February 29, 2012

book reviews: february 2012 recap

February's Top Read of the Month
February has come to an end, and I read and reviewed a lot of fantastic books.

I had a lot of books to keep me busy, and I was definitely pleased so many of them were enjoyable to read.With the exception of Sophie Kinsella's latest release, the rest of these authors were first-timers for me (and I think in most cases they are debut writers, too).

I added a few of books to my "read again" pile, which I'm always glad to do. My Top Read of the Month was Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number. I had high expectations going into it, and they were well met and exceeded.

Here's a quick recap of the books in case you would like to try them for yourself:

Thank You For Flying Air Zoe by Erik Atwell
Synopsis: In Erik Atwell's Thank You For Flying Air Zoe, the heroine questions her life's direction and vows to change it after a brush with death. When Zoe's airplane nearly crashes, she thinks back 15 years when she and her best friends played in an all-girl garage band. In high school, the Flip-Flops were determined to take over the world with their Go-Gos- and Bangles-inspired group. However, they part ways after graduation and never get to see their dream fulfilled.

In the process of reuniting the band, Zoe must also deal with her fear of love, inability to commit and healing old wounds from her past.
Read my review here.
Rating: 4.5 of 5


Julia's Child by Sarah Pinneo
Synopsis: The scoop on Julia's Child: "Cookbook author Sarah Pinneo delves into the delicious world of fiction with her hilarious first novel, being published by Plume in February 2012. Perfect for foodie and all-natural mamas, Julia's Child examines motherhood’s choices: organic vs. local, paper vs. plastic, staying at home vs. risking it all."
Read my review here.
Rating: 4.5 of 5


Waitlisted by Laurel Gans
Synopsis: In Laurel Gans' Waitlisted, a young woman learns there are no guarantees or freebies, and she must make changes if she wants to meet her goals for the future. The fast-paced story captures the college experience in a humorous way.

Kacey Barlow has coast through most of her life. She was pre-accepted into dental school, comes from a long line of alumni (and dentists) and has never faced any real adversity in her life. She quickly goes from having her biggest worry be whether or not she convincingly invented an excuse to get out of class for the day, to realizing she no longer has a guaranteed spot in graduate school. Through the book, she must finally commit herself to studying, become a more well-rounded student and decide what her future should hold.
Read my review here.
Rating: 4 of 5


Confessions of a Call Center Gal by Lisa Lim
Synopsis: In Lisa Lim's Confessions of a Call Center Gal, a recent college graduate makes the best of her unemployment by taking a crap job to make the best of it. After graduating with a journalism degree, Madison Lee sends out hundreds of applications to print publications big and small with hopes of landing a job in her field. Even without the recent economic crisis, print journalism has already taken enough of a hit that Maddy finds herself unemployed, broke and bored. When her college roommate/BFF invites Maddy to visit her in Pocatello, Idaho, the two out-of-work women end up landing jobs at the Lightning Speed call center. Tasked with helping callers from around the world, Maddy somehow finds entertainment with a side of romance at her job.
Read my review here.
Rating: 4 of 5


I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (***TOP READ OF THE MONTH***)
Synopsis: A young woman's life is turned upside down when she loses her engagement ring and cell phone 10 days before her wedding in Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number. Poppy Wyatt, a compulsive people pleaser, commandeers an abandoned cell phone in the meantime, hoping it will help solve her problems. Instead, it puts her directly in the path of Sam Roxton, an uptight and mysterious businessman.

In exchange for helping him transition between personal assistants, Sam agrees to let Poppy borrow the cell phone short-term. Instead, Poppy can not seem to help herself from meddling in Sam's affairs and likewise the tables are turned. Ultimately, more surprises and problems are in store for Poppy and Sam as she faces her impending nuptials and he protects his business.
Read my review here.
Rating: 5 of 5


One Pink Line by Dina Silvers
Synopsis: Dina Silver's One Pink Line tells a compelling story about love, growing up, consequences and what it means to be a family. When Sydney finds herself graduating from college and unexpectedly pregnant by a man who is not her long-time boyfriend from back home, she must make tough decisions that will forever change her world and the lives' of those around her. After making the decision to keep her baby, she must build a different life then the one she expected. With the baby's father out of the picture, Sydney finds others willing to offer love and help. Years later, Grace, her daughter, deals with the reality of her existence and her desire to meet the biological father who never wanted her. 
Read my review here.
Rating: 5 of 5


Idol Hands by Cynthia Hill
Synopsis: A woman trapped in a bad marriage, dead-end job and few prospects for improvement decides to change her life's course in Cynthia Hill's debut novel Idol Hands. Told through a series of diary entries and news articles, the story begins when the main character Tara realizes her disillusionment at the life she has. After watching a TV program about Idol Hands, a boy band from her youth, she decides to find and reconnect with her ex-boyfriend, a member of the band. Leaving her home and life behind, she travels from Canada, to Philadelphia to Carmel, Calif., on her quest to start over.
Read my review here.
Rating: 4.5 of 5


Mad About the Boy by Suzan Battah
Synopsis: In Suzan Battah's Mad About the Boy, Julia Mendoza finds unexpected romance from an unlikely source. Skeptical of finding love after being widowed at a young age, Julia pours herself into her business, By Design. A new romance throws her life into a detour. After an adorable meet cute in a grocery store, Julia finds Christophe Augustine. Handsome, wealthy and successful, Chris is the total package. Though his parents divorced, he still believes in love and thinks he might have found it when Julia appears in his life. Chris wants to know her better, and Julia is not opposed to a little fun. Together, they face a series of events and must decide whether their relationship is worth pursuing.
Read my review here.
Rating: 4 of 5


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book review: mad about the boy

In Suzan Battah's Mad About the Boy, Julia Mendoza finds unexpected romance from an unlikely source.

