Sunday, December 25, 2011

Interview with author Annie Bellet

Annie Bellet is currently on tour with CLP Blog Tours and the lovely Samantha asked if I would be interested in doing an interview with Annie. I hope you enjoy!

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1. Describe a typical day of writing for you?


I don't know if I have a typical writing day. For a while I was working pretty solidly between noon and five or so, but then my husband lost his job and my schedule fell by the wayside. I've been struggling to get back to a schedule since then.

My new method I'm trying out is to set a timer for 45 minutes and write until it is done, take a break, do another session, rinse, repeat. Ideally, I'd get five or six thousand words done (about the length of a short story) in four or five "increments" like this (usually I write about 1k an hour, but I've found that with the timer on, I do that 1k in 45 minutes instead, which is kind of cool).

I also tend to bounce around on projects, usually having two or three things going at a time so that if I get stuck on something, I can let my brain work on it while I go work on a different writing project.


2. How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?


I don't know that I did. I think I was too busy writing. It was definitely a relief to have the work done (I spent 14 straight hours approving just the copy-edits). Maybe I will celebrate the sequel when it is out.



3. What is the first thing to go through your mind when you see a bad review?


That I shouldn't be reading it. Reviews are written for readers, not for me. I know I should stay away from them, (good or bad), but I just can't help myself (who can!?) so I try not to let them get me down. I'm writing the best books I can, which is all I have control over. Hopefully people enjoy them, but if they don't, me being sad about them expressing their opinion won't help anyone. And maybe a bad review will prevent someone else from reading my book who wouldn't have liked it. I want readers who like the sort of stories I'm telling, not readers who aren't my audience (which is often what a bad review indicates- that someone found the book who wasn't your audience).


4. Is there a genre that you want to write in that you haven't tackled?


I have an idea for a full on historical novel, actually. Not the sort of "borrowing from historical elements" that I've done before, but actually using real people, real events, set in a real time period, like some of the books done by Morgan Llywelyn or Dorothy Dunnett. My idea will take a lot of time and research, so we'll see if I ever get around to doing it, but I think it is good to try new things.


5. Your biography lists "many other nerdy pursuits" in your interests. What is your "nerdiest" like? (As a nerd myself, I will probably be nodding my head in agreement.)


My "nerdiest"? Hmm. Videogames are kind of mainstream now, right? I play table-top RPGs, but those are also sort of mainstream (which is great, I approve of more gamers in the world). One of the things my friends think is pretty crazy is that I watch StarCraft II videos as a sort of brain break between writing sessions, etc. It's like watching a sport (I watch high-level games mostly from Korea, but usually commentated in English). I guess that is kind of nerdy. I would play StarCraft II more, but my computer is on its last legs, and my wrists won't stand up to a lot of mouse use these days, so I try to save them for writing and get my SC2 fix by watching other people play.


6. If you were casting the movie of "A Heart in Sun and Shadow", who would you cast?


Eep. That's a tough one. I think I'd cast Molly C Quinn (she plays the daughter on Castle) as Aine, just because I think she'd do a great job of being strong/passionate and she's about the right age. For the twins, that is tougher. I think if I could find a younger, swarthier version of Michael Sheen, that would work. For Seren, maybe Tricia Helfer.


7. What is up next for you?


I'm finishing up the sequel, which is titled "The Raven King", right now. It should be out in January (maybe by the time this interview goes live).

Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.

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Bio: Annie Bellet is a full-time speculative fiction writer. She holds a BA in English and a BA in Medieval Studies and thus can speak a smattering of useful languages such as Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Welsh.
Her short fiction has appeared in AlienSkin Magazine, Contrary Magazine, and Daily Science Fiction Magazine as well as multiple anthologies and collections.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a very demanding Bengal cat.

Official Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Annie is on tour with her novel, A Heart in Sun and Shadow.

In an ancient Wales that never was… The twin brothers Emyr and Idrys are cursed to live as hounds; Emyr by night, and Idrys by day. The twins believe they will be trapped this way forever until they meet the fierce and curious Áine, a changeling woman born with fey blood and gifts struggling to fit into a suspicious human world. Áine unravels the fate of Emyr and his twin as all three of them fall in love. To free her lovers from the curse, she embarks on a journey to the realm of the fey where she confronts her own unique gifts and heritage. Ultimately, she must decide where her heart truly lies and what she’s willing to risk to get what she desires most.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest post: Naming Characters After People You Know by Denise Grover Swank



Naming Characters After People You Know

One of the first things a writer is faced with when creating a story is naming the characters. For me, this is like naming my children. When you name a child you have to test it out to make sure it’s going to work when the child is two or fifty-two. But with a fictional character, you have to make sure that you’re not going to get sick of typing hundreds of times. In Here, I used Julia 231 times. (Here is written in first person which accounts for the low number.) Evan is used 669 times and Reece is listed 391 times.

But there’s often more to a name than just liking the sound of it. Or how easy it is to type. When I wrote Chosen, my urban fantasy, I wanted the characters names to have meaning. The main female character was almost named Lenore, but it just didn’t sound right to me. Yet the meaning did. So I dug a bit more on baby names sites (the number one source of finding names for many authors) and found another name that was perfect. Emmanuella. But I couldn’t have my character running around with that name, plus I liked the idea of keeping it hidden for awhile. But that meant she needed a nickname.

Emma.

Slight problem. My youngest daughter is named Emma. Honestly, I’m mature enough that I separated the two in my mind without issue. My Emma was a three year old. The Emma in Chosen was a twenty-seven year old woman who had did whatever she had to do to protect her son. But what would readers think? Would they think it was weird? In the end, I decided I needed to do what was best for the story and Emmanuella was perfect.

A few books later, I wrote Here. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wrote Here because my then thirteen year old daughter begged me to write a book she and her friends could read. I loved reading YA, so it wasn’t hard to agree. But her next request floored me.

“I want you to name the character after me.”

At first, I refused. “No,” I said. “That’s too weird.”

“You did it with Emma. That wasn’t too weird.”

“But that was different.”

“How?”

“The two Emma’s were completely opposite. You’re thirteen and the character in the book is sixteen. It’s too close.” But I thought about it. Could I write a book using my daughter’s name for the main character that was close in age? Did I even want to attempt it?

In the end, I told her yes. And between her squeals of delight, I qualified my agreement: “If it gets too weird, I’m changing the name.”

It was a risk. I’ve never renamed a main character but I suspect it would be like deciding to completely change the name of your three year old. Did I want to face that challenge?

But a funny thing happened within the first chapter of the book: Julia Philips became a completely different and distinctive person from my daughter. I never once thought of my daughter as I wrote the book, other than to wonder if she would like the story when I was done.

I’ve gone on to use the names of people I know for other characters. The fun is making them completely opposite from who they are in real life. Thankfully, so far the name bequeathers have all enjoyed the results. Just ask the youth minister I made into an evil megalomaniac. He tells everyone he knows.

Book Review: Here by Denise Grover Swank



Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.


This is my third review for work by Denise Grover Swank and I have to tell you, each one is so different and difficult to put down. The first thought is Julia is a mess, obviously not emotionally able to move past the accident and everyone around her at their breaking point. This girl needs help and she isn't getting it. And the bullying, no matter how little it is, from the other classmates and how they react to her is heartbreaking. Her parents and sister are at the point of giving up hope with her and life seems to be spiraling downward. The entrance of two very different boys, Evan and Reece, into her life change things more than Julia ever realized they would.

