Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien

1 comment

Jaunty Post

Congratulations, Karlotta!  You’re the winner of the blog’s $10 Amazon gift certificate!  If you’ll email me privately at KOBrien@aol.com, I’ll send out the gift certificate to you ASAP!

To everyone who stopped by to share your favorite book settings, thanks so much.  My “to-read” list is growing!


amalfi coast morguefile

For the past few months, I’ve been living on the Amalfi Coast, where the water is amazing shades of blue, the air smells like lemons, and the gardens are straight out of fairy tales.

All that has been only in my head, of course. For these past glorious months, I’ve spent most of every day either writing my upcoming novella for the AMALFI NIGHT BILLIONAIRES series, or reading the wonderful stories written by my fellow authors in that series.  I know you’ve been reading about the series in some recent posts. :)

The Billionaire's Secret cover

Honestly, coming back home wasn’t easy.  I love where I live, but after the glamour of the Amalfi hillside villages and the glowing Mediterranean grottos, Florida felt a little flat.  

I often feel that way after I spend time in a novel with a great setting. I put down a wonderful book with a wistful sigh.  I frown, blink and… and then, for a little while, I walk around feeling completely dislocated. After having lived in a castle, on Mars, in a Hobbit hole, in a hundred-acre wood, I can’t understand how I could possibly have been transported to somewhere so mundane as my house.

reading legs up the wall istock purchase

The first time I felt that strange confusion of finding the real more unreal than the fiction was when, as a child, I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.  Yorkshire, with its wind-swept moors, creepy old mansions, and half-dead, half-haunted gardens, had so completely captured my imagination that it almost hurt to be returned to my own life.

yorkshire morguefile

After that came Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, and a hundred other wonderful novels with better-than-life settings.

How about you?  When you finished the Outlander series, did you long for the crisp Highland air? When you came home from Hogwarts, were you annoyed that your house doesn’t have towers and great halls and staircases that move? I’d love to hear which settings have swept you out of your own life and into their magic.  

I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll share! 



Vanessa Kelly
Vanessa Kelly


Jaunty Post

summer jobs

Are you a summer person? Are you sad that the days are finally starting to get shorter and the nights longer, and that soon winter will be knocking on our doors (well, not really, but you get the idea)?

Not me. I’ve never been a summer person. Hate the heat, hate the bugs, and I hate wearing bathing suits. Plus, I burn like crazy after only 20 minutes in the sun (that’s the Irish in me). I’ve always been the kind of person who loves wearing jeans and sweaters, and I simply adore crisp autumn weather. Until the thermometer falls below 65 degrees, I am not a happy camper.

But I think my true dislike of summer stems from my teenage years and the dreaded summer job–probably because I had so many crappy ones. It’s a right of passage, of course. We’re supposed to have crappy jobs as teenagers. And, hey, even a crappy job was better than nothing because at least you got paid. As opposed to no summer job in my family, which meant doing chores and running errands for my mom, and NOT getting paid. It was a fiendishly clever plan on her part to get us out of the house, and it worked exceedingly well.

Now, I never worked one of the cool summer jobs, like being a lifeguard.


Okay, I’ve already mentioned that I hate the heat and I hate wearing bathing suits, so lifeguarding was not a good choice for me. Plus I’m a lousy swimmer. But I also never managed to snag one of the coveted waitressing jobs in the resort town where my family spent the summer, or even one of the less cool jobs at the local ice cream parlour or bowling alley.

My usual summer job during my high school years was working at the local motel as a chambermaid–the kind of place with a tiny kitchenette in each room, and with a swimming pool surrounded by those beach chairs with the sagging rubber straps. The kind of place with lots of kids who made lots of messes.

I actually didn’t mind the job itself. I always got a certain satisfaction out of leaving a room clean and shiny (that’s the Italian in me). But in the two years that I worked at this motel, I swear I never made more than $10 in tips – total, for the whole summer. It was just not the kind of place where people could either afford or felt they had to leave one. Every day, my partner and I would carefully leave out our little tip envelopes, and every day we would come up empty.

