The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Monday, 17 February 2014

Welcome multi-published romance writer, Sheila Roberts...

 Hi Sheila! So happy to welcome you back to my site and to be a part of your ongoing tour - LOVE the cover for SMALL CHANGE. Just gorgeous! Let's get started with the questions...looking forward to catching up :)

1)   Did you set any goals for 2014?
As a matter of fact, I did. And one of them needs to be done the end of this month. Yikes!

2)   Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer?

I think observing the people around me. I’m often struck by the choices I see people making that concern me or by what I see going on in the country. Seeing the financial struggles so many of us were having was a big inspiration for writing SMALL CHANGE. I was especially struck by the incongruity I saw between people’s lifestyles and the health of their bank accounts and thought this might be a good time to encourage women to start making attitude and lifestyle changes that could really improve their lives in the long run.

3)   How long does it take you to write a 50,000-60,000 word manuscript?

Actually, my manuscripts have to come in closer to 90,000, and I usually have about six months to do this. Needless to say, I have to type fast!

4)   Tell us about a new author you’ve recently discovered

I’ve become addicted to Kristan Higgins. She’s soooo funny!

5)   Name two romances you’ve read more than once
Georgette Heyer’s “The Masqueraders” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”

6)   Tell us about your first car
It was a Volkswagon bus. I learned to drive a stick shift on that thing. I also learned the hard way what it meant when the little red light came on. One new engine later...

8)   Where can we find you?
Do come hang out with me on Facebook on my Sheila Roberts, writer, like page. And I hope you’ll visit my website. There’s always a contest going there or a new recipe to check out.

Small Change
by Sheila Roberts



Take a trip to the charming little town of Heart Lake, and meet three best friends you’ll never forget. . . .

Rachel, Jessica, and Tiffany have major money problems. Tiffany’s whipped out the plastic one too many times, and now a mountain of debt has come crashing down on her. Jessica’s husband has lost his job, thrusting this longtime stay-at-home mom out into the cold, cruel workforce. And Rachel’s divorce transformed her from an upper-middle-class mom to a strapped-for-cash divorcée. So the three women start a financial support group called the Small Change Club—vowing to bring balance back to their checkbooks…and, in turn, their lives. Along the way they learn some valuable lessons—that friendship is an investment that keeps on growing and that sometimes love, like a loose coin, can be found in the most unexpected places…

“Roberts’s trademark humor and memorable characters wrestling with real-life issues add up to a novel that will make readers smile and wish for more.”—BookPage


There it sat, a Cloud Nine queen-sized luxury gold comforter with red ribbon appliqué and metallic embroidery. Forty-percent off. It was the last one left. Tiffany Turner had seen it, and so had the other woman.

The woman caught Tiffany looking at it and her eyes narrowed. Tiffany narrowed hers right back. Her competitor was somewhere in her fifties, dressed for comfort in jeans and a sweater, her feet shod in tennis shoes for quick movement – obviously a sale veteran, but Tiffany wasn’t intimidated. She was younger. She had the drive, the determination.
It only took that one second to start the race. The other woman strode toward the comforter with the confidence that comes with age, her hand stretched toward the prize.
Tiffany chose that moment to look over her competitor’s shoulder. Her eyes went wide and she gasped. “Oh, my gosh.” Her hands flew to her face in horror.
The other woman turned to see the calamity happening in back of her.
And that was her undoing. In a superhuman leap, Tiffany bagged the comforter just as her competitor turned back. Score.

Boy, if looks could kill.
It would be rude to gloat.  Tiffany gave an apologetic shrug and murmured, “Sorry.”
The woman paid her homage with a reluctant nod. “You’re good.”
Yes, I am. “Thanks,” Tiffany murmured, and left the field of battle for the customer service counter.

As she walked away, she heard the other woman mutter, “Little beast.”

Okay, now she’d gloat.

