July 13, 2016

meet the voice of 'the marrying type' - emily lawrence

One of the coolest (and, I'll admit, strangest) moments as an author is having your book turned into an audiobook. While it's awesome to know your story, one you've labored over for months (or in the case of The Marrying Type, years) will be available in another format, it's also a little strange to hear that story read by someone else.

Fortunately, when the time came to produce the audio book for The Marrying Type, we met Emily Lawrence. While we had several talented voice artists submit audition reels to bring this story to audio life, there was something about Emily's voice that seemed to perfectly capture the story.

And as of last month, The Marrying Type is now available for your listening pleasure on Audible (big shout-out to Audible for their help in making this book available). And as of today, I'm featuring an interview I did with Emily so you can get to know a little bit more about the voice behind The Marrying Type audio book.

Be sure to check out the sample at the end of the post and the Rafflecopter for your chance to win a three audio books from Marching Ink, including Peri in Progress by Cat Lavoie, Up to I Do by Samantha March and, of course, The Marrying Type by yours truly.


Laura Chapman: Emily, thanks so much for doing this interview and giving us a chance to meet the voice behind Elliot Lynch and the rest of her friends. Let's start with the basics. How did you get into acting?
Emily Lawrence: When I was very young, I used to copy everything my sister did. After making her way through several typical little girl hobbies (horses were a big one), she found her way to acting. My sister eventually moved on to become a High School English teacher, but I was hooked. I was in my first play at seven and never stopped.

LC: It sounds like you started young! What was your first play and what was your role? What was your favorite part about that role? 
EL: It was called Folk Tale Magic and I was the Swan. I honestly don't remember much about it, just that I loved doing it.


LC: What drew you to audiobook narration?
EL: I've always been a voracious reader. It honestly never really occurred to me that I could narrate audiobooks until I took a workshop on how to get into voiceover and audiobooks was listed as an option. The idea of combining two of my greatest loves (acting and reading) was too tempting to ignore. I took a risk, bought some equipment, and set up a recording studio. It took about six months to really pick up, but I've been doing it steadily full time ever since. It's a dream come true and I absolutely love it.

LC: One of my favorite hypothetical questions to ask other readers is this: if you were stranded on an island and you could only take three books (and no e-reader) with you, what would you take?
EL: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

LC: Have you read any Jane Austen? Which one of her books is your favorite?
EL: I think I've read all of Jane Austen's books. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably pick Pride and Prejudice.


LC: I love that one. Mine is Persuasion, and . . . The Marrying Type is a modern reimagining of Austen's Persuasion. Which of the contemporary characters did you enjoy performing the most and why?
EL: Elliot was fun: the conflict between her Southern manners and desire to make everyone happy while also needing to take care of herself and her own needs is something I think a lot of people can relate to. I also liked Sadie a lot. I'm definitely a hopeless romantic, so her enthusiasm for getting married and her relationship with her groom was all very sweet.

LC: What did you do to get into the mindset or characters of this story while you narrated it?
EL: It was actually fairly easy for me to connect with the characters in this story. It just so happens that my dad got married this past weekend. So working on this in the weeks leading up to his wedding, where we were all already excited with planning and wedding jitters, made it a fun project.

LC: Who are your biggest inspirations as a performer?
EL: I'm not so much inspired by people as I am by stories and ideas. I tend to be inspired by writers who create sympathetic characters or express things in a way that I never could. I get inspired by emotions and situations and how they interact with my own imagination. I think that all art, whether it's writing, acting, painting, sculpting, composing, is all just about expressing an aspect of being human. As long as it taps into some sort of inherent truth about life, I find it inspiring.




About Emily
Emily is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. She's narrated more than 125 audiobooks and has also worked in film and television. Born and raised in New York, Emily moved to Los Angeles shortly after receiving her BFA in drama from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Emily's other passions include reading, traveling, LARPing, and chocolate. For more about Emily, including photos, videos, and voice samples, visit her website or imdb. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram.


