Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Did that really happen?

I pride myself on being positive. And when I wake up in the morning, I'm usually so happy to start my day. Yesterday, though, well, yesterday was not one of my finest.

Like any working mom, finding the balance between my clients, writing and kids is a constant juggle, but I love my job and the freedom it gives me to help out at my kids' school and be involved in my community. I love that I get to do what I've wanted to my whole life. But sometimes, life's annoyances get in the way, and I trip. No, actually, I fall on my face.

Our basement has had a flooding issue for a while. We use a handy shop vac, blast the wet spots with a giant fan and hope that every time it rains or snows that our cluttered, full-of-junk storage room won't rise with water we can swim in. This year, Toronto has had an unprecedented amount of precipitation and it has decided to make a home with us.

As I was shutting down from work and getting ready to run to the school for my weekly volunteer stint, I noticed that the water was pouring in. What do they say about best laid plans? They suck. As I bent down to angle our trusty fan before I left the house, I heard a pop and saw flames shooting out of where I didn't think flames should be. Panic and fear set in, and shaking, I raced to the phone to call 911. Then I stopped. And called my husband.

After he calmed me down, he told me what to do and left work immediately to make sure our house wasn't going to explode. Looking at the ticking clock and knowing I had to be at the school in minutes, I cut the power and got ready to go. What happened next? In my sweaty panic, I managed to lose the keys I'd been holding only seconds before and after twenty minutes of searching shoes and my own body, I knew that I wasn't going to find them anytime soon.

Cue husband running in the door, key trading-off and racing to the school to profusely apologize to the vice principal and my children, for scaring the hell out of them when I didn't show up. If I could have called to let someone know what was going on, I would have. Alas, the school was closed.

It would be wonderful if the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day got better from there. In some ways, it did. In my arms, I had my kids, who just rolled their eyes when I told them I'd lost my keys (this wasn't the first time), the flames were, in fact, the pilot light turning on (note to self: learn a little bit about how my house works), and the basement, though not fixed, was going to be shop vacced and fanned any minute.

Yet, just as I had gotten my kids into bed and sat on the couch to watch TV and read, sighing a huge, "Ahhhh," the power went out. Ah yes, it was #darkTO all over again, and huge swaths of Toronto, including my entire neighborhood, had lost power for an unforeseeable amount of time. Really?

I had to laugh. Maybe it was hysteria, but I laughed until I cried. And I did the only thing I could. I lit some candles, curled up on the couch and turned on my e-reader.

If this had happened to one of my characters, I fear that it would seem implausible. Life is truly stranger than fiction. Really, though, I've got it good. The basement is still wet, but the power is back, it's a new day, and the sun is shining. And I'm off to google how things in my house work.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Tour and Giveaway! A Fair Exchange by Monique McDonell


 
It's such a pleasure for me to participate in the book tour for Monique McDonell's latest release, A Fair Exchange. Monique is offering a $25 Amazon giftcard so be sure to enter! With warmer weather on its way, a few new books to read with a drink on a patio is a great way to welcome spring! 
A Fair Exchange
 

A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?

What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out. What a shame her long-lost love, Matt,  has returned  (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.

How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.
Excerpt

 It was not as if he was the first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said “Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?

What amazed me was that the Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
Not that Nick had dumped me, after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and an enormous mortgage.

No one even commented about the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way too much to me.
No, they commented on the Vespa.

What I could not understand though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing sea of tears?

How had this happened? How had I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up thirty-six and alone?
Didn’t I used to have so much potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?

“Amelia Armstrong is something special.”
I was one of those shiny young girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
If I hadn’t been that kind of a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen, staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.

So where was that girl right now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so horribly wrong?

 About the author – Monique McDonell
 
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.


I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.

To learn more about Monique McDonell and her upcoming books please visit her at www.moniquemcdonell.com.au

Connect with Monique!






 
Buy A Fair Exchange!




 
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Release Day for French Toast by Glynis Astie

Congratulations to Glynis Astie! Today is the publication day of French Toast, the much awaited sequel to her first novel, French Twist.

I met Glynis on Twitter and was immediately struck by her warmth and humor, and we have become fast friends. I'm so intrigued by her novels because they are based on the real life story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. And the covers of both books are so pretty and enticing. Welcome, Glynis!


Glynis Astie Bio

Glynis grew up as the youngest of three children in Rockland County, New York. Her mother remarried when she was six and she gained not only an amazing father, but three wonderful sisters. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University and worked in Social Service for two years before transitioning to Human Resources. After thirteen years in Human Resources, she decided to make good on her promise to write a book. Rather than detailing the years of bizarre employee relations issues she had encountered (as this may land her in more than a bit of trouble), she elected to write the story of how she met and married her husband, Sebastien, in six short months. It is true that the story had always been a crowd pleaser. What woman wouldn’t want to be swept off of her feet by a handsome young Frenchman?

