Cindy Kirk
Cindy Kirk

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Jaunty Post

Think of all the times you’ve put yourself out there.  Maybe it was back in your school days when you ran for student council or tried out for a play.  As an adult, it may have been when you applied for a job or did something as simple as ask someone to write a reference for you.

Every time we put ourselves out there we risk rejection.

I love Facebook.  For several years I’ve had a personal page which I absolutely love.  (I hope that you and I are Facebook friends on my personal page).  But for authors, also having an author page is recommended.  Though I’d been encouraged to have Facebook author page, I didn’t do it because I had this vivid image of me hanging around this author page (often called a fan page) all by my lonesome.  I swear I heard crickets chirping in the distance.  

Finally I sucked up the courage and did it.  I’ve managed to pick up a few friends over the past ten days on this new page, but I’d LOVE to have you join me.  If you search for Cindy Kirk on Facebook, find the picture of me that says “author” then go to that page and hit LIKE.  

This is the picture of me on that page:Cindy-0323-Revise-LR Color-headshot

There’s also a contest link on the page and I hope you’ll enter.  Next week I’ll be giving away a whole bag of books from a variety of authors so please enter to win!

In thanks for your help and support, I’m offering prizes today for my Jaunty Quills supporters.

Simply comment on this post and tell me:

1. that you went out and LIKED me on my Facebook author page (or you’d already LIKED me), and 

2. the last time YOU put yourself out there

If you do that you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of my books.  This week I’m drawing TEN names!!

Thanks again for your support.  It means so much to me!

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see if you’re one of my TEN WINNERS.

Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins


Jaunty Post

Welcome to the Jaunty Quills, Anna James!

twitterprofilepic1Hi folks, I’m Anna James and I write contemporary romance novels with strong, smart, confident heroines and heroes who conquer life’s trials… and find their happy ever after. One question I get asked all the time: How much of Anna do you put into the characters you create?

I have to say, there is a little of me in all of them, especially the heroines. Nicole, from KEEPING HER GUILTY SECRET – Book 1 Forever Yours Trilogy, likes making gourmet desserts. Something I love to do, too. I like to experiment when I cook, like Nicole, and I look for ways to enhance a recipe to make it taste even better.

If you’re a chocoholic, as am I, you’ll love Nicole’s Chocolate Lover’s cake. It’s delicious! You’ll find the recipe below, but first, here’s a little excerpt from Nicole’s story, KEEPING HER GUILTY SECRET.



They walked up the short flagstone path that led to the front porch. When they reached the front door, Nicole said, “I had a great time tonight.”

So had he. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed himself as much. Pulling her into his arms, he dropped a kiss on her lips. “I want to see you again, tomorrow night.”

She sighed. “I can’t. I have to work at the restaurant.”

Damn. “Tomorrow afternoon then.”

She shook her head. “I need to spend tomorrow working on Ashley’s wedding dress. Reed is taking her back to school on Sunday night.”

“Then have dinner with me on Sunday night.”

“Sunday is family dinner day. I’m making a leg of lamb.”

He sighed. “Right.”

“Maybe you can come over and I can teach you to cook?” she asked hopefully.

He flashed a wolfish grin. “Darlin’, I already know how to cook.”

Her husky laugh had a bolt of desire zinging through him. He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her again.

“Food, Max, you can help me cook the food.”

His eyebrow winged up.

She grinned. “No, really, it’ll be fun. Besides, I’m making my chocolate lovers’ cake for dessert and I wanted to try a new little twist. I could use a taste tester.”

“Now you’re talking. What time should I be here?”

“Is nine o’clock too early? It’ll take almost three hours for the lamb to cook and we’ll have to make the cake first. Ashley and Reed have to leave by three so I need to have dinner on the table no later than one-thirty.”

“I’ll be there.”

“It’s a date then.”

He nodded, then crushed her lips with his again.

“You two really need to get a room.”

He released her and glowered as Reed moved past him. “I should probably go.”

“Yeah,” she said.

He gave her one last kiss, then turned to leave. The sound of female laughter and wolf whistling floated out the open door and made him smile.

He couldn’t wait until Sunday. Nicole might be the expert in the kitchen, but he was no slouch either. He had just the recipe to spice things up and he intended to show her.

Nicole’s Chocolate Lovers Cake Rceipe:


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (Nicole uses unsalted)
  • 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto Liquor (or almond extract)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup water


  • 6 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons Amaretto (or almond extract) – optional


  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the top of a double boiler, heat 6 ounces chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
  • Step 2: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto Liquor (or almond extract). Stir in the melted chocolate. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Step 3: Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  • Step 4: Make the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: In the top of a double boiler, heat 6 ounces chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Gradually add in cocoa powder, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, whip softened cream cheese, gradually blending in the confectioners’ sugar, melted chocolate and Amaretto Liquor (or almond extract).
  • Step 5: Make the Ganache: In a large saucepan, combine chocolate chips and 1 cup heavy cream. Heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Step 6: Assemble the cake: When cake is completely cooled, cover the bottom cake layer with as much ganache as desired. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, or until ganache has set. Spread frosting over the ganache. Cover with top layer of cake. Frost top and sides with buttercream, and garnish with more ganache.


KEEPING HER GUILTY SECRET  – Available September 17, 2014

A secret she must keep… A man she can’t resist



Book Blurb:

Passion ignites between Nicole Bradford and Max Paradis the moment they lay eyes on each other, but despite the sizzling attraction and Max’s to-die-for-kisses, Nicole is reluctant to get involved. She’s been burned by love before.

Carlo had been her ideal mate but the dream became a nightmare when his drug smuggling past was revealed.

Now all Nicole wants is to get on with her life and keep the secret she’s been hiding for the last six years.

Still, how can she resist the handsome and sexy Max when he’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man? And what will she do when Carlo returns and threatens to expose her ugly past?

Nicole will have to trust Max with the truth if she wants to win his love and get Carlo out of her life for good. If she doesn’t Carlo could destroy everything that matters most to her.


Author Bio:

 Anna James writes heartwarming contemporary stories with strong, confident heroes and heroines who conquer life’s trials and live happily ever after.  She has been writing professionally since 2010, is a member of RWA, CTRWA (Connecticut Romance Writers of America), CORW (Charter Oak Romance Writers) and RWA Contemporary Romance Writers. Publishing credits include two category length novels, five novellas and one short story.

Anna is married to a wonderful husband who spends countless hours picking up the slack around the house so she can pursue her dream of writing, and is the proud mother of five fabulous children.

Although she’s lived in several locations throughout her life she now calls Connecticut home. When not writing, she can be found spending time with family and friends.


Contact Info




 A Celebration Christmas cover

Shortly after my first book hit the shelves, an acquaintance confided that she almost couldn’t finish reading it because she felt as if she were prying into my life. “It was just so… intimate!” she’d said.  I was equal parts astonished that she actually thought it was autobiographical and flattered that she thought I lived (or once lived) such an exciting life. I mean, I love my life, but it’s vastly different from the fictional worlds I create for my heroines.

After I thought about it, I could see where she might have drawn that conclusion. While I’m a bit older than most of my heroines, I do tend to lend them characteristics and features similar to my own. Still, my heroines are not me. I don’t write about myself as much as I write about observations and what I find interesting.


Take, for example, my first book, REINVENTING OLIVIA. It was born one night when my husband and I were out to dinner at a trendy downtown restaurant. As we approached, I heard dance music pulsing from the loft condos above the restaurant. When I looked up, I saw a hand holding a drink over the balcony rail. I thought, wow, if I were young and single that’s where I’d live… and the story took off on its own. So, while Olivia was most decidedly not me, she was definitely a child of my imagination, born out of what-ifs and shades of possibility.


I’ll confess that within the pages of my twenty-five (and counting) books I’ve drawn strongly on my own life experiences (because the first rule of writing is write what you know).  I’ve borrowed characteristics from real-life villains (uhh-hmm - bosses) and given them their comeuppance on the page, or rewritten an unsatisfying true-to-life experience so that it ended happily, but the majority of my plots and characters come from the most unexpected places.  That was the case with my book WITH VIOLETS (HarperCollins) – written under my historical nom de plume, Elizabeth Robards.


I’ve always been infatuated with the French Impressionists. So when my husband and I went to Paris, I was anticipating a daytrip to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and famous gardens. Before we boarded a train at the Gare Saint-Lazare, to make our way to Giverny, we stopped at the Musée Marmottan to see Monet’s famous ‘Impression, Sunrise’ (Impression: Soleil Levant), the painting that launched the French Impressionist movement.


Little did I know, but I was about to meet painter Berthe Morisot on the second floor of the Musée Marmottan. Not literally, of course, because she died in 1895.  However, I saw her work for the first time and a photograph of her with her family. Something about the photo haunted me and urged me to research her life. In doing so, I discovered the tale of a deeply complex, richly talented woman who bucked nineteenth century convention to become one of the world’s greatest artists and the heroine of WITH VIOLETS.


The research and the story were labors of love. And while the Berthe Morisot I wrote is not really like me – well, except for her strong, independent streak and a great passion for what she loved – I think there’s a little bit of every woman in her.

In my next release A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS (Harlequin Special Edition, November 2014). I  drew inspiration from one of my favorite movies THE SOUND OF MUSIC. To make it my own, I gave it a Christmas twist. Here’s the back cover copy:


Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad? 

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…

Anyhow, when a fertile imagination has its way with an interesting subject… Well, that’s how stories are born. Whether or not the plot is autobiographical, a writer can’t help but infuse a little of herself and the things she loves into the story.

Have you ever related to a fictional character so much that she seemed real?  Who was it and what about her grabbed you?

One person who comments will win the book of her (his) choice from my backlist… Can’t wait to hear from you!


Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins

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Joanne Guidoccio, congratulations! You’ve won an ARC of Stacy Hoff’s new book! Contact her at for details. Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello to Stacy!

Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins

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Tracey Samuels, Dianne Wagner and Linda Osborne, you’re the winners of a signed copy each of FOOLS RUSH IN. Drop me a line at and I’ll get your snail mail addies. Thanks to everyone who commented! 

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