August 31, 2012

interview with author of 'in a fix'

Blogger's Note: PRIZE ALERT! Leave a comment with your email address and be entered for a chance to win a copy of the book and an autographed bookmark. I will select a winner Sept. 3.

Change the Word: I am pleased to welcome In a Fix Author Linda Grimes to the blog, today. Let's get started with the interview. What sort of planning did you do before writing In a Fix?
Linda Grimes: Truthfully? Not a whole lot, because I suck at planning, at least when it comes to writing. I'm a total pantser—I write by the seat of my pants, just following where my characters lead—as opposed to a plotter. In a Fix was almost an accident—I saw my protag's name (Ciel) on a license plate, and thought to myself, huh, I know her. The character just popped into my head. So I went home, opened a document, and started typing. Thankfully, Ciel cooperated and told me her story.

CTW: How did you keep everything straight in the fantasy world you created for Ciel?
LG: Ciel's world is basically the same as ours, other than there being some people (like her) who can change their auras to look just like other people. What can be tough to keep straight is exactly who is who at any given time. That can get confusing. I have to concentrate to keep track of which auras the main characters are projecting, so I don't make a reference to the wrong physical description of anyone.

CTW: If you had Ciel's chameleon ability, who would you want to be for a day?
LG: I think I'd have to be a man, just to see what that experience is like. That would probably help me with writing my guys. I suspect it would be just as strange for me as it for Ciel.

As for who, specifically… Jim Butcher, maybe? Because then I could steal a peek at his next Dresden Files book, which I'm dying to read. Same goes for Harlan Coben, and his next Myron Bolitar novel. I have no patience when it comes to waiting for book releases!

CTW: What is your favorite travel destination?
LG: I guess I'd have to say Sweden, because of my Swedish roots. It's a gorgeous country, especially in the summer. There's something about the ultra-long days that I find energizing. Stockholm's Gamla Stan—Old Town—is full of narrow, cobbled streets and old, architecturally beautiful buildings. It dates back to the thirteenth century, and you can just feel history oozing around you when you're there. I love it. (That, and Swedish pastries. Yum!)

For something a bit closer to home, you can't beat the North Carolina beaches. They're not only beautiful and fun, but they have the added advantage of being close enough that I don't have to fly to get there. Air travel is a royal pain these days.

CTW: As a seasoned traveler, what is the No. 1 tip you would give someone preparing for a trip?
LG: Stay home and watch the movie instead. It's cheaper. (Kidding! Well, not about it being cheaper, but it really is no substitute for visiting other parts of the world. Nothing beats full sensory emersion in another locale.)

So, my non-smartass advice is: pack light, and wear comfortable shoes. Travel clothes made from light, fast-drying fabrics are great—you can wash them out in a bathroom sink and they're ready to go in the morning. And if you keep your feet happy, I guarantee your whole travel experience will be a lot more pleasant, no matter where you go.

CTW: What are a few of your favorite most recent reads?
LG: Vicki Pettersson's The Taken is a great paranormal romance/mystery. It has a fabulous "rockabilly noir" sensibility, with one the best hero/heroine match-ups I've read in a long time.

Trisha Leigh's Whispers in Autumn is a gripping YA read—I was sucked in right away by the whole aliens-have-taken-over-world plot, and the characters kept me guessing. I am now anxiously awaiting the sequel.

CTW: What was the biggest lesson you learned writing In a Fix?
LG: Write whatever is fun for you to write, and then it won't feel like work. If it entertains you, it will likely entertain readers, too.

CTW: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
LG: I think Diana Gabaldon's advice says it best:
1. Read (everything). This is how you develop judgment.
2. Write (a lot). Practice is essential—it's the only way you'll get better at your craft.
3. Don't stop. (Persistence is key.)

CTW: What is next for your writing career?
LG: Book 2 (Quick Fix) will be coming out next July. After that, who knows? I hope to be playing in Ciel's universe for a long while to come.

CTW: Is there anything else you would like to share?
LG: Well, I'd like to share a "nice to meet you" toast with all of your readers, but I guess that wouldn't be practical. So I'll just say I hope they find playing in Ciel's world as much fun as I have.

CTW: Thank you Linda for the great advice and insight. I look forward to reading Quick Fix. Be sure to check out my review of In a Fix here. Also, leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of the book and an autographed bookmark.

About the Author
Linda Grimes is a former English teacher and ex-actress now channeling her love of words and drama into writing. She grew up in Texas and currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband.

About the Book
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. But when her island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be fiancĂ© is snatched by modern-day Vikings, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she's been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client's intended.

View the trailer for the book here: http://www.lindagrimes.com/2012/08/in-fix-trailer.html

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August 30, 2012

book review: in a fix

Linda Grimes makes a big splash with her debut novel In a Fix.

The Scoop on In a Fix

Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. But when her island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be fiancĂ© is snatched by modern-day Vikings, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she's been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client's intended.

(Check out the trailer for the book here: http://www.lindagrimes.com/2012/08/in-fix-trailer.html)
Exciting and fast-paced, In a Fix was a quick read. Though the world of auras was a bit confusing, it was not a detractor. I love a well-developed alternate, fanciful world, and this one was particularly interesting to follow. Urban fantasies are a fairly new sub-genre for me, and one I like. I can already feel my mid working to create its own version.

Ciel is a strong protagonist, which ultimately carries this story far. Her professional and personal lives collide, and I felt completely invested in seeing how everything played out for her. From looking at the cover, you can already tell she is a badass, and she does not disappoint as you turn the pages.

Even after finishing the read, I am still thinking about the story and will probably take another look at it to let the full story sink in. I love that -- when a book makes me want to delve back into the world.

I enjoyed Grimes debut and look forward to her future offerings.

Rating: 4 of 5

PRIZE ALERT!
Leave a comment with your email address and be entered for a chance to win a copy of the book and an autographed bookmark. I will select a winner Sept. 3.

About the Author Linda Grimes is a former English teacher and ex-actress now channeling her love of words and drama into writing. She grew up in Texas and currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband.

Check back tomorrow for my interview with Linda.

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August 29, 2012

ripple the twine winner


Congratulations to Maine-y-ac, winner of the Ripple the Twine prize drawing.

Please send me an email with contact information so we can send your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

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August 24, 2012

rambling thoughts from my life on the road

A not-so-unusual view from my life on the road.
As fans of "The Hunger Games" book and movie franchise, my co-workers and I frequently carry on conversations about the series. During one such talk, a few of us became convinced our lives were like the Games.

Here's how it works: Our job is unique. We travel the country to interview sources, racking up thousands of miles a trip, hundreds of photos and dozens of stories. We travel light, often and alone.

Here's how we saw it after making the analogy: Each of us is offered up as tribute. We are sent far from our homes. We must fight to survive. Our outlook is not good. Part journalist, part public relations, our very job description is at battle with itself. It is a solitary fight. In our dramatic minds, it is a lot like the Hunger Games.

"I'm heading into the arena," one might say.

"Don't let the Games change you," another will respond.