This book fascinated me. Alternate reality, space jumping, and pure imagination. I love how vivid the storytelling is from Denise Grover Swank. This is part one of a series and I'm going to be impatiently awaiting the second one to come out. A definite thumbs up for this YA novel. I would have loved this book in high school as well.


You can find Denise at the following:
Official Website
Blog
Goodreads page
Facebook
Twitter

Click on the link below to be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winner of "Family Pieces"

Thanks to Random.Org, a winner has been picked for the copy of Misa Rush's "Family Pieces"...
Congratulations, WENDY!!!

Just let me know if you want a print copy or ebook. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury

This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.

The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.

She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters. Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot. Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss. Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with. Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.

And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston. Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s! Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?



"A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" is such an interesting concept for a book. And what better place to have a mid-life crisis in the United States than in Sin City, Las Vegas? As Irene Woodbury described the sights of Vegas I also vividly recalled my own wild times spent there. You can tell that Irene has spent plenty of time in Vegas as she has such spot on descriptions of all the city has to offer.

The characters in the book are unique and quirky. They are full of flaws that they embrace as who they are. I found the characters of Wendy and Paula to be quite a bit self involved in the beginning of the book. However, I like that Wendy does recognize that she is unhappy and is not willing to put herself back in a situation, such as going back to her workaholic husband in Houston, until she had her head on straight and knew what she needed to do. And she ultimately discovers herself, which is what she set out to do. Of course, there is temptation along the way and ultimate decisions that have to be made. The staple for a good book!

Overall it was a really fun read and if Nevada needs someone on the board of Tourism to help get people to Las Vegas, they need to contact Irene Woodbury. Read at your own risk...you will be planning a trip to Sin City before you are half way done with this book. Or maybe it is just me. I'm already planning when I can hit up Vegas and hope to have a wild ride like Wendy.

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A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, Irene Woodbury’s first novel, was inspired by her love of travel writing. Between 2000 and 2006, her stories appeared in many newspapers, including the Washington Post, London Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, and Nevada and The Affluent Traveler magazines.

One of the author’s favorite destinations was Las Vegas; she always believed Sin City would be the perfect setting for a novel. In 2006, she came up with the idea for Slot, and, four-and-a-half years, and many visits later, it was finished.

Irene is convinced her book wouldn’t work nearly as well in any other city. “Las Vegas has a frenetic energy to it,” she says, “and there’s plenty of chaos and confusion to go around. Is there a better place for a midlife crisis? I don’t think so.”

The author has lived in two of the locations featured in her novel: Los Angeles, where she worked at the Los Angeles Times, IBM, and Time Magazine, and Houston, where she graduated from the University of Houston in 1993. She also got married in Houston. (Yes, like Wendy, her lead character, but Irene insists the similarities end there!) Her husband, Richard, a retired Time Magazine correspondent, edited her novel.

Since 1994, the couple have called Denver home. As for midlife crises -- his, hers, yours, mine -- Irene believes it’s a time for asking questions. “Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? That’s it in a nutshell,” she says. “Writing this novel has been my midlife crisis. And it’s not over yet!"

You can visit Irene at the following:
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter

Click on the link below to go to Irene's tour page and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interview with author, Irene Woodbury

Author, Irene Woodbury, took a few minutes to do a quick interview with me. I hope you enjoy it! Her debut novel, "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" is out now!



Who inspired you to become a writer?

The work of great writers like Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Bronte. Also, the poetry of T.S. Eliot and e.e. Cummings. It was inspiring, but also intimidating. Sometimes when you’re feeling both, it takes years before you attempt to write fiction.



What is your cure for writer's block?


A few hours of housework or cleaning out closets will get me back to the computer fast!


How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?



I went to Chicago, visited friends and family, slept in, shopped, attended a Cubs game, ate pizza and ice cream, and didn’t work for a week.



What is your favorite thing to do when you go to Las Vegas?


Hang out in the Flamingo garden on a Saturday afternoon and watch the weddings taking place. I love to see people all dressed up, smiling, and glowing with happiness as they take their vows in this brief, romantic ceremony, and walk away believing they will live happily ever after. I also love playing slot machines into the wee, small hours, and walking around the Bellagio and Caesar’s on Saturday night watching people from all over the world having a good time and getting along. The Strip is a giant, 24/7 international block party.


Who would you cast in the movie of "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis?”


Jennifer Aniston as Wendy

Cameron Diaz as Paula

Aaron Eckhart as Roger

Brad Pitt as Gary (It might be a little awkward for Jennifer and Brad to do the romantic scenes. Maybe they could use stunt doubles?)

George Clooney as Kent

Scarlett Johansson as Paige

Anne Hathaway (with a little nose enhancement) as Serena


What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write what you want to write. Don’t worry about how others will react to it. No matter what you do, someone will be unhappy. That’s unavoidable, so come up with an idea you believe in, and do it. You have to spend so many hours, seven days a week, working on a story or book. It has to be something you love.


What is next for you? What project are you working on?

I’m not doing any creative work at the moment because I’m promoting “Slot.” Short term, I might go to Europe and do a travel story. Long term, I might do a sequel, or go in a totally different direction. But I miss writing, so it’s inevitable that I will go back.


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Thank you for the fun interview, Irene!! (And to you as well, Samantha!)
You can visit Irene at the following:
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter

Click on the link below to go to Irene's tour page and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Book Review: High-Heels and Slippers! by Ella Slayne



Meet Josie Jenkins, a Brit living in Texas, fan of indulgent body-scrubs and the odd glass of wine. She’s currently Customer Service Manager at Harpers & Green Co, home of high-end shirts and also, rather unhelpfully, Bob Green: her ex-boyfriend (who also happens to be married). She is thousands of miles away from home and her job appears to be in jeopardy – safe to say, Josie’s going through a wobbly patch. So when the rather handsome Callum Doherty, (just picture blue eyes and Irish good looks) begins flirting with Josie, she is thrilled…until she realizes she’s not the only girl at work with her eye on the office heart-throb. How can she compete against her pert-bottomed rival from the accounts department? Josie’s love-life takes another complicated and unexpected turn when out of the blue Josie receives a mysterious Facebook friend request from her high-school sweetheart, Tom Barker. Tom is keeping something from her, drawing her in and causing her to question if it’s time to reconnect the past with the present. It’s time for some soul searching. Will Josie take the emotional trip back to the UK or try her luck with the handsome Mr. Doherty? Is there heartbreak ahead in Josie’s future?


I absolutely adored this book!! Josie is such a fun character. She puts her foot in her mouth frequently, she is a bit of a mess, but she is one of those characters that you just know would be your best friend if you met her.

Ella Slayne has such a charming voice to her story telling and I think I ran the gauntlet of emotions in this book. From the giddy moment of a realized crush to the heartbreaking realization that you can't cure what ails everyone. Two very different leading men to tempt our Josie's heart, Callum and Tom, make things very difficult. The supporting group of characters are a good combination and all bring a unique perspective to the story.

