indy" Author #IWSG

A couple of weeks ago Raiders of the Lost Ark came back to the big screen at a theater by my house It was SO exciting. It was also the first time I’ve seen the movie since hearing the infamous Amy Farrah Fowler theory on the film. If you don’t know, the fictional neurobiologist says the movie has a glaring flaw in that Indiana Jones has no impact on the outcome.

Do you ever feel like that as a writer? Like no matter how much time and effort you put into crafting stories, putting them out into the world, and then implementing brilliant marketing strategies, you always end up in the same place? Like all your work has no impact whatsoever on the literary world, much less your bank account?

Yeah, me, too. But then I figured out that Mizz Fowler's theory is full of monkey poop. Allow me to explain...

I had a new book release on June 15, and it had an awesome opening week. Amazon rankings like I've never seen before. All this without the help of a romance publisher, which I for too long convinced myself would provide the support, expertise, and credibility I'd need to succeed. And then guess what happened - Nickiana Jones friggin' smiled.

Y'know how whenever Indy allows himself a smile, a moment to revel in his success things suddenly take a downward turn? Yeah, that. Moving into week two, I realized my opening week sales wouldn't propagate all on their own. I couldn't just sit back and expect more and more new readers to continue to find my book. And THEN during my struggle to accept that I must regroup and continue to work my bum off, I saw the flaw in Amy Farrah Fowler's reasoning.

The point of Indiana Jones isn't that he succeeds in his quest to find the Ark and bring it to a museum for research. Nope. The point of Indy is that no matter how many times that man is shot down, beat up, bested, and thrown to the snakes, he gets up, resets his sights on his goal, and goes after it again and again and again.

Maybe I'm just too stupid or stubborn to give up, but I choose to be an Indy author. He may not always win, but he has way more fun that Belloq, right?

As part of my ongoing quest to figure this publishing thing out...
(you may need to think back to your pre-writer days)


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.



Dawn's Reading Nook: The Fourth of July FacebookHop and Giveaway

Dawn's Reading Nook: The Fourth of July FacebookHop and Giveaway: Welcome to the Fourth of July Facebook Hop, hosted by Love Kissed Book Bargains! With tons of prizes from over 100 authors and bloggers ...


Sneak Peek Inside NEW RomCom Release WHEN IT HOOKS YOU #SummerLovin

Today's the day my newest Chick Lit/Romance hits the e-stands at Amazon. We're welcoming it into the world with a review tour, hosted by the fabulous Lady Amber's Reviews. Visit any of the review tour posts linked below (on or after the day indicated) to enter my giveaway - prize is a $10 Starbucks Gift Card & a Beaded Bookmark, just what you need for settling into a good book.

But first, I think it's only fair that I answer the question I always ask of my visiting authors:

Q: Name one song that best captures the essence of WHEN IT HOOKS YOU.

A: Easy. "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure. The bouncy beat with just a touch of the band's trademark melancholy matches the mood of the story. And the sentiment is perfect for a girl who decides to commit to a life of no commitments. She's free to fall in love with a new guy every Friday. At least that was the plan... 

~ . ~ . ~

(I'll update links directly to the reviews as they go live - bolded blogs are those that've actually posted.)




~ . ~ . ~

I love the second-guessing that goes along with tiptoeing into a new relationship, don't you? Love stories would be pretty boring if both parties strutted into the whole thing with perfect confidence. But our boy Adam shows signs all along that his struggle is beyond the usual. He has very good reason to be cautious about this budding romance with Trish. Unfortunately, she ignores the signs and finds out his reasons too late.  Here's an excerpt that shows some of Trish's and Adam's early tiptoeing.

Excerpt from WHEN IT HOOKS YOU

Trish saw Adam Helms’ name on the visitor list, and her perfect posture sagged. She’d hoped he’d get in touch before his next trip to Chicago, but she hadn’t heard a word from him. Now he was here and hadn’t even attempted to make any plans with her. She could only interpret that to mean he wasn’t interested in a second date.

Probably for the best, she told herself. Not like it could go anywhere, anyhow. Yet she couldn’t deny she’d been hoping for more than a few transient moments with him as he entered and exited the office. Something about that man intrigued her. But if he didn’t find her to be equally intriguing, what could she do about it?

She was pleasant but reserved when he arrived. “Good morning,” she said, keeping any hint of flirtation out of her smile. “You’re a third timer now, so Michael asked me to send you directly to the conference room.”

