Monday, November 30, 2009

Good Review

Every writer likes a good review and Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club got one at ChickLit+



Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate was just released. Here is her fabulous cover.

Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.

28-year-old New Yorker Rebecca Strand is shocked when her dying father confesses a devastating secret: he had affair when Rebecca was a toddler—and a baby he turned his back on at birth. Now, his wish is that the daughter he abandoned, Joy Joyhawk, read the unsent letters he wrote to her every year on her birthday. Determined to fulfill her father’s wish, Rebecca drives to a small town in Maine—against the advice of her lawyer boyfriend who’s sure Joy will be a “disappointing, trashy opportunist” and demand half her father’s fortune. But when hopeful Rebecca knocks on her half-sister’s door, Joy—a separated mother who conducts weekend singles tours out of her orange mini-bus—wants nothing to do with Rebecca or the letters her father wrote to her. Determined to forge some kind of relationship with Joy, Rebecca sticks around, finding unexpected support from Joy’s best clients—the Divorced Ladies Club of Wiscasset—and a sexy carpenter named Theo . . . .

The inspiration: Several years ago, I received an email out of the blue that said: I think you might be my half-sister. I was. Am. It took me a long time to decide to take that little (huge) nugget and write a novel to help me figure out the answer to some burning questions, such as: if you haven’t seen or heard from your biological father, or any member of his family, since you were little (or, in Joy’s case, never at all), is his child from another relationship really your sibling? Or just a stranger? Does the word father or sister or brother mean anything without back up? I had a ton of questions and set out to uncover how I felt through a fictional character, but it’s interesting to me that I flipped everything on its head in the writing of the story. Nothing but the basic questions that are proposed in the novel are autobiographical. Just the questions! And I surprised myself quite a few times during the writing of this story with how I felt about certain things. Amazing how writing fiction can teach you so much about yourself.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?

Trust yourself. Your gut knows. You know.

Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.

I’m crazy about my editor, Jennifer Heddle at Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books. I love working with her. She’s just so razor-sharp smart and aware and interested in the world and pop culture (which I’ve learned via being her friend on Facebook!). Her suggestions, starting with our first conversation before she even bought my book, were so intelligent and thoughtful. And she’s New York honest in a very kind way with her editorial letters and edits. I absolutely trust what she says. As I’ve gotten to know her, I’m even more touched that she bought my book. She’s a tough customer, I think. And that’s a good thing.

Any tried and true tricks for beating procrastination?

Tried but not true: taking laptop to a library or coffee lounge without wi-fi. I can’t handle more than an hour or two without checking email or reading through Twitter or Facebook. Tried and true: a deadline, whether self-given or publisher-given.

Which 'craft' book has inspired or helped you the most throughout your writing career?

The most inspiring, to me, is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. But I also love Stephen King’s On Writing; Carolyn See’s How To Make A Literary Life, and Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into The Open.

If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?

The Portable Dorothy Parker; the collected works of William Shakespeare; To Kill A Mockingbird; Anne of Green Gables; The Color Purple; and I can’t leave off this gem: Why I Like My Mommy by Max (my son’s latest work in first grade!)

What’s next for you?

Next up is my second novel for teens, The Mosts, which will be published by Random House in June 2010. Then, my next women’s fiction novel from Simon & Schuster, The Love Goddess’s Cooking School, about five people in an Italian cooking class, will be published November 2010. I’m staring down a 1/1 deadline (the worst deadline to have!) And I’m being poked at by a new idea . . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Love Under Cover by Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody's latest book Love Under Cover comes out this week. Here is the cover:

Now here is all the praise:

"With a complicated, sympathetic protagonist, worthy stakes and a clever twist on the standard chick lit narrative, Brody will pull readers in from the first page."
– Publisher’s Weekly

"Those who enjoyed Brody's debut will be eager to catch up with Jennifer, but newcomers will be intrigued, honest, witty portrayal of modern love."
- Booklist

“With her usual smart, deft, and witty prose, Brody delves deep into the psychology of a woman who tests the fidelity of strangers for a living but struggles with commitment in her own life."
- Joanne Rendell, author of Crossing Washington Square and The Professors’ Wives’ Club

Wow! And wait until you see her picture, it seems almost unfair that someone should be so talented and so beautiful and I would absolutely hate her if she wasn't so gosh darned NICE too!!