About the Book
Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.


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May 18, 2016

chatting with the chicks of chick lit


Ha ha ha ha welcome, welcome everyone to Chatting With the Chicks of Chick Lit. I’m your host, Chuck Lottateeth, and I am so thrilled to be able to introduce you to some of the most fascinating characters in literature today. I’m talking about the leading ladies of Chick Lit—those enchanting, romantic, darling, sexy, sweet, funny, headstrong—and, let’s face it, sometimes downright frustrating—modern women who headline this fabulously fun genre. I'm sure you're going to love getting the skinny on these “novel” heroines, and who knows? You might just find your new BFF on the pages of one of these books!

Without further ado, please put your hands together and show some love for today's guest . . .

Harper Duquaine joins us from Laura Chapman's fun and flirty Queen of the League series, which tells the story of one woman's journey into the world of Fantasy Football. Along the way she finds love, friendship, and one of the best quarterbacks a person could ever want on his or her team. A native of Wisconsin, Harper now resides in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she works as an office manager for a car dealership. When she isn't busy scouting new talent for her fantasy football teams or setting her weekly lineups, she enjoys crocheting, baking, spending time with her brothers and friends, and watching really bad TV. 

With that, let's begin the interview.

Chuck Lottateeth: If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?
Harper: Oh, that's a first-time question for me. I guess I'd say I am a stylish, but sturdy, pair of boots. I'd like to think I have a put together look (or at least I try to fake it till I make it), but I'm also hardworking and dependable. And wow. All of that sounds super braggy. Can we redo that or are we live? Let's just say stylish, but sturdy boots, because those are my favorite shoes to wear.

CL: What are the three items you would absolutely need to have with you if you were shipwrecked on a desert island?
H: The practical person in me would say a switchblade, or something useful like that, so I could attempt to make some kind of shelter and find sustenance. The more whimsical side of me would want to bring a crocheting hook so I could maybe create a line of scarves and potholders created out of palm tree leaves and the like. And for my third item, I'm going to take a giant vat of sunscreen. I'm a delicate flower, and I'd rather not get a sunburn.

CL: If you had only $15 to spend, what would be the perfect date? $50? $5,000?
H: I'm really pretty low-key about my dates, so $15 is usually the price range. I'd say we'd use part of the money to put gas in the car and use the rest to make a picnic of hot cocoa and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to take for a night out of star-gazing. At the $50 range, we'd probably go to one of my favorite restaurants, which is a local pub. That kind of money would cover drinks, meals, and maybe even a couple of desserts for the table. At $5,000, I'd buy the best tickets I could find for a Bon Jovi concert, a hotel to stay the night, plane tickets, dinners out, and new outfits for myself and my significant other. I think we'd still possibly have some leftover money from that, which I'd give to my SO, because he's a lot more generous with his money than I am, and he'd use it for a good cause.

CL: Your best friend is asked to describe you in five words. What would they be? Your nemesis is also asked to describe you in five words. What would they be?
H: I think, or at least hope, my best friend would say I'm dedicated, driven, creative, classy, and caring. My nemesis would say I'm a ballbuster, tease, cockblock, klutz, and driven. I don't think anyone could deny that I'm driven, but not everyone would agree it's a good thing.

CL: If you could be the heroine in any chick flick, who would it be and why?
H: My first instinct is to say Renee Zellweger's character, Dorothy, in Jerry Maguire, because of the football connection, the fact that she's gorgeous, and our mutual willingness to support the people we love and stay positive despite our past romantic failures. But I don't know if that's completely accurate. I'm also not sure if that's really answering the question, because it is who I would want to be if I could be any heroine, right? I don't know if I'd want to be Dorothy, because she has it kind of rough. So, I'll say... Giselle from Enchanted, because she's a princess, she can get animals to do her work for her, she has a great attitude and style, and she has great options for male suitors. I mean, she really can't go wrong with Patrick Dempsey or James Marsden, right?