"When it's over, I want to still be me."

The dramatic lines are said with humor, and it always earns a few laughs. It helps to keep it light, but often I think about the truth behind the jokes. It is not always funny.

For my first three years with the company, I traveled constantly. A year ago, I changed jobs in the office, which means I am basically off the road. With a heavy event schedule this summer, I offered to take a few trips to help out with the extra workload. Thanks to several recent days spent behind the wheel and nights in a hotel room, my mind keeps wandering back to the first year -- those first weeks and months -- when I lived half my life out of a suitcase.

Though many experiences made me the person I am now, this one particularly defined me. I realized I do not want to forget the good and the bad from that time. So please indulge me.

Me on my first trip in August/September 2008. Look at me
all fresh-faced and barely 22. Look at how greasy my hair was
and how many pimples on my face. (I've got that and my
weight under better control now.)
I started my job in contract corporate communications four years ago, fresh out of college. At the time, I figured it was a short-term gig until the economy improved and the journalism industry bounced back after hard times. I did not see it as abandoning journalism, but as something to do until I could return to newspapers or maybe venture officially into public relations.

I saw it as an adventure. Travel the country. Meet hard-working men and women in an industry I knew little about. Take photos. Write stories. Earn an income. Live life. When I graduated college, my No. 1 desire was "adventure in the great wide somewhere," courtesy of Beauty and the Beast's Belle. This was an opportunity.

A few weeks in, the bosses sent me to West Texas. I was excited. Though I never had any major wish to visit the oil fields or watch tumbleweed blow by, I saw it as an chance to see the country. As a writer, it appealed to me.

I cried every day. Though I consider myself an independent woman, flying 1,000 miles to drive 1,500 more was hard. Renting a car for the first time with a special waver (I was only 22) felt like signing my life away. Staying in a beat-up motel in the middle of desert was bleak. Having no Internet connection and poor cell reception left me isolated.

The people, who I imagined would welcome me warmly, were harder to talk to than I imagined. Oh, most of them were kind and helpful, but unfortunately, as is usually the case, the rude ones stuck out more at the end of the day.

The same day one group of guys gave me pecan pie and allowed me to operate a locomotive in the shop was the same day another group walked out of the room rather than talk to me. It gave me emotional whiplash. Was this how it always was?

Still new to the office, I did not have anyone I called for help or advice. Blame for this probably falls on me. I was shy around my co-workers, which kept me from building any close ties those first few months. And I was embarrassed by the idea of seeming weak and needing help.

When my GPS went out, I picked up a map and learned to follow railroad tracks to find my destination. I discovered parts of towns I never expected to see, and eventually I did find where I needed to go.

After that person loudly told everyone in the crew room not to talk to the "corporate snitch," I gave up, and went to the next location. In hindsight, I realize that was the best decision, but at the time I worried it might cost me my job.

Even as I felt myself get the hang of the job, I worried it was not enough. Not professionally or personally. When I stopped at a roadside attraction to see a crater, my enjoyment was short-lived when I realized I had no one to share it with. I could call my parents and describe it. Take photos and share them. Write about it here. But it was not the same as turning to the person next to you and sharing impressions as it happened.

I had never felt more alone. My minor successes seemed to evaporate.

After days and weeks and months and years, I learned to handle the solitude. I passed the time on the road with audio books, diverse playlists and lots of personal reflection. When a person was mean, I used it as motivation to work harder. I made friends at work who could commiserate. I built contacts and connections with my customers.

But I still cried almost every trip. Sometimes it was because the story on the news was sad. Other times it was frustration, or exhaustion.

Worst was when I cried, because I pitied myself. This was not the work I imagined when I went into journalism. This was not supposed to be my life. I knew I should feel fortunate to have a job, especially after the downturn in the economy became long-term. And I do, for the most part. I am grateful for all of these experiences. Even the bad.

On tough days, I learned to get through by saying it was another one for character development or experience. Sometimes I treat the days with sarcasm I did not have before. I try not to seem bitter, but sometimes I do. This is where the Hunger Games references come into play.

And now me on a trip four years later. At 26 I have a few
more wrinkles, but fewer pimples and better hair.
Oh, and I have more experience. Lots of experience.
(Cue: Peter, Paul and Mary singing, "A sadder girl,
but wiser now....")

While my life carries little comparison to the Hunger Games — I'll never have to worry about killing other people to stay alive, and I have never been starved a day in my life — I realize it is similar in one way. Like Katniss and Peeta, this is a life I can never forget and it has changed who I am. Some memories are good, like making quick visits to Niagara Falls or the Alamo. I like remembering those. Others are painful, and I would rather forget them. But I cannot forget, because they are part of me.

I have changed. I may not travel much any more, but I am a different person. In some ways I am better: I am stronger, more fearless and patient. In other, I am worse: I am more pessimistic and prone to pout. Change is inevitable.

I learned valuable lessons. Like, it is OK to ask for help. It is acceptable to cut your losses and move on when a situation seems dire. Be brave, even when you feel like a coward. It is important to have confidence and belief in yourself, because really, you cannot count on anyone else for that. If you are happy, laugh. If you are sad, cry.

Have faith in something, even if it is counting on a Diet Coke tasting the same in Schenectady, N.Y., as it does in Temple, Texas.

The most valuable lesson is this: Just because something is not what you signed up for, does not mean it lacks value. We writers are lucky. All of these experiences — the good and the bad — are more than life. They are inspiration.

For my part, I used the alone time on the road to craft stories to keep myself entertained. I used angry clients or rude interviewees as the basis for villains in my books. Every time I disagree with someone, I make notes of what I would like to say and figure out how I can work it into dialogue. I even used the experience of being alone and constantly fighting to please everyone in an industry you do not understand as the basis for my first novel.

And the good memories help, too. I have traveled to more than half the states in the U.S., and seeing the scenery and talking to the locals gives me extra flavor to add to my stories.

The thought I want to leave you with, after this this long, rambling post is that we writers should take advantage of all experiences  and consider it research. Or at least find some other way to exploit it for our craft.

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August 23, 2012

finding your character's voice

Blogger's Note: Ripple the Twine author Jenn Flynn-Shon shares insight into her writing process in today's guest blog. Be sure to read my review of the book here. Visitors who leave a comment on this post, or yesterday's review, will be entered to win a copy of the book.

Listening to Inspiration to Find Your Character’s Voice

by Jenn Flynn-Shon
Guest Blogger

Every time someone asks me about my daily writing process I can’t help but think of the song “Mister Brownstone” by Guns ‘n Roses. The song opens with a description of the start of the singer’s day: “I get up around seven, get outta bed around nine. And I don’t worry about nothin’, no, because worryin’s a waste of my time.” Every day for me has a loose schedule but, much like Axl Rose, I don’t fret if I have to shift gears. I generally let the character’s voice do the talking.