This is such a fun chick lit novel that I think everyone will love as much as I did. Ella Slayne has such talent and I hope we have something new soon from her.

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Ella Slayne is originally from the UK and now lives in the US with her family. Her first novel, High-Heels And Slippers, is available as an ebook at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble and in paperback at Amazon. For more info please stop by her website: Highheelsandslippers or leave a comment on her blog: Ella Slayne. You can follow her on Twitter: here or check out her Facebook page: here. Stop by and say hi, she would love to hear from you!

If you leave a comment on Ella's blog page at Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Guest Post: Attraction to writers by author, Monique Domovitch



Deciding to become a writer was a natural extension of falling in love.



People often ask me what attracted me to the life of a writer, and I have to say it was a natural extension of falling in love…with books, which I have been for as long as I can remember.

I remember my mother taking me to the public library when I was as young as four years old, when she introduced me to Madeline, the little schoolgirl. As teenager, I discovered Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, and then Harlequin books. And then I really fell in love for the first time. I was in England where my friends introduced me to a book by Wilbur Smith.
I think I hadn't read ten pages of his book--can't remember the title anymore--when I knew this was it. I could spend the rest of my life in bed with this writer's books.

Over the next few years, this author’s books made me discover Africa, where I met animals I'd never heard of, and villains the likes of which I hope to never meet. I was swept into his stories of love and passion and greed; stories from which I never wanted to walk away. I devoured book after book of his, until, of course, the inevitable happened. I caught up with every last one of his books and was left adrift until his next book hit the stands. And I, fickle reader that I am, had an affair with a few other authors and then it happened again. I read Dominic Dunne. And wham. I was in love again.

With Dominic Dunne’s books, I spent time with the truly rich and the truly manipulative. How can anyone forget books like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, or An Inconvenient Woman, or A Season in Purgatory. Once I discovered them, I was hooked. Forgive me Dominic, for I betrayed you too, when I discovered my next big love, Nelson De Mille.

De Mille is a master of sharp, snappy talk and he makes all those words come out of the mouth of a sexy good cop with a bad attitude--John Corey. Now here's the funny part. I don't really know what John Corey looks like, except that he has scars on his chest from some bullet wounds. I also know that John Corey is almost as fickle when it comes to love as I am. He seems to fall in love with a different woman in almost every one of his adventures. That is, until he met and married Kate. But who knows, so far she's only been around for a couple of novels. For all I know she'll be dropped off, maybe even killed off in the next book, and then sexy John will be available again and I can go on dreaming.


Now here's something you might not know about me. I'm married, and—get this—my husband doesn't mind my little dalliances with all these authors...as long as I don't meet them in person that is.
And why am I blabbing about all these loves of mine? because, my dears, every time I start a new project, I hope with all my heart, that I infuse my novel with enough passion and ambition and greed that when you, dear reader, read my work, you will fall—perhaps just a little bit—in love with my characters. And I promise to be kind to you, even knowing that I will never be able to write fast enough to keep your from someday leaving me for some other writer.


C’est la vie!

Monique


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Monique is currently on tour with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for her novel, "Scorpio Rising".



If the cost of love was the loss of success, which would you choose? Some people have ambitions so great that they will trample anything and anyone to achieve them. Born in Brooklyn from an embittered mother, Alexander Ivanov climbs his way to a better life in New York. Thousands of miles away, beautiful Brigitte Dartois also has big dreams and raging ambitions.


Official Website
Facebook
Twitter

If you comment on Monique's Chick Lit Plus blog tour page, you are entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!




Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope that each of you has had a very blessed day. Today, and always, I am thankful for:

My family. They may drive me crazy at times, and vice versa, but I love them with all my heart.

My friends. So many of you are family to me and I am beyond lucky to have each of you in my life. You help me soar but also know when to pull me back down to ground.

My Tyson. Yeah, he has cranky face on most of the time, but he shows love in his own way on a daily basis.

My job. It may not be glamorous, but it is all mine and I am thankful to have it and to enjoy what I do.

Those that provide entertainment, inspiration, and creativity in my life through their own efforts.

The brave men and women that dedicate their lives to ensuring that we continue to be free and safe. Their sacrifice is the ultimate and they deserve all the respect and blessings in the world.

I hope you count your blessings today and make sure to tell those that make your life better how happy you are to have them.

Traditions and a Giveaway!

One of my favorite new authors this year, Misa Rush, has an absolutely wonderful book out called "Family Pieces". (Reviewed here.) This book centers around a pretty cool family tradition in the form of a puzzle piece charm that is worn on a necklace. Each piece interlocks, completing the family circle.

Misa and I exchanged a quick volley of tweets and decided to host a giveaway based on you telling us what is your favorite family tradition? That's it! Leave a comment between now and Friday, December 1st, for a chance to win Misa's debut novel, "Family Pieces" in either print or e-copy version.



A little bit about "Family Pieces":
What do you do when your once charmed life falls to pieces? Karsen Woods' life seems charmed from her hunkalicious boyfriend to her picture-perfect midwestern roots. Away at college, even the necklace she wears serves as a constant connection home - a family tradition created when her grandfather handmade each immediate relative an interlinking charm. Each piece crafted in the shape of a puzzle piece, each one interlinking perfectly together. But when the unexpected death of her mother turns her world upside down, she discovers there is a missing piece of her treasured family tradition and her life as she once knew it may never be the same. Addison Reynolds resides in her posh Manhattan condominium and wraps her personal identity around running Urbane, the magazine empire built by her father. In a moment of haste, Addison divulges her deepest secret to her closest friend Emily - a secret she never intended to disclose. Could one choice, one secret, bond two unlikely women forever?


This is one of my favorite books this year and I can't wait to share the love with one of you.

So, share your favorite family tradition and tell your family and friends to come on over and share traditions as well! Good luck!!

(By the way, be sure to leave me a way to contact you in case you win. :) )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's that time!

The Chick Lit Plus Challenge 2012 is up and ready for you to sign up!

I joined this for 2011 and I have loved it! I have met some absolutely lovely people through the challenge. And, of course, I am on board for 2012's challenge!

(In fact, a new blog will be debuting for the new year that will be housing all my reviews for books as I try to get back into some life blogging on this one.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review: Chosen by Denise Grover Swank



Everything Emma Thompson owns fits in a suitcase she moves from one roach infested motel to another. She and Jake, her five year old son who can see the future, are running from the men intent on taking him. Emma will do anything to protect him even when it means accepting the help of a stranger named Will. Jake insists she needs Will, but Emma’s never needed help before. And even though she’s learned to trust her son, it doesn’t mean she trusts Will.

Mercenary Will Davenport lives in the moment. Hauling Emma to South Dakota should have been an easy job, but his employer neglected to tell him about Emma’s freaky son and the gunmen hot on her trail. Instinct tells him this job is trouble, but nothing can prepare him for Jake’s proclamation that Will is The Chosen One, who must protect Emma from the men hunting her power. A power she doesn’t know she has.

Will protects Emma and Jake on a cross-country chase from the men pursuing them, while struggling with memories from his past, his apprehension of Jake, and his growing attraction to Emma. Will’s overwhelming urge to protect Emma surprises him, especially since it has nothing to do with his paycheck and possibly everything to do with the tattoo Jake branded on his arm. Rich and powerful men are desperate to capture Emma, and Will must discover why before it’s too late.