Don't forget: This week, to celebrate International Chick Lit Month and #ChickLit May, the first two books in my Queen of the League chick lit series are on sale for 99 cents each!

First & GoalAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Going for TwoAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

And as an extra bonus, I am giving away two autographed copies of each book on Goodreads. Click here to enter to win First & Goal and here to enter to win Going for Two. (U.S. and Canada only!)


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May 15, 2016

#chicklitmay scavenger hunt a-z


D is for Danny


So . . . I was thrilled to be assigned the letter D. Seriously, when I heard what we were doing with this scavenger hunt, the first thought to come to my mind was, "D is for Danny." Because one of my favorite parts about Chick Lit stories happen to be the men. I know, I know. It's called Chick Lit, and there are so many fantastic things about Chick Lit that don't involve men. But what can I say? I'm a girl who likes her dudes.

Now, that I bring it up, you're maybe wondering (or maybe you weren't, but you're on board now, right?) why didn't I say "D is for Dudes" when I had that letter? Well, when I say I'm all about the guys, I really mean that I'm particularly fixated on a couple. Their names both happen to be Danny. And the beautiful thing about both of these men is how different they are from each other. (D is for Different, too.) I consider them to be representative of two of my favorite types of male characters to appear in Chick Lits.

With that background established, let's get to know the boys, shall we?

Danny 1: The Quirky Comedy Relief

Our first Danny is from Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. We meet him in Book 3, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, as Becky's NYC neighbor. He happens to be a wannabe designer who has gone so far as to say he's worked with a famous designer (he handed him coffee once, which totally counts, right?) and actually tried to hang his own work in Bloomingdale's to trick his brother into believing he's making progress in his career to avoid being financially cut off.

See. Quirky comedy relief.

He's also wonderfully supportive of Becky and always has her back. (Like in Shopaholic & Baby, when arrives on motorbike to deliver a pair of boots she absolutely has to have to make a deal.)

But aside from the laughs and humorous heroics, the best part about Danny is how he serves as a support system for Becky. She makes a lot of stupid mistakes, but he's there to listen to her problems with no judgment. He never questions her feelings or makes them seem unsubstantial. He never treats her as a silly little woman, but instead encourages her to let it out and be her best self.

We all want a Danny in our lives. Heck, we all deserve him. At the very least, we need characters like him in our Chick Lit novels. Because even though our fun, fabulous heroines are their own women, they're somehow better when they're partnered up with such a great buddy.

I'm lucky, because I have this kind of Danny in my life. I actually recognized one of my best friends in this character when I picked up the series. My Danny is hilarious. He once teasingly chastised me at a "castle" for speaking to a driver, because, "we're at a castle, we don't speak to the help." He says things like, "You say potato, I say vodka." My Danny is supportive. Whenever we're on one of our long phone calls, he always asks about my current writing projects. He's one of the most generous people I know, and I could totally see him motorbiking to my rescue if I ever needed him. (Actually, he's super in shape, so he might just cycle in.) And most importantly, he's such a huge support system for me. He never tells me I'm being crazy. He never thinks I'm over-the-top. Like Becky's Danny, he loves and supports me in a non-romantic way, and it's perfect.

See why I love this sort of character in my Chick Lit?


Danny 2: The Darcy-Like Romantic Interest

Technically this Danny isn't from a Chick-Lit novel, but he's from a romantic comedy, which (in my humble opinion) is basically a Chick Lit on TV. I'm talking about Danny Castellano from The Mindy Project. (And, okay, I'm really talking about Danny Castellano from seasons one and two. I can't get into specifics on why that is without wanting to cry or punch someone in the face.)