“Thank you,” was all Adam said before disappearing behind the door to Michael’s side of the office.

Trish lost count of how many times her eyes went to that same door during the next ninety minutes. When Adam finally emerged, she was at the small kitchenette off to the side of the lobby, pouring coffee for a waiting client. She watched him glance at her empty chair. Then his eyes roved the room, stopping when they landed on her.

She immediately redirected her attention toward the other client, walking across the carpet in a practiced saunter—not too provocative, but not completely innocent, either. “Here you go, Mrs. Beneficence. Please let me know if you need anything else. Stephanie should be ready to meet with you in a few minutes.”

When she stood straight and turned toward her desk, Adam’s gaze flicked abruptly away from her, like he’d been caught staring. “Can I help you with something, Mr. Helms? Would you like a bottled water for the road?”

“No…I…” His captivating eyes were back on her. “I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” He stayed rooted where he stood, looking considerably less haggard than he’d been the last time he’d exited the office, four weeks earlier. Today he was poised and collected, debonair in his perfectly fitted dark suit.

His lingering attention caused Trish to waiver in her coolness. The earnestness in his expression certainly seemed to indicate he wanted more than transient moments with her, as well. She shook it off, resisting the urge to read more into his look than was actually there. He hadn’t called. He wasn’t interested. That was that.

She continued on to her desk and lowered into her chair. “Well, goodbye then.” She gave him a dismissive smile and focused on her computer screen. It felt awful being outright rude to him, but what did he expect? She was embarrassed at having been so forward about adding her name to his contacts. He’d probably deleted her information before he’d even gotten to the hotel.

“Goodbye,” he said. She didn’t look up from her screen, but in her peripheral vision, she saw him spin on his heel and stay hidden behind the plant until the elevator dinged and took him away.

Ten minutes later, with Mrs. Beneficence ferried to her attorney’s office, Trish’s phone buzzed with a text from an unknown number.

What was that?

Who is this?

Adam Helms


I repeat—what was that?

What was what?

In the office. Why could we hardly talk to each other?

I didn’t realize you wanted to talk.

I didn’t want to not talk.


I don’t know what I’m saying.

A few seconds passed with Trish not knowing how to respond. Her phone buzzed again.

I want to see you.

Her heart thudded against her ribcage, and her cold bitch mode melted away to be replaced by coy flirt.

You just did, silly.

Again. I want to see you again.


Too Much Information #IWSG #AmWriting

Do you ever feel like this?

I'm trying to be a good little author and learn more about marketing so that my books can find their audience, and it's awesome to have all these online resources literally at our fingertips, but MAN! There is so much freaking information out there! And everything's always changing, advice often conflicts, and it's just plain impossible to absorb everything.

So I'm simplifying. I just opted out of a whole bunch of Facebook groups, staying in only those I've actually found to be helpful in the past, and I'm going to focus on learning one tiny new thing at a time rather than trying to learn everything and thereby learning nothing.

My latest tiny new thing was to figure out Twitter cards. I noticed that some Thunderclap auto-tweets include a nice picture, some have no picture, and some have really awful blurry pictures. Websites that are set up correctly for Twitter cards are the ones that get the fabulous pics. That's why it's always safest to link back to your own site---assuming it's all set for Twitter cards, that is. I won't overload you with the details, but I have a Wordpress site, so if you have one, too, and you want to learn how to make sure its Twitter cards are nice & shiny, I found this article SO helpful (scroll to Yoast SEO plugin).

And hey, speaking of Thunderclap, would you please, please join mine?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.



Thoughts on Thunderclap #IWSG #AmMarketing

Thank you all for your feedback on last month's Insecure Writers Support Group Post in which I whined about wanting low-commitment marketing ideas for my book launch. So many of you suggested setting up a Thunderclap, that I decided to go for it.

I'd avoided setting up my own Thunderclap after watching other authors struggle to come up with the 100 supporter minimum. (If you don't know what a Thunderclap is, you can read more about it here.) No matter how big an author's following is, it's shockingly damn hard to get 100 people to sign up for an auto-post. Then I remembered the secret weapon author Cherie Colyer told me about...