I do get up about seven o’clock in the morning every day, and weekends aren’t excluded. Generally I do some kind of work all but (at most) ten days a year. My first stop is the coffee maker, then I get my veggie juice, then I stumble all bleary eyed into my office. I check my email, read the articles and blogs I’m subscribed to, network on social media for a bit and then around, yup you guessed it, nine, I start getting my day’s writing work organized.

Promoting my first novel, Ripple the Twine has involved a lot of blogging – writing guest posts, interviews, posting my own blogs – and that’s always my first item of the day. When I’m fully caffeinated and fresh is when I’m at my most witty. And I tend to enjoy injecting a bit of upbeat humor into most of my blogs. When that’s done I immediately leave my office. I can only sit in the same chair for just so long before my cheeks start to get bored. Change of scenery is crucial to my process.

My characters had me turning on the television while I wrote. Most authors have a routine. Some authors are all about music, some need complete silence and others find themselves drawn to the outside world while developing fiction. While writing my Tomboy-meets-Townie love story the thing I needed was to watch crime dramas. Every single episode of CSI (both the Vegas and NYC versions, not so much Miami but it would do in a pinch), Law and Order (CI was the best but SVU came in a close second), Criminal Minds, Bones, even House were on constant rotation. Which some might say is odd considering I write Chick-Lit.

But since it was my first novel I felt I should just go with it because it seemed to be working; I was writing every day. There was something drawing me to watch those shows that helped me flesh out a lot of twists and plot devices that perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Guess you could say I was solving the mystery of writing my first full-length novel.

Now that I’m working on my second manuscript I’m finding the need for television again while I write but the content is just a bit different. This time the character and story seem to be most easily developed while I’ve got the Lifetime Movie Network blaring in the background. Cheezy? There are some who would say yes, but I’m just doing the same thing I did with Ripple the Twine – listening to my character’s request and just going with it. And that is the most important piece of advice I can give to someone just starting out as a writer - just go with it.

Your characters might need thrash metal playing in the background, they might need you to write outdoors, they might need you to have a glass of wine in your hand and will only show up at two in the morning. Do what works to make them come to life; chuck convention out the window in order to weave your creative thread.

Because a writer’s life is anything but conventional to begin with – we study people, places and things for their quirks and then write it all down for the world to read – so why try to break that mold? Unless what your character needs is mold breaking. In that case, yup you guess it, just go with it.

See what I mean?

Bottom line, I wrote about an upbeat Tomboy who falls in love in Ripple the Twine, but I did it while horrific fictional circumstances looped endlessly in the background. I didn’t fight it because that’s what I needed to make that story work. Nothing matters more than harnessing the inspiration for bringing your story, article, blog post, writing, to life.

It’s all how you as the writer spin the inspiration to work to your advantage in crafting the finished piece. And practice makes perfect. As Axl Rose says “I just keep tryin’ to get a little better, said a little better than before.” It’s about always listening to your inspiration. It’s about putting the inspiration right onto the page every day. It’s about just going with it and letting the characters dictate what they need to come alive.

Author Bio

Jenn Flynn-Shon is an author, born and raised in the Boston-area but currently living and working in Phoenix. She quite happily lives, child-free, with her husband in the Valley of the Sun. She is an avid recycler, upcycler, and refuser of superfluous things. Love of sports is a cultural experience, an almost mandated way of life for most Bostonians, and Jenn is no exception to that rule. Jenn loves to travel, read, spend time with family and friends, and blog. Ripple the Twine is her first fiction novel.

Connect with Jenn
Blog: http://randomnessandlunacy.blogspot.com/
Writesy: http://writesy.blogspot.com/
Ripple the Twine: http://http//www.lulu.com/shop/jenn-flynn-shon/ripple-the-twine/paperback/product-20117696.html
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/jennshon
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jennshon
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JennFlynnShon
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennshon

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August 22, 2012

book review: ripple the twine

Great for the reader who loves stories about a tight-knit group of friends and dreamy men with accents, Jenn Flynn-Shon's Ripple the Twine tells the story of a hard-working woman at a major crossroads in her life.

The Scoop on Ripple the Twine
A Tomboy-meets-Townie love story and tale about how friendship can save your life. Sara Quinn is a Sportswriter from Boston and over the past year she has started to earn major respect in the local market. In the process, however, she abandoned her personal relationships and put her emotions in the box. Regardless of her self-imposed timeout, a friend introduces her to Ben. With blue eyes, black hair and a brogue, he's her ultimate triple threat. But they connect just as Sara learns that her friends are facing heavy emotional crises. She starts offering advice, becoming a rock for everyone else, and in the process Sara unearths her own long dormant insecurities. But a bag of peanut butter cups and a hockey game won't fix her issues. She's got to move past her emotional past without hiding behind her career for once. She needs her friend's support as much as they need hers and the four will quickly discover that, when they stick together, their offense is virtually unstoppable. 
Well-developed, realistic characters with relatable issues made this book a solid read from the get-go. Sara's band of friends are close and willing to go to great lengths for each other. But each is completely unique, which makes their dynamic all the more interesting.

Plus, you all know how I feel about books written in the sports arena. I love them. As a female journalist who never had the courage to break through that gender gap, I found Sara all the more appealing as a character. She is someone you can admire.

For every woman struggling in the dating world without much promise of a break in the steady stream of losers (Am I revealing too much about myself in this post?), the struggles of Sara and her friends hit close to home. With witty writing made many of their moments laughable, which in turn helped me laugh at myself. That is always a good sign.

Which is why it was easy to wonder if Mr. Heartthrob himself was too good to be true. Ben was adorable and someone I crushed on quickly. But thanks to Sara and I's reserve, I too took my time to completely judge him.

Written well and at a steady place, Ripple the Twine is a solid debut fiction novel. I look forward to seeing Flynn-Shon's future projects.

Rating: 4 of 5

Check back tomorrow for more from the author!

Author Bio
Jenn Flynn-Shon is an author, born and raised in the Boston-area but currently living and working in Phoenix. She quite happily lives, child-free, with her husband in the Valley of the Sun. She is an avid recycler, upcycler, and refuser of superfluous things. Love of sports is a cultural experience, an almost mandated way of life for most Bostonians, and Jenn is no exception to that rule. Jenn loves to travel, read, spend time with family and friends, and blog. Ripple the Twine is her first fiction novel.

Connect with Jenn
Blog: http://randomnessandlunacy.blogspot.com/
Writesy: http://writesy.blogspot.com/
Ripple the Twine: http://http//www.lulu.com/shop/jenn-flynn-shon/ripple-the-twine/paperback/product-20117696.html
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/jennshon
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jennshon
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JennFlynnShon
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennshon

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August 21, 2012

crushable creepers


Certifiably Crushable No. 7: Christian Grey of E L James' Fifty Shades trilogy
and Edward Cullen of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series

Allow me to set aside my feminist ideals and upbringing for a moment as I crush on two controlling, and old-fashioned men who certainly would not appreciate my natural independence.

I cannot help it any ore than Bella Swan or Ana Steele. I am totally smitten with Edward Cullen and Christian Grey.