What was your inspiration behind Love Under Cover?

As soon as I finished writing my first novel, The Fidelity Files¸ I knew that Jennifer’s journey wasn’t over yet. Although she had seemed to find her happy ending there was so much more fun stuff I had in mind for another book. Setting Jennifer up with an entire agency of fidelity inspectors was definitely the first and foremost on my mind for the next instalment.

Plus, I really wanted to explore what a fidelity inspector would be like in a committed relationship. After everything she’s seen—all the cheating, dishonesty, and betrayal—would she really be capable of settling down herself? So that’s what I set out to focus on in this book.

Which scene (or scenes) in your novel did you love writing? Why?

I love writing any of the scenes with Jennifer’s friends. They’re all fun in their own way. Zoë has a terrible road rage problem and she has a habit of talking on the phone while driving so those conversations with Jen and Zoë on the phone are always really entertaining for me. I get to channel my inner turrets patient. Sophie is totally neurotic. I love going over the top with her.
And John is the flamboyant gay boy from West Hollywood who is always quick with his sarcasm and wit. Sometimes I don’t know where his remarks come from. I must be channelling my inner gay man because I’ll write something that he says and think, “That’s really funny. Where the hell did that come from?”

Which 'craft' book has inspired or helped you the most throughout your writing career?

SAVE THE CAT, by Blake Snyder. It changed my life. People tell me my books read like movies. Well, that's probably because SAVE THE CAT is actually a book for screenwriting. But I've found it translates exceptionally well to novels. A well-told story is a well-told story, regardless of the medium and a fast-moving story keeps the pages turning. Blake Snyder lays out a simple (yet effective) step-by-step beat sheet of how to tell any story and I'll never write another book without it! He's very well-respected in the industry and I know many writers (screenwriters and novelists alike) that utilize his books. Plus, the book is extremely funny and entertaining to read!

Since becoming a writer, what’s the most glamorous thing you’ve ever done?

When my first book, The Fidelity Files, came out in France last year, my French publisher actually flew me out to Paris to promote it! It was a dream come true! I speak French almost fluently so I was able to conduct all my interviews in French, which was both nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time. Paris has always held a special place in my heart. I was a French major in college and I lived in Paris my junior abroad. Plus, I spent a month in Paris in 2005 finishing the novel so it was all very magical and kismet to be back there to see it in French book stores!

Do you have a sample chapter posted?


If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella to make me laugh.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult to make me cry.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger to make me believe in fantastical love
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer to give me a hot vampire to fantasize about daily.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding to remind me of why I write.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?

Jump and the net will appear. Although I think this applies to any career you’re trying to get into. You have to jump in with both feet. Right into the deep end. You can’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come along, you just have to go for it. When I decided I would be a published author, I made the decision and I leapt off the cliff…without a parachute. I quit my high-paying, corporate job at a move studio, started taking odd jobs off of Craigslist to make ends meet, downgraded my car, my apartment and my lifestyle to save money and just went for it. I never looked back. I turned down three job offers from other studios, all which paid even more than I was making when I left my previous one. I sold my first novel a year and a half after I quit. Now I write full time and this year, for the first time since I quit my corporate job in 2005, I’m making more as a writer than I was making as a “suit.” Do what you love and the money will eventually come. I’m a big believer in this. And I am living proof that it works!

Why do you write?

I once heard someone say, “Dancers dance because they have to.” I really loved that and I think it’s the same for writers. I definitely have to write. Like I have to breathe. If I don’t, I get very stir crazy. All of that energy has to come out somehow and for me, it comes out in words. Lots and lots of words. Some of them are actually worth publishing.

What’s next for you?

Although I strive to live in the moment, I can’t help but be excited about the future! I’ve got three young adult books scheduled to come out in the next three years from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. The first, THE KARMA CLUB, releases on April 27 and I simply can’t wait! It’s about three teen girls who are tired of waiting for Karma to get off its butt and do its job, so they decide to give Karma a helping hand by getting revenge on their evil ex-boyfriends. But they soon discover that when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. It’s a story I wanted to tell for years and I’m so glad it’s finally going to be put out to the world. The teen voice feels very natural to me (not sure what that says about my inherent maturity level, but whatever!) and the YA novels are such a blast to write. I think the teenage years resonate with everyone in some way. For me, my teen years were very painful so it’s somewhat therapeutic to be able to “go back” and relive them with all the knowledge and wisdom that I have now!