Source

But back to my point. In The Mindy Project, seasons one and two, Danny is Mindy's curmudgeon of a co-worker, who actually seems to have something deeper and sweeter going on behind that grouchy facade. When we first meet him, he's handsome, brilliant, and serious. He also seems like a giant butthead, kind of like Mr. Darcy was at the beginning of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Sure enough, over time, we get to know Danny better and we find that he has his reasons for being jaded and jerky. We also realize (even if he hasn't) that he loves Mindy, and she makes him want to be a better person. And like Darcy, Danny doesn't find it that easy to win over the girl. He has to make some grand gestures.

Like creating a Christmas dance for her . . .

Source
Reading her THE most famous Chick Lit of all time . . .

Source

Running through the city to find her . . .


There's something to love about a flawed romantic interest. And while this may not be a practical match-up in real life, there's something I kind of love about escaping into a story where you can believe two imperfect people can find perfection in each other against all odds. Just like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. And just like Danny and Mindy (in the first couple of seasons, at least).

In Chick Lit, I love to have both types of Danny. The best friend who is there for laughs and to have your back, and the love interest who doesn't come easy, but can maybe be worth it in the end.

Want to win a Kindle Paperwhite + a $100 Amazon gift card? Visit each of the 26 stops on the #ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt and collect the alphabet word at each stop (A, B, C, D, etc.), then submit the A-Z list of words via e-mail to traciebanister@gmail.com with the subject "A to Z Scavenger Hunt Entry." Entries will be accepted until Sunday, May 22nd at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 23rd. Good luck!


The next stop on the Scavenger Hunt, E, is hereIf you'd like to start back at the beginning of the Scavenger Hunt (the letter A), go here


This week, to celebrate International Chick Lit Month and #ChickLit May, the first two books in my Queen of the League chick lit series are on sale for 99 cents each!

First & Goal: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Going for Two: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

And as an extra bonus, I am giving away two autographed copies of each book on Goodreads. Click here to enter to win First & Goal and here to enter to win Going for Two. (U.S. and Canada only!)


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May 5, 2016

love what's yours

I visit my Teammates mentee every Wednesday during my lunch break. My buddy (I can't disclose her name, so that's what I'll call her in this post) and I have met once a week, every week during the school year for three years now. There have been some rocky moments (the transition from elementary school to middle school is rough), but we've found a comfortable groove.

Typically I bring some sort of craft to make. We're both craft-lovers, and having a project to work on seems to work well for us. We made mini owl stuffed animals a couple of weeks ago. We painted canvases in the fall. We decorated letter blocks with our first initials. And so on.

This week, we finished creating an art project that basically involved taking fancy pieces of paper and creating a wall hanging by rolling and folding the paper accordingly. I'm not really doing a good job of explaining this (and I'm not totally sure how to do better) so here's a picture of me with my finished product to give you an idea.


See. It's an owl, and it has a jewel on it, which is pretty. It's art. (You can also see my buddy having a little fun with me by photobombing my picture with a peace sign. Silly girl.)

After finishing up my bejeweled owl, I helped my buddy finish up her own project. I cut up more pieces of tape and helped her put together the design (which was a pretty paper flower). While she exclaimed in excitement about it coming together, I said, "That looks great. Do you love it?" in a casual sort of way like you do.

Then she said, "I do love it. I made it, and you should love what you make, because its yours."

She was so sincere as she said it, which somehow made it even more sweet and wonderful. She's a sixth grader (who was actually kind of having a rough day, because middle school is the worst) and you could tell she truly believed what she said. There I was, feeling pretty smug about helping to get her out of a funk, but then she turned around and said something that reached me on a level I wouldn't have expected.

I've thought about those words a lot since our meeting yesterday. I've thought about how I tend to lean towards self-deprecation (and even self-loathing) when it comes to my own creations, from my art projects to my books. But I shouldn't. I should be proud of them. I should be proud of myself. I should love them, because I made them, and they're mine. It's probably not as easy as flipping a switch to change that mentality of mine, but it's worth giving a shot.