Oh, wait. I do remember the one hippie couple who left me an absolutely huge joint. I’m sure they had no idea if I smoked pot or not, but I did appreciate the thought.

But my hand’s down worst summer job was also the most interesting one–working behind the scenes at the circus at Six Flags Great Adventure. Yes, they actually had a mini-circus with an arena and some really top circus acts–including an honest-to-God lion tamer (he was a total jerk, btw. Not surprising). I was a costume runner, which meant I did laundry, repaired costumes, and helped the performers don those costumes. Let me just say that a lion-tamer’s costume after a performance is not a thing of joy.

So it definitely wasn’t all glitz and glamor. You know those body puppets or mascots you see at ball games and sporting events? They had those at Great Adventure, too.

body puppet

You cannot believe what they smell like at the end of a hot day when the performer finally gets to take it off. The only job that was worse was actually having to wear the darn thing, and thank God I never had to do that.

But the disgusting laundry wasn’t even the worst part of the job. The worst part happened before the day even started. Those of us who worked at the circus parked our cars in an employee lot and then took about a ten minute walk along the back fence of the Six Flags safari park. You know those parks, right? Like African Lion Safari? Well, we had to walk in by the baboon enclosure, which ran behind the circus. Every morning there would be at least two or three baboons hanging out at the back fence, waiting for us. And, unfortunately, engaging in various activities that are illegal in public everywhere in the world, unless you are a baboon.

I guess the baboons were bored, poor things. But it was not a terrific way to start the day, especially if you hadn’t had your coffee.

Anyway, I survived it and I came away with a lot of great stories. Baboons aside, I can tell you that circuses are a pretty crazy gig. One of these days, I’ll have to work some of those stories–with all the names changed–into a book.

What was your worst summer job? Or your best? One person who comments will win a print copy of my latest VK Sykes book, SUMMER AT THE SHORE.

Summer at the Shore

Katherine Garbera
Katherine Garbera


Jaunty Post

I write a lot about the bonds of friendship and sisterhood so y’all know how important that is to me.  Well last week I released a new book called THE BILLIONAIRE’S TEMPTATION, it is the first book in a series called Amalfi Night Billionaires that I am writing with four of my best-writing-buddies.  Here’s a little Q&A with all of us to introduce you to the series.  

What’s your favorite place and time to write?


KG: I love to write first thing in the morning.  When I’m in the middle of a book I usually wake up around 4 or 5, hop out of bed, go downstairs and settle into my recliner.  It’s super comfy and I write on my iPad using an app (Hanxwriter) that makes a typewriter sound.  I love it.

 MW: Shel’s a bit of a tortured artist underneath all that testosterone that makes him take crazy risks and drive too fast. He made his fortune as a writer/producer and composes improvised jazz piano pieces. 

NRT: Any place except my office. Unfortunately — no, let me rephrase that, fortunately, that’s where I get the best writing done, but sometimes it feels like a cave. It can feel cozy or like a prison depending on the day. I’m a night owl by nature, but I’m trying to get on a regular work-days and sleep-nights schedule. I just can’t pull the all-nighters like I used to.

 KOB: My back porch, in the rain, late afternoon. Unfortunately, I also have to write inside, when it’s dry, morning and sometimes late into the night.  Deadlines are like that.

EG: My favorite time is when the words are coming. My favorite place is wherever I am when the words are coming. (Seriously, I’m so erratic I don’t have a favorite place or time!)


Tell us something personal that not many readers know about you?

The Billionaire's Deception Cover

KG: When I worked at Disney as  VIP tour guide I got to meet Dan Marino (my teenaged crush) and got a picture with him. :)

 MW: There’s not much people don’t know about me (I’m quite the talker), but I will say that I’m quite good at movie dialogue. And when it comes to movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, or Better Off Dead, you can listen with the sound off. I’ll be sure you get everything!