This is another book where I am struggling to come up with a review for. Not because the book was bad. It is the complete opposite. I couldn’t stop reading once I started, finding myself staying up later than intended because I needed to read “just one more page”. When I read Denise Grover Swank’s first book, “Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes”, I noticed that she had books in other genres as well and was thrilled when Samantha with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours asked me if I was interested in reviewing two more books for Denise. The first one up was “Chosen”.

To sum the book up in one word – Intense. I was immediately drawn into the plight of Emma and her adorable and yet troubled son, Jake. Wise beyond his years, it was often Jake that seemed to be the one steering the wheel for them. Both are strong in their own ways, Emma wanting to protect her son at all cost and Jake, in return, wanting to protect his mother. Enter Will Davenport, clearly with an agenda in “assisting” Emma and Jake, but also just as clearly conflicted. It was the character of Will that I was most fascinated with and wanted to learn more about. Will falling in love with Emma, and vice versa, happened a little too fast for me. I wasn’t sure if I could believe they were in love or if it was the trauma of the situation they were in and turning to each other for comfort. But as the explanation about Jake and his “gift” was unveiled, it made sense.

While there is a love story of sorts that unfolds, this is not a romance book. It is a roller coaster ride, up and downs and your imagination is a requirement. Denise knows how to write a character that doesn’t have to say much to draw you into the story with vivid descriptions bringing the scenario to life. My second book from Denise and I give it a thumbs up!!

If you would like to learn more about Denise and her books, please visit her at any of the following:

Denise's website
Blog
Goodreads Author Page
Facebook
Twitter

If you leave a comment on Denise's Blog Tour Page, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Inspiration in Imagination: A guest post by author, Denise Grover Swank



When I learned to read, an entire world opened to me. I didn’t just read books. I devoured them. In my first grade class, each student got a caterpillar with little bubbles we could color for each book we read. My teacher had to keep getting me more sheets. My caterpillar stretched to the side and around the corner. By the end of the year, I’d read 187 books.

As I got older, I always had a book in my hand and it wasn’t uncommon for my mother to find me hiding under covers reading with a flashlight instead of sleeping. (Some things never change. I’m still known for not going to sleep at appropriate times.)

By the time I was a teen, I’d blown through Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Which produced a semi-obsession with all things pioneer related and inspired me to create sunbonnets out of baby dresses. See? I had a wild imagination even back then.) I moved onto adult books. Barbara Cartland, Stephen King, LaVerle Spencer, J.R. Tolkien, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Robin Cook, T.H. White Do you notice a trend here? Yeah. Me neither. There is none. I literally read everything I could get my hands on. During the summer, it was common for me read a book a day. The library became my best friend.

When I started a family, my reading time decreased, although I would often cook and bathe kids with one hand and have a book in another. But my genre hopping still continued, now moving onto to Patricia Cornwell, Janet Evanovich, Michael Crighton, Mary Janice Davidson, Stephenie Meyer. (So I actually own up to that one. Sue me.)

Lately, I’ve gone through a paranormal romance and young adult craze. And let’s not forget the Game of Thrones marathon reads. But my current favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen, who writes adult magical realism. She was actually a partial inspiration for my humorous southern mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. Her books are sweet and southern with a dash of paranormal thrown in.

Here’s the fact: I like change. I thrive on it. If I spend too much time reading one genre, it becomes stale. And if I was chained to a single genre to write, I’d probably gnaw my limb off to get away. Because even though writing is the most fun career I’ve ever had, it’s also the hardest. If I start writing stories that don’t excite me, then I might as well hang it all up. The only way I know to keep it fresh is to keep moving around.

Besides, I never know when and where inspiration for story ideas will strike next. It just might be in my next great read.
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You can find out more about this talented lady at the following:
Denise's website
Blog
Goodreads Author Page
Facebook
Twitter

If you leave a comment on Denise's blog tour page, you are entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When Books Become Movies: A guest psot from author Kathleen Kole

When Books Become Movies

When writing my books, there’s no question I have a mental image of my characters in my head. It’s pretty much impossible to write without that mental image, as it allows me to give meaning and depth to their movements, expressions and conversation.

That being said, I think it becomes great fun to take things one step further and ask the question, “Whom would I cast in each character’s role, should this book ever see the light of film?” Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to share my vision with you, as Michelle was kind enough to offer me the chance by asking me to write my guest post about this very thing!

Here is a list of actors I could see stepping into my character’s shoes and bringing them to life on screen. Let’s see if you happened to visualize the same people, or at least individuals who are a very close match. Here we go!

April:
When I first began writing April, I hadn’t assigned any one known female to represent her in my thoughts. However, upon reflection, I’d say Drew Barrymore would absolutely fit the bill to bring April to life. Drew has that girl-next-door quality I imagined in April, is about the same build and has shown herself to be able to adapt to many different roles and make you believe in whomever she is in that moment.




Kevin:

Kevin is definitely a man who would be called handsome, as opposed to pretty. He’s a great looking guy, but would make an ugly woman. He’s strong and solid and carries himself with confidence; thus I believe the actor, Nathan Fillion, would be a perfect match to portray him on screen.



Gerritt:
This character was an easy one for me. Gerritt is charming, lean, unconventionally good looking, worldly - who better than Isaiah Mustafa to bring him to life?




Jessica:

April’s sister took me a while to match to a current actress in her mid-thirties. It was actually my husband who was able to give a face to her character and I think he did a great job. The talents of Christina Hendricks seemed the ideal match to Jessica. She matches Jessica’s curvy build and comes across as a strong and intelligent woman - just like Jess.



Carol and Deborah:
Almost from the inception of this book, I had an image of both Carol and Deborah in my mind’s eye. The talented Edie McClurg would be the perfect person to breath life into Carol’s character and Parker Posey would possess and bring fantastic animation to the role of Deborah.





Denise and Heidi:
I believe Margaret Cho would be brilliant in the role of Denise. As her sidekick, Heidi, I’d happily cast Melissa McCarthy - both of these actresses are funny and charismatic, exactly what I believe these characters would need when on screen.





Ed and Bob:
And, finally, the husband’s of Carol and Deborah. I think it would be fun to see Carol’s husband, Ed, embodied by none other than Jeffrey Jones. (Yes, for all you “Ferris” fans, it would be a fun hat tip and that’s an added bonus in my world!) As for Bob, I believe Kevin James would be spot on to bring to life Deborah’s patient and slightly downtrodden husband.





Well, I think that wraps it up - or not! Don’t for a moment think I’ve forgotten the unique and smile worthy Thomas! I would love to see Thomas brought to the big screen by the talented and charming Craig Ferguson. Imagine Craig "aged up" by approximately ten years with unruly Einstein hair, a Van Dyke beard, eclectic clothing and charming Scottish brogue - what fun it would be to see that!



Okay, that really does wrap this post up. A huge thank you to Michelle for giving me this fun opportunity. If you already had character ideas of your own in your mind’s eye, wonderful. If not, then I hope these actors will breath an added dimension of vitality into the book as you read.

