by 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). Please be sure to leave a comment below along with your email address so that you may be contacted if you are the lucky winner. Also to increase your chances of winning be sure to visit the stops on the tour. You may find those locations here... http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/12/virtual-book-tour-small-change-by.html
Crystal: Today as part of this Goddess Fish Virtual Book Tour, I have the opportunity to interview Sheila Roberts. I am so honored to have you here today. Welcome, Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Sheila: I'd be happy to, and by the way, thanks so much for letting me stop by. I love writing about things that are important to women: our loves, our families and friends, our challenges. Chocolate.
One of the things I loved writing about in this particular book was women bonding together to help each other solve their problems. And the three friends in SMALL CHANGE definitely have problems. Rachel is trying to make ends meet as a single mom and struggling not to resent her ex-husband, who balks at giving her money for essentials but seems to have no problem coming up with money for special gifts and treats. He's already moved on. Rachel is stuck in "no man land", not a good place to be when you love to read romance novels! Her friend Tiffany is a shopaholic who is quickly learning that a bargain isn't a bargain if you don't have the money to pay for it. As for their pal Jess, her husband just got downsized out of a job and she's about to enter the job market for the first time in, well, ever. These women’s budgets are strained to the breaking point. What are they going to do?
Start their own support group and help each other make budget friendly life changes, that's what! One of the things I really like about this book is the fact that my characters are determined to change their lives for the better and to help each other do it. Now, that's chick power!
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for Small Change?
Sheila: Actually, this was originally going to be a non-fiction book. So many people have been struggling financially these past few years and I wanted to show women that you don't necessarily have to be rich to live a rich life, that a smart woman can have a great life even on a small income. I couldn't get my agent on board with doing this as non-fiction so I decided to encapsulate my philosophy of money management into a novel. One thing I love about this book is that it does have some fun money-saving tips and recipes in it. And meanwhile, I'm working on putting up that non-fiction book as an ebook, a sort of companion piece to this one. Hopefully by the time this is out HOW TO LIVE LARGE ON A SMALL BUDGET will be available also.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Sheila: Well, we writers are always working months ahead of our release dates, so I'm currently editing my next Christmas book, THE LODGE ON HOLLY ROAD.
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Sheila: You know, I don't. I just get into my home office, sit down at the computer and start writing away. I love being able to throw myself into another world. It's amazing how quickly time passes when you're telling yourself a story!
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Sheila: I did do some financial research for this book, and here's one tip that can save you thousands of dollars. I won't go into all the gory how-to details since those are in the book, but let me just say that if you make one extra house payment a year it will shave off thousands of dollars in interest from your mortgage. How's that for cool?
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Sheila: I love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I have every book ever written by my friend Susan Wiggs and I adore the books of my pal Debbie Macomber. I'm also a Kristin Higgins addict. Simply adore her books.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Sheila: Someday I want to write a big, dark novel. As soon as I find my dark side I know I have one... somewhere. Meanwhile, I hope readers will enjoy my lighter side. :)
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Sheila: Here’s one of my favorite scenes in the book. Let me introduce you to Tiffany, the shopaholic. :)
There it sat, a Cloud Nine queen-sized luxury gold comforter with red ribbon appliquÈ 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 _ 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.
“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 IOU’s. 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 clean-up 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. Still, it was better for Brian not to know about the purchases in her car trunk.
She checked the clock on the dash. Four-fifty. 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 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. Noooo. 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.
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 pleeease 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?”
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
Rachel Green left her principal’s office minus her smile. This was a rotten way to end the school day, not to mention the year. She marched to her empty classroom, mentally chanting, “Why me?” with each step. The answer to that was simple: some gremlin had pasted a Kick Me sign on her backside.
First divorce, now no job – a kick for each cheek.
She’d known teaching fifth grade at Heart Lake Elementary wasn’t a permanent position when she’d stepped in to take Ambika Sinj’s class after Ambika had gone on maternity leave. But, deep down, Rachel had hoped that once Ambika had her baby she would opt for full-time motherhood. She hadn’t.
This school was a great one with an excellent principal and good kids. Rachel didn’t blame Ambika for wanting to come back to work, thus depriving her substitute of steady employment for the next year. She blamed the gremlin. Inside her classroom she shook a fist and growled, “You’re messing with the wrong woman.”
“Steve Martin in drag. Now, that is scary,” said a voice from the classroom doorway. “Are you auditioning for a remake of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles?
Rachel turned to see Elsa Wilson, a wiry fifty-year old who taught third grade, regarding her with eyebrows raised. She slumped on her desk. “Don’t get too close to me. I’m a bad luck lightning rod.”
“Don’t tell me, let me guess. Ambika’s coming back and you’re out of work?”
Rachel nodded. She wanted to cry. Instead, she turned and began erasing math problems off the white board, ignoring the ache beginning at her temples. “Oh, well. I’ll go back to subbing.”
Elsa joined her and picked up the other eraser. “Not a bad plan. Between us and the middle school, we’ll keep you busy.”
But could they keep her busy enough? “I know. It’s just . . .” She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t need to. Elsa understood. It was so much easier to come into the same classroom every day and work with the same students, to have your own lesson plans to follow instead of someone else’s. Most important, a permanent teaching position meant benefits and a guaranteed salary. Not necessarily a huge salary, but regular. Money was tight even when Rachel was working full time. Once she was reduced to substitute teaching she’d be vacuum-sealed in debt. Panic grabbed at her ankles. She attempted to kick free. “I’ll be fine.” At least she’d still have free dental for the kids.
“Of course you will,” said Elsa. “You’re a survivor.”
It was a far cry from being a princess, which was what her parents had raised her to be. When she met Aaron Green the dentist she thought she’d found her prince. First he told her she had a beautiful smile. Then he told her she had a beautiful body. Then, after two kids, two cars, a mortgage, and her fortieth birthday, he’d found another woman and told her goodbye. But not until he’d made sure that much of his money did a disappearing act, probably into some account of his mother’s. Just one of the Universe’s little cosmic jokes. Ha, ha. Almost as funny as finding herself with no steady employment and a student loan to pay off. Now she had a Master’s degree in education and no job, rather like having a bridal gown and no husband. Oh, bad analogy.
Maybe someday her prince would come. Ha. If he did she’d slam the door in his face. She needed another prince like she needed a third boob. She already had her hands full with Aaron, who was as lousy an ex as he once was a husband – always late with his child support payments, but still managing to come up with money for presents for the kids and frequent trips to Pizza Heaven to ensure his status as the favorite parent. She’d been coping with all that, pretty much, but now she’d been set adrift in a leaky raft on a stormy financial sea. Was she a survivor?
“You bet I am,” she said as much to herself as to Elsa. She’d show Aaron, and his mother (who never liked her). And she’d show the damned gremlin, too.
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
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004P5OQCY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B004P5OQCY&link_code=as3&tag=revibycrys-20
Review: I am in the middle of reading this book right now. Due to a family emergency I was unable to finish in time to review it for this post. I will tell you that I am enjoying the story and I will post a review ASAP. I do sincerely apologize for not having my review ready for today.
I am a fan of Shelia Roberts' work so I am incredibly honored to be hosting Small Change today.