NRT: When I was in college, I worked as a stand-in on the New Mickey Mouse Club television show, which filmed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was such fun and I made a nice wage. Also, I met George Burns, Bob Hope, Annette Funicello and Milli Vanilli, among other celebs when I worked on the show. (KG: insert I worked on the New Mickey Mouse Club as well but our paths never crossed!)

 KOB: I’ve never lived anywhere but Florida.  Tampa, Miami, Orlando.  I belong here.  I’m not a “bloom where you’re planted” kind of person.  I need to look around and see the trees I love, smell the flowers I’m used to, watch the same old birds.  Vacations, yes.  Relocate, probably not. :)

EG: I’m a sucker for happy endings.

 What is your life motto?

NancyRobardsThompson-Amalfi-300dpi-300x450KG: My life is full and blessed.  I love those words because they make me take stock every day in all the good things that I have in my life. 

 MW: Don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

 NRT: The race is long, and, in the end, it is only with yourself.

 KOB: The person who enjoys the most stuff wins.  I’m not big into  pooh-poohing anything automatically.  The family I grew up in believed that, if you couldn’t find something to appreciate in a person, style or idea, you weren’t trying hard enough.

EG: Enjoy your family and friends. They are your rock that will get you through the bad times and make sure you remember the good ones.


Name five items on your desk right now.The Billionaire's Secret cover

KG: 1) My Jane Austen quote mug
2) Sally Hansen Hard As Nails (writing is tough on my nails)
3) Over the Moon candle
4) Framed photo of my hubby & kids
5) Pop Vinyl figures (Wonder Woman and Luminaire) given to me by my kiddos.

 MW: 1) My UCF Knights Tervis cup full of iced tea
2) A pile of CDs
3) Pictures of me and my Puffs (Katherine and Nancy)
4) Way too much paper
5) My tiara.

 NRT: 1) A stuffed corgi that my daughter gave me.
2) A glass dish from Murano, Italy.
3) A small bag of lavender.
4) A tube of Burt’s Beewax Lip Balm.
5) An acrylic cell phone stand

KOB: 1) A Ferdinand the Bull figurine, to remind me to stop and smell the flowers, just quietly.
2) A wretched mound of papers waiting to be filed. I try not to see this, ever.
3) Winston Graham’s ROSS POLDARK, in paperback, rippling from a recent dousing on my porch, in the rain. :)
4) My fat, furry cat, Purrsia, who thinks she should sleep where my keyboard should go.
5) A Mary Englebreit desk calendar, torn off to today’s date.  Today’s quote is, “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

 EG: 1) Several medium sized notebooks with notes
2) TV remotes
3) Cell phone
4) Charger cords
5) Nail file
6) Pens! Oops, that’s six! (KG: that’s because EG is a rebel!)

 EveGaddy-Amalfi-MEDIUM copyWhat makes your billionaire different from the others?

KG: Rocco is a man who goes through life determined to conquer all things. His fears, his competition, Steffi! But really he lives for the challenge and as he gets older he finds the challenge isn’t conquering and moving on as much as it used to be.

MW: Shel’s a bit of a tortured artist underneath all that testosterone that makes him take crazy risks and drive too fast. He made his fortune as a writer/producer and composes improvised jazz piano pieces. 

NRT: Matteo De Luca is the oldest and probably the most responsible of the five De Luca brothers. He’s also stubborn, laser focused on what he wants and very passionate.

 KOB: Declan Muldoon has recently discovered that much of his family’s fortune was built on corruption.  He has no interest in being a part of all that anymore. As he tries to start his own landscape design business, he’s living down-to-earth, literally and figuratively.

EG: Luke is first generation Italian American and lives in Texas. He got out of the family real estate business to become a private investigator.

Want to know more about the series?  Read an excerpts here:


These books are a glitzy trip to the Amalfi coast and we all had a lot of fun working on them.  Tell me your favorite place to visit either from your armchair or in person for a chance to win copies of Mimi’s and Kathy’s billionaires.  (The others aren’t out yet!)