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Kathleen Kole was born in Edmonton AB and graduated from college with a Diploma in Radio and Television Arts. Her career path has included writing in the fields of advertising, television and newspaper - and most recently novel writing. Kathleen relocated from Edmonton to Kelowna BC and resides there with her beloved husband, adored son and their happy-go-lucky dog. Dollars to Donuts is Kathleen's second published novel and she is currently working on her third, to be published in December.

Visit Kathleen at her website and on twitter.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Follow me by email!

Woo-hoo!!
You can now follow my blog's updates by email via the handy dandy little gadget located on the upper right hand side.

Review: Dollars to Donuts by Kathleen Kole



Take one newspaper columnist; move her from the anonymity of her home city to a sleepy, small town; add a dollop of nosey, suspicious and just plain odd neighbors; a dash of mystery in the form of a stained garbage can and a rodent and, finally, a large pinch of unsettling attraction to a virtual stranger and you’ll find yourself with a recipe that imitates April Patterson’s life.

Sound strange? It is.

April Patterson had no idea that when she decided to follow the path of family and love, she would find herself an unwitting player in an eyebrow raising cul-de-sac mystery, grasping for her privacy as she plays “Dodge the Neighbor” and being forced to examine her relationship motives ... all before she had unpacked her last box!

Taking a deep breath, and a large bite into a comforting donut, April consoles herself with the knowledge that it will all work out. It always does ... doesn’t it?


Oh Kathleeen Kole, you have done it again...you have given me another fun filled read, an adorably charming chick-lit novel. I love the character of April Patterson. I think of all the books I have reviewed this year, this is the one that I identified with the most. Accused by her sister, Jessica, of letting her life live her instead of the other way around, April evidently has a history of bouncing from one situation to the next. I can relate, most definitely.

The big problem starts when her live-in boyfriend, Kevin, brings home a house guest: His extremely attractive friend, Gerritt, who needs somewhere to stay after a freak accident destroys part of his house. You can't always control what your heart wants, especially when your head is already feeling restless. This is where all the insanity starts to ensue - crazy stalkers and even crazier neighbors. Seeing as how I think my neighbors are insane (hippies on one side, pigeon raising paranoid kooks on the other) I was amused to read all the gossip of the neighborhood. (I wonder what MY neighbors would do if dead squirrels started to show up on their doorsteps? Ha!)

I love Kathleen's writing style. She brings to life fun characters with a lot of spunk to them. I even gifted this book to my mom, who loved it as well! Give it a whirl, you are going to thank me for recommending this lovely author to you.



Kathleen Kole was born in Edmonton AB and graduated from college with a Diploma in Radio and Television Arts. Her career path has included writing in the fields of advertising, television and newspaper - and most recently novel writing. Kathleen relocated from Edmonton to Kelowna BC and resides there with her beloved husband, adored son and their happy-go-lucky dog. Dollars to Donuts is Kathleen's second published novel and she is currently working on her third, to be published in December.

Visit Kathleen at her website and on twitter.

If you go over to Kathleen's tour page at Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours and leave a comment you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: "Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe" by Anne McAneny



A wedding order at The Secret Lives of Cupcakes Shop is always reason for Millie Morris to celebrate – except when the groom is her ex-boyfriend and the bride is the woman he dumped her for. Still, it’s business for her mom’s shop. Millie even makes a good-faith effort to shoo the groom away when he confides his doubts about the marriage. But when Millie's job as a crime reporter finds her covering a big court case, she must choke down her unresolved feelings like a burnt cupcake slathered in bitter frosting… because the bride is the lead lawyer on the case. Unexpectedly intertwined on multiple levels with both her ex and his fiancée, Millie must choose to either remain in her half-baked state of existence or finally rise above it.


I am a big fan of chick lit books, obviously. I particularly love when they are laugh out loud funny and this book was just that. Millie Morris finds herself in one predicament after another and has to rely on her quick wits to help her rise above the claws of her ex's new fiancee, Laura. The ex is also proving to be quite a problem as Sam has decided to unload all his doubts about his upcoming nuptials on Millie. Anne McAneny has created a cast of zany characters that will make you smile.

The side stories are entertaining, particularly co-worker at the cupcake shop, Josh, and his quest to find his "mystery angel". I had a few moments of getting uptight when Sam kept coming around and Millie was starting to question her feelings. Luckily there is a hunky truck driver and a mystery man from the grocery store to spice this story up.

I have to warn that you will end up craving cupcakes, by the way. Each chapter is named for an actual cupcake and I had to stifle the urge to run to Sprinkles a couple of times.

This is a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And Anne, I have a big bone to pick with you - I have had "Jesse" by Carly Simon on my mind since I read this!



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Anne McAneny lives in Virginia with her husband, children, two ferrets and a cat who currently answers to Mythical Flarb or Food. In addition to three e-books, Anne has written several screenplays that float through Hollywood on a regular basis. Her latest chick-lit novel, OUR EYES MET OVER CANTALOUPE, features Stuffed Cupcakes and Belgian beer... she really should have called it "Personal Nirvana." Her previous chick-lit novel, CHUNNELING THROUGH FORTY, sold well enough to gain the interest of literary agent April Eberhardt, who now represents her. Not limited to one genre, Anne has also written FORETELLER, a mystery-thriller that takes readers on a heart-pounding journey into the past with a doomed archaeologist who must fight to ensure her own future. Anne loves to hear from readers and wishes everyone HAPPY READING!


Anne's blog
Facebook
Kindle Author Page
Twitter
Nook page

For something fun, if you visit Anne's page on Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours and leave a comment you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card AND a dozen stuffed cupcakes from Stuffed Cupcakes. (Just a warning, don't be hungry when you check out that site or you are going to be drooling on your keyboard.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life is truly beautiful!

A few weeks back I posted about needing an ass kicking jaw jarring jolt to get myself out of the funky doldrums that I was stuck in. I'm beyond pleased to say that things are on such a positive high for me right now.

First off, the new position! I have toiled in the trenches for five and a half years, 2 1/2 in the current position, wondering when I was going to get back on my feet. I am on loan to A/P for another week and then it is off to the Global Mobility Department and to learn to be an expense analyst. The challenge is big for this job, the chance to grow in the department is also big. I am ready for it!

It also means that I will be able to get out on my own again. And that is an exciting prospect for me! I have already begun the apartment hunt. It won't happen until January, but I need to get plans rolling. Besides I need living room furniture (I have leather furniture which I hate and do NOT want to take to another place).

I have surrounded myself with a fabulous support system and some absolutely incredible friends.

I see a new year approaching and instead of beating myself up over what have I achieved, I see that I have actually taken huge steps forward and am ready to greet 2012. (I am ready to celebrate the rest of 2011, too.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Post: Inspired From The Heart by author, Heather Hummel


Inspired from the Heart

Heather Hummel

I was just nine years old when I had open heart surgery. As a third grader, this was naturally quite traumatic, especially in 1974 when medical advances weren’t near what they are today. I missed a significant amount of school due to the surgery and recovery. And yet, the fall of ‘74 signifies my earliest memory of focusing on being a writer. Certainly my writings were youthful in nature. Some were journal entries; some were short stories and poems. Yet, these were the beginnings of my interest in writing, and signified the pieces that I shared with the one writer who inspired me.