Thank you Jessica. Now go buy Love Under Cover.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spinning Forward by Terri DuLong

This week, Terri DuLong a fellow member in the Women's Fiction chapter of RWA has a new book coming out; Spinning Forward.

Terri stopped by to tell me about her book as well as her writing process.

Tell me about your book.

A New Englander born and bred, the last place Sydney Webster expects to find herself starting over is on an island off the west coast of Florida. Yet here she is in Cedar Key, trying to pull herself together after her husband’s untimely death—and the even more untimely revelation of his gambling addiction. Syd takes shelter at a college pal’s bed and breakfast, leading her to discover her true identity and feminine soul. Her passion for spinning and knitting draws attention due to the unique composition of her wool and a door is opened. She finds herself in the embrace of a community rich with love, laughter, friendship . . . and secrets. A tale of new beginnings, old friends and lives forever bound.

What pulled you into the story and made you think 'I have to write this'?

The actual people of Cedar Key, the small town where I now reside, made me feel I wanted to write about the closeness and caring of a small community. As far as my main character, not all women have the final say-so when it comes to decisions or financial matters in their marriage and although it may seem fine and easy at the time, my story deals with the fact that women owe it to themselves to be aware of these issues. For Sydney, her uninvolved attitude came back to bite her.

When did you first begin writing?

I’ve been writing all my life. As an only child, I had an imaginary playmate and looking back now, I feel that’s when my creative process began. I’ve kept diaries and journals and I began writing professionally for Bonjour Paris about eleven years ago. I did over forty travel articles based on my travel to France through the eyes of a fictional canine character.

What is your writing process and where do you write?

When I’m on deadline, I begin around ten in the morning and generally work six to eight hours a day. When we moved to Cedar Key, we had a writer’s studio built for me, detached from our house but connected by a screened lanai. So this is where I work.

What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

I’d have to say my favorite thing about writing is all the feedback I get from my readers. Their comments on my characters, plot, how my story affected them, etc. Least favorite? Call me Pollyanna, but I really don’t have one. I love writing and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a story.

Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if stranded on a desert island.

5 books would be: A Woman of Substance, To Kill a Mockingbird, The House at Riverton, The Shellseekers and The Thornbirds
5 movies would be: Casablanca, Pretty Woman, Saving Private Ryan, Ghost and Steel Magnolias

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Don’t ever give up. If writing is your passion, then keep writing. Believe in yourself and make great things happen.

What is next for you?

My Christmas novella that I’m doing in the anthology with Fern Michaels headlining will be released November 2010—the same time that my second book in the Cedar Key series will be out.

Sounds like a great read! You can get Spinning Forward at any local bookstore or here and here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Romance Writers of America Women's Fiction Chapter

The amazing Therese Walsh decided that there needed to be a home within Romance Writers of America for authors who write stories that have romantic elements but don't neatly fit into the category of 'romance.' Her vision and determination led to a new online chapter being established; RWA-WF.

Here is the amazing logo:

Fantastic isn't it! And today the amazing RWA-WF website is up; click here.

Also, I am the VP of Programs. So please come join our fun. This is an amazing group with an ferocious amount of talent.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Gift by Deb Stover

The award winning author Deb Stover has a new book out this week! The Gift, here is the cover:

Looks good! Deb was kind enough to stop by and answer some questions about The Gift as well as her writing process.

Tell me about THE GIFT.

Certain members of the Dearborn Family are born with some
variance of an empathic gift. Beth's "gift" manifests in
a particularly frightening manner, by enabling her to
experience the final moments of those who've died violently.
As an adult, she chooses a career as a homicide detective,
and--obviously--is very successful. However, the
experience of being "murdered" repeatedly takes a terrible
toll and she turns to alcohol for solace. When she hits bottom
and seeks treatment for her addiction, she is convinced the only
way she can stay sober is to somehow suppress her
gift-turned-curse by avoiding places where the spirit of
someone who died violently might contact her.
She leaves her position and takes one as a nomadic
insurance investigator.