Skeptical of finding love after being widowed at a young age, Julia pours herself into her business, By Design. A new romance throws her life into a detour. After an adorable meet cute in a grocery store, Julia finds Christophe Augustine. Handsome, wealthy and successful, Chris is the total package. Though his parents divorced, he still believes in love and thinks he might have found it when Julia appears in his life.

Chris wants to know her better, and Julia is not opposed to a little fun. Together, they face a series of events and must decide whether their relationship is worth pursuing.

This was a fun, cute read. Though it addressed some of life's tougher — if often super dramatic — moments, it was fast-paced and entertaining. I was never bored.

The leading man is fantastic. Christophe was definitely crushable, which is a must-have for me in all my romantic stories. Plus, he's French, or at least partially, and he surfs. How adorable is that? Even cuter: he wants to find love, which is super cute to me.

Julia was a likable main character and solid leading lady. Though I thought she dragged her heals in some places and over-thought her future, her back story gives a good explanation for this. It was also nice to see a character who has obviously struggled in the past working hard to make a better future.

The other characters, such as Julia's large Latin-American family, brought additional humor and rounded out the story. 

Be sure to check back tomorrow when Mad About the Boy author Suzan Battah stops by for an interview.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author:
Suzan Battah is a proud Australian born author who has loved to write since her teenage years. In 2011 she published her first novel a contemporary multicultural romance - Mad About the Boy. In her spare time she weaves magical tales to entertain. Suzan writes YA Fiction - Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance and Contemporary Romance. Other fun things you can find her doing is training at the gym and Latin/Ballroom dancing. Suzan is afraid of heights, loves most things that are sweet, has no clue about fashion and one day hopes to speak Spanish fluently. Her second novel a YA Urban Fantasy Adventure - BaSatai: Outside In will be released on the 14th of April 2012.

Connect with Suzan:
@suzanbattah

Buy the Book!
Available at Itunes, Barns and Noble, Sony Reader

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February 28, 2012

critique request: unengaged

I am almost done with the first draft of my current novel in progress. That means in a matter of days — or weeks if the ending proves difficult to write — I will begin the next phase: revisions.

Here is where you can help. In writing this story, I most struggled with the beginning. I previously posted the first 500 words, and I took the feedback I received to heart. This is a completely new opener, and I would love to know what you think. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Before you read it, here is a little background on this story: In Unengaged, a young woman must save her family's wedding planning business from bankruptcy, even if it means taking on her ex as a client. With that, here you go:
A pregnant bride, missing florist, and dueling mothers by no means helped Elliot Lynch coordinate her first solo event.

Never mind the fudged figures in the company’s financial records. Those could wait until she met with her father and sister. The wedding crumbling around her would not. The Hamilton wedding was already a mess.

She wished her sister or father was there to help. It was her first day back as a wedding planner for Engagements, her family’s event planning business.

Her sister, who was scheduled to attend event planning conventions and bridal shows the next four weeks, at list minute booked one for this weekend. Her father decided to travel to Boston to visit his mother in her nursing home, today. Both were good reasons to be MIA, but Elliot wished they would have been there today of all days.

The wedding might not be as huge and splashy as it could have, given the family’s prominence, but it was still a big deal. It would have been nice to have a more low key event as her first solo wedding.

Elliot took a calming breath. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the nose. It had little effect. Her heart was still racing, and her nerves threatened to take over. If this was an indication of how every event would go for the next month, she might need a prescription for anti-anxiety pills.

“Marissa.” Elliot grabbed her friend’s arm to stop her from following the bride’s mother. “We need the bouquets an hour ago. Call the florist and give the phone to me.”

“But—” Marissa looked longingly at the mothers of the bride and groom, who looked about ready to fight each other.

“I’ll take care of them,” Elliot said. “Get the florist on the phone, and then go help the bride. She doesn’t feel well.”

Her firm expression and tone got through to Marissa. Her friend seemed to realize the full situation and nodded her agreement. Being a witness to the fight brewing between the two society women might be exciting, but seeing Elliot snap would be horrible.

Elliot was usually carefully in control of her emotions, but when she lost them the fallout was indescribably bad. Marissa was one of few people to ever see it, and she knew well enough not to be around when it happened.

Leaving Marissa to call the florist, Elliot marched over to the moms.

Fortunately they were oblivious to the chaos surrounding the day. Instead, they were angry fighting about shoes.

Longtime friends and society competitors, they were delighted when their children decided to marry. They planned the day together with their children for more than a year, and were determined to make the small garden wedding the talk of the summer.

Though the women had coordinated outfits, they apparently did not discuss their shoe selection. When they arrived wearing the same pair of expensive designer heels, each was incensed. How dare the other try to upstage them on their child’s day?

Elliot knew their type. Her family was considered to be among them, even if their recent circumstances might suggest otherwise. She knew the women were a little vain and that flattery was the best way to get through to them.

She also knew that both women loved their children. They would be mortified later if they made a scene now.

“Ladies,” she said. Her voice oozed politeness and class. “Have I told you how beautiful you look, today? The photographer and I were actually just talking about how amazing it was to have not one, but two gorgeous mothers in this wedding.”

Her words stopped the women. Knowing she had a small margin, Elliot worked quickly.

“Oh my goodness, look at your shoes,” she said. “Well you two thought of everything. What a great idea.”

“Great idea?” the bride’s mother asked cautiously.