Of course it took a much wiser buddy to help me realize that.

But now that I've had this little epiphany thanks to my buddy, I realize it goes beyond changing the way I think. As her mentor, as her friend, I want to support my buddy and help her keep that attitude. It's hard to stay positive, to have confidence and belief in yourself, when it sometimes feels like the world is out to hate on you. But wouldn't that world be a whole lot better if we all loved ourselves and what we do a little more?

So let's love what we do, what we make, because it's ours. Maybe it isn't perfect, but that's life, right? You can still love it.


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May 2, 2016

dear nora

Blogger's Note: I wrote this letter about a month ago after spending a weekend reading a few books that stuck with me. It was like I needed to get these words off of my chest before I could move on to other books or other writing projects. And as I can't actually send this letter, and because I feel like some of you readers might share in these feelings, I'm leaving it here as a tribute to one of my heroes. 


Dear Nora,

I read three of your books this weekend. After years of admiring your films, essays and interviews—and after watching your son's beautiful documentary (you must be so proud)—I realized it was past time to read these books that have long been on my to-read list. (Please don't feel bad. I have hundreds of books on that list. Now I feel bad for mentioning the list, but somehow, it seems like you might understand and appreciate my quandary.)

Heartburn kept me up until 3. (In full disclosure, I must also confess that the probable raccoon nesting in my attic played a small role in my late night, too.) It broke my heart. It busted my gut. I cried—tears of laughter and pain. Then, when it was over, it brought tears to my eyes again, because I remembered I'd never be able to tell you how much your book moved me. (That's something you should know about me, Nora. I'm not just someone who pens letters or notes to authors I admire, or elected officials, who need a kick in the butt. I'm also vain and egotistical enough to imagine myself rising to the level where my heroes will not only notice me, but they'll want to talk with me. Again, I suspect you might get that too.)

After Heartburn kept me up, I Feel Bad About My Neck woke me up the following morning. (Here's another confession—you're really getting me to spill my soul. After listening to an interview you gave on NPR back in 2005, I started moisturizing my neck. I was only 19, and I figured that if I started early on my neck maintenance, maybe I'd be okay. Not a day has passed since when I haven't moisturized and groomed my neck in a fight against gravity. And every time you—and that interview—come to mind.) So now, reading your book, I not only took your words to heart and read them furiously, I loved them.

Again, I laughed and cried, because they were so wonderful, so honest. Even though they were written years ago, it was like you were writing—or rather talking—to me now. Not just talking to me, but having a conversation with me. And then I remembered we live in a post Nora Ephron world, and I got sad. Sad young storytellers today won't get to eagerly anticipate your next movie or blog post.

To fight my bittersweet melancholy, I—you guessed it—opened a copy of I Remember Nothing. Now this time I went in a little guarded. I knew all too well I'd probably reach the end and be filled with a sadness like both times before. But soon I forgot to feel sad or be guarded. I was too caught up making vows to say yes to butter and no to having a meatloaf named after me.

This time, when I finished, I waited for that ache to come. The one from knowing I'd never hear of a new Nora Ephron release nor have the chance to meet you and become one of your friends and mentees. It didn't come. Instead, I felt happy. Happy to live in a world where people, like me, can share colorful stories. Happy to live in a world where we can escape into words that were seemingly put together just for us. Happy to live in a world with strong, brilliant women to admire—ones who challenge us to be better and the best versions of ourselves, while accepting who we are along the way. Happy to live in a world where someone gets me so clearly and has taught me so much, even though we'll never meet.

I'm happy to live in a world where you lived and loved and created and shared and challenged generations.

Thank you for leaving behind such a legacy and for sharing your truths with the world. Before we say good-bye—and I really need to wash my face and moisturize my neck—I have one quick question. It's about your no-carb ricotta pancakes. Do you think I could make it with blueberries, or would that destroy the integrity of the whole dish?

Respectfully and with love,

Laura


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