My grandmother, Dorothy Crispo, was not your typical fuzzy-top, spaghetti making grandmother. She was a dynamic, international traveler and business woman who spent much of her youth and early adult life in the 1940’s through ‘60’s between California, New York and South America. But it wasn’t until she put her suitcase down and picked up a pen that her writing career was defined. Though she penned two books, it was her gag writing that set her apart from other writers. As one of the top “gag writers” in New York City in the ‘40s and ‘50s, she wrote a newspaper column titled Dear Dorothy that was akin to Ann Landers, but with a saucy, spunky twist. The top cartoonists of those times sought her out as their gag writer for their submissions to periodicals such as the Saturday Evening Post. Her gag writing even launched the careers of comedians such as Joan Rivers.

It was this writer, Mima to me, who inspired me because she didn’t conform to one genre. She wrote from the heart, using wit and substance at the core. With seven fluent languages to her tongue, Mima,a stunning, elegant blond, whose wit was as sharp as her wardrobe was later a translator in the California court systems, hence her book How to Speak Everyday Spanish. Mima wrote about topics that inspired her, and in turn, that is what has inspired me.

There are authors who influence us, and there are authors who inspire us. Quite a distinct difference. For example, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley is a book, among two others, that has influenced my newest novel $1 and $100. When $1 and $100 is published, I will be traveling much like Steinbeck did to talk to people of all walks of life about $1 and $100’s theme: how do you relate to money? Like Steinbeck, I too will be on a cross country voyage with my dogs (my eighth, their fourth), as I develop a documentary to balance the novel’s message.

As someone who has been inspired to follow her heart as a writer, I have taken on projects that range from my own novels to celebrity ghostwriting to my own nonfiction book. My career started out when I became a feature writer for a family magazine something I did while I taught high school English. Since those days, I have managed to find consistency in the seeming melting-pot of my career. I, like my grandmother, write from the heart. And, this governing theme became the core of my novel’s series…Journals from the Heart. The first two novels WHISPERS FROM THE HEART and WRITE FROM THE HEART focus on journal writing from the heart. From a high school English teacher who inspires her students through journal writing (WHISPERS) to a single woman who uses her journals as a reflection on lost loves and as anticipation of her future (WRITE), the essence of writing from the heart remains pure.



Certainly there are modern day authors whom I respect many whose works I’ve read, enjoyed and have even been influenced by. But, since I was inspired at an age and a time when I didn’t know if I would even see my teen years (due to my heart condition), let alone excel in adulthood as an author, the role model of my grandmother during my youth is singly my one inspiration.

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Thank you, Heather, for such a beautiful guest post. And thank you to Samantha, as always, for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

Heather Hummel is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series. She is an award winning author and celebrity ghostwriter.
Her published works include:
Journals from the Heart Series: Whispers from the Heart (2011 eBook) and Write from the Heart (2011 eBook)
Nonfiction: GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe (2011 eBook) and Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill, 2008), - Merit Award of the 2009 Mature Media Awards,

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.Visit Heather at her website
You can also find her at:
Heather on Twitter
Heather on Facebook

Leave a comment on Heather's blog tour page to be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon: Blog Tour Page
If you purchase your copy of Whispers from the Heart from October 7- 31 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Whispers from the Heart by Heather Hummel



Whispers: The heart's way of speaking...

Madison Ragnar is a high school English teacher determined to connect with her students, to finish the next running race with a respectable time, and to avoid ever falling in love again.

But life has other plans for Madison. A man named Michael shows himself in the most unexpected places, raising questions from her best friend, Olivia, and issues around Madison's last relationship.

In the classroom, the death of a student prompts her grieving ninth graders to depend on her for answers. They turn to journal writing as a form of understanding the weight of what's happened in the walls of their teenage existence.

When Madison meets Phil, who throws a wrench in her declaration to not fall in love, it seems that her escape through miles of running is the only real footing she has in life.

Will fate determine Madison's life? Or will she have a say in its outcome?


I have to admit that this is a hard review for me to write up. I have started and re-started it numerous times over the last couple of days. There is so much I want to say and yet have to be very careful what I am saying so as not to spoil the book."Go read this book" doesn't do it the justice it deserves. Heather Hummel has wrote such a heartfelt and touching book. Madison Ragnar was such an intriguing character. One of those that made you want to hug her and tell her it is going to be okay.

I really loved that Madison's past was not delved too deeply into, just enough to let you know that there was a bad relationship and that Madison wasn't willing to put her heart into another situation where she could get hurt. I admit that I was very leery of Michael's presence and each time he showed up I kept waiting for a big bombshell. When it was finally revealed I have to honestly say I never expected it. And Phil...where in real life is a man like him? Because I am calling dibs on him! The swerve of the love story was handled so rationally. I don't know if I could have handled it that way, but I liked it.

The death of the student was handled delicately and it was heartbreaking. It showed so much strength in Madison to keep herself in control and not fall apart in front of the children in the classroom.

If you want a book that is going to pull at your heart in numerous directions, this is the book for you. I cried, I cheered for Madison to find herself, and I smiled as she learned to trust herself to love again. This is the first of a trilogy and I'm anxious to read the next book and find what Heather has in store for her readers.


Heather Hummel is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series. She is an award winning author and celebrity ghostwriter.
Her published works include:
Journals from the Heart Series: Whispers from the Heart (2011 eBook) and Write from the Heart (2011 eBook)
Nonfiction: GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe (2011 eBook) and Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill, 2008), - Merit Award of the 2009 Mature Media Awards,

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.Visit Heather at her website
You can also find her at:
Heather on Twitter
Heather on Facebook

Leave a comment on Heather's blog tour page to be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon: Blog Tour Page
If you purchase your copy of Whispers from the Heart from October 7- 31 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Monday, October 10, 2011

Island Time!

After working my morning away on a Saturday, I was in need of a little “island get-away”. And Hula’s Modern Tiki was just the place! I don’t remember where I had heard about this restaurant from, but have been dying to try it for a couple of weeks. It does not disappoint!

The décor is very Hawaiian and fun. As you can see from the awesome Tiki statues that lined the shelves above the tables. I wanted to take one home with me, in fact. (Cue images of “The Brady Bunch” in Hawaii and Oliver, the Tiki God, they had to return.)



One thing to be careful of is the time you are there. On Saturday and Sundays they only serve brunch, a very limited menu, from 10:30AM – ???. I ended up choosing the Kona coffee battered French toast with apple and plantain compote, bacon, and a side of scrambled eggs. Tina ended up getting a Caesar salad and lobster bisque and Abby had the macaroni and cheese.



Delicious!! For the price ($10 for the French toast and bacon and $1.50 for the eggs) it was a great deal. I had never had a plantain before and while it wasn’t my favorite taste, it was pretty good cooked up with the apples. I had a bite of the lobster bisque as well and that was also pretty tasty. Abby liked her mac and cheese, but she wasn’t overly fond of the truffle oil. She much preferred the Caesar salad as she kept eating from Tina’s.

The only complaint I had with the whole day was the fact that our waitress was extremely slow. After waiting for 20 minutes for her to bring back the check, which time we had NO idea where she had disappeared to, we called for a manager who took care of us.

I am definitely planning to go back, preferably at night so I can try something off of the delicious dinner menu.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ummm...Guess what?

I GOT THE JOB!!!

*twirls around*

Ouch, that makes me too dizzy!