“Yes, it’s a great idea — matching shoes for the mothers of the bride and groom. People are always obsessed about matching shoes for the bridesmaids, but you two took it to another level,” Elliot said. “I can tell you that in all my years around weddings, I have never seen two women manage the details like you.

“I bet everyone who sees those shoes, which are fabulous by the way, will want to have their moms match shoes at their weddings.”

“Do you think?” the groom’s mother asked.

“Oh absolutely,” Elliot said. “I bet that next summer it will be all the rage.”

Both women grinned. The thought of being industry trendsetters was apparently a new and welcome thought for them. She was relieved her contrived compliment went over so well.

“Ladies, could I ask you to come over here so I can have the photographer take a picture?” Elliot asked. “I confess I’m dying to have a picture of the two of you. I want to be able to show people that you were the first.”

She doubted it would become a leading wedding trend, but maybe it would. At least she had diverted one crisis. The women nodded, and Elliot motioned the photographer over. She gave a quick direction, and turned to Marissa, who had the florist on the line.

“Where are you?” she asked, her teeth clenched together. “You were supposed to be here with the bouquets two hours ago.”

“I wanted to check the reception site again,” the florist said. “It all looks good there. The arrangements are going to blow people away.”

“That’s great,” she said. “But I have a photographer here who wants to take pictures of the bride and her bridesmaids, and they don’t have bouquets.”

“That’s not a problem,” the florist said, “they can just take their photos after the wedding.”

“They can, and they will, but that doesn’t change the fact that your contract said you would have the photos here and in their hands two hours ago. The wedding is in less than an hour. If you are not here in five minutes, I will advise the bride and groom to contest the contract for a refund.

“I’ll also encourage my future clients to use a different vendor.”

After a silent moment, the florist agreed to be there in five minutes and apologized profusely.

“Wow,” Marissa said. “I forgot how scary wedding planner Elliot can be.”

“I hate having to that.” She was almost out of breath. “Confrontation is awful. Threatening people is even worse. I feel like I’m channeling my sister every time I do it.”

Marissa laughed, knowing first-hand how much Elliot disliked comparisons to her older sister Libby.

“How about I go meet the florist, and you help the bride,” Marissa said.

Nodding, Elliot asked, “What’s up with the bride?”

“She seems to be done throwing up, but she won’t stop crying,” Marissa said. Her excitement was obvious. “No surprise there given the bun in her oven.”

Elliot sighed. Her friend obviously figured out the secret. The bride’s morning sickness gave it away, but she wished Marissa did not look as thrilled as she did.

“Can you please keep that quiet until they’re ready to go public with it? They have more than enough going on right now without having to worry about their wedding planners blabbing that news to everyone in Massachusetts.”

More contrite than before, Marissa nodded.

“Poor girl,” she said. “It must be awful to be this sick on your wedding day. She’s not going to have any fun.”

Her friend’s sympathy soothed Elliot’s anxiety and temper.

“We’ll make sure she.” Elliot nodded. “I brought a couple bottles of non-alcoholic champagne for her to drink. The caterer also made a few last minute changes to the menu to remove anything that makes the bride nauseous to smell.”

“Before he went missing, I asked the florist to remove anything overly fragrant from the bride’s bouquet,” Marissa said. “The last thing we need is for the bride to throw up all over the minister’s shoes.”

Elliot smiled at Marissa. Her friend might be a gossiper and high strung, but she came through when it mattered most. She prayed they would both make it through the day.
So... what do you think? I welcome any suggestions. I want to make this novel better, and your feedback will help. Feel free to post them here on the comments, or if you would like to make them more private, send me an email. I truly appreciate your help.

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February 27, 2012

oscars 2012

This year's big winner: The Artist.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards have come and gone. This year's show had few surprises, but I hope the rest of you enjoyed watching it as much as I did.

It's always been a big deal for me to watch the show. I tend to call it my Super Bowl (even though I do in fact follow football and consider the Super Bowl the Super Bowl, too, but that hardly matters). What it comes down to, though, is win or lose, I love seeing the films and creators recognized through nominations, tributes and awards.

I was especially pleased to see Christopher Plummer and Meryl Streep receive recognition. Both are ridiculously talented, and he will always have a special place in my heart as Captain Von Trapp (I swear I could hear him singing "Edelweiss" during his acceptance speech).

I have not seen The Artist, or most of this year's other nominees, but I am told it was quite good and would like to see it.

A few of my favorite moments included:
•  Billy Crystal's standard opener with celebrity cameos. Between his kiss with George Clooney and the Justin Bieber cameo, the opening video was hilarious.
•  The short film about test audiences, which featured actors from my favorite mockumentary films, such as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.
•  Tina Fey. She looked gorgeous last night, kept the funny going during her appearances and reminded me all-around of why I adore her.
•  Colin Firth presenting. I love him even more than I adore Tina Fey. I've been Team Colin since I hit puberty, and I enjoy every chance I get to see him.
•  The timing for this show seemed spot on. The show is always ridiculously long, but they seemed to streamline it better this year. I still managed to get in bed at a decent time.

In honor of this year's celebration, my sister and I held a little watch party at the bar where she works. We had snacks (movie popcorn and candy, plus dips and cheesecake bites), Oscars trivia and decorations. And even though we didn't wear gowns, we still made sure to glam up a bit. I'm lately obsessed with the TV mini-series Downton Abbey, so I did an Edwardian Era hairstyle and accessories. It was not perfect, but still fun.

I also participated in a Twitter Party with author Tracie Banister. (I'll be reviewing her new book in April, so be sure to look for that.) It was a lot of fun to gossip with people all over about our red carpet and ceremony opinions.