Many raise issue with the lack of regard these men have for women's rights or their lady loves' self-ownership -- not to mention their actions make Mr. Rochester's creepiness tame. Those people are right. Edward and Christian are clearly flawed individuals who are hardly role model material.

But isn't perfection boring?

Favorite Scenes
From Twilight Series:
  • The meadow, in Twilight, where Edward dishes about his existence as a vampire.
  • Edward and Bella's plane ride home from Italy in New Moon.
  • The tent scene, which Bella sleeps through leaving Edward to chat with Jacob in Eclipse.
  • Their wedding dance in Breaking Dawn.
From Fifty Shades Series:
  • Christian and Ana go hang gliding in Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • In Fifty Shades Darker, when Ana and Grey go to the charity masquerade at his parents' house. Basically all of it... if you know what I mean.
  • Christian and Ana come clean with each other in the hospital.

What most appeals to me about our creepers is the challenge that comes with them. I grew up with parents who bickered based on philosophical differences in opinion. While at times they drive each other (and us kids) crazy, they are happy. Their life is never dull, because every day they challenge each other. So to me, natural conflict is normal.

What matters is a person's willingness to work at a relationship and overcome the challenge. You would have to constantly work at making an Edward or Christian relationship work. But despite that, there is so much about each guy that is worth it.

Despite their obvious flaws, over-bearing tendencies, they are genuinely good-hearted, intelligent and deep men. You just have to unwrap the many layers of paper and packaging to get inside.

Love tends to make us crazy, and these men would certainly help you get there. While being hot (or in Edward's case, ice cold).

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August 20, 2012

excerpt: this tangled thing called love

Enjoy this excerpt of Marie Astor's This Tangled Thing Called Love.
It was barely eight a.m. when Claire heard the sound of music emanating from the ceiling - for a moment she had a scary thought that she was late for work, but then she remembered that it was Saturday. She curled her legs and pulled the comforter up to her chin - she was dreaming, and the sensual music had to be a part of the dream. She snuggled against the pillow in anticipation of what the dream would bring next, but as she attempted to drift back to sleep, the music kept growing louder and after tossing and turning, Claire finally awakened, aware that the persistent sounds were very much real.

Claire lay back on her pillow, staring into the ceiling in bewilderment as the sultry sounds of Argentine tango filled her bedroom. Who in their right mind would blast tango music at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning? Obviously, the new tenant of the upstairs apartment, Claire answered her own question - she was wide-awake now. Building rules explicitly stated that there was to be no noise until 10 a.m. on weekends, and she would make it her business to educate the new resident. Claire kicked off the comforter and slid her feet into her slippers. Then, she pulled on her bathrobe and headed out the door.

She pressed the elevator button, but saw that the elevator was out of order –in a calmer state, it might have been enough of an obstacle to postpone her mission, but presently this circumstance only added oil to the fire.

As she walked up the stairs to the top floor apartment, Claire felt the onset of hangover – she had been out late with the girls last night, and she was bound to pay for it now – if only she had been able to sleep it off. Claire frowned as she stoically climbed the rest of the stairs – Saturdays were supposed to be relaxing, but this Saturday promised to be anything but.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered in a giveaway! Visit Chick Lit Plus here for more information. **

About the Book
Claire Chatfield has everything a girl could possibly wish for: looks, a promising career, and an engagement ring from one of New York's most eligible heir-bachelors! Life should be a dream and yet, it does not feel like one... When an enigmatic new neighbor, Alec Brunell, moves into an apartment above from Claire's, Claire is surprised to find herself wondering whether the choices she has made in her life are worth following through.

In order to secure his place as his father's successor, David Lawson must settle down with a wife befitting the future head of Lawson Enterprises - and who could fit the prerequisite better than lovely Claire Chatfield? There is just one glitch - David Lawson is in love with another woman.

Alec Brunell has never lacked for women's attention, but he finds himself at a loss when faced with his downstairs neighbor, Claire Chatfield. Still, her iciness only adds fuel to his fire, as Alec is determined to change Claire's view of him.

This Tangled Thing Called Love follows the story of four people searching for love - will they have the courage to find it?

About the Author
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love, This Tangled Thing Called Love, romantic suspense novel, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie Astor is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Transadonia: Silverboard Rider.

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August 17, 2012

the hunger games dvd release party

By now, my love for The Hunger Games is so well known around the office
a co-worker picked up this movie still for me on one of her business trips.
I hang it on my bulletin board with pride and zero embarrassment.
Happy The Hunger Games DVD release date! If you are as big of a nerd as I am when it comes to this series, then you are also excited. Though I always enjoy the books better than film adaptations, this one was solid, and I felt it captured the spirit of the series, which is what mattered most.

In honor of the DVD release date, here is a look back at a few of my Games-related posts. It is Change the Word's very own release party, if you like.

Hunger Games Mania
I arrived late, but I'm on The Hunger Games bandwagon.

By now enough has been said that you don't need me to explain why these books are an international phenomenon. But they meant so much to me, and have affected my journey as a writer, that I want to talk about them. So please indulge me.

For two years, my friend/local bookstore manager encouraged me to the read the series convinced I would love every second. I had it on my to-do list, but never followed up.

There the book sat on my "to read" list for years. Then, after overhearing people talk about it in stores and restaurants with weeks to go until the movie, I realized I needed to read it before I found out anything else.

What did I have to lose? I figured if I didn't love the first book, I didn't have to read the second or third. And no one had to know.

Read more here.

The Boy With the Bread (Reading in the Kitchen)
Even before the reaping that sent Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark to the 74th Annual Hunger Games, their lives were connected by a loaf of bread. Bread Peeta purposefully burned to give Katniss and her starving family even though it meant punishment for him.

Though they never exchanged words, Katniss always felt she owed Peeta for his gift. In her eyes this puts them at odds from the get go. Only one person can survive the games. How can she even consider killing the boy with the bread who saved her life?

Throughout the story, Katniss refers to Peeta as the boy with the bread. Other baked goods, wild game and gathered foods appear in the books, but this one was especially important. Katniss describes the loaves as hearty, with raisins and nuts in it. I imagined whole grains, raisins and walnuts, because it sounds super hearty. When I set out to recreate this dish, I kept that description in mind.

Read more here.

The Dandelion in the Spring (Reading in the Kitchen)
The dandelion is one of my favorite symbols from The Hunger Games trilogy. In book one, Katniss says she saw a dandelion the day after Peeta gave her the bread that saved her family from starvation. Seeing that dandelion, free from the haze of absolute hunger for the first time in weeks, Katniss realizes she can provide for her family by hunting and gathering. She and her sister gather a bucket of dandelions that night, and eat a salad for dinner.

Katniss mentions the dandelions again in the next two books, including one of my favorite passages from Mockingjay (book three):

What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.
That passage gives me chills thinking about the depth of what that means. For most of us, a dandelion is an annoying weed we pluck from our yards and gardens. But for Katniss, the dandelion is a lifelong reminder that even after the winters in our lives, spring returns bringing a possibility of better. (Or at least that's my interpretation.) Powerful stuff.