After five weeks of interviews, the job was offered to me. I'm still at the same company but moving into a different position.

To say that I am thrilled is an understatement!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Interview with Author, JF Kristin



1 - Did you always aspire to be a writer?

I've been writing since very early childhood, and before I could write stories down myself, I used to tell them to my parents. So yes, definitely! Reading and creative writing were my favorite parts of elementary school. While Rock Star's Girl is my debut novel, if you asked my parents, they'd probably tell you that it was really a short novel I wrote as a kid about the adventures of four dogs named Clover, Flower, Grass, and Leaf.



2 - Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

Writing-wise, my biggest inspiration is anyone out there who launches a book, whether they're doing so independently or through a publisher. There is so much more that goes into getting a book out there into the world than completing that first draft. In terms of being part of the arts world, my biggest inspiration is everyone out there who follows their bliss and creates because they love it. Kudos to all of you.

Life-wise, my parents have been my biggest inspiration. They've encouraged my writing for my entire life, and always taught me that there are no limitations to what I can do. Their support and love have inspired me in all parts of my life, for my entire life.


3 - The rock star girlfriend dream is one that many women have at some point in their lives. Who was your rock star crush?


Although I've dated a few musicians, I'm not sure I've ever had a rock star crush -- actually, that's not true. When I was 16, I did have a rock star crush on the keyboard player in a Canadian band that will not be named, because a friend ended up becoming part of that band years later and so I've since met him! I think it was all about his hair. I will fully admit that I used to have a thing for rock star hair.

Right now I jokingly say I have a writer crush (not rock star crush) on Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event. By that I mean that I have the utmost respect for him as a writer. Back in April, I ended up at a show the band did at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, and before that night, knew all of two songs by them. By the time they played a song called "All For A Woman" that night, I was hooked on the band's lyrics. Not long after, I was looking up something online and came across an article Jollett had written several years before the band's existence. To say his writing blew me away is an understatement. He has an ability to paint scenes, images, and stories with words that is remarkable and very rare.



4 - Have you thought about going back and telling more of this story? What further predicaments Emily can get herself into?

Given that Emily lives in L.A., there is probably no shortage of predicaments she can get herself into. The city is a non-stop adventure. I haven't thought about revisiting Emily yet, although I have had thoughts about two other "rock star" books involving different characters and entirely different aspects of the music world.



5 - How did you celebrate the selling of your first book?

I think I let myself have a nap, and the celebration happened the next weekend after I'd caught up on sleep and more books were sold. The days leading up to launching a book are incredibly busy, or at least they were for me. Because of that, and because I'm out celebrating friends' birthdays or other events, or going to concerts or comedy shows, or just meeting up with friends all the time, I think sleep can feel like celebrating!



6 - What's your advice for writers just starting out in terms of dealing with rejection?

Don't take rejection personally, and understand that writing is a business. If someone passes on your work, that isn't an agent or editor or publisher rejecting you personally, or even necessarily your writing skill. The last few years haven't produced an easy economy to work with, which can also make the writing world more of a challenge for new writers. Just keep writing, and believing in your writing, but also listen to any feedback agents, editors, other writers, and your readers take the time to give you.



7 – If you were to make your book into a movie, who is your dream cast?

I think I need a month of catching up on recently-released movies to truly answer this! The last year and a half has been really busy, so I haven't kept up on some of the rising actors out there who might fit the bill for 'dream cast.' I think Kristen Bell could make a really fun Emily, though.


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Thank you, Jennifer, for such a fun interview!

You should not only check out "Rock Star's Girl", which was such a great book, but check out Jennifer's bio. She lives by the mantra of "Dream Big" and I think her philosophy is fascinating.

Jennifer's website
Jennifer's Twitter

Thank you, Samantha from Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, for including me in this tour!

**Photograph used courtesy of Jeff Ryan Photography**

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Rock Star's Girl by JF Kristin



Emily Watts just wants a weekend break from the workaholic hours she’s taken on to keep her business – a popular fashion-snark web site – up and running. What she gets is overnight celebrity and a career-killing media scandal.

While taking time out to attend a concert in support of friend Jesse Cinder, a struggling musician, Emily meets Cory Sampson, the lead singer of a chart-topping rock band. When she agrees to a date with Cory, making entertainment headlines is the last thing she expects. Even so, it’s a minor surprise by comparison to her discovery that in the music world, media notoriety trumps all. Tabloid allegations erupt when Cory and fame-hungry Jesse use Emily for personal gain, and her tarnished image spells disaster – personally and professionally. To save the web site and writing career she’s made her life and dream, Emily must go from being a pawn in the Hollywood headline game to becoming the media mastermind.


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Do you remember being a young girl and having that rock star girl fantasy? I do! It was Rick Springfield and I didn’t care if he was 20+ years older than me, I wanted to marry him. When Samantha from Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours asked me if I wanted to review JF Kristin’s book “Rock Star’s Girl”, I was hooked the second I read the synopsis.

I loved this book. I found it so fascinating for the little glimpse into the life of a rock star's “girlfriend”. In what appears to be such a superficial world, I loved that Emily kept her head together the best she could. And I love that she had that best friend, Shelby, to help keep her feet planted on the ground. I’m not a big fan of the tabloids (refuse to read them) or gossip sites (TMZ gets my attention every once in a while) because of the very reason they are portrayed in this book – they are there to cause drama.

The character of Emily was absolutely charming. She is your every girl that gets herself mixed up in the spotlight of fame and has to find herself while allowing herself to fall in love as well. The ending of "Rock Star’s Girl" was not typical, which I think worked perfectly for the situation that Emily found herself in. The supporting characters were interesting and tied the story together perfectly. I went back and forth over Jesse and Cory. Both had high and low points, too bad their desire for fame interfered with them honestly being in love with Emily. (Or allowing themselves to show how in love with Emily they were without needing to capitalize on publicity, as the case may be.)

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you are a fan of the music scene or ever just wondered “what if” about a rock star, this is going to grab your attention and hold it from page one through the end. The tale that JF Kristin wove is compelling, well thought out, and just when you think you know where Emily is going, you get hit with a twist.
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BIO:


(Picture courtesy of Jeff Ryan Photography)

J.F. Kristin (Jennifer) has been writing since the day she picked up a navy blue Crayola as a toddler and began scribbling on her parents' freshly painted white walls. When not writing novels, Jennifer writes about both writing and ecommerce, and previously spent a number of years as a freelance promotional writer and web designer for musicians. In the early days of the Web, she ran the Society for Preventing Parents from Naming Their Children Jennifer (SPPNTCJ), a tongue-in-cheek web site that welcomed millions of visitors during its run, received coverage from print, broadcast, and online media, was included in an academic textbook, and was studied on a college course. Jennifer is currently at work on her second novel.

Jennifer's website
Jennifer's Twitter

See what people are saying (and buy your copy) at the following:
Rock Star's Girl at Amazon
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Smashwords

Tune in tomorrow for a fun interview with Jennifer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mindless coasting

I am in need of an ass-kicking, jaw-jarring jolt! I am lacking something in my life. That little spark. I am feeling that I am just coasting along, not working towards or for anything but going from point A to point B.