Here are a few photos from the night:
I made table tents with all of this year's Best Picture nominees. There's
nothing a little gold glitter and black and white artistry won't do.

Our table at the bar covered with treats and Oscar gold.

My attempt at a glamorous hairstyle. Not perfect, but it was fun.

What were your favorite Oscar moments? Did any of you hold celebrations, too?

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world book night 2012

I am pleased to announce I will participate in this year's World Book Night. Today, I learned I will be handing out copies of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany in Lincoln, Neb.

I selected this book, because my mom is a longtime John Irving fan and she passed it on to me. I truly enjoy this book, and it is one that teaches valuable lessons and engages readers. I am excited to share it with the masses.

For those of you who do not know, here is the scoop on WBN:
World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.

World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.


Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night will also be celebrated in the U.S. in 2012, with news of more countries to come in future years. Please join our mailing list for regular World Book Night U.S. news. And thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea!


Additionally, April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death.
 
For more information, visit the website here

As a reader and aspiring novelist, I love books. I could not be more delighted to participate in this year's event.

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February 23, 2012

writersLNK - february

As some of you know, some of my local friends and I recently created a writing group based here in Lincoln. WritersLNK provides local writers an opportunity to network, discuss writing and share their latest projects. (We also hold write-ins a couple of times a month, which has been a lot of fun.)

One element of WritersLNK that I love is the opportunity to be a blogger for the group. Every Tuesday, I write a post about some writing or reading topic.

I hope you will check out the posts I have contributed the past four weeks. Enjoy!


Community Matters

Our Inaugural WritersLNK Write-in last night reminded me of this past fall, when meeting with fellow authors to write in mass pushed me to meet my goals.

Seated in a coffee shop, with earbuds in and music up, I opened a Word document. The cursor blinked on the screen while I willed the words to form for my latest WIP.
(Click here to read the rest of this post.)


Be My Guest

One of my favorite roles as a part-time blogger is being a blog tour host. Blog tours provide authors an opportunity to promote their material and gain feedback with reviews on participating blogs. It's great for authors. Either they manage the blog tour themselves or they pay a reasonable fee to have someone else do it. (Or they're lucky enough to have a publicist who tackles the whole thing.)
(Click here to read the rest of this post.)


Repeaters

When I love a book, chances are I will re-read it dozens of times. I actually have a rotation of books that I read annually. One of my high school English teachers chastised me for this practice.

"There are so many books in the world, Laura," she said. "Why would you waste your time reading one again?"

At the time I blew off her comment. After all, it is my life and my time. I can do what I want.
(Click here to read the rest of this post.)


Get in the Mood

Whether I'm writing an article for work or penning my future best-selling novel (I'm working on it, folks), I have to be in the mood. While I find it easier to prepare for my work and blog articles, I still have to get myself in the right mind-set no matter what.

Here are a few tricks of the trade I have learned through the years to get me in the writing spirit:
(Click here to read the rest of this post.)


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February 22, 2012

book review: idol hands

A woman trapped in a bad marriage, dead-end job and few prospects for improvement decides to change her life's course in Cynthia Hill's debut novel Idol Hands.

Told through a series of diary entries and news articles, the story begins when the main character Tara realizes her disillusionment at the life she has. After watching a TV program about Idol Hands, a boy band from her youth, she decides to find and reconnect with her ex-boyfriend, a member of the band. Leaving her home and life behind, she travels from Canada, to Philadelphia to Carmel, Calif., on her quest to start over.

Or so it seems.

I can not say much more without giving away key plot elements that would ruin the story for you (sorry).

I can say that this book was well done, interesting and worth the read. I was highly entertained, intrigued and held in suspense, never able to guess what would happen next. It tackles serious issues and makes the reader think. If you read this expecting a typical romantic comedy, expect to have your mind blown.

As a character, Tara was compelling and fascinated me. Even as she lets us into her personal diary, she holds the reader at a distance. I never entirely bonded with her, but I cared about what happened. This was good writing on Hill's part, because usually if I don't connect with a character I will not enjoy the story.

For me, a long-time boy band fanatic and lover of Hollywood countdowns and trivia, the story's premise grabbed my attention. I was born a little too late to totally jump on the New Kids on the Block bandwagon when they were new and young (though my parents have video footage of me singing a mash-up of Hanging Tough and Bon Jovi's Lay Your Hands of Me as a 3-year-old), but I saw definite similarities between them and Idol Hands. Even though you know the band in the book is imaginary, drawing that connection to something so familiar to me was a way to connect.

The ending completely shocked me. I did not see it coming. However, it was the best ending that could come for the story. Though it raised new questions, it gave enough answers (and certainly explained a few elements I wondered about during the novel) to satisfy me. I am still thinking about it and probably will for a while.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

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February 21, 2012

keep writing

Blogger's note: Katie is one of my dearest friends from college and beyond. When she asked to write a blog post about how a writer can keep his or her writing skills in shape, I had to say yes. Plus, it's a really good topic. Enjoy! 

By Katie Steiner
Guest blogger

Let me be upfront with all of you: I’ve been unemployed since the end of November. I quit my job as a corporate journalist to 1.) spend a month living with my parents (give me a break, I’m an only child), before I  2.) moved to Austin, Texas, in search of new opportunities (aka my boyfriend got a job, so I decided to tag along). 


So here I am, hunting for jobs that would hopefully have me writing on a daily basis. The problem is I went from being required to churn out 2,000 words a day to having no real reason to write. After a few weeks, I realized I needed to brainstorm ways to keep writing, because there’s nothing worse than a rusty writer.