Read more here.

The Tart from the Bakery (Reading in the Kitchen)
If you follow the blog, by now you know I have a creepy old lady crush on Peeta Mellark. Not even kidding. When I read the book, I hung on his every word. It's no wonder that when he off-handedly mentions having an apple and goat cheese tart for sale in his family's bakery, it stuck with me.


I wasn't the only one listening, though. Katniss heard it and recalled Peeta's father buying goat cheese from her regularly. She also felt badly for Peeta, because all of the bread and treats his family ate were stale, because the fresh went to paying customers.

Poor Peeta.

I was determined to make a beautiful and delicious tart in his honor. I've made cheesecakes and pies, before, so I did not imagine this being too different. Just the same, I looked up about 10 recipes for goat cheese pies and tarts before deciding the recipe.

Read more here.

I hope you will try to recreate some of these dishes, too. If you do, please let me know. I would love to hear from someone who has done a Games-inspired food so we can swap notes.

If you have to wait in line to pick up your copy of the DVD, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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August 16, 2012

crushable teammates

Certifiably Crushable No. 8: The Chinooks hockey team, as featured in Rachel Gibson's books


Born and raised in Nebraska, I know football. If you cut me, I bleed Husker red, and I have crushed on more players than I can count. (Pre-season predictions indicate "Sexy" Rex Burkhead will be my college crush this year. Of course, I am still madly in love with Aaron Rodgers, even if a certain person recently stole him from me in our Fantasy Football draft.)

I had never given much consideration to crushable athletes, aside from the occasional swoon for a baseball or soccer player. So imagine my surprise when I fell for a hockey player. And not just any hockey player, pretty much an entire team full of them.

Rachel Gibson, one of my favorite romance novelists, regularly features leading men from the Chinooks, a fictional hockey team based in Seattle. Since I first picked up her books in 2008, I have made my way through her book list, and consequently a lot of the team.

Though each of the men is different, and I have deeper feelings for some than I do others, I cannot help but love them all. There is something utterly and completely attractive about a tough, focused man who turns out to be a big softie when it comes to the lady in his life. Add in the fact that these guys are in ridiculously good shape and have a lot of physical gifts to share outside of the hockey ring, and my little heart is as good as theirs.

The team won me over so well, I not only anxiously followed the books, hoping they would finally win the Stanley Cup, I actually teared up when they did.

So, here is a quick list of the Chinook players featured to date and a brief run-down of why I fell so hard for them:
  • John Kowalsky of Simply Irresistible: No one is more surprised than John when he runs in with a one-night stand from his past and realizes he now has a daughter. Hurt, because he missed out on helping raise his child, John is determined to make it up and have a relationship with her. Winning over the mom is just an added bonus. Favorite moments: When John stands up to his boss, and makes him apologize to his lady. When he rescues an animal at the beach, because his daughter was in tears.
  • Luc Martineau of See Jane Score: The tough goalie who hates the media, Luc is put in charge of caring for his little sister. At the same time, a new reporter arrives on scene, and he finds himself changing his opinion. Favorite moments: A late night run-in at the candy machine in a hotel. Luc's talk about forgiveness.
  • Rob Sutter of The Trouble With Valentine's Day: After having his career ended when he is shot, Rob moves to a small town in Idaho ready to pick up the pieces of his life. A new woman rolls into town, and suddenly his life of isolation does not look so good. Favorite moments: Gone fishing. Trying to win back the girl on a dance floor.
  • Ty Savage of True Love and Other Disasters: Driven and focused to achieve the Stanley Cup, Ty is ready to lead his team to victory without any distractions. Then he falls for the team's new owner and everything changes. Favorite moments: THE FINAL SCENE (Read it, people. It's too good to spoil). Also, the little gifts Ty gives Faith to let her know he is thinking about her. Like, the chocolate chip muffin he has sent to her room, because she doesn't like the ones the team serves. And the bright pink ice skates so he can teach her how to skate. Sigh.
  • Mark Bressler of Nothing But Trouble: Nearly killed in a car accident, which left him unable to play the sport he loves (not to mention left by his ex-wife for another man), Mark is completely jaded and basically broken when the story begins. Oh, how I love to watch a man get put back together like Humpty Dumpty. Favorite moments: When Mark takes his turn with the Stanley Cup and tells his lady love how much she means to him. And when he steals her cell phone and programs a ringtone for him in it, because he heard it on the radio, and it reminded him of her.
  • Sam Leclaire of Any Man of Mine: A regular throughout the series, we already know Sam as a devil may care man both on and off the ice. After realizing he has not been the father he wants to his 5-year-old son, Sam steps up his game and incidentally realizes that maybe his baby mama is more special than he remembered. Favorite moments:
Of course I have my favorites amongst the bunch. Naming them would be like a parent picking his or her favorite child... but what the heck. If I had to rank them by crushability level... I'd go: Ty, Mark, John, Sam, Rob and Luc... but that is just off the top of my head, mind you.

The men (and their ladies) make cameos in other non-Chinook books, which creates this alternate universe I totally dig. Most of them live in and around Seattle, too. I recently fell in love with that city, which only adds to their crushability.

I have these men to thank for introducing me to a delightful sport to watch. There is so much action, and God knows I need it after football season comes to an end each year.

Also, the Chinooks led me to find my future husband: Brad Richards, center for the New York Rangers. Did you see his nude photo in the July 23 ESPN? Did you even know ESPN does a naked issue? Go ahead. Take a look. I don't mind.


Plus, aside from being a total hottie, he is from Prince Edward Island, which, in my mind, makes him Gilbert Blythe in the flesh. (I also saw him in a previous ESPN magazine, where it mentioned he has a wine fridge. I'm not materialistic, but damn.) More importantly, the same article said he volunteers with kids -- that means he has a heart of gold, too. He has it all.

Now, every time I re-read these books, I just plaster Brad's face and body on them, and I let my imagination handle the rest.

See what I mean? These studs are hard to resist, and frankly, I cannot think of a good reason to try.

Check back next week for more Certifiably Crushable hunks.

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August 15, 2012

crushable master of the manor

Poster available here.

Certifiably Crushable No. 9: Mr. Rochester of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

It takes serious skills to turn an obsessive wannabe polygamist-turned invalid with an attitude into a hunk of man candy. Charlotte Bronte somehow did it when she penned Mr. Rochester into her famed novel Jane Eyre.

Mr. Rochester creeped on Jane and into my heart with his moody ways. One moment he is the dark pessimist asking philosophical questions about the world. The next, he is a devoted romantic making promises. The emotional whiplash is shockingly appealing.

It is hard to resist a dark man who considers you his sun, moon and everything in between.

Favorite Scenes
  • Their somewhat tense and awkward meeting when Mr. Rochester arrives at his home to find Jane his ward's governess.
  • Rochester waiting for Jane to speak to her after their canceled marriage.
  • The reunion, when Jane returns to find him a physically broken man, who has never been sexier personality-wise.
Favorite Quotes
"I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one."

"Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear."

"I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion."

"I have little left in myself -- I must have you. The world may laugh -- may call me absurd, selfish -- but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame."

More emotional and flawed than Darcy before him, Rochester is the perfect project for a girl who enjoys a fixer upper. That man is damaged goods. But underneath the drama and secrets is a basically good man who wants love and to be loved. Even if he thinks he does not deserve it.

Seriously, how hot is that kind of angst?

Check back tomorrow for the next crushable hunk of man candy.

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August 14, 2012

interview with the author or 'rum punch regrets'

Today we welcome Rum Punch Regrets author Anne Kemp to the blog to give a little insight on her writing career, future writing plans and even her favorite beach cocktail. You can read my review of Rum Punch Regrets here and an excerpt of the book here. Thank you for joining us, Anne.

Change the Word: How does writing a novella or book differ from your career as a columnist?
Anne Kemp: For me, it's night and day. I love the swiftness of putting a column together. I'll get an idea and brainstorm on it, let it sit for a day or two then jump in and play with it before I come to the final product. With a book, it's already simmering just below the surface, waiting to come out. So when I sit down and lose myself to that particular world, it's amazing how things come together. I love disappearing into Abby's world, especially as I ramp up for the rest of the series. The first few books were so much fun to write, but the next three? I'm REALLY excited to be writing them! I'm challenging myself on a whole other level.

CTW: How did writing a sequel compare to creating the first story?
AK: Since it's all being threaded together as a series, I have a path in mind and I'm wanting to lead everyone (hopefully!) with me. I've created a formula of novella, novel, novella, novel, novella, novel. I wanted folks to get a taste, then dive into a book, then get another taste. My purpose of integrating the novellas is so readers can take part in Abby's world in some way they would not have if I had gone novel to novel.

CTW: If the Abby George books were made into a movie or TV series, what actresses do you imagine playing her?
AK: Hmmm...that's like asking what your one favorite song or book is in the whole world! I'd love an actress who would take Abby on the way she needs to be played - vulnerable, sassy, smart, sexy and confident with a hint of self-deprecation. Abby is unique, an "everywoman", and I would love to see her potential fulfilled.

CTW: Your book is called Rum Punch Regrets. What is your favorite beach drink?
AK: When I lived on St. Kitts, I would make my own Rum Punch from Malibu Rum, coconut water and cranberry juice. Man, they went down easy on a hot night!

CTW: On the same wave link, what is your favorite, go-to beach read?
AK: Honestly, I can't point to just one book. I'm in a book club and we're always reading something. They've turned me on to some books I never would have picked up on my own like "Peony in Love" and "The Night Circus." I'm open and game for reading anything!

CTW: What adventures are in store for Abby George in the future?
AK: Oh, I wish I could reveal here what's coming up! All I can say is she is truly just getting started. The last three installments will have romance, adventure and more family dysfunction..ahem, I mean dynamic. She's got some hurdles in front of her and we have more characters joining her and did I mention romance? Someone will have some decisions to make....

CTW: I hear you donate part of the proceeds to your books. Would you care to share a little more information about that?
AK: I do! I donate a portion of my proceed to Lupus LA, a charity based in Los Angeles. Years ago, when I met my friend Adam, he told me he had Lupus and I had no idea what it was. It shocked me when I heard the statistics on this particular auto-immune disease. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have it yet it is one of the nation's least recognized major diseases. Any chance I have to talk about it, I will.

CTW: What is the best piece of advice you ever received about writing?
AK: Just do it and stop making up excuses. This is my business, it's my career and I treat it that way. I treat it with respect. I set time aside each day and make sure I'm generating something which will move me forward. I keep a timer on my desk and I set it for social media time, answering email time and then I do intervals for my writing. Personally, I like a plan and it helps me stay focused and centered with my work.

CTW: What is up next for you and your writing career?
AK: More Abby, that's for sure. I'll be hanging out in her world for as long as she'll have me. I do have a side project, a young adult paranormal which I love working on when there's time, but Abby rules me right now. And who doesn't want to hang out for a few hours each day in the Caribbean, even if is only in our heads?

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
AK: We just launched my jewelry line inspired by the Abby George Series, so please take a second to check out Anne Kemp Jewelry on Facebook! It's a gorgeous charm line for bracelets and necklaces.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog - I hope your followers will enjoy Abby's story. I love hearing from readers or working with book clubs, so if anyone ever wants to give me their thoughts on Abby or needs to reach out, please feel free. You can find me at annekemp.com :)

About the Author
Anne Kemp is the author behind the Abby George Series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and first novel, Rum Punch Regrets, which is available in print and as an eBookShe is also the columnist behind “Anne In Progress,” which appears monthly in the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the DC-Metro area. As a blogger, she was nominated for a 2012 Bloggers Choice Award for Best Humor Blog, and is known for penning “The Ultimate Late Bloomer.”

Follow her on Twitter, @MissAnneKemp, or join her fans on Facebook for fun contests and giveaways. You can always find her at her website: www.annekemp.com.

A portion of Anne's proceeds are donated to Lupus LA.

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August 13, 2012

book review: rum punch regrets

Anne Kemp's Rum Punch Regrets takes beach reading to a fun and fast-paced level.

Recovering from an awful break-up (lying cheater) and receiving a pink slip at work (start-up jerks), Abby licks her wounds by going to the Caribbean as a favor to her big sister/mother figure. The favor: Sell her sister's secret island property before her husband finds out she even owns it. The property turns out to be more than a vacation escape. It is La Cantina, a bed and breakfast, which comes complete with visitors, native caretakers and a long-term tenant living in the pool house.

Abby's already complicated life grows more complex with the discovery of a secret relative, appearance of not one, but two romantic interests and the realization that her life's purpose might be waiting on that island.

More than a story about self discovery, Rum Punch Regrets explores the dynamics of family. Families are complicated, and this is true for Abby. As she learns to accept the hidden truths about her blood family, she also builds kin-like relationships with people in her new community.

Abby is a likeable character, who I bonded with almost instantly. Dealt a difficult hand, she attempts to play the cards responsibly and without making matters worse. Though a bit wishy washer and a pushover at first, as evidenced by her agreeing to go to the island in the first place, Abby develops a spin, making her more dynamic and admirable. I was rooting for her by the end and genuinely felt invested in her well-being.

I also realized I will be back to read the next installment of her series, because I need to know what happens next in her life.

The other characters serve their purposes well, adding complication and flavor as needed. I particularly enjoyed Maria and Siggy, the couple who works on site to maintain La Cantina and care for the guest's needs. Their relationship, and the one they build with Abby, was quite lovely. Abby's family members were also enjoyable to read, because they add a blend of complexity and support to her life -- depending on the day.

I can also understand Abby's feelings of confusion when it comes to her two love interests. Both guys are crush-worthy, and even though I have my preference, I could see that changing in the future. It all depends.

Rum Punch Regrets was a satisfying and entertaining read, and I look forward to finding out what happens next in Abby's world.

Rating: 4 of 5

Read an excerpt of Rum Punch Regrets here. Check back tomorrow for an interview with the author, Anne Kemp.

About the Author
Anne Kemp is the author behind the Abby George Series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and first novel, Rum Punch Regrets, which is available in print and as an eBookShe is also the columnist behind “Anne In Progress,” which appears monthly in the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the DC-Metro area. As a blogger, she was nominated for a 2012 Bloggers Choice Award for Best Humor Blog, and is known for penning “The Ultimate Late Bloomer.”
Follow her on Twitter, @MissAnneKemp, or join her fans on Facebook for fun contests and giveaways. You can always find her at her website: www.annekemp.com.
A portion of Anne's proceeds are donated to Lupus LA. 

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

excerpt: rum punch regrets

Blogger's Note: Enjoy this excerpt of Anne Kemp's Rum Punch Regrets. Be sure to check back at 8 a.m. CDT for my review.
“Ben, don’t you feel like you might just be acting a touch... overdramatic?” Abby asked as gently as she could.

“Overdramatic? There’s a woman I don’t know sleeping in my living room and I’m being called overdramatic?”

“Again, Ben, the over-the-top upset you seem to be feeling is really a little bit, too . . . I don’t know. Maybe diva-ish? The way I see it, me and you? We have got to find a way to get along really quickly. Please. No drama, no irritation. And... ”

Abby stopped short here to hold her hand in the air and close her eyes for a minute. Oh god. The spins. No, no, no... She let out a small drunken hiccup and then nodded and kept on going.

“Where was I? Oh. No drama. I don’t want to be the source of any kind of anxiety. Look. You need to finish school, and I need to help with this damn house and then go back home. Get a job and rediscover my love of air conditioning. Feel me?”

Abby couldn’t see his face clearly, but there seemed to be a smile beginning to play on Ben’s lips as he listened to her drunken ramble. Abby’s gift for accidentally entertaining people was one that came in handy for her in moments like these; she could only hope that his apparent amusement meant she was starting to win him over.

“So, Ben. I propose that you and I have what they call in the South a ‘come-to-Jesus meeting,’ where we sit together and lay out our needs and expectations for the other person, so we can make sure that we get what we need from this situation. Cool?”

Ben watched Abby take a swig from her drink and sway just a little on the picnic bench.

“Abby, you don’t drink a lot, do you?”

Abby slammed her cup to the table and giggled at the loud bang it made. “I thought that was going to be quieter. No, I don’t drink a lot at all. Why?”

It was at this moment Abby felt her world getting woozy, and she realized the spinning was not slowing down. Oh God . . . stop the ride. Stop it. It was like being on that damn plane, except this time...

Abby had about five seconds to get off the picnic table and get to the railing so she could set her drinks free into the Caribbean, so to speak. As she struggled to get up from the bench, her legs got twisted under her and she fell backward, landing with a thud so loud that Miss C., Cutty, and Ziggy all jumped up to race over and help her. Abby grabbed her lips to hold them together with one hand, pinching them tightly in an effort to keep any vomit back, and used the other to hold herself steady as she worked her way back up to the table with Ben helping to hoist her up.

As soon as she regained solid footing she paused, feeling that the pukey moment had passed. And she was so wrong. As she relaxed and pulled her hand off her mouth, her stomach made another flip-flop and everything inside it began to make its way out. She turned her head in just enough time to offer up her consumed beverages to the sea. Abby was not a quiet puker. As she threw up and moaned at the same time, her new island family all stood at the picnic table trying not to laugh at her misfortune.

About the Author
Anne Kemp is the author behind the Abby George Series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and first novel, Rum Punch Regrets, which is available in print and as an eBookShe is also the columnist behind “Anne In Progress,” which appears monthly in the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the DC-Metro area. As a blogger, she was nominated for a 2012 Bloggers Choice Award for Best Humor Blog, and is known for penning “The Ultimate Late Bloomer.”

Follow her on Twitter, @MissAnneKemp, or join her fans on Facebook for fun contests and giveaways. You can always find her at her website: www.annekemp.com.

A portion of Anne's proceeds are donated to Lupus LA. 

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

August 10, 2012

hullo, love

The 2012 Summer Olympics will end this weekend, and so far it has been a pretty good haul for Team U.S.A.

There have been a some surprises in the few events I follow -- namely women's gymnastics. And despite my disappointment in NBC not freely live-streaming events so I could watch at my desk... err... I mean watch it live on the weekends, I would say it has been a pretty decent run.

In honor of the London Olympics coming to a close, I wanted to give my thanks to London for hosting a fine event by counting down some of my favorite British things.

Laura's Top 10 Favorite British Things

10. The British Museum 
9. Monty Python
8. English Breakfast tea (The leaves may not be from England, but whatever.)
7.  The Bronte sisters
6. Love Actually
5. Westminster Abbey
4. Downton Abbey
3. Harry Potter
2. Jane Austen
1. Colin Firth

Honorable mentions: Accents, Robert Pattinson, David Beckham, The Spice Girls, William and Kate, Traditional English breakfast, English muffins, Gwyneth Paltrow (What? She's fake British.), The Beatles, Double Decker Buses, Red Phone Booths, Austin Powers and curry (they stole it from India).

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August 9, 2012

crushable proud gentlemen


Certifiably Crushable No. 10: Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
and Mark Darcy of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones series

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune is hopefully a delicious specimen in possession of a great personality, or at least has one when you dig beneath the layers. Oh, and if all goes well, he will want you for his wife.

Though initially jerks, Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy come a long way in their respective stories, winning the hearts of Elizabeth and Bridget and me. They change their prickish ways thanks to the influence of the aforementioned ladies, which makes them good on paper and in life.

Favorite Scenes

From Pride and Prejudice:
  • The Netherfield Ball dance. So stiff and awkward with each other, but the underlying messages in their conversation shows a changing of opinions
  • Mr. and Mrs. Collins' parlor, where Darcy declares his admiration and affection for Lizzie, who rebuffs him -- and rightfully so at the time.
  • Everything at Pemberley, particularly when Lizzie and Darce have their awkward-turned adorable reunion.
  • The walk of reconciliation at Longbourn. Obviously.

From Bridget Jones books:
  • Darcy storming Bridget's family Christmas in book one. He saves her family, and later Bridget's holiday, from ruin.
  • Mark and Bridge scare each other on the stairs and fall back together.
  • Mark as Bridget's date to Jude and Vile Richard's wedding. He stands up to the terrible Rebecca and declares his love for his special lady.


Favorite Quotes

From Pride and Prejudice:
"I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow."

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

"You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever."

"By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

From Bridget Jones series:
"I like you very much. Just as you are."

"Rebecca," said Mark quietly, "I need Bridget."

Mr. Darcy is the original literary sex symbol as far as I am concerned. His character and story captured readers' attention in the 19th Century. Combined with the rest of Austen's legacy, women writers have a better platform for publishing, though it took a while and could always grow more.

He spawned Mark Darcy, a man who made pretentious lawyers sexy.