I tend to do this from time to time. I usually spend too much time in my head and start to over-think and over-analyze things. This usually results in a bitter funk residing over and around me. I’m not at that point, but I am very restless. My feet are tapping to the gypsy beat, I want to be out roaming around. But alas, job duties and tight money situation prevent that from happening. I dream of New York a lot lately. Maybe it is because I watch “Friends” at night on Nick-At-Nite as I go to sleep. Maybe what the morning DJ was saying is true – everyone deserves the chance to live in New York City for a year. (Give me the money to support myself for that year and I would gladly be there in NYC.)

I need something to stimulate my brain. My job is not providing that to me. I find myself daydreaming a lot of the time between the hours of 7:00Am to 3:45PM. I also find myself obsessing over what is going on with this position that I applied for and that usually leaves me feeling drained and lost. (Five interviews, people, and still no decision? Really? Really!?!?)

Guest Post: To Know and To Love by Shannon Hart



To Know and To Love

I’ll be completely honest here, when I found out I was doing a guest post, I was jumping up and down in my room for about five minutes until I realized I didn’t know what to write about. Then, panic started to set in.

I knew I had a bit of time, but still, my mind was racing searching through corners of my brain to find a so-called brilliant topic to write about, something that would blow readers’ minds away. I went to my dear friend Samantha, asking her if she could give me some tips as well and she came up with much better ideas than I had, of course, but then I realized why those ideas were so good: they were about things I knew well.

I don’t know about other writers, but for me, before I wrote Until the End of Forever, I was hopping from genre to genre, looking for my niche. There was this phase that I had where I was writing children’s stories but then I would always start one, get stuck, and stop. Then, I went on to writing Young Adult stories. Short stories were fine, but when it came down to trying to write a whole 70,000 words novel, I couldn’t get past chapter 16! The voices sounded young, the characters were dynamic and exciting, but the issues were issues that I wasn’t sure today’s youth would get. I had to finally admit that I wasn’t young anymore (and cry about that for a few hours), and that I wasn’t that in sync with what the young one’s were dealing with these days. And being a mom to two toddlers didn’t really help either. The problems they were dealing with were more about what to watch and what to play than anything else. I kept all the chapters, but I haven’t touched them again since – and probably won’t until I get to actually spend time with real young adults and understand what matters to them most these days.

Then, on one magical night… Scratch that. Sounded way too corny. One evening, when I was feeling a bit of pressure on my own marriage because of some silly fight we had (I don’t even remember what it was about anymore but it was probably ridiculously lame), I decided I knew exactly what I should have been writing about all along: marriage. Not necessarily about my own marriage, but seeing as that I had been married for quite sometime, and since I was (and still am) a member of a married couples group, the amount of knowledge I had about marital issues exceeded the knowledge I had about almost anything else. When I started writing about my main characters’ – Rob and Sarah – relationship, I started with just background notes scribbled on an old notebook listing who they were, what they were like and how their personalities could potentially end up in conflict and from there, everything was smooth sailing right down to the end.

I developed a personal relationship with all my characters. Call me crazy or whatever (my husband certainly thought I was, he just never said it out loud), but at times, I felt like I was watching the two of them in a movie in my head. I watched how Rob and Sarah met, their wedding, and even their magical wedding night – though that part didn’t actually make the cut and ended up being edited out.

My point is (yes, there is a point here, I promise), when you write what you know, you’ll love your work even more because that’s what you’re passionate about. That sense of satisfaction when you read the final copy before it goes to print is just so overwhelming because you know what you’ve written is something so close to your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with challenging your abilities and writing out of your comfort zone either. This is great for those who can power through the difficulties and just do it. If you can, by all means, go for it! But for other writers, who know they have a voice but just can’t seem to get it together that first time around, I say (humbly), go back to the drawing board and start putting together things that you know; things you love; things you care about. It just makes it a heck of a lot easier. Not to say that writing should be easy, of course, but it builds your confidence and that’s important because at the end of the day, you have to love what you have written. And don’t worry about bad reviews because you know what, everything is so subjective. Everything they say about your story is just a matter of opinion so even though some may not like it, others will. Don’t think about how what you write has already been written before because hey, is there really anything new in this world? The issues are all still the same. It’s just a matter of packaging it differently and adding twists to it. Personally, and I emphasize here that this opinion really is personal, if writing is truly your passion, then you’re writing for you, not for anyone else. So really, what matters is what you love.

A very special thank you goes to Michelle Bell for welcoming me on her wonderful blog and giving me this opportunity to post, and to Samantha Robey, my friend, my editor and my kick-ass blog tour coordinator who is nothing short of a miracle worker. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re the best!

Thank you so much, Shannon, for such a delightful guest post and I'm so honored to have hosted you on my blog during your blog tour!

Come say hello to Shannon at the following places: website, blog, or twitter.

For something totally fun, if you leave a comment on Shannon's tour page, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Review: Until the End of Forever by Shannon Hart




“Sarah Matthews has everything in the world a woman could wish for: a loving husband; two beautiful children; a small business which she runs together with her sister-in-law; and even her own top of the range car. Why then does she keep having recurring nightmares?

Over a friendly lunch with her ex-lady boss, seeds of doubt and discontent begin to gnaw at her, and the realization dawns that she is no longer free to live a life of her own as she would wish. When offered the opportunity, therefore, to go to work in Paris for a month she finds herself unable to resist.

As Sarah takes us along with her on her journey, we are given a privileged insight into the workings of the female mind as her thoughts and feelings tumble around in an attempt to find answers."


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The premise of this book sounded so interesting that I couldn't wait to read it. The first couple pages had me slightly concerned as they dealt with a recurring nightmare that Sarah was having. That nightmare was of herself drowning and as someone with hydrophobia, I cringed as I was reading it. Voicing my thought on this on Twitter led to some reassurance from Shannon Hart that it was the only time it was talked about in depth. With that in mind I plugged on and am so glad that I did as this was just one of those books that makes you smile when it ends how you want it to.


Sarah has what seems to be the perfect life with the perfect husband, the perfect children, home, and jobs. But what about those nightmares? That is definitely not the sign of something "perfect". When her old boss offers her a chance to go to Paris for a few weeks on her own, Sarah takes the offer. Husband, Rob, doesn't take the news very well. How do you gracefully handle your wife telling you she is unhappy and needs to take a break from you? Regardless, Sarah jets off to Paris where she gets the time to do some self evaluating. A tragedy at home cuts the trip short and when she returns, she finds things aren't as perfect as they ever appeared.

I really enjoyed this book. I think that Sarah was such a charming character and despite her flaws she was genuine. She made rash decisions that weren't thought out and she made well thought out decisions. She learned a lesson and did it with all the human qualities. I didn't always enjoy her husband, Rob. A lot of times he felt very selfish but he ultimately showed the type of man he was.

The nightmares of drowning really made sense as I read this book. Sarah was "drowning" in a way because she was so unsettled with where she was in her life. As perfect as everything was on the outside, she was no fulfilled on the inside. Her journey to finding her perfection was a compelling read and I greatly enjoyed it. Shannon Hart's debut novel was such a lovely book and I hope that there will be more to come soon from such a talented lady.

You can find out more information about Shannon and her writing, or just to say hello at the following: website, blog, or twitter.

If you leave a comment on Shannon's tour page, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
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