Whether you’re like me and looking for a job, or you’re in between creative projects, it’s important to find ways to keep your writing fresh, so you don’t find yourself feeling out of practice when it is time to get back to work.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to keep writing:

Get creative with that old’ cover letter. Let’s be honest, no one LIKES writing a cover letter. They’re boring and lame and you’d rather do ANYTHING else than write one. But instead of seeing it as a chore, look at it as an opportunity to get creative. I’ve always had the tendency of using the same cover letter over and over, but recently I’ve decided to have more fun with this otherwise tedious task. Think of new stories to share about yourself, or even come up with new verbiage you hadn’t thought of previously. Any change you make to your cover letter will not allow you a chance to write, but it may also be the one thing a potential employer will be drawn to.

Keep a journal or diary.
I know many writers like to keep a journal even when they’re working, but it’s invaluable when you’re in between projects. Take time every day to sit down and write out your thoughts, even just as a way to remind your brain what it means to write. Also, don’t just use that journal to vent about how frustrated or sad or angry you are; use it as an opportunity to remind yourself of the good things that happened that day, and what you have to look forward to. That positive energy will also reflect in your everyday life, as well as your job applications.

Freelance. If you check Craigslist obsessively like I do, you will notice that there are always posts seeking freelancers for all sorts of writing assignments. Also, contact your local publications to see if they accept freelance work, and if they have any stories you could take. I’ve been fortunate to freelance periodically for my former employer, and I like having that writing opportunity (as well as making a little money).

Keep a blog. A blog is a great way to flex your writing skills as often as you want. Even if you don’t think you have anything to say or that no one will read it…who cares?! If you have a story to tell, there will be an audience there. And if you don’t want to post links to it all over Facebook, that’s OK too; keep it for yourself and your writing. 


If you’re like me and don’t think you’re tech-savvy enough to start a blog, then volunteer to write on your friend’s blog. I was so excited when Laura gave me the opportunity to write on this blog because I saw it as one more opportunity to write, something that I love to do and something that I miss doing when away for too long.

So, dear readers, I’ve shared with you what’s worked for me but I’m interested to hear: What has worked for you? Have you done other activities to keep your writing fresh?

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February 20, 2012

making a story her own

Blogger's note: I asked One Pink Line author Dina Silver what research she did in preparation for her book. It turns out being a good friend and listener can shape a story and give it life.

(Read my review of One Pink Line here.)

By Dina Silver
Guest blogger

I didn’t need to do a ton of research for One Pink Line, because a girlfriend of mine and her life experiences were the inspiration for the book. She opened up to me about herself one day, and what she told me turned out to be one of my favorite things: a great love story!

After hearing details about her youth, I took her to lunch one afternoon, equipped with a pad of paper and a bowl of French onion soup, and picked her brain. I specifically asked her not to give too many details, just the chain of events that lead her to where she is now. It was important for me to be true to her story, but to make the book my own, and make certain that is was pure fiction.

Other than that, my planning typically includes a glass of wine, my two cats and my computer. And assuming my son is at school, I can get a lot of great writing done.

As for tips, hmm…

Most of the tips I read from other people tend to sound cliché and repetitive. But one of the most repetitive ones I’ve seen, turned out to be a really good one for me personally, so I’m going to share it. Read the book On Writing by Stephen King. I bought this book three years ago when some local, snobbish woman from Northwestern University read something I’d written, and her response was for me to read this book. Needless to say, I ran out to the now extinct Borders in my area and bought it. However, it wasn’t until this past Christmas break that I read it. And loved it.

I have never read a Stephen King book. I have seen and enjoyed some of the movie adaptations of his books, but never read one. On Writing was the first. And what I learned was that he writes like I do...sorta. He writes when he’s inspired (albeit much more often than me). He writes without story outlines or character studies. He tries to write every day. And he reads a lot (this last one is my new year’s resolution). He also inspired me to do one of the hardest things, and that is to DELETE! Sometimes I feel like I’m writing just to fill a quota in my head, but then when I re-read it, it seems unnecessary to the story, and I hate to delete thousands of words. It kills me! But after I read this book, I truly understand that less is more.

My last tip would be, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Write when you feel like writing. Don’t force it. Because when you’re truly in the mood to write, and truly inspired by your story, the words will flow so much easier.

Author Bio:
A graduate of Purdue University, Dina Silver has spent the past fifteen years feeding her red wine habit by working as a copywriter in the advertising industry. After seeing the bulk of her professional prose on brochures and direct mail pieces, she is delighted to have made the transition to novelist. She currently lives with her husband and son in suburban Chicago, where she is working on her next book. Inspired by a true story, One Pink Line is Dina’s debut novel.

Connect with Dina!
http://www.dinasilver.com/page/page/7326500.htm
https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Pink-Line/235260919862358
Twitter: @DinaSilver 

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February 19, 2012

book review: one pink line

Dina Silver's One Pink Line tells a compelling story about love, growing up, consequences and what it means to be a family.

When Sydney finds herself graduating from college and unexpectedly pregnant by a man who is not her long-time boyfriend from back home, she must make tough decisions that will forever change her world and the lives' of those around her. After making the decision to keep her baby, she must build a different life then the one she expected. With the baby's father out of the picture, Sydney finds others willing to offer love and help.

Years later, Grace, her daughter, deals with the reality of her existence and her desire to meet the biological father who never wanted her.

That's all I will say about the plot, because anything more would spoil the story — and I really don't want to do that.