This is Shana, posting for Kristan Higgins…

It’s release day for IF YOU ONLY KNEW, gang! I’ll be hopping and bopping around the country on book tour, and hopefully I’ll get to see you. Check my website for states and dates!

If You Only Knew

In the meantime, I thought Jaunty, our incredibly good-looking mascot, might want to interview Jenny, Leo and Rachel. Jaunty, take it away!

Jaunty P. Quills, Porcupine Extraordinaire: What? I’m sleeping, Higgins.

Kristan: Wake up. It’s interview time. They’re here.

JPQ: Let me comb my quills first.

Kristan: You’re perfect. Get out there.

JPQ: Fine. You’re right, I do roll out of bed looking magnificent. God, I love mirrors. Hello, Jenny, Leo and Rachel! Wait. Why are there three of you? Has Higgins started writing those ménage—

Rachel: No, no, Jaunty. Jenny and I are sisters, and Leo is just incredibly nice. I think he has a crush on my sister.

Leo: I don’t, but I wish she’s stop thinking dirty thoughts whenever she’s within fifty feet of me.

Jenny: Your dog is humping your leg, Leo. You may have the two of us confused, since you’re not the most observant man in the world.

Leo: I see all sorts of things, Jenny.

Jenny: I wish.

Jaunty: Okay, okay, back to me, you three. Rachel, you seem like the sweet one here. Tell me about your story.

Rachel: Thanks, Jaunty. Well, life was really wonderful a few days ago. I have three little girls, triplets, and I love being a stay-at-home mom.

Jaunty: How old are these triplet people?”

Rachel: Three.

JPQ: Dear God. Anyway, you were saying?

Rachel: Well…I think…I mean, I’m probably wrong, but it seems like maybe…

Leo: Her husband’s cheating.

Rachel: I’m really hoping he’s not. He’s probably not. He said he wasn’t.

Jenny: I will go after him with a hammer if he is.

Leo: She’s good with tools.

Jenny: And you’re not. How did you ever become the super of my building?

Leo: Good looks and charm.

JPQ: Leo, I understand you teach piano.

Leo: It’s true.

Jenny: Yet I never hear him play. Not even Billy Joel or Lady Gaga.

Leo: This is why we’re not together, Jenny. Your taste in music.

JPQ: Jenny, you’re a wedding dress designer.

Leo: You are? I thought you were a caterer.

Jenny: Pay attention, man-child. Your looks aren’t everything.

JPQ: And both you and your sister have a somewhat idealized view on marriage, despite the fact that Jenny, your ex-husband left you for someone rather fabulous, and Rachel, your husband is probably, ah…

Leo: Screwing around?

JPQ: As a gentleman, I was looking for a more delicate way of saying it, but yes.

Rachel: Our parents had the best marriage, Jaunty. They were so happy together. No wonder Jenny and I are idealistic.

Jenny: (dark muttering)

Leo: Use your words, sweetheart.

Jenny: It’s just that nothing is what it seems. Including you, Piano Man.

Leo: I love when you look at me that way. Sorry, darling. I’m for recreation only.

JPQ: You are a very charming man.

Leo: Thanks, Jaunty. You ever think about trying the piano? Those little paws look quite dexterous to me.

JPQ: You know, I am rather musical. Shana Galen loves when I sing to her.

Kristan: Okay, you guys, I think we’re done for now. Folks, I hope you’ll pick up If You Only Knew  this week, because a part of the sales benefits Fisher House Foundation, which provides gorgeous, state-of-the-art homes so our veterans and military members can have their families close by when they’re getting treatment. And I think it’s a book you’ll love, honest and true!

Thanks for the interview, Jaunty! You’re the best.

JPQ: You did mention me in the book, didn’t you, Higgins? You’re the only one, after all…

Kristan: Whoops! Look at the time! Gotta run!









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