She was still gloating as she drove home from the mall an hour later. She’d not only scored on the comforter, she’d gotten two sets of towels (buy one, get one free), a great top for work, a cute little jacket, a new shirt for Brian, and a pair of patent metallic purple shoes with 3 ½ inch heels that were so hot she’d burn the pavement when she walked. With the new dress she’d snagged at thirty percent off (plus another ten percent off for using her department store card), she’d be a walking inferno. Brian would melt when he saw her.

Her husband would also melt if he saw how much she’d spent today, so she had to beat him home. And since he would be back from the office in half an hour, she was now in another race, one that she didn’t dare lose. That was the downside of hitting the mall after work. She always had to hurry home to hide her treasures before Brian walked in the door.  But she could do it.

Tiffany followed the Abracadabra shopping method: get the bargain and then make it disappear for a while so you could later insist that said bargain had been sitting around the house for ages. She’d learned that one from her mother. Two years before, she had successfully used the Guessing Game method: bring home the bargains, and lull husband into acceptance by having him guess how incredibly little you’d paid for each one.

She’d pull a catch of the day from its bag and say, “Guess how much I paid for this sweater.”

He’d say, “Twenty dollars.”

“Too high,” she’d reply with a smirk.

“Okay. Fifteen.”

“Too high.”


“Nope. Eight-ninety-nine. I’m good.”

And she was. As far as Tiffany was concerned, the three sexiest words in the English language were fifty percent off. She was a world-class bargain hunter (not surprising, since she’d sat at the feet of an expert – her mom), and she could smell a sale a mile away.

Great as she was at ferreting out a bargain, she wasn’t good with credit cards. It hadn’t taken Tiffany long to snarl her finances to the point where she and Brian had to use their small, start-a-family savings and Brian’s car fund to bail her out.

She’d felt awful about that, not only because she suspected they’d never need that family fund anyway (that suspicion was what led to her first shopping binge), but because Brian had suffered from the fallout of her mismanagement. He’d had his eye on some rusty old beater on the other side of the lake and had been talking about buying and restoring it. The car wound up rusting at someone else’s house, thanks to her. Even the money they’d scraped together for her bailout wasn’t enough. She’d had to call in the big guns: Daddy. That had probably been harder on Brian than waving good-bye to their savings.

“Tiffy, baby, you should have told me,” he said the day the awful truth came out and they sat on the couch, her crying in his arms.

She would have, except she kept thinking she could get control of her runaway credit card bills. It seemed like one minute she only had a couple and the next thing she knew they’d bred and taken over. “I thought I could handle it.”
It was a reasonable assumption since they both worked. There was just one problem: their income had never quite managed to keep up with the demands of life. It still didn’t.
She sighed. Brian so didn’t understand. All he did was pay the mortgage, utilities, and the car payments. He had no idea how much it really cost to live. First of all, they had to eat. Did he have any idea how much wine cost? Or meat? Even toilet paper wasn’t cheap. And they had to have clothes. She couldn’t show up at Salon H to do nails in sweats, for heaven’s sake. What woman wanted to go to a nail artist who looked like a slob? Food and clothes were the tip of the expense iceberg. Friends and family had birthdays; she couldn’t give them IOUs. And she had to buy Christmas presents. And decorations. And hostess gifts. Now it was June and soon there would be picnics at the lake and neighborhood barbecues. A girl could hardly show up empty-handed. Then there were bridal showers to attend, and baby . . . No, no. She wasn’t going there.
After the great credit card cleanup the Guessing Game method lost its effectiveness and she’d had to retire it. Hiding her purchases worked better anyway.
Her bargains weren’t the only things she was hiding. In the last year she’d gotten two new credit cards, and they were both well used. Brian might panic if he knew, but there was no need for panic. She’d be okay this time. She’d learned her lesson. In fact, she was going to make a big payment on one of them this week. So, there was no need for Brian to know about the purchases in her car trunk.
She checked the clock on the dash: 4:50. Brian got off at five. He worked at the Heart Lake Department of Planning and Community Development. It took him exactly six minutes to get from his office to their cul-de-sac in Heart Lake Estates and another fifty-five seconds to park his car and get to the front door. That gave her seventeen minutes and five seconds to beat him home.
A little voice at the back of her mind whispered, “You wouldn’t have to worry about beating your husband home if you were honest with him.”
She ignored it and applied more pressure to the gas pedal. She could feel her heart rate picking up as two new voices began to echo in the back of her head.
Brian: That’s a lot of shopping bags. Were you at the mall?
Tiffany: Yes, but I didn’t spend much. This was all on sale.
Brian: You had that much cash on you?
Here the dialogue stopped because she didn’t know what script to follow. Should she lie and say, “Yes, actually, I did,” or should she say, “Well, I only charged a couple of things.”
No, of course, she wouldn’t use that last line. She wasn’t supposed to be charging anything. She’d promised. But she didn’t have enough money to take advantage of the sales. And if she didn’t take advantage of the sales, how could she save money? It was a terrible, vicious circle.
She should take it all back. Brian probably wouldn’t get that excited about the shoes or the dress anyway. Just show up naked. That was what her friends always joked. Even naked she couldn’t explain about the new charge cards. Not these days.
Her best bet was to get home before Brian. She could make it. Her foot pressed down harder. She wouldn’t buy anything more all month, and she’d take back the shoes. But the dress – fifty percent off, for heaven’s sake.
Just get home and ditch the stuff. Then you can decide what to do. She roared off the exit ramp then turned right onto Cedar Springs Road. Ten more minutes and she’d be in Heart Lake Estates. The finish line was in sight.
Oh, no. What was this behind her? Her stomach fell at the sight of the flashing lights. Nooo. This was so unfair. Yes, she was going fifteen miles over the speed limit, but she had an emergency brewing here. And thirty was too slow. What sicko had decided you could only go thirty on this road anyway? It was probably someone who had no life, nowhere to be, no husband to beat home.
Once again a conversation started at the back of her brain.
Brian Hey, I beat you home. Where were you?
Tiffany: Just out running some errands.
Brian: What’s that piece of paper in your hand?
Tiffany: Ummmm . . .
She could not, COULD NOT, get a speeding ticket. They couldn’t afford it.
Heart thudding, she watched as the policeman got out of his patrol car. He was big and burly. Big men loved sweet, little blondes with blue eyes. That had to work in her favor. She saw the wedding ring on his finger. Darn. It would have worked more in her favor if he’d been single.
She let down her window and showed him the most pitiful expression she could muster. “I was speeding, I know, but please don’t give me a ticket. I haven’t had a ticket since I was eighteen.” Actually, twenty, but close enough. Parking tickets didn’t count. Neither did citations for running stop signs. “I promise I won’t speed again. Ever. If I come home with a speeding ticket . . .” And a trunk full of shopping bags. She couldn’t even think about it. She might as well throw herself in the lake and be done with it.
The officer regarded her sadly. Good, she’d won his sympathy. She looked back at him with tears in her eyes.
“Lady, you were going twenty miles over the limit. I can’t not give you a ticket.”
What? What was this? “Oh, God, please.” Now she opted to shed the tears. They were wasted sitting around in her eyeballs. “My husband will kill me.” How was she going to pay on her credit card if she had to use the money for a stupid speeding ticket?
“Don’t worry,” said the officer.
“Yes?” He’d had a change of heart. She was saved! Long live blonde.
“They take MasterCard at the courthouse. May I have your driver’s license and registration please?”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. 
Writing since 1989, Sheila’s books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS has just been optioned for film. Her novel ANGEL LANE was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Romances for 2009.
When she's not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

find me on Facebook as Sheila Roberts, author

Twitter: _Sheila_Roberts

Sheila will be awarding a copy of Small Change and a $25 Visa gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY), and a $25 Visa gift card to a randomly drawn host.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 


  1. Great excerpt and beautiful cover--and I'm right there with you on Kristan Higgins!

  2. I'm looking forward to reading the book and have it on my read list.

  3. Very intriguing excerpt!


  4. I have enjoyed learning about your book. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  6. I thought this was a cute story of friendship :)