I enjoyed this book. It is another one I sat down to read and could not stop once I started. Told uniquely from the perspective of a single mother in the early 1990s and her daughter years later in the present day, the stories wove together beautifully.

Even though I occasionally found myself frustrated with Sydney or Grace, or questioning their decisions, I still liked them. Each made mistakes and hurt other people around them, but it was never malicious and they always regretted their actions. When a character does that, he or she becomes so much more relatable to me.

Again, not wanting to ruin the story, I'll only say I enjoyed a lot of the secondary characters in the book. A couple in particular were great, and one incredible. (Read the book and you will know who I am referring to.)

One Pink Line honestly told a story about life and its complexity. Sometimes we make wrong decisions, and sometimes the unexpected happens. Sometimes it is hard and hurtful. But at times, it can be truly wonderful.

The story's greatest strength came from showing what makes a family a family. It is not about blood or perfection. It is about love. Whether you are a parent or child, sibling or friend, love defines your family.

Rating: 5 of 5

Check back tomorrow to read a guest post from the author.

Author Bio:
A graduate of Purdue University, Dina Silver has spent the past fifteen years feeding her red wine habit by working as a copywriter in the advertising industry. After seeing the bulk of her professional prose on brochures and direct mail pieces, she is delighted to have made the transition to novelist. She currently lives with her husband and son in suburban Chicago, where she is working on her next book. Inspired by a true story, One Pink Line is Dina’s debut novel.

Connect with Dina!
http://www.dinasilver.com/page/page/7326500.htm
https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Pink-Line/235260919862358
Twitter: @DinaSilver

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February 18, 2012

galentine's day/ valentine's day winners!

Congratulations G.P. and Lisa, the winners of the Galentine's Day/ Valentine's Day Recycled Romance contest. G.P. won the grand prize collection, and Lisa can select two of the other books (The Summer We Came to Life, Sense and Sensibility or Simply Love).

Email me at lmchap@gmail.com to tell me where to send your books and your selection.

Thanks for your readership, and again, congratulations!

February 17, 2012

book review: i've got your number

A young woman's life is turned upside down when she loses her engagement ring and cell phone 10 days before her wedding in Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number.

Poppy Wyatt, a compulsive people pleaser, commandeers an abandoned cell phone in the meantime, hoping it will help solve her problems. Instead, it puts her directly in the path of Sam Roxton, an uptight and mysterious businessman.

In exchange for helping him transition between personal assistants, Sam agrees to let Poppy borrow the cell phone short-term. Instead, Poppy can not seem to help herself from meddling in Sam's affairs and likewise the tables are turned. Ultimately, more surprises and problems are in store for Poppy and Sam as she faces her impending nuptials and he protects his business.

You know how people say, "I couldn't put it down," when they enjoyed a book? I lived that cliche last night. As a reward to myself for a challenging work week, I ordered I've Got Your Number on my Nook thinking I could read it as a weekend treat. Instead, I read it in one sitting, with a few short restroom breaks. This book will definitely find a place in my permanent collection and my re-read pile.

I loved it. I probably throw that phrase out too often with books, but in this case, I sincerely mean it. I have read and adored other stories in the past year, but this one reminded me of why I Kinsella is one of my favorite authors. Even in my least favorite of her books, I always manage to be entertained. But when her stories work, it is Brit chick lit gold.

Poppy is a fab character. She is sweet, funny and quirky. Even though with a lot going for her, she has more than a healthy dose of personal doubt and a strong desire to be loved. Instead of being pitiful, she was endearing, and I instantly related to her as a protagonist. I genuinely wanted her to be happy.

I also fell hard for Sam, the new mysterious man on the other end of the phone. Though he might seem short and overly business-like at first, that is hardly the full truth. He might not be as open-hearted and bubbly as Poppy, but you soon see he is mostly guarded — and genuinely a nice, loyal man who cares about others. Go ahead and add him to my "crush-worthy men of 2012" list.

The story's romance also had several totally adorable and sigh-able moments. Consider how they met. Poppy swiped a discarded phone that linked her to him. Sam's first glimpse of her happens when she completely embarrasses herself to help him out. Talk about a meet cute. With several other wonderful moments, it all culminated for me with a brilliant romantic gesture. Without giving away details, let's  say I definitely expected the Thompson Twins to begin playing at any moment. (And now I have to look them up to appease myself.)

The novel featured a few components, which made it stand out from other books. Though Kinsella's other books include text messaging, it became a central component of this story. Poppy and Sam developed their friendship by exchanging texts, emails and phone calls. This book also included footnotes. In poking around at other reviews, it seems this was a turn-off for several other readers, but not for me. The footnotes worked well to poke fun at Poppy's future in-laws, who write books with lots of footnotes, and added an extra level of humor. They were somewhat challenging to read, because (at least on my Nook) the footnotes were all compiled at the end of the chapter. But like I said, I found it a fun and unique twist.

If I had one complaint with the book, it is that I would have liked more of it. Though fast-paced and easy to get through, many of the supporting characters were equally interesting, and I would have liked to see more of them (i.e. Poppy's brothers, friends.) However, no questions were left unanswered, and I suppose it is my greed, rather than need, that drives me to want more.

Kinsella's stories consistently provide solid humor and quirkiness. In this case, she also nailed Poppy's desperation to belong, bouts of loneliness and confusion. While I had many laugh-out-loud moments as expected, I also teared up more than a few times, because I genuinely hurt for Poppy when she was sad.

As a bonus, in reading this novel, I may have discovered a new life motto: If it's in a bin, it's public property. (OK, now go read the book so you can laugh at that.) 