Not to mention, both Darcys gave Colin Firth an opportunity to share his gifts on the big and little screens. The women of the world rejoice. That alone deserves praise, indeed.

If only you weren't so condescending and hipster-like for a majority of the books, Darcy and Darcy, (and if only Mark hadn't shagged Rebecca in book two, break-up or no break-up) or I would love you even more.

I raise my glass to you, Darcys, and officially welcome you to the Certifiably Crushable Club. *clink*

Check back next week for two more crushable men.

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August 8, 2012

certifiably crushable

Remember your first crush?

Mine was Prince Eric. With his broad shoulders, thick black hair, piercing blue eyes and a sense of adventure to match my own, he had my 3-year-old heart in his clutches before the chorus finished singing "Fathoms Below."

My second crush was a boy who lived down the street. He moved before kindergarten, tearing me to pieces in the process. I thought I might never love again.

But my third crush was the soft-spoken, horse loving hero of the Little House series. At 7, I knew Almanzo Wilder was the man for me. Every time I have gone back to those books, he is always there: reliable, dependable and still devastatingly crushable.

I have been a boy crazy reader ever since.

For the next several weeks, I will pay homage to the literary men who captured my heart -- and on occasion, my lusty thoughts. I will delve into my favorite quotes, moments and how they make me swoon by existing even in an imaginary sense.

Join me as I countdown my top 10 literary character heartthrobs in a new blog series, Certifiably Crushable, which begins, tomorrow.

In the meantime, you dish: Who is your biggest character crush?

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August 7, 2012

interview with the author of 'viewer discretion advised'

Emmy-award winning journalist and debut author Cindy Roesel stops by Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. Thank you, Cindy, for sharing insight into the journalism and literary world.

Cindy Roesel: I want to thank Laura and all the members of Change the Word for having me on your blog.  This is my first novel and first web blog tour and it's a very exciting time for Viewer Discretion Advised. I'm blessed that you've shown interest in my novel. Now, on to the questions.

Change the Word: You are an Emmy award-winning journalist. First of all, congratulations. Second, how did that experience mold your novel?
CR: Winning an Emmy didn't mold my novel, but it did give me extra confidence as a journalist. Being recognized by my fellow professional colleagues was a humbling experience. The Emmy also gave me a platform by which to promote, Viewer Discretion Advised as a writer.

CTW: I'm still focused on this Emmy situation. Did you get to give a speech when you accepted your award? If so, what did you say? If not, would you have said?
CR: I won the Emmy for producing and writing an hour-long special, so I was part of a team. When I won the Emmy, I was so surprised all I said was, "Thank you." The others spoke. I wish I had said more, but unfortunately, I didn't.

CTW: What is the most valuable lesson you learned as a journalist? 
CR: The most valuable lesson I've learned as a journalist, is to be kind. News is an incredibly tough, fast-paced, cut-throat business. I had to learn to slow down, stop, treat people like people, not just interviews or photo opportunities. I'm being very honest with you. Journalists are always on deadline and rushing to the next story. A person has just shared something very personal and the viewers see that story at home. They don't know the reporter has just got the soundbite and ran right out the door leaving someone in tears. That's unacceptable, but it happens!  

CTW: How has being a journalist shaped your style as a novelist? 
CR: My writing style is the way I speak. It's fast and pithy. Readers say they really hear my voice. I come from television news and we had to write out all the sound-bites, so I love dialogue. Sometimes, I'm told to slowdown and let it breath. I'm not going to have anybody out wandering on a hillside next to a babbling brook looking at flowers at sundown in my novels. Not that that's bad, the character would just go crazy!

CTW: How are you similar to Charley? 
CR: Charley and I are different people, but we both like M&Ms, we're loyal and we back up our staff!

CTW: What challenges did you face while writing Viewer Discretion Advised?
CR: I faced several challenges completing Viewer Discretion Advised. The first was keeping continuity straight. You have nearly a dozen characters, all with their own traits, that interact throughout the novel and you want to make sure someone's job doesn't change in chapter seventeen or her father doesn't call her from a different city in chapter twenty-five. It's a fine balance between the sex scenes being graphic and the language too harsh. I wanted to book to be a PG-13. These are news people and cops, after all and they use foul language.

CTW: What advice would you offer to aspiring journalists? 
CR: Aspiring journalists need to becoming generalists, read everything, become students of the world. When you're a reporter you're suddenly supposed to become a PhD of a topic everyday. Then you have to report that story in front of a live audience that night, so you better be able to study up quickly. Better yet, be well educated and well read. I also recommend being bilingual in English and Spanish and if you can learn either Arabic or Mandarin you'll be ahead of the game. While in college, do anything you can do to get an internship at a local media outlet.

CTW: How about for aspiring novelists?
CR: Aspiring novelists today have so many options. You can go the traditional route, write a really great query, secure an agent and then hope to be published. Or you can self publish through Amazon or any number of other ways. Whatever you decide, the first step is you have to write. Everyone talks about writing. I have a lot of writing friends who support me, but I also have a lot of friends who talk about wanting to write. I imagine most people on this blog are writing, but for those of you who aren't and let's face it, some of you aren't it's time to start. LET'S DO IT!  LET'S START WRITING TOGETHER! It's not easy. It's hard. But we can do it together. I say this with love. No judgment. 

CTW: Who are your favorite authors to read?
CR: Some contemporary authors that I love for their ability to keep putting out really good stories are Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand. Amy Hatvany is coming out with her third novel later this year and Beth Harbison is releasing Just Add Better next month, which is a hoot. I'm looking forward to a couple of debut novelists second efforts. I reviewed Sere Prince Halverson's, The Underside of Joy and Vanessa Diffenbaugh's, The Language of Flowers earlier this year and was grateful for the experiences. 

CTW: What is up next for you and your writing career?
CR: What's next for Cindy Roesel and Viewer Discretion Advised? Well, so far the plan is for me to keep blogging about Viewer Discretion Advised and to try and get VDA in front of as many readers as possible.  Hopefully bloggers like you, Laura Chapman, and the members of Change the Word will tell their friends and check out my website, www.cindyroesel.com and tell me what you all think.  I am so thankful for being a guest on your blog Laura and I hope all your members will friend me on Facebook and twitter and my website.  Thank you so much for having me as a guest on Change the Word and I hope you enjoy reading Viewer Discretion Advised.

Read my review of Viewer Discretion Advised here.

Author Bio:
Cindy Roesel is an Emmy Award winning television broadcast journalist. After working for twenty years in newsrooms filled with ambitious backbiting adrenalin junkies, she's turning her experiences into novels. Cindy lives in Miami with her shih tzu, Sassy.

Connect with Cindy!
www.cindyroesel.com
cindyroesel.blogspot.com
writeoncindy@yahoo.com
cindyroesel.facebook
cindyroesel.twitter
cindyroesel.LinkedIn

Buy the Book!
AMAZON.COM: www.amazon.com/dp/09851281000
B&N.com: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/viewer-discretion-advised-cindy-roesel/1109713715?ean=9780985128104

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