There's a Facebook group called Thunderclap Campaigns - it's authors helping authors by supporting each other's Thunderclap campaigns. Everyone posts links to their open campaigns in a post and in comments, and we all clicketty clack to help each other get to 100 and beyond. It was so freeing to not feel like I needed to continually hound my followers for support. (One thing I'm absolutely DONE with is hounding people. The only thing it ever succeeds at is making me miserable.)
Benefits of Thunderclap

Besides the obvious - leveraging your social network reach with a boatload of posts going up around the webosphere at the exact same time - I noted these other benefits of doing a Thunderclap,

  • Drumming up support gives you a reason to post about your book without saying, "Hey, buy my book.". 
  • Supporting other authors in the Thunderclap Campaigns Facebook group is a quick and easy way to keep your Twitter feed active.
  • It's fun to watch the number of supporters and social reach go up! It's easy to get discouraged in today's glutted book market, so it's nice to have something positive to focus on during the tense days leading up to a release.
  • It was fun interacting with authors in the Facebook group. (Warning: if you participate in the group, your Facebook notifications will be out of control for a while because you'll get notified every time someone leaves their link in the same threads where you left yours.)

Thunderclapping Tips

  • If you're an author, join the Thunderclap Campaigns group on Facebook and actively support other authors and leave your link in the comments.
  • Really think about the message you want auto-Tweeted/posted. Don't waste the opportunity. Know what works with your audience. Simply shouting 'buy my book" does not work.
  • Take time to design an eye-catching graphic for the Thunderclap - it'll be visible whenever someone Tweets that they've supported your campaign and is another opportunity to get your book cover & tagline in front of people. 
  • Consider what time you select for your mass post. A lot of people seem to choose noon EST. Supporting lots of authors through the Facebook group means I've had a lot of Tweets piling right on top of each other at exactly noon EST. I'd imagine it's more effective to not be lost in a pile of other auto-Tweets.    

Did it do any good?

Meh. I don't know. Release day wasn't horrifying, and I didn't have many other marketing efforts going, so I'd say Thunderclap helped me do at least as well on release day as I've done with other books for which I'd put in a lot more marketing time and effort. Here are my results:

So, does 230 clicks mean that 230 people clicked on the link in my Thunderclapped post? If so, that's not bad for something that's free and easy. Yep, I'll definitely do it again - THANK YOU, fellow IWSGers, for giving me the nudge to try something new! 


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


New Adult Scavenger Hunt, featuring exclusive excerpt from 738 Days by @StaceyKade #NewASH

April 28 - May 1

***The Hunt is now closed***

Welcome to Spring 2016 edition of the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!

The scavenger hunt includes exclusive content from fabulous New Adult authors. As you hop around, collect the lucky numbers on each post and add them up to enter to win one of three HUGE prize packs of paperback books. But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! If you're just getting started, go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt website for instructions. 

There are three teams, each with its own prize pack. I'm excited to be a part of Team Purple, which means I get to feature exclusive content from Stacey Kade, one of the other Team Purple authors - I think you'll find her book quite intriguing. At the end of this post, I'll send you to Lisa Swallow, another awesome team member, for more good stuff. 

Just want to clarify that my book included in the Team Purple giveaway is a paper copy of the original version of Three Daves—the retro version when Jen and her boys were back in the 80s. In the new version, they’ve been transported to the new millennium and each Dave’s been given his own novella along with a host of other updates (including sexy new covers). 


Meet Stacey Kade

The daughter of a minister and a music teacher, Stacey Kade grew up reading Harlequin romances on the sly in the basement. Her obsession with IMDb and the entertainment industry in general means no one will play her in Scene It or Hollywood Game Night anymore. Her one brush with fame was possibly seeing Billy Crystal in an airport once.

Stacey's Website

Stacey's Blog


738 DAYS by Stacey Kade

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

With charm and heart, Stacey Kade takes readers on a journey of redemption and love.

Pre-order 738 DAYS here.

I wasn't kidding when I said intriguing, right? For the Scavenger Hunt, Stacey treats us to the exclusive excerpt below. 


Exclusive Excerpt from 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade

But I make my way out of my room and into the hall, heading for the stairs, expecting to find my family gathered in the kitchen, or if there’s a guest, maybe the living room.
Instead, in a repeat of earlier today, they’re gathered at the base of the stairs in the foyer. Only this time, it’s not just my mom and sisters, but my dad as well. And they’re not facing off against each other, but standing in a single line of solidarity—Mia, Mom, Dad, and Liza—which is . . . unusual.

Then I see the only other person present.  

Their seeming opponent—the mutual enemy that has drawn them all together—is one guy, standing with his back against the door, his head ducked down, the brighter gold bits in his dark blond hair glinting in the foyer light, and his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans.