Rating: 5 of 5

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February 16, 2012

thursday tv preview - 2/16/12


Happy Thursday, readers. That means two things: the work week is almost done, and we are in store for some great television, tonight.

First up, on an all new 30 Rock, the cast members are ready for some big changes. After being mugged, Jack decides to run for mayor. Meanwhile, Jenna and her boyfriend Paul, guest star Will Forte, try to act like a normal couple.

In last week's Valentine's Day episode, Liz made major strides in her relationship with Criss. (They survived a couple's trip to IKEA and lived to celebrate with a homemade dinner.) I am intrigued to see how this relationship unfolds. It seems to be off to a good start, but Liz's relationships usually find a way to go awry.

Now that Kenneth wants to have a new career, I am curious to see what is in store for him — if anything — long-term. His replacement, played by Kristen Schaal, also brought great humor to last week's episode, and I look forward to seeing how her Liz envy plays out.

"The Tuxedo Begins" appears tonight at 8 EST/ 7 CDT on NBC.

After one week off, Parks and Recreation is back, and so is a fan favorite from the past. Louis C.K. guest stars as Leslie's cop ex-boyfriend Dave. With Leslie's campaign under way and up against stiff competition from Sweetums darling Bobby Newport, she needs a big endorsement, say from the Pawnee Police Department. This puts her directly in Dave's path now that he is back after two years away.

This episode has to be a winner. If Dave still harbors any feelings for Leslie he will have stiff competition from her campaign manager/ boyfriend Ben. What makes this even funnier is Ben's obvious discomfort around police officers (remember last season?). I'm completely excited to see how this unfolds.

Meanwhile, it seems we will have another Mouse Rat appearance as Andy and the rest of the office work on a theme song for Leslie's campaign. It will also be interesting to see what ramifications come from Ann and Tom's date in the last episode.

Tune in to "Dave Returns" tonight at 8:30 EST/ 7: 30 CDT on NBC.

Read my reviews of this week's episodes tomorrow morning.

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February 15, 2012

book review: confessions of a call center gal

In Lisa Lim's Confessions of a Call Center Gal, a recent college graduate makes the best of her unemployment by taking a crap job to make the best of it.

After graduating with a journalism degree, Madison Lee sends out hundreds of applications to print publications big and small with hopes of landing a job in her field. Even without the recent economic crisis, print journalism has already taken enough of a hit that Maddy finds herself unemployed, broke and bored.

When her college roommate/BFF invites Maddy to visit her in Pocatello, Idaho, the two out-of-work women end up landing jobs at the Lightning Speed call center. Tasked with helping callers from around the world, Maddy somehow finds entertainment with a side of romance at her job. 

I enjoyed this book. Maddy served as a quirky narrator amongst a cast of often ridiculous over-the-top secondary and minor characters. The phone calls Maddy takes from customers were funny. Between the rudeness, inarticulateness and plain insanity, I found myself laughing out loud.

Even as some of Madison's encounters bordered on over-the-top, there was a strong enough basis of reality to make it believable. If you have ever worked in a service-oriented field where you are required to make nice with jerks, then you will definitely get it.

And if sometimes Maddy and her friends seemed a little politically incorrect, it is never done maliciously. Other times they might seem immature, but you know what? They're just out of college. Cut them some slack.

It did take a while for me to see where the book was going. Once it got there, I liked the destination. Even with that in mind, it did paint a solid portrait of life in a call center.

If you're shocked by certain types of humor, this book might be a bit much for you. If you aren't into reading about 20-somethings, move along. Otherwise, this was a quick and fun read.

Maddy and her friends also had some growing up to do. Some of it was lessons every young adult must go through in the change from kid to adulthood, such as how to play office politics or move on to bigger and better. Other lessons were unique to this — my — generation.

As a 2008 college graduate with a bachelor's of journalism degree, the initial conflict of the book struck a particular cord with me. Even though I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to use some of the skills I picked up in college, I could relate to Maddy who is not living her initial plan as a newspaper/magazine journalist.

Would you like to know a secret? (*Whispers* Neither are most of the people I graduated with.)

Even if you are not a journalist hopeful, the book is relatable for fellow Millenials/Generation Y-ers who face staggering unemployment numbers and are having to abandon their original plans to land a paycheck.

However, if Maddy could find humor and hope for her future working as a customer service agent with a deranged boss, we can see it in our lives, too.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author:

Lisa Lim is the proud mom of two little girls and three rescue dogs. When Lisa isn't writing, reading or watching "The Office" and "New Girl" she is out walking her three pooches, or rather, her three pooches are taking her for walks. Lisa is also a chick lit junkie and she's currently writing a sequel to her chick lit novel Confessions of a Call Center Gal.

Lisa received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was a former Technical Writer for a software company and Copy Editor for an IT publication. Her debut novel was featured on The Wall Street Journal blog and was shortlisted for Books to Read in 2012 by LadiesWhoCritique.com.

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February 14, 2012

galentine's/ valentine's giveaway

With all the love oozing from Galentine's and Valentine's days, I wanted to share some of it with you readers.

If you read my earlier post about my Galentine's Day adventure with friends, you know that my gift of choice this year was Recycled Romance. I gave several of my friends two or three love stories united by a common theme.

Because I adore you readers, this week I will give you a chance to win your own Recycled Romance collection. The grand prize winner will win the "Heroine's on the Go" package. This includes two books from my personal library. In each, the heroine finds love while she is... you guessed it, on the go. One book is set in modern times and the other in the wild west of the olden days. Hubba hubba.


In addition to receiving The Tycoon's Son and Early Dawn, I will throw in a few other Galentine's Day items (I'm talking nail polish, stationary, etc., my friends).