Her new career keeps her safe and sober for three years.
Convinced her gift has faded from lack of use, she finally
accepts an assignment involving possible life insurance fraud,
which leads her to a small town in eastern Tennessee.

Ty Malone's wife, Lorilee, disappeared over seven years ago.
Though the town and his father-in-law remain convinced she
ran away to pursue a career as a painter in Europe,
he has always maintained that the only thing that could
keep his wife away from her children is death. It's time
to learn the truth, so he petitions the court to have
her declared legally dead. The life insurance claim brings
investigator Beth Dearborn into his life.

THE GIFT is part mystery, part ghost story, part suspense,
part romance, part thriller. The novel also touches on the
issue of women and alcoholism on various levels. Beth
is a recovering alcoholic, and the reader will also meet a
character who is a practicing one.

Both Beth and Ty will be forced to face their
greatest fears to learn the truth, and to find

When did you first begin writing?

I think I was about eight. My first publication was a letter
to the editor of the WICHITA EAGLE at age eleven. I majored in
Journalism, then worked for a newspaper. I wrote my first
romance manuscript in 1984. It was a monster of almost
200,000 words. I still need to burn it....
I dabbled for a few more years, then joined RWA and got
serious in 1991. I sold my firstbook in December 1993.
SHADES OF ROSE was published by Kensington in 1995.

What is your writing process and where do you write?

I prefer to write at my desk, mostly for comfort.
Since I have rheumatoid arthritis, ergonomics are extra
important. I have a special keyboard, keyboard tray,
chair, mouse, etc. I love my laptop, but if I spend too
much time on it, I pay the price. I'm typically a
very early morning writer--a lark--and often wake
hours before dawn to work while the rest of the
house is sleeping soundly. I love quiet, and
rarely listen to music while working--especially in
first draft. While editing, I can listen to anything,
but in first draft I can't have any lyrics.
They pull me out of the story.

I'm very much a "pantser"--and I have to say I hate that term.
I muchprefer Jo Beverley's "writing into the mist" description.
I start with a character in a situation, then start writing.
Once I have a global idea of the general plot and the cast of
characters, I write a narrative synopsis and send it to my agent.
Once we go to contract, do any revisions to the proposal,
if requested, I plunge ahead. I confess my finished product
does not always follow that synopsis verbatim.
And I NEVER outline. Perish the thought....

What is your favorite thing about writing?
What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing is that it's my favorite thing.
Okay, seriously, I love being able to work in my pajamas.
I stagger out of bed in the morning, get my fuzzy slippers
and robe, my mug of strong coffee, and plop myself
in front of the computer with an adoring dog at my side.
Much better than dressing up and fighting traffic on the

My least favorite thing would have to be worrying about
the business side of this, and promotion. In a perfect
world, writers could just write and not have to worry
about numbers and promo and covers and... ::sigh::

Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if
stranded on a desert island.

I hate this question. The thought of being stranded
with only five books is pure torture. I can live
without movies, but not books. Can I trade five
movies for five extra books? No...?
Okay, I'll try.

2. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
3. Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts
(have them all in 1 book club hardcover edition--
is that cheating?)
4. Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts
(same as #3)
5. Boatbuilding: a complete handbook of wooden
boat construction By Howard Irving Chapelle [ :-) ]

5. CASTAWAY (I couldn't find a movie about how to build a boat)

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

It's your book. Trust your instincts. There are no rules.
Critique is a smorgasbord--take what you want and leave
what you don't. There are a thousand how-to books, workshops,
and know-it-alls out there dying to tell you how to do your job.
There is no special handshake. There is no secret potion.
There is no magic elixir. You only have yourself, your muse,
and the blank screen/Big Chief Tablet/whatever medium you
choose. Keep throwing the spaghetti against the wall until
something sticks.

What is next for you?

I am currently at work on the sequel to THE GIFT--working title
is THE SECRET. When you read THE GIFT, you will meet
Beth's cousin, Sam Dearborn. His "gift" manifests
in a different way. He jokingly refers to himself as
a "psychic errand boy."

Thank you Deb for stopping by. Now go get The Gift!