Chase Henry.

My breath catches in my chest, and I wait for the panic bees to swarm up and start stinging.
But my insides are strangely calm. My heart does a quick little skip, but that’s all. Instead, I feel that weird flicker of . . . what?

Connection, maybe. Which is ridiculous because this Chase Henry is not “my” Chase Henry, for lack of a better term. I know that.

He doesn’t look as he did in the poster or my memory. He is taller than I imagined. I can’t see much of his face, just the left side of his profile, which is mostly in shadow anyway, but he seems tired, older. There are lines by his mouth, as if he’s been unhappy lately or spent a lot of time frowning.      

He’s wearing a battered work jacket over his T-shirt now. Nothing like the slick leather coat he wore in the poster and, therefore, in the room with me.

And yet, I can’t shake that feeling of a link, a bond, when I look at him. And with it, the odd sensation of being able to breathe deeper, like part of me was somehow waiting for this and can now relax a little.

Also a completely ridiculous notion. But this one sort of makes sense, in a crazy way. Chase, my version of him, was my security blanket. I needed him, a representative of home and the hope I was too afraid to allow myself (again, according to therapists galore), so my brain created him.

The real Chase in the foyer below physically resembles the protector I created so I’m reacting to him in the same way.

As if sensing my scrutiny, Chase looks up at me, those familiar dark blue eyes taking me in. 


Bonus Prize
In addition to the HUGE prize packs of books, some of the authors are hosting their own individual giveaways. I'm one of those authors. ;) What're you gonna need with all those new paperback books in your prize pack? A bookmark, of course! My prize is a beaded leather corset-charm bookmark. Enter to win it in the Rafflecopter below - this giveaway will stay open until Midnight EST on May 1. 

 Sorry. The hunt is now closed. 
If this isn't your final Team Purple stop, visit author Lisa Swallow's site to continue reading (posts may start to disappear). Be sure to look for my exclusive excerpt from DAVID: SOPHOMORE YEAR along the way. Have fun!

Also visit Team Blue & Team Red (posts may disappear).
The New Adult Scavenger Hunt is open from 4/28- noonEST 5/1


Rain Rain Go Away Hop #AprilShowers #amreading

Welcome to my post for the Rain Rain Go Away Giveaway hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

What's the best thing to do amidst April showers? Curl up with a good book, of course! My giveaway is a $5 Amazon gift card and your choice of a Kindle copy of either my chick-lit romance VIBRIZZIO or my women's fiction/love story DIVINE TEMPTATION.

The Prizes

On the last day of this hop, THREE DAVES parts 1-3 will be released to the world! Party on the campus of Central Illinois University with undergrad Jennifer Whitney as she learns about life and love through her adventures with three guys named Dave.

Special Pre-order Pricing through April 26

Jennifer Whitney always expected to save her virginity for that special someone. But the nineteen year old college sophomore is tired of waiting for the universe to bring him to her—especially while everyone around her is gaining valuable experience in the bedroom…and in the library stacks and in conversion vans…

Afraid of falling behind, she decides to lose her virginity to her friend David, someone she’d never ever risk a romantic relationship with after what he did to her. Trouble is, she’s been crushing on David since freshman year. Can she really take that step with him and not fall into the trap of hoping things will turn real?

“I asked my interior designer to give me something appropriate for defiling virgins.”

With solid sexual experience under her belt, Jennifer Whitney is determined to return to her good girl status until she meets the right guy. Sexy super-senior Dave is not the right guy. But his mesmerizing eyes and sensual swagger have a way of making up for that—especially when he gives Jen the kind of attention she never dreamed she’d get from someone like him.

Her roommate doesn’t like him. Her friend David isn’t his biggest fan, either. But neither of them understand the persuasive powers of Dave’s delicious tongue and his tiger-like growl. Jen’s proud of herself for resisting his many temptations, yet she knows Dave won’t stick around forever if she never gives him anything…

“Come on, good girl. Be bad.”

Big D is wonderful. Big D is perfect. Big D is taking way too long to make a freaking move. Self-proclaimed good girl Jennifer Whitney never thought she’d be the aggressive one in a relationship. But what choice does she have when her big, beefy hunk of a boyfriend treats her like fragile glass? She knows she can’t let him keep thinking she’s a virgin, but no way can she explain how she lost it, especially when D’s already suspicious of her friendship with David—the guy she lost it to.

By the end of senior year, Jen thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s forced to rethink who she is and what she wants during one crazy weekend when she has a close encounter with all three of her Daves.

“Of all the fraternity houses on campus, you had to walk into mine.”
~Big D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: hosts & participating hop bloggers are not responsible for sponsors or self-sponsoring bloggers that do not fulfill prize obligations.

Thanks for stopping by. Now, hop on, my friends, and win many great things!



Leveraging Time #IWSG #amwriting

In the first IWSG post of the year, I vowed to spend more time on writing and less time on all the other stuff that goes along with being a published author. So far so good. I recently finished the first draft on a new novel---hooray! But now comes the true test of my focus on writing.

As you may notice in my sidebar, I've just had three new novellas go on pre-order (a reboot of my debut novel). I've got to do something to promote them, but I've also got to be a ton more efficient with my marketing time than I've been in the past. That's were you come in...

I'd love any tips you have on effective ways to get the word out on a book that don't suck up exorbitant amounts of time. What promotional efforts give authors the best bang for their buck and minutes.


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


#London Inspirations for WHAT THE CLOCKS KNOW by @RumerHaven - Out Today!

Remember when I went to London last fall? I mentioned that I was staying with my favorite author in the whole wide world. That author is ... Rumer Haven! She also happens to be my sister - which is one reason she's my favorite author. The other reason is because she's a damn fine writer. I'm excited to have her here today to tell you about her latest release, which I can't wait to dig into this weekend.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Nicki! As you know from your own London travels, this city is loaded with hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunted sites. I had always wanted to write a ghost story, but it wasn't until I moved here that I found myself surrounded with inspiration. It's the perfect setting, and I think the ghosts quite fancy it, too. :)

But that's the city in general. As for the settings within the setting, What the Clocks Know takes place in several London locations that I've frequented. Here are my top 5:

1. Brompton Cemetery

"Who is Charlotte? The name on a local gravestone could relate to Margot’s dreams and the grey woman weeping at the window," quoth the book summary, and yep, Charlotte is real. The life I've created for her is only a figment of my imagination, but I took my character's name directly off of a gravestone at Brompton cemetery and decided to send my protagonist Margot there, too, for a few key scenes. This was one of the first spots I visited on my first full day after moving to London. I stumbled upon it purely on accident, and it's been my favorite, most peaceful place ever since.

2. The Troubadour Cafe

The Troubadour is an iconic establishment renowned for its music scene. It's the first place where Bob Dylan ever performed in London and has also seen the likes of Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Elvis Costello. Founded in the 1950s as part of London's coffee house revival, one can only imagine the creative and intellectual minds that have converged here over the decades, and I personally find it a wonderfully cozy place to read and write with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Hanging out there with author Nicki Elson is pretty awesome, too! I just had to send my Margot there as well for one of the book's scenes.

3. Ye Olde Cheschire Cheese

While not mentioned by name in the book, this is the old pub that Margot marvels was rebuilt in 1667 after London's Great Fire of 1666. With cellars dating back centuries even before that, this quintessential pub is tucked just off the beaten path of Sweeney Todd's Fleet Street. Charles Dickens was a regular there, and it'll always be one of my top London favorites. When Margot runs into a friend near St. Paul's Cathedral, I send them to Ye Olde Cheschire Cheese for warm lunch, ale, and shelter from the rain.

4. Camden Catacombs

Okay, so I've only seen pictures of these on the Internet, but I've visited the Camden Stables Market a few times. The "Catacombs" were actually underground stables, as horses were needed for the railways and towing barges along the canal. As they can easily flood, these subterranean tunnels are closed to the public, so I could only let my imagination wander down there with Margot. But if you go to the nearby Proud Camden club, you can have a private party in one of the stables there! An edgy art and music mecca, this neighborhood was home to Amy Winehouse and has a vibrant day and night scene. It's also the namesake of the fictional Camden Court apartment building in my debut novel, Seven for a Secret.

5. Churches: St. Paul's Cathedral, Chapel Royal, St. George's Chapel

I'm making this a three-in-one deal, as none of these churches are settings of actual scenes in the book. However, they all do appear in Margot's journal entries as she chronicles her experiences in and around London. St. Paul's readily becomes a beacon of sorts to her, standing tall and benevolently in the city's center. She writes about going to a debate there, which is based on a series of such that I attended myself soon after moving here. The cathedral reappears later in the story, too, as the backdrop to Margot's lunch with her flatmate.

The Chapel Royal is located within Hampton Court Palace, which itself is located just outside London near Wimbledon and was Henry VIII's favorite palace. Margot visits here early on and writes about the oval above the altar, a symbol of rebirth. St. George's Chapel is located at Windsor Castle, residence of the current Queen Elizabeth. Her parents and other royalty are buried in the chapel, including Princess Charlotte, whose 19th-century monument appears to Margot in a dream.

Welp, that's it for my little London tour today, but I hope you'll visit these places, too, someday--if not in person, then in What the Clocks Know!

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know: Finding a ghost isn't what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte's past. Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women's fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

"A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting." ~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series


** Add it! **
** Read it! **

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Author Bio:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website * Facebook * Twitter: @RumerHaven


Writing What You DON"T Know #IWSG

"Write what you know" is common advice to writers, and for the most part, that's what I do---mostly out of sheer laziness. But there is a downside to it, at least in the romance genre where I play. I've learned that romance readers tend to have a zero tolerance policy toward anything in the story that isn't romance. When I give my characters jobs that I've worked or a faith that I practice, I have to be careful about over-informing the reader.

Significant paring back happens during my second and third drafts and then again during the editing process. And still I get complaints here and there about the bits I left in regarding investment analysis---in a story where two characters get to know each other through a business project---or Catholicism---in a story about a freaking angel.

So here's my brilliant solution for my current WIP---the main character is a lawyer. I know nothing about lawyering. I have no interest in ever knowing anything about lawyering. Therefore, I research only the bare minimum and run no risk of over-informing the reader on legal matters. This makes it easier to keep the focus on the MC and his romantic "journey" (as the producers of The Bachelor would have us all say).

I still think "write what you know" is good advice, but there's a definite upside to writing what you don't. Have you ever written what you don't know and purposely not done a ton of research?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


A Happily Never After by @Debra_Anastasia

Congrats to Debra Anastasia on the release of THE REVENGER! As you'll see, it's a different kind of superhero story. I dare you not to be intrigued after this blurb, trailer & a short excerpt...

The real hero of this story is dead. You should have met him. He was a beautiful man. The love of my life. I didn’t deserve him.

Now what’s left are the jagged edges of the person I am without him, and what I have to do to get by. This isn’t even a story about love. Not really. It’s a twisted tale of revenge and hate—a happily never after.

The only man in my life now is the one I have to kill.

I’m Savvy Raine.
I used to be a wife.
I used to be a mother.
Now I am the Revenger.


“What the hell are you?” He searched frantically for the door latch, his panic making him oblivious to the open top of the Jeep above him.

He didn’t deserve an answer, and he wouldn’t get one. Only in her head would she respond. She pulled him from the backseat and held him aloft, thinking, I’m a mom without a reason. I’m a person without a life. I’m dead with no escape.

Nook * Kobo * Tolino * Print 


Knowing Better - guest post with @AriaGlazki

Congrats to author Aria Glazki! Yesterday was the re-release of her debut novel, MENDING HEARTSTRINGS! Here she is to give us a little more insight into the book (you'll be positively shocked by the question I asked her ... or maybe not.)

Take it away, Aria...

When we were discussing my visit here on her site, the lovely Nicki Elson asked me to name one song that captures the essence of Mending Heartstrings. While I can't quite do that, because a book usually runs through far more emotions than one song does—especially a book with a musician!—there is one song that absolutely always brings to mind the first chapter and how these two first meet.

Sabella and Kane meet when she's on a research trip to Nashville. They literally bump into each other at a bar, and at first the brief introduction that follows seems like that will be that. But Kane's charm and a few drinks and the beauty of the city at night keep drawing out the time they spend together until they eventually, and reluctantly, say goodbye.

This song by the Civil Wars perfectly nails on the head the mantra going through Sabella's head as this is all happening. She is a firmly pragmatic character who tries to follow her head more than her heart, and yet spending this time with Kane is so tempting she wants to ignore all of that hard-learned practicality. By the end of their night together, Kane asks her an important question, but this mantra determines Sabella's answer despite her underlying desires.

"If I didn't know better... Dammit, I do."

Kane, of course, encourages Sabella to ignore all those practical issues, if only for one night. And if she hadn't know "better," everything could have worked out differently. But Sabella couldn't ignore her pragmatic side for any longer than her and Kane's few hours together, and so, for better or worse, they go their separate ways.

What do you think of this song? Have you ever wondered what could have happened if, for just one moment, you hadn't known "better"?

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To Cringe or Celebrate? #IWSG

Holy schmoly, January's already over and we're barreling ahead straight through 2016. But my fear of time is more appropriate for a different kind of therapy group. Today we're talking writing.

Last fall I faced something that, upon reflection, I think very well had the potential to cripple me as a writer. I dug into my original novel with an aim to make a few changes (you can get the full scoop in my January newsletter), and while I was in there, I figured I'd clean out some adverbs & whatnot. But what I found inside was much, much worse.

I'm one of those writers who doesn't read her books once they're out in the world. I know it'll only cause itchy fingers to tweak more. After a whirlwind editing process on this particular novel, all I'd ever read were small excerpts pulled for promo. With the full manuscript cut open and once again in front of me, I saw not only excessive adverbage; I found way too many dialogue tags and repetition in the narrative of what had already been conveyed in dialogue. I found judgmental passages unfitting for the overall tone of the story. Worst of all, I found abundant amounts of telling not showing. *gasp*

It was enough to get the mantra "I suck; I suck; I suck," playing through my brain. But then I realized something---2015 me saw the things 2010 me hadn't. Part of that sight comes from simply having been away and coming back fresh, but the bigger part comes from five years of learning. Through writing more stories and having them critiqued, editing and critiquing others, and networking with other writers to share insecurities and tips (thank you!), I've become a better writer. And that's something to celebrate not cringe about.

How about you---do you notice differences in your writing now versus five years ago?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Cover Reveal: Mending Heartstrings by @AriaGlazki

Congratulations to Aria Glazki on the upcoming re-release of MENDING HEARTSTRINGS. The fun begins with the reveal of the brand new cover.

Mending Heartstrings Cover Reveal

The long-awaited release of the gorgeous new cover for Mending Heartstrings is here! What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Cover design: Christa Holland at Paper & Sage
Publication date: February 9, 2016

Kane’s a country singer who’s tangled with too many deceitful women. He’s learned his lesson: girls are for flirting and fun; emotions are for his music. But after spending a night with an earnest woman unlike any he’s known, he can’t force her out of his mind. So he goes in search of the woman he knows only as “Elle.” On her last night in Nashville, the staunchly pragmatic Sabella found herself in a situation more suited to a romance novel than reality. Swept away, she ignored her rigidly self-imposed rules, succumbing to the fantasy just this once. But she knows real-world relationships have nothing in common with their fictionalized portrayals. When Kane unexpectedly shows up at her Portland apartment, she must choose between the practical truths she has learned and the desire for a passionate love she has struggled to suppress. Despite the distance, Kane’s tour schedule, and their meddling friends, both are drawn to the chance for a romance neither quite believes is possible.

Preorder Your Copy!
Amazon US - UK - CAN |  Smashwords  |  iBooks

About Aria:

Aria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!

Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published here and there. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together—if they don’t get in their own way, that is.

Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


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Big Plans & Tempered Expectations #IWSG

I go into the new year with big plans and tempered expectations. It's quite nice to have reached this stage of maturity in the publishing biz. This year I'm finally, finally going to keep my writing life focused on where it should've been all along---on writing.

As I said in a previous IWSG post, I believe a book's commercial success all comes down to: 1) compelling story, 2) appealing cover/blurb/premise, 3) the right timing, and 4) magic. I only have control over the first two, so that's where I'll focus my efforts.

If 3 & 4 don't come through for me---or if I get 1 & 2 wrong---I'll no longer waste time and energy in a scramble to build a false fire under my books with a bevvy of online promotions as kindling. You know what I'll do, instead? I'll write something else. Not because I buy into the theory that  more books automatically lead to more success, but because I like writing. It makes me happy. And every time I do it, I get better at it.

My goal for 2016 is to always have an exciting new project waiting in the wings as I finish up on a current one. By the end of the year, I hope to have two new novels, a re-release of my debut novel, and possibly a new twisted fairy tale out in the world. There, I said it. Now I better get to doing it.

Happy 2016, everybody! Hope your year is off to a smashing start.


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


#Survivor FINAL 7 Playlist & Predictions #SurvivorSecondChance: Cambodia

It's happened. My obsession with the 31st season of CBS's Survivor (Survivor Second Chance: Cambodia) has spilled into a playlist. This has to be my all-time favorite collection of final seven players. Below is my tribute to them---with a theme song for each player at this point in the game, plus a bonus for all those who've been voted out.   