Three readers will also receive one of these single titles from my collection:
•  The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed (Advanced Reader Copy) - a story about friendship love
•  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - a classic love story
•  Simply Love by Mary Balough - a modern romance set in classic times

To win, leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite literary love story. Also, tell me if you already have one of these books, and I will swing it so you do not get a duplicate copy.

I will select the winners at 5 p.m. CDT Friday, Feb. 17, so be sure to post your comment before then. (U.S. and Canada readers only.)

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famed literary lovebirds

What would romance be without lovers? Story is what happens to character. A good romance is based on good characters.

Last summer I counted down my top 10 favorite couples in literature during Project Boy Meets Girl. In honor of Valentine's Day and couples everywhere, I thought it would be fun to revisit them and remember what makes their love stories wonderful.

(You can click on the links to view the original blog posts where I went into more detail.)

My Top 10 Favorite Couples in Literature

10. Jo March and Professor Baher of Little Women

Jo and Professor Baher are adorably awkward as individuals, but together they are simply adorable. Meeting as a tenant and nanny at a boarding house, the duo bond over their shared love of books and learning. (A couple after my own heart.)

Their love story peaks under an umbrella in a rain storm when the professor finally lays it all down for our heroine: "Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you; I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?"

9. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen of the "Twilight" series

Their love may be overly intense, dramatic and creepy, but I can't resist Edward and Bella's story. I won't go so far as to say their story is my own brand of heroine or irrevocable, but I eat it up.

Inexplicably drawn together, perceived bad meets apparently good. Wrong meets right. Pull. Clash. Vampire. Swoon. Ice. Heartache. Reunion. Namedrop-of-a-classic-romantic-story-vaguely-tying-into-the-theme-of-the-book. Wolves. War. Love. Monster-baby-who-makes-me-scared-to-have-children. Forever. The drama is high in these stories (and it's not a realistic example for impressionable youth), but their story entertains, romances and engages.

8. Annie Laurence and Max Darling of the "Death on Demand" series

Max leaves behind his glamorous life as a New York City trust fund baby and follows his heart, and the love of his life, to an island off the Carolina coast. There, he starts a non-detective agency to be with his bookstore-owning sweetie. Together they are savvy, beautiful, charismatic and so perfect you're torn between jealousy and admiration, he and Annie's relationship is enviable.

Plus, when they are together, they manage to not only be cute, but they solve murders better than the local authorities. Sigh. Add intelligent, cunning and brilliant to the list of their attributes.

7. Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley of Emma 

Who doesn't love a story about a girl falling for the boy — err... man — next door? Mr. Knightley is more than an old family friend and confidant. He is the only man who can keep up with Emma AND even best her when it comes to wits. Knightley challenges her to be more mature, charitable and decenct.

The best part of their story has to be one of Knightley's lines, spoken after each finally reveals their secretly harbored feelings for the other: "I cannot makes speeches, Emma... If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." If a man said that to me, and meant it, I would never expect him to talk again.

6. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre 

Another story of bad meets good, Jane and Mr. Rochester complete each other in a sense that each can be themselves — and a better version, at that — when they are together. Jane is young, a governess and kind. Rochester is older, the master of the manor and seemingly rude and abrupt. Both have dark pasts. Both are drawn to each other.

Though filled with deceit, unshared histories and tragedy, Jane and Rochester's love story ends happily with them united. In the end, the pain and badness of the past does not matter as they move forward. Again, cue the sigh/ swoon/ reaction that strikes your fancy.

5. Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth of Persuasion

They make the list simply for the divine letter Capt. Wentworth wrote Anne. The opening: "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever."

I just got weak in the knees typing that. Total swoon.

Now excuse me for a moment while I go sulk with a pint of ice cream about the fact that no one has ever told me I pierced his soul.

Sigh.

4. Becky Bloomwood and Luke Brandon of the "Shopaholic" series

Becky and Luke are not quite opposites, but they definitely balance each other out. Becky is loving, free-spirited and fun. She also is good at getting herself into trouble — especially when it comes to her finances. Luke is serious, overly organized and did I mention serious. But he is also good at creating solutions.

Becky makes Luke live life outside of board rooms. Luke helps Becky be more responsible.

3. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe of the "Anne of Green Gables" series

Remember that super cute, smart and nice guy who used to tease you in school, and you found yourself competing with? And then remember when you decided to become friends, because he made a huge life-changing sacrifice for you?

Well, maybe our lives aren't quite like that, but Anne and Gilbert live this and it's totes adorable.

Gilbert Blythe, despite his unfortunate name, was one of my first book crushes. The influence on me was profound. To this day, one of my favorite stories is of the boy and the girl who know each other a long time, eventually become friends, but then ultimately are much more.

2. Elizabeth Bennett/ Bridget Jones and Mr. Darcy/ Mark Darcy of Pride and Prejudice and the Bridget Jones series

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy are both foxes. They may each be a little proud to start with, but don't worry. They can change for the woman they love.

And Lizzie and Bridget are both flawed. But that's OK. Because the Darcy's like them.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the great classic romances in the English language for a reason. Bridget Jones's Diary gave life to the Chick Lit genre. There's a reason. Both stories are timeless, well done and totally adorable, because the reader genuinely wants these kids to work it out.

1. Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder of the "Little House" series

I read the books when I was in elementary school. As a 9-year-old, I could imagine nothing more romantic than this story.

Maybe it's because I always related so well with Laura, because of our similarities beyond our first names, but I thought Almanzo was a total stud. I mean, in The Long Winter he and Cap Garland faