Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In the Spotlight: Audio Books

I have been listening to audio books for the past two plus years. To me, it is like watching your favorite soap opera, reality show or a movie at the theater. Just like reading, listening to the action, the characters and all the artful descriptions, audio books take me into a world of fantasy and fun.
                I wasn’t sure if I’d even like audio books before I tried it. I mean talking books? Really? How bizarre, right? And who doesn’t love to partake in the stereotypical activity of curling up on your sofa with your favorite heros and heroines? But what about those long car rides when you are just tired of listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio? Or those days and nights when you’re too tired to read? I know lots of my friends get so into their books that it keeps them wide awake, turning page after page until dawn or until the book is finished – whichever seems to come first. But not me. No matter how much I adore a book, love its characters or am intrigued by the plot, reading often puts me into a state of relation, nearing (and often resulting in) sleep.  So I thought maybe audio books would be an interesting alternative to mend my weary mind but to still nourish my love of all things fiction. Plus, I figure, it never hurts to try something once. If I don’t’ like it, there’s no loss; but if I do like it, it will be one more vehicle to expose myself to more novels in my favorite genre – chick lit.
                The first book that I found in the audio book section that sparked my interest was a relatively new release  (this was back in ’09) called Twenties Girl. Written by one of my favorite authors, Sophie Kinsella, this British chick lit book was read by narrator, Rosalyn Landor, who I later came to find, read a few other books by Sophie Kinsella. The audio book edition of Twenties Girl turned out to be extremely humorous much to the credit of the author but also praise must be paid to the woman who delivered the fine words provided by the author.
Since Twenties Girl, I have listened to countless other audio books – from autobiographies to comedies, mysteries, thrillers and of course, chick lit. The more I’ve searched for audio books, the more I’ve found they’re everywhere. Listening to Twenties Girl and being able to compare it to other audio books later, made me realize that an audio book is only as entertaining as the right combination of writing and its narration. I feel lucky that the first audio book I picked out had this winning combination and set the tone for future enjoyment in listening to more chick lit books.  

Have you given audio books a try yet? What will you listen to next?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Star Book Review: The Last Page by Lacy Camey

The Last Page by Lacy Camey is a light hearted, quick and fun read in contemporary chick lit romance.  Norah Johnson, a would-be romance writer just can’t seem to catch a break. Devastated from a break up with a starting baseball player (a Yankee no less), Norah finds herself spiraling into a deep and dark depression. Just when no one can seem to get through to her, she finally gives in to her family’s requests and moves to their house on the beach for some serious R&R (rest and recuperation).
Alongside her sister and best friend and the beautiful, picturesque scenery, Norah hopes things will just get back to normal. She enlists the help of a professional therapist; and armed with her trusty pen, Norah attempts to write herself out of all the hurt and heartbreak she can’t seem to shake; but when a gorgeous local guy stumbles across of her writing, Norah gains a secret admirer determined to help mend her broken heart. Will Norah be ready for love when and if he finds her??
This book reminded me of Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks (great movie btw!) but from the opposite sex’s perspective. At times predictable, but always enjoyable, Lacy Camey showcases her skills at creating characters and dissecting their relationships. I felt really close to Norah throughout the novel , identifying with her problems and relationship with her sister and was definitely rooting for her the whole way through.  An easy book to read in one sitting. You’ll be at the last page before you know it!
A great book for anyone in search of self, freedom or just looking for some good entertainment.  I can’t wait for more from this new author and with The Last Page being the first in a series of books, we’re sure to see more fashion forward and chick lit friendly books in the near future.
For more on Lacy Camey and all the latest on her writing, check out her web page! Also check out her previous stops on the Chick Lit Plus Tour and more to come.

**BIG THANKS to Lacy Camey for sending me a copy of her e-book, The Last Page and to Samantha at Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for setting up the tour!!**

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Liebster Blog Award - Thanking Small Bloggers Everywhere

I love the name alone of this awardJ I could walk around all day saying it. If you’ve never heard of it (like me until now), the Liebster Award is given to encourage, highlight and congratulate small bloggers across the web. I was so excited to be nominated by my book blogging neighbor, Fiction Fool!
I have been keeping up with my blog for a little over one year now and still loving it. I try to keep my posts central to the topic of chick lit but always looking for ways to expand on various aspects of the genre, adding fun and exciting new features on my blog as I go. If you ever have an idea or there's something you want to see on my blog, I'm very receptive to ideas and opinions so please voice yours!
Now onto the award...In order to keep this fabulous award going I've picked 5 up and coming blogs who have less than 200 followers. The 5 blogs I selected are some of my absolute favorites that I check on a regular basis. (Some of the blogs I picked don't show a Follower widget so if you in fact have MORE than 200 followers, it was not my intention to imply that you do and I hope no one is offended.) There is no obligation to continue this award if it’s not your thing.

So here’s the fabulous Bloggers I want to spread the love to (and the award). Take some time to check them out! You won’t regret it.

1. Precision Book Reviews by Literary Marie
2.  An Aspiring Writer’s World by Gabriella
3.  Chick Lit Café by Jessica
4.  Chick Lit Goddess by Isabella
5.  Chick Lit Bee by Nancy & Shannon

For those 5 Blogs I’ve listed above, in order to spread the love, here’s what you do:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

Congratulations to everyone and thanks again to Fiction Fool for the recognition!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Special Guest Post and Book Review: Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr Blog Tour

      Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr is a fabulous chick lit novel that you won't want to miss this summer! The whole time I read this book, I kept visualizing it as a movie. I would be so excited if someone were to pick it up and it had a chance to become a blockbuster hit on the big screen! It's got all the right elements of fiction that keep me reading and turning each page faster and faster. In fact, one of the things I loved most about JFWB was Meredith Schorr's skill at taking a traditional theme of chick lit – finding love – and mixing in all kinds of alternative and sometimes, unusual experiences, characters and events to create a story of love, friendship, work and life.

In JFWB, readers are introduced to an easily likable main character, Stephanie Cohen, who is determined that this is the year she will find love. (This idea totally reminds me of an episode – or I guess season – of Sex and the City when Charlotte declares to all of New York City, in a somehat dreunken state, that this is the year she will be married.) Stephanie has tried all kinds of ways to meet men, from going out to bars, to dating on the internet and the more traditional “set-ups” between friends. When she decides to go a completely different route to get her man (by looking into her past), she feels that she is ready to move fast and forward. Of course, life is never that simple and the target of her dreams does not fall into place so easily. And so sets up a rollercoaster of love and emotions, friendship and the opposite sex and in the process, Stephanie learns a lot about herself, life and love.

Read the novel in its entirety to find out if Stephanie's blast from the past turns out to be the One for her. You won't be disapointed. I was really surprised that this was Meredith Schorr's first novel and can't wait to read more from this budding author. 4 Stars

***If you can't get enough of JFWB or Meredith Schorr, please read on to the Q&A I got to do with Meredith Schorr. I hope you'll find it just as fun as I did learning more about her and her novel. If you still can't get enough, please check out more of her blog tour stops across the Internet.***

Q&A: Catching Up with Chick Lit Writer of Just Friends with Benefits, Meredith Schorr

Q. I often hear “write what you know” and read that your novel, “Just Friends with Benefits”, was inspired by real life. How much “real life” is in it? Where do you draw the line between fiction and reality?

MS: JFWB is definitely fictional. Nothing in the story really happened, at least in the context in which I wrote it but many of the characters are based on people I know or have known. Stephanie's friends from college were loosely based on a group of people I met when I went on vacation with a guy I was dating one summer. And Stephanie is very much like me. My friends and family will not let me dispute that statement! I think the scenarios that played out in the book are true-to-life and that was because I drew from my own experiences when writing them - I know a lot about friendship (fortunately) and also about mistakes and misconceptions many women make in dating and relationships (unfortunately).

Q. You refer to your novel as “chick lit”. How would you define the genre? What does it mean to you?

MS: I define chick-lit as light reading, generally targeted to women who read for entertainment and escape. What separates it from "women's fiction", in my opinion, is that the tone and voice are more "easy-breezy" and the plot usually centers around a woman (or women) who is struggling to find her place in the world, whether it be relationships, career, friendship etc. She does not have to be in her 20s or even in her 30s in my opinion as long as she is learning something about herself and the tone is light. I do not limit the term "chick-lit" to novels about brand name shoes, fancy cocktails, cruel bosses and dating disasters. I like to refer to my novel as "realistic chick lit" in that even women who do not typically read what might have been defined as "chick lit" in the past will likely relate to and enjoy my book. And I have been told that is the case!

Q. Just Friends with Benefits doesn’t take on the stereotypical/traditional roles and scenarios of most chick lit novels. What made you decide to go this alternative and unique route?

MS: Thank you for noticing :) I actually never made a conscious decision to leave out stereotypical scenarios of many chick lit novels. I simply wanted to write a story that was not only humorous, but relatable and since, as mentioned above, Stephanie is much like me, I wrote the story with my own experiences and thought processes in mind. I'm a very down-to-Earth, albeit quirky at times, chick. And much like Stephanie, I was a late bloomer - I like to think I'm still blooming!   

Q. Can you explain a little about how you became a writer? Did you have any specific influences (people, events or other)?

MS: I honestly had no idea I wanted to write until I was a full-fledged grown-up. In fact, my sister used to write speeches for me in high school! It wasn't until writing became an integral part of my job as a Trademark Paralegal that I realized how much I enjoyed even writing emails to clients. I was told I was a good writer and ate it up and so I dabbled in fiction. I started with a children's story but it wasn't for me and then I began to blog and was hooked. People actually enjoyed my blogs and would comment on how well I expressed myself in writing and I think it was probably their encouragement that made me pursue it further. That and the fact that I loved doing it. 

Q. I read that one of the first things you did in your writing career was take a class at one of the Gotham Writer’s Workshops online. How was it? Would you recommend this or any other preparatory steps to aspiring writers out there?

MS: I actually took two courses with Gotham. Both classes were "live", not online. I took the first class just to try something different. When I started the second class, I had already started writing JFWB and I learned so much even from the first critique session. I have to give a lot of credit to the teacher and students in that class for everything they taught me about plot development, conflict, and pacing. Extremely helpful! I'm not sure a class is for everyone and I honestly do not think someone can really be taught to be a good writer - an author's voice should be natural and unique to them and I'm not sure it could be taught nor do I think it should be specifically modeled after someone else's voice. But I do think all writers can learn from constructive criticism and the opinions of others. I think it is important to have someone objective read and critique our writing.

Q. Do you have a specific routine or process to your writing and/or what does your writing space look like?

MS: My writing space can look like a table in Starbucks, the waiting room at a doctor's office, a seat on the train etc. - I tend to write in short increments of time, whenever I get the chance. But when it comes to editing, it's my two-person kitchen table, overlooking 2nd Avenue in NYC!

Q. Are you working on any other books at the moment or have plans for more in the future?

MS: I completed my second novel this summer and it's currently in final revisions. I hope to begin the submission process in September. I have a few ideas floating around in my head for a third but nothing has stuck yet.

Q. What are some of your other favorite books to read? Genres? Authors?

MS: I read a lot of chick lit and women's fiction - shocking! Some of my favorites include Something Borrowed, Love the One Your With, Jemima J, The Opposite of Love, 29, Save as Draft and Skipping a Beat. (I could go on...) I love Emily Giffin. LOVE. A new favorite is Adena Halpern. And Julie Buxbaum is brilliant.

Q. I love your blog and how you “put yourself out there” for others to read and share in your experiences. Do you have any suggestions to other bloggers?

MS: In full disclosure, now that I'm trying to build my name as a writer, I find blogging to be tricky since I don't want to be anonymous anymore and yet am not comfortable letting it all hang out. At first I thought I had to blog about writing and publishing and not only did I struggle coming up with topics, but I did not enjoy the process very much. I decided recently to stop putting so much pressure on myself and simply write what was on my mind regardless of whether it was centered around writing.

My target audience is readers not writers and I have a feeling my personal blogs are more interesting to them anyway. I still have to reign myself in from putting anything in my blog that I wouldn't want read by total strangers, friends and family, an ex boyfriend or a current crush, but at least I enjoy the process once again. My advice to other bloggers is to blog about something that is interesting to you so that your passion shines through in your writing. It also makes sense to know your target audience and what topics would draw them in. Finally, I would advise bloggers to be comfortable about the material they are putting out there on display. Oh, and I am glad you love my blog - thank you!

Q. What are your interests/hobbies outside of writing?

MS: I love to exercise, particularly running. I'm running my first half marathon in September. I'm a baseball fan - New York Yankees all the way! And I cannot live without music or television, or my friends and family. I am endlessly interested in my friends and family.

Q. What is something that most people wouldn't necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

MS: I am incredibly hard on myself. Even in my proudest moments, I often have doubts and questions. I drive my closest friends crazy, but I have gotten much better at enjoying the moment, accepting credit and kudos and talking myself off of the self-doubt ledge! Late bloomer - I told you!

A big thanks to Meredith for participating in the Q&A and a big thanks to Samantha at Chick Lit Plus and Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for setting up the interview and book review with Meredith Schorr.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - 40 Love by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
“She had spent most of the day getting ready for tomorrow, but luckily the tasks she had allotted herself – arranging flowers, preparing vegetables, waxing her legs – were the sort of thing that could be done outside.  The main dishes – vegetable terrine for lunch, seafood tartlets for dinner – had arrived from the caterers that morning and Mrs. Finch had already decanted them onto serving plates. She had raised an eyebrow – couldn’t you even bring yourself to cook for eight people? – but Caroline was used to Mrs. Finch’s upwardly mobile eyebrows  and ignored them. For Christ’s sake, she thought, pouring herself another glass of wine, what was the point of having money and not spending it?”

~ 40 Love (also known as The Tennis Party) by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren

In 40 Love Madeleine Wickham, once again, gives readers and listeners a taste of the affluent British community and does a superb job of exaggerating all their tendencies, nuances and situations to create a dark and humorous ambiance. Katherine Kellgren delivers an effective sound of the haughty, totty voiceovers that reign supreme in Madeleine Wickham’s cynical and sarcastic characters. I can’t wait to find out what madness lies ahead!

40 Love (aka The Tennis Party) by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren*

It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party weekend. After all, he had the perfect setting - the White House. Bought out of his bonuses as an investment salesman, it was complete with stable, cocktail bar, jacuzzi, shell-shaped bedheads and, of course, the tennis court (towered over by an authentic Wimbledon-green umpire's chair).

He hadn't actually told Caroline, his brash and beautiful wife, what the real reason for the party was. And if she suspected that he had a hidden agenda, she managed to hide it in a cloud of Pimm's-induced laughter. She was glad to welcome Stephen and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours, less glad to see newly wealthy Charles and his aristocratic wife Cressida, and barely able to tolerate the deadly competitive Don and Valerie.

As the four couples gathered on the sunny terrace, it seemed obvious who was winning in life and who was losing. But by the end of the party, nothing would be certain. As the first ball is served over the net it signals the start of two days of tempers, shocks, revelations, the arrival of an uninvited guest, and the realisation that the weekend is about anything but tennis.

40 Love will be on sale everywhere August 30, 2011.

Check out her YouTube video promoting the new release!
*Synopsis available on Sophie Kinsella’s web site at http://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/books/madeleine-wickham/the-tennis-party/

A BIG THANK YOU TO Esther at MACMILLAN AUDIO for sending me a copy of 40 Love for review. All opinions of the novel are my own for review purposes ONLY.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - What Came First by Carol Snow

"Waiting On Wednesday"(WOW) is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases eagerly anticipated. I hope to hear from you and your own WOW so that I can add some more books to my TBR shelf.

Carol Snow’s first two books were Been There Done That and Getting Warmer. After reading both books on the recommendation from a good friend, I was a bona fide Carol Snow fan, eager for more of her novels to come out. It’s with no great delay that she has published several others since, with her latest one coming out early this Fall. What Comes Next tackles yet another topic, high in the priorities of life for women, wife and mother hood. As I’m planning my wedding, this topic may be one more step ahead for me, but never too early to think about and what better place to begin to imagine things than through chick lit fiction!

What Came First by Carol Snow

First comes love, then comes marriage, then . . . things can get a little complicated.

Vanessa wants just one thing for her twenty-ninth birthday: an engagement ring from her longtime boyfriend, Eric. But when the ring turns out to be a mix CD and Eric turns out to be a guy who doesn't want to get married or have children, Vanessa considers a new path to having a family.

When Wendy and her husband, Darren, couldn't have children the old- fashioned way, a sperm donor seemed like the perfect solution. She never imagined she'd have out-of-control twins who'd drive her to cookie binges and scrapbooking while Darren escaped into the virtual world of computer games.

Single and career-driven, Laura didn't need a man to have a baby - at least not one that she ever met. Thanks to an anonymous donor, she shares her life with her adored eight-year-old son, Ian. She'll do anything for Ian - even fill their backyard with a bunch of noisy chickens. But the one thing Ian really wants is something Laura's never been able to give him: a sibling.

Now, to grant Ian's wish, Laura starts a search that will not only change her life but Vanessa's and Wendy's as well...

Synopsis Available on Goodreads

Learn more about Carol Snow on her blog at http://www.carolsnow.com/

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Star Audio Book Review: Summer and the City (The Carrie Diaries #2) by Candace Bushnell, Read by Jenna Lamia

Hot days, warm nights, designer handbags and stiletto heels. You know what that means? Carrie Bradshaw is back in New York in Candace Bushnell’s Summer and the City: The Carrie Diaries #2. I loved this second novel in the series that gives SATC fans a glimpse at the life of Carrie before she was the glamazon NYC Sex columnist with a fetish for designer anything. I listened to the audio, read by Jenna Lamia, and I felt like I was watching an episode of HBO’s Sex and the City. I really enjoyed this book more than its predecessor, The Carrie Diaries.

Carrie Bradshaw is out of high school, almost 18 and eager to return to the city she loves before heading off to Brown University in the fall. Now that she’s not in high school, Carrie is eager to begin her reign of independence. She finds an apartment to rent with several roommates, revisits with newest friend, Samantha Jones and signs up for a writing class at a local university.  You’ll meet another one of the infamous foursome in Summer and the City when Carrie seeks the advice of a redhead working at an upscale department store.

Samantha invites Carrie along to some of the hottest parties in NYC and before she knows it, Carrie’s part of some of the chicest social circles in town and while also making connections to further her career. In one night she meets new boyfriend, Bernard and a playwright enthusiast named, Bobby, who promises Carrie his loft/studio to perform her play once she finishes it. Excited to get a head start on her writing career, Carrie vows to complete her play if it’s the only thing she does this summer.  Of course, writing is NOT the only thing Carrie does all summer, emerging from her youth as a social butterfly and a few other things you’ll have to listen to or read the book to find out.

You won’t want to miss a second of this audio book. Summer and the City is full of surprises right up to the very end.                                               
                                          4 STARS

Monday, August 1, 2011

Star Book Review: The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

The Art of Forgetting was a fantastic debut and notable addition to the library of contemporary women’s fiction. Camille Noe Pagan introduces readers to bffs, Marissa and Julia, who have a love-envy relationship not unlike that of the infamous chick lit pair, Rachel and Darcy. Julia and Marissa have been through just about everything from childhood to adulthood, Michigan to New York, break-ups to make-ups but one night changes everything.

When Julia is victim of a tragic car accident, her brain sustains devastating injuries, affecting every facet of her life. No longer able to remember the past or basic self-care skills, Julia’s parents move her back home to Michigan, and she and Marissa are separated for the first time in their friendship.

Adapting to life in New York without Julia is no easy feat for Marissa but life must go on. Boyfriend Dave is ready to take the next step with her but when ex-boyfriend, Nathan reappears, will old habits and forgotten relationships be rekindled? Marissa’s career at Svelte Magazine leads her down a new path and coworker, Naomi introduces her to a new extracurricular, helping and inspiring young girls to run a 5K.

With so many changes in her life and within her relationships, Marissa is growing up at a faster pace than she’s used to. Will she adapt to all the changes or will she want to run back to her roots and Julia in Michigan?

I’ve added The Art of Forgetting to my list of MUST READS for 2011. I absolutely love how the author took some of the integral components of chick lit and combined it with fresh facts and serious drama to create a tale that’s never been told. You won’t want to forget this one!


To read an excerpt from The Art of Forgetting, check out her web site at:

Want to get some tips on writing while learning about Camille’s everyday life?? Visit her blog at http://thewahmdiaries.com/

***I received a copy of The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan via NetGalley solely for review purposes. All thoughts and ideas about the book are my own opinion.***

Friday, July 29, 2011

Star Book Review: Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City by Holly Denham

The sequel to Holly’s Inbox: Scandal in the City was full of all the gossip, drama and “scandal” that I anticipated after reading its predecessor, Holly’s Inbox. While this book can be read on its own, it’s definitely more fun having already read the previous one. All the same characters (and a few new ones) return with more secrets, conflicts, and just life stuff to be hashed out over email.

Holly and Toby are still together and working together at DK Huerst; although with Toby’s frequent business trips to France, Holly’s feeling even lonelier than before she and Toby got together. But as always, she’s got all her besties by her side, including funny guy, Jason, diva, Aisha, and coworker, Trisha.

You won’t believe the surprises in store in this fun British chick lit novel.  Someone’s got a big secret and Holly and Toby each have something major to tell one another but will they be able to communicate with one another with the distance that has grown between them? You won’t want to put this one down! Despite the book’s intimidating physical size, the email format makes for quick and easy reading all the way through. Holly Denham is a fabulous writer and two-book series comes highly recommended from Lip Gloss and Literature. 4/5

For more fun (and a sneak peek at the original Holly’s Inbox) Log onto, http://hollysinbox.com/ where you can get a taste of all the juicy details to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Special Author Interview & Book Review with Lynda Renham, Author of Wedding Cake to Turin

Q. I often hear “write what you know. Was there any truth to your novel, Wedding Cake to Turin?

LR: Wedding Cake to Turin was born after a visit to Turin. We actually went to a wedding and did, in fact, escort a wedding cake. The story can be read on my humorous blog at http://lrcook.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/wedding-cake-to-turin/The idea for the novel was conceived after this trip, although my trip was obviously less traumatic than Charley’s.

Q. You refer to your novel as “humorous chick- lit suited for women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-five”. How would you define the genre? What does it mean to you?

LR: I think my novel could be described as a “Romantic Comedy” and very much written tongue in cheek. The Chick-lit genre has a wide definition and I wouldn’t attempt to define it. I love an easy read and that is Wedding Cake to Turin.

Q. I read that you have been working on the craft of writing since you were 10 years old. How did you become a writer? Did you have any specific influences (people, events or other)?

LR: Yes, I have been writing from a young age. I remember being highly influenced as a young teenager by the likes of Sylvia Plath and Iris Murdoch. My novel ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ which I published under the name of Mary Renham was very much influenced by Iris Murdoch. I stopped writing during a difficult period in my life and it was only after my second marriage and my husband’s persistent support that I began again. I started writing for “The Scavenger” online magazine for which I became an associate editor. I have since written many articles and several novels. It is hard to recall how I became a writer. It just feels like I have always been one.

Q. Do you have a specific routine or process to your writing and/or what does your writing space look like?

LR: I love writing in our summer house and find it very odd to write anywhere else. Usually the door is open and the cat is lazing around outside. I play lots of music, usually through my headphones. Every novel I have written has had a music connection. I type them straight onto my Netbook and Andrew (my husband) listens to the work I have done later that same evening and we discuss any changes that could be made. I usually work in the afternoons.

Q.I read that you are working on another novel to come out later this year, called Croissants and Jam”. Can you tell us a little about it?

LR: Yes, I am very excited about this novel. ‘Croissants and Jam’ is also a romantic comedy.
In the novel, the reader goes on a journey with the heroine (Bels), who is off to Rome to be married. However, she has doubts that Simon is the right man for her. A mishap on the plane means her flight gets diverted. A chance encounter with another passenger leads to nothing but trouble and Bels find herself struggling to get to her wedding rehearsal on time. He life is thrown into turmoil when she finds herself deeply attracted to the Good Samaritan who has offered to drive her to Rome. Hilarious situations arise as she tries to get to her fiancée. Does the marriage go ahead or is her heart stolen by her travelling companion? Read the book to find out. A delicious fun, cheeky read with lots of tasty food references.

Q. What are some of your other favorite books to read? Genres? Authors?

LR: I like chick-lit and adore Louise Bagshaw’s books. I also enjoy the classics and Jane Austen and the Bronte’s are particular favourites. Having lived in the Middle East for some time, I very much enjoy novels that are based there and one of my favourites is ‘Mornings in Jenin’ by Susan Abulhawa. A new author I am enjoying is Roni Cooper.

Q. I notice you have several web sites where you post information and various articles as well as several book sites where readers can buy Wedding Cake to Turin. What can you tell aspiring authors, bloggers and readers about self-publishing? Do you have any suggestions for anyone seeking to take this route?

LR: As you may already know, many writers have taken the self-publishing route, of course, John Grisham, being the most well-known. The only advice I can really give on taking this route is proof read, proof read and proof read even more. It is not an easy road and a great deal of enthusiasm is needed and of course, much self-publicizing. The important thing is to never give up and to be ruthless with your work. If it is boring, delete it. If you’re rambling, delete it but always be ruthless.

Q. What are your interests/hobbies outside of writing?

LR: I love photography, eating copious amounts of yogurt, playing with my cat and needlecraft. Once a week I crash out with Andrew on the couch for a DVD fest, which is my all-time favourite thing.

Q. What is something that most people wouldn't necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

LR: I have twenty three loyalty cards from our local supermarket. Why? The loyalty card assistant is a Jude Law look alike. I cannot resist him. If he tells me something has double loyalty points, I want it. I once came home with several tins of dog food (triple points) and I don’t even own a dog!

Like the interview? Want to learn more about Lynda Renham and her writing? Check out her blog at www.renham.co.uk and keep reading to check out my review of her novel, Wedding Cake to Turin

Wedding Cake to Turin by Lynda-Renham Cook

Self-published author Lynda Renham Cook has written an action-packed, chick lit adventure story full of stilettos and designer dresses, guns, cops, movie stars and beautiful people. And the excitement certainly does not stop there. From plane rides, to mafia men, weddings, affairs, Italy and Facebook, Wedding Cake to Turin is up with the latest trends and doesn’t leave anything uncovered.

Leading lady, Charley, works at the trendy company Our Celebs, where she is personal assistant (and girlfriend) to boss, Nigel. When Charley suspects Nigel of cheating on her with her best friend, Sam, it puts a real damper on Charley’s Christmas. As if things couldn’t get worse, Nigel announces at the company Christmas Party that Charley is to fly to Turin, Italy on Christmas Day to deliver a Wedding Cake to one of the hottest actors in the world at the moment, Marc, and his fiancé.

Charley meets the most gorgeous man on her plane ride by the name of Michael who showers her with attention and gifts after mere hours of knowing her. Michael has a knack for showing up at the worst and best possible moments all at once. Is he too good to be true? Another new friend, Felicity, is sent alongside Charley as her assistant to make sure the cake gets delivered to Marc on time and in one piece; but when Felicity and Marc meet, sparks fly between them and his wedding…well…you’ll have to read to find out!

Wedding Cake to Turin brings on a whirlwind of events from page one! You’ll feel like you’re right alongside Charley during every agonizing and exciting minute of her saga. Author Linda Renham applies some of the more traditional elements of chick lit to her novel but then she mixes it up with many of her own scenarios, characters and creations. A very entertaining and fast-paced read with a gorgeous cover.

Get your own copy of Wedding Cake to Turin on Amazon in paperback or find it in their Kindle e-bookstore.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest Post: Research by Deborah Coonts, Author of Wanna Get Lucky?

I bet I am the only taxpayer who used a night at a male strip club as a business deduction. Well, okay, me and several politicians, but mine was legit. This writer gig has its upside, I can tell you that. Who knew research could be this much fun? I wish I could tell you that I based my novels in Las Vegas because I wanted Uncle Sam to cover some of the cost of great nights out, but I wasn't that smart. And to be honest, while digging around Sin City can be wildly amusing, it does have its downside:

As with most of life's lessons, this one was learned the hard way. And here is what I've learned: USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM!

Right out of the gate, for novel number one, WANNA GET LUCKY? I needed to experience a sex toy trade show. As with most things, I didn't really think it through. I mean, people go to these all the time, don't they? It was a trade show, for chrissake! With vendors and everything. So, picturing the Home and Garden Show I attended at some point in the past (I know! What was I thinking? Apparently I must have been channeling Donna Reed -- that's the only excuse I can come up with.) I launched off, blissfully clueless.

My head started to swim after the fourth or fifth row of battery-operated boyfriend exhibits. I'm from the South, please, we don't even discuss sex, much less have it thrust in our faces -- I thought I was made of sterner stuff, but apparently not. So, even though as a Texas girl I can ride bareback, shoot dinner on the wing, gut a deer, converse fluently in china patterns and silver place settings, identify this season's Prada from last's, and break the nose of any guy who calls me "Honey," I found myself totally out of my element. When Oprah admonishes us to challenge ourselves everyday, I don't think this is what she means. I started to hyperventilate. I needed help, and a change of plan.
After two glasses of liquid fortification at the bar, I headed into the movie theatre. Big mistake. You see, when I'm nervous, I laugh uncontrollably -- doubled-over, tears-rolling-down-my-face, gulping-lungfuls-of-air kind of laughing. And I really hadn't recovered my composure.

I discovered two things that day: porn stars take themselves very seriously, and I can outrun over-siliconed twenty-somethings . . . if they are wearing six-inch heels. As a woman of a certain age, I already knew I could outrun any guy preoccupied with his wanker, so that was no biggie.

Now, when I go off on a research expedition, I gather the posse. There is safety in numbers. At least that's what my mother used to say, but I don't think she ever envisioned the places I have to see, the sacrifices I'm called upon to make for my art. Once the girls gather, we fortify ourselves with liquid courage, check to make sure the EMTs are on speed-dial and we have the names of several reputable bail bondsmen (assuming that isn't an oxymoron), then we're off.

Our first foray into the dangerous world of research as a group was a night out at one of the few, if not the only, remaining true male strip clubs. The club occupied the second floor of a ramshackle old building in a part of town that had lost even then the faintest memory of respectability. Emaciated, disinterested young women writhed around poles on the lower floor. Like ants following a trail of pheromones, a single file of women snaked through the bar to the back staircase. We fell in as I meticulously tucked my receipt into my wallet -- business expense, you know. At the top of the stairs we were assaulted by a coven of naked young men wearing only a tiny sack over their privates. One brazen, doe-eyed, long-haired kid, started running his hands over me. "Don't." I snapped. I was in no mood to play -- as I said, this was business . . . and he was . . . not appealing. He reared back as if I'd hit him with a Tazer. "I can't touch you?" he asked, clearly incredulous. I narrowed my eyes at him and he slunk off. Smart boy.

One of my friends, who had decided to "dress slutty" in honor of our outing, attracted the most attention, as I skooched into a booth enjoying the show. And what a show it was. The music started. A guy dressed as a Marine strutted out and started doing his thing. As I watched, all I could think of was "What ever happened to the Village People?" I was clearly having trouble going with the flow.

Women beat their open palms on the stage, stuffed the Marine's tiny sack with dollar bills, while one Adonis straddled my "slutty" friend and began grinding into her chest. She looked around his perfect set of cheeks that were aimed in my direction, and raised her glass while gracing me with a huge grin. I flagged the waiter down and ordered a double.

That's about all I think I can tell you. I know truth is an absolute defense to libel, but discretion is the glue that binds female friendships. However, to this day, I wake up in a cold sweat that somewhere there is a grainy photo, hastily taken with a camera phone . . .

But, if it’s all the same to you, I'd rather take in a male strip show.

© 2011 Deborah Coonts, author of Lucky Stiff

WANNA GET LUCKY? By Deborah Coonts

A young woman plunges from a Las Vegas sightseeing helicopter, landing in the Pirate’s lagoon in front of the Treasure Island Hotel in the middle of the 8:30 Pirate Show. Almost everyone writes her off as another Vegas victim.

But Lucky O’Toole smells a rat. She’s head of Customer Relations at The Babylon, the newest, most opulent mega-casino and resort on the Strip, so she’s got a lot on her plate: the Adult Film industry’s annual awards banquet, a spouse-swapping convention, sex toy purveyors preying on the pocket-protector crowd attending ElectroniCon…. Still, Lucky can’t resist turning over a few stones.

When a former flame is one of the snakes she uncovers, Lucky’s certain she’s no longer dealing with an anonymous Sin City suicide. To top it all off, Lucky’s best friend Teddie—Las Vegas’ finest female impersonator—presses to take their relationship to the next level. Leave it to Lucky to attract a man who looks better in a dress than she does.

Lucky must manage the Babylon’s onslaught of outrageous festivities, solve a murder, and struggle to keep her life and libido from spinning out of control… not to mention keep her balance in six inch heels.

Author Bio

Deborah Coonts, author of Lucky Stiff, says her mother tells her she was born in Texas a very long time ago, though she's not totally sure -- her mother can't be trusted. But she was definitely raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. She currently resides in Las Vegas, where family and friends tell her she can't get into too much trouble. Silly people. Coonts has built her own business, practiced law, flown airplanes, written a humor column for a national magazine, and survived a teenager. She is the author of the Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas adventure series.

Her first book, Wanna Get Lucky?, was released in 2010.

For more information please visit http://www.deborahcoonts.com/, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Much thanks and appreciation to FSB Media for providing copies of both Wanna Get Lucky? and Lucky Stiff and this original article, all by author Deborah Coonts.