(File this post under: What Happens When Nicki Cleans Her House. My imagination has too much time to play and usually ends up stuck somewhere completely unproductive...is how I became a writer in the first place.)

The order of songs isn't random, I've ranked the players by who I think has the best chance of making it to final tribal AND winning the whole shebang. I explan my choices below. Even if you don't watch Survivor, I hope you enjoy the playlist

#1 Spencer - "Levitate I've admittedly been in the young lad's corner since before he set foot on the beach, but he's playing a smart, independent game and has had to overcome many obstacles. The jury's gotta respect that. From my comfy sofa at home, he looks to be a big threat, but I'm not sure his fellow players see it the same way from their vantage point, so I think his chances are good of making it to final tribal. 

I know this song is about drugs, but it's got some great lyrics that reflect Spencer's gameplay: "F*** you, I'm by myself."  Survivor's Charlie Brown has learned the hard way how to play this game by himself. "Just when you think that true love's begun, It goes off at any second just like a loaded gun" 'Cuz he doesn't let friendship determine his vote. "Wondering how to fix these damages" His independent play calls for fancy footwork with the people he wants to keep trusting him. 

#2 Kelley - "Trouble is a Friend Girl's got game - and a hidden immunity idol! Every week I've thought the others were fools to keep her around as long as they have, but like with Spencer, she's playing a great manipulation game, and I think she's keeping her savvy masked better than he is.

In this song, Kelley is the trouble: "(S)he waits in the wings, (s)he's gotta play a part"  and I think the cute, spunky beat fits her personality.

#3 Jeremy - "The Gauntlet"  If the man makes it to final tribal, he's gonna win hands down, no matter who he's up against. The jury loves him. And what's not to love? The trouble is, everyone around him knows he'll win, so I can't see him making it all the way to final tribal. 'Course, he's also got a super secret hidden idol...

The determination reflected in this song is what makes me think of Jeremy's gameplay. And the chorus is so him: "Stand up and fight, and I'll stand up with you," especially when he played that idol on Stephen. When he's your friend, he's your friend to the end.

#4 Tasha - "Paper Planes"  The lyric I like most for her at this point in the game is "If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name" because she's got options. I think she legitly wants to stick with Jeremy and Spencer, but she can always change her mind if something doesn't feel right and jump on with the all-girl alliance - doing so is the only way I can see her taking home the win.

She was a "bonafide hustler" makin' her name when she saved herself and Savage at Angkor by courting Abi. That alone ought to win her jury points.

#5 Keith - "Beat the Devil's Tattoo"  The emotionless tone of this song amid the unfavorable conditions it depicts feels very Keith to me. He doesn't let the elements or lack of food bother him, and he'll stick to the plan with zero weight given to his personal feelings. Yet I think it's his warm personality that'll win him votes over the two players below.

"You're body's aching. Every bone is breaking. Nothing seems to shake it. It just keeps holding on" is a testament to Keith's physical fortitude. He even stood strong in a situation where Joey Amazing went down. Come on! That should also win him some votes.

#6 Kimmi - "Misery Loves Company"  She's laid low through a lot of the season, but she came alive last episode. These lyrics seem to reflect her current attitude toward the Jeremy/Spencer alliance: "Do I need you? Yes and no" and "You're so easy to read, but the book is boring me."  And let's not forget her "I'm not for you; you're not for me. I'll kill you first; you wait and see" attitude toward Monica earlier on. If she can be that Kimmi through the next few votes, maybe the jury won't see her as the goat I'm afraid they've pegged her as.

Judging by some of her confessionals, "Hell is others" seems to be how Kimmi generally feels about coexisting with her tribemates, which I'm guessing doesn't help her chances of scoring votes at the final tribal.  

#7 Abi-Maria - "Psycho"  I mean psycho in the very best of ways. I admire passion, and she's full of it. She's definitely kept her opponents on their toes.

Her chances of making it into the final tribal council are excellent. Her chances of winning? Next to zero. She's too caustic to have made friends outside of a few, and the jury will likely see her as a goat, being led to the end as a weak opponent. I don't think that assessment's fair. She exercised an inordinate amount of power during many of the early votes, and she's 100% looked out for her own interests throughout the game - isn't that what Survivor's all about?

For everyone who's already been voted out - "Where's the Girl"  A song of betrayal and letting go.