Glynis decided that it was time that a dose of reality were included to complete the picture. While she felt lucky to have met the love of her life, it was certainly not the image of perfection imagined by many. The end result, French Twist, is humorous, sweet and undeniably real. And because this novel chronicles merely the beginning of an epic love story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast, and is working on the final installment in the series, French Fry. Unfortunately, Glynis’ parents, who were so lovingly memorialized in French Twist did not live to see its production. She imagines them holed up in a coffee shop in another realm arguing about who was misrepresented more. She is sure that her father has made a list of edits…

Glynis currently lives in Westchester, New York with her incredibly romantic husband and two angelic sons. When she is not writing she is usually rushing to the gym, wracking her brain to remember third grade math to help her son with his homework, rescuing toys from certain destruction down the toilet and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.




Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Na├»ve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met? As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife.

Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months. With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Excerpt from French Toast:

Meet Sydney Durand

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Could she? I opened my eyes, looked over at Louis and tried to smile. I can only imagine the look that registered on my face, but I highly doubt it was anything remotely positive. Louis had just finished telling me about his mother’s latest plans for our wedding. I took another deep breath and reminded myself, yet again, that I had agreed to let her plan the wedding in its entirety (with the exception of choosing my wedding dress.) Why would I agree to something so completely insane? It might have had something to do with the fact that this would be our third wedding.

That’s right, I said THIRD wedding and no, I do not have an Elizabeth Taylor complex. And I can prove it! Allow me to give you the short version. After a disastrous romantic history dating back to college, I, Sydney Bennett, was swept off of my feet by the incredible Frenchman, Louis Durand. Louis was in California on business, but following our first week together, he accepted a transfer from his company’s Paris office to the San Jose office. To the great shock of our families and friends, we became engaged a few weeks later. We began planning a beautiful wedding in Monterey for the following September, only to be thwarted by Louis’ unexpected job loss in January. In order to avoid his deportation, we were married shortly thereafter in my home town of Haverstraw, New York. So that my dreams of a beautiful wedding would not be crushed, we elected to have the originally planned event in Monterey as well. Everyone needs gorgeous wedding photos! The first wedding was definitely more practical than gorgeous.
 
One would think that two weddings would be more than enough for one couple in love, but due to Louis’ status as an only child with an extremely large extended family and his mother’s dream of a wedding that his whole town (population four hundred) would attend, we simply had to have one more wedding. Besides, a wedding in the beautiful French countryside sounded amazing, right? This way my family and I would have the opportunity to experience the wedding customs of Louis’ country as he and his family would experience the customs of ours at the wedding in Monterey. (The first wedding was kind of light on customs as it was predominantly a vehicle to keep Louis in the country.) My mother and siblings were thrilled at the prospect of a trip to France, while my father bemoaned the fact that he would have to set foot in traitorous territory. He is German and likes to complain. Although I was absolutely sure that he was practically drooling at the prospect of the gastronomic experiences in his future.

While three weddings did afford a certain amount of stress, in the end, I think that it helped me. My mother had planned the first wedding (in the span of one week), I was planning the second wedding (in the span of one year) and Louis’ mother was planning the third (in the span of Louis’ lifetime.) This allowed for all parties to end up with a wedding they were happy with. I must admit that the idea having three different wedding dresses is kind of fun. Hey, now! There is no need to judge! The three events are very different levels of formality. The first was an informal town hall wedding, the second would be a formal evening wedding and the third would be an afternoon wedding in the French countryside. If you really think about it, you will realize that having three wedding dresses is an absolute necessity.

Now that my seemingly ludicrous statement of three weddings has been explained, we can return to the problem at hand. Louis has just informed me that his mother, Simone, has purchased an ensemble for me to wear to the rehearsal dinner. (Honestly, this is becoming comical. This will be our THIRD rehearsal dinner.) Let me remind you that Louis’ mother has a very...particular fashion sense. All of the garments she wears are short, tight, brightly colored and/or bedazzled. Given the fact that she is sixty years old, my hat goes off to her. I hope that I have the guts to wear miniskirts into my sixties. She is my hero! Having said that, I have never been one to dress that....um...how do

I put this? Let’s just say that my taste is slightly more conservative.

Louis was practically in tears from laughing so hard as he described the dress to me. Simone had chosen a gold sequined halter mini dress with red satin roses on the straps and red satin ruffles along the bottom of the skirt. She also saw fit to purchase red satin stilettos with matching red satin roses on the toes. I resisted the urge to strangle my husband and began to pace the room. Clearly I made a serious error in judgment when I allowed Simone to make all decisions for the wedding except for my wedding dress. In my defense, I really didn’t think that her purview extended to my wardrobe choices for pre wedding events. It was becoming quite obvious that I had a lot to learn about her…

Connect with Glynis!
Facebook
Twitter:  @GlynisAstie

Buy the books!
French Twist
French Toast
 

 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hump Day Blog Hop

There is truly no one like author and blogger Julie Valerie. She never stops coming up with brilliant ideas, and she's created the Hump Day Blog Hop. So check below if you'd like to read some fantastic posts by authors you know and authors you might love.

Like to party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Elke Feuer: Book Blitz for Deadly Bloodlines


I love suspense, but I had never read a romantic suspense until I tore through the pages of For the Love of Jazz by Elke Feuer. The novel is smart, action-packed and intriguing, and I absolutely loved it. I'm very excited to read Elke's second novel, Deadly Bloodlines.

I'm so happy to be participating in the book blitz, and you can enter to win a copy of For the Love of Jazz by following the link at the end of this post.
 
 BOOK BLITZ TOUR – Deadly Bloodlines



Book Blurb

Years after leaving Cayman because of her notorious serial killer mother, Angel Mason returns as an inspector on the police force. On the twentieth anniversary of her mother’s capture, someone is murdered in the same manner as her mother’s victims.

To complicate matters more, Angel’s old flame, Bren McDougal, is assigned to help her with capturing the killer, and soon it’s undeniably clear that the passion between them is hotter than ever.

As the killer repeats her mother’s deadly pattern, Angel must face the terrifying truth she’d been hiding for twenty years.

What people are saying

“Elke Feuer skillfully keeps you guessing in this twisty-turny romantic suspense story about a Cayman investigator tracking a copycat killer-one imitating the crimes of a her own serial-killer mother. Suspenseful and satisfying!” ~Francine LaSala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything.

Excerpt

Angel Mason sat on the edge of her bed and squished the thick caramel carpet between her toes, assurance the deadly grip of another nightmare was gone.

On the nightstand her phone vibrated, startling her. It was Dustin Williams, Chief Superintendent. The time, 6:30 a.m., flashed in red from her clock. She cleared her throat and prayed there was no trace of the bottle of vodka she’d finished off the night before in her voice. “Inspector Angel.”

“Dead body at Galleon Bay.” He never minced words.

“Some tourist die in their sleep?”

“No, looks like she was murdered.”

Brittle silence hung in the air as the words echoed in her mind like a broken record.

“Angel?”

“I’ll be there in half an hour,” she stammered.

“Good, I want this dealt with quickly. There hasn’t been a tourist murdered on the island since…”

“Since Meredith,” she finished for him.

“Yeah, and we remember how that turned out,” he said dryly.

The phone imprinted her hand as she squeezed it. No one had forgotten how it turned out, least of all her—no matter how hard she tried.

“I want you to collect the evidence,” Williams said.

“What? Why?” She didn’t normally question his decisions, but she hadn’t worked in forensics since she had been promoted to inspector.

“You’re the most experienced scene of crime officer we have.”

“I’ll take care of it, sir,” Angel assured him.

“Johnson, Sanchez, and Ebanks are already there controlling the traffic and crowd,” he said, his voice sounding miles away.

“Yes, sir.”

The phone went dead without a goodbye, not that she expected one. He didn’t converse beyond necessity, but she never took it personally. He was like that with everyone.

She went to the bathroom, took out the bottle of painkillers on the second shelf of the cabinet on the wall, and downed two.

As the pills made their way to her queasy stomach, she searched the cloud in her head for how she had gotten to bed last night. Leftover Chinese and drifting to sleep during the nightly news in a vodka-induced haze was all she remembered.

Horrifying screams and blood splattered across her hand paraded before her, remaining trickles from her dream, and the smell of blood filled her nose.

“No!” She gripped the edges of the porcelain sink to steady herself and clear her mind of the images. Her dreams were becoming more frequent and the vivid details lingering long after she awoke.

She let out the breath she was holding and splashed cold water on her face. The reflection in the mirror was an unwanted reminder that she couldn’t escape her heritage or the history that came with it, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Once she showered and got dressed, she pulled her hair into a ponytail. She walked down the short beige corridor to the living room and grabbed her keys off the hook on the wall. The cool morning air blew against her makeup-free face when she opened the door. She inhaled the salty air, and watched the sun peaking over the horizon of the ocean. They calmed her nerves as she made her way down the stairs and to her car. Starting the engine, she pulled out of the parking lot and towards the hotel where Meredith, her mother, had worked before she was arrested for murdering the guests.

 

Author Bio

Elke was born and raised on Grand Cayman and lives there with her husband and two kids who keep her on her toes. She has a sarcastic, quirky sense of humor not everyone gets, and is in a race to become the first Caymanian in space. When not writing, she's helping other writers in Cayman through her organization CayWriters.

Author of For the Love of Jazz and Deadly Bloodlines, book one in her Deadly Series scheduled for release in March 2014.

She stumbled into writing romantic suspense because of her fascination with serial killers, but also writes other genres because characters keep telling her their stories and she's a sucker for a crazy story.

You can connect with Elke:




Goodreads

Buy Deadly Bloodlines!

Amazon
 
Enter to win a copy of Elke’s first book, FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ, by visiting her website.




 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life as a Writer

Being a writer means that every situation, every conversation, every moment, really, can be turned into a plot line. This can be fun, but I'm sure it's annoying for the people I spend time with. I'm listening when my loved ones talk, but I'm also watching how they move, the precise words they choose and what they talk about.

Last night, I went dancing with my very best friend. We've been friends for twenty years, and we both love getting our groove on to old school hip hop. At 40, I can no longer bend and shake the way I used to, but I still love trying.

When we entered the club, the first thing I did was to observe. I sipped my vodka and 7 with a splash of cranberry and took in what everyone was wearing and how they moved around each other. It's fascinating to watch how people want others to see them and what they do when they think no one is looking.

I always have to pee so I also got to listen in on the bathroom conversations and wished I had a notebook to record the amazing conversations and storylines that came from the stalls. "He has, like, a private jet!" Oh, that was a good one.

I do enjoy the moment and had such a great time busting a move with my bestie. But I also love that I can imagine the people around me as characters and be inspired by every glance, smile and scowl.

Is this what everyone does when they leave their house or is it just writers who take such pleasure in people watching?

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

It's so interesting to me how writers write because we all do it so differently. So, when fantastic author Susan Buchanan asked me to participate in this blog tour, I jumped at the chance. Thanks, Sooz!
 
I've been asked to answer four questions about my writing process. Here goes!
 
1. What am I working on?
 
I've been working on my second novel, women's fiction, for a while and I hope to have it published soon. In the meantime, I've written my first ever short story for an anthology with a group of wonderful authors. The anthology is the brain child of Francine LaSala, and all proceeds from sales of the collection will be going to charity. I don't often read short stories because I like long, thick books, but I've discovered that I love writing them. Francine and I often team edit, and we're going to be editing the anthology together, as well. I'm also working on my third novel. I don't want to give away too many details, but it's quite dark and twisted, which is a departure from my usual writing.
 
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
 
I think each of my novels differ from each other. Finding Lucas, my first novel is chick lit, with an edgy, irreverent voice and a lot of humor. My second, Everything But, is women's fiction. It definitely has my humor, but there is a lot more raw emotion in it. My third is also women's fiction, but it deals with a shocking story that is still unfolding.
 
In terms of other books in those genres, all I can say is that so many women's fiction authors have inspired me, and I can only hope to stay true to my voice. 
 
3. Why do I write what I write?
 
This is such a good question. Though I plan on one day writing a mystery because I love everything to do with suspense and intrigue, women's fiction speaks to me. I have no control over how my stories unfold and what my characters do. They are created from my mind, but the minute my fingers hit the keyboard, they completely take over and do and say what they want to. I feel compelled to write what I do. That might sound like I'm possessed. Maybe I am.:)
 
4. How does my writing process work?
 
First and foremost, I'm a mom so my kids will always come first. But, once they're off to school, I boot up my computer, brew my coffee and jump to it. I'm a professional writer/editor and have my own business: Perfect Pen Communications--if you're in need of an editor, please visit my website. So, I usually split my day between my clients (I always do their work first), about an hour of social media play and writing. Some days, I may write for hours and produce thousands of words; others, not so much.
 
I'm an organic writer, and though I start with an idea and basic outline of my characters, as I said in the previous question, my stories unfold as they want to. I write the first draft until the characters need a break, and I then go back and revise. Then, I continue from there.

I have a tortuous love affair with writing. I am obsessed with it, and I love it, but it can also be painful and difficult. I cannot imagine my life without it. And I am incredibly grateful to my readers who want more.

To continue the writing process blog tour, I hand these questions off to an exceptional author, amazing friend and a wonderful editing partner, Francine LaSala, who will post her own answers next Monday.

 
 

FRANCINE LASALA has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. She is now actively taking on indie clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers, blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing kickass social media campaigns.

The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and the creator of The “Joy Jar” Project, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.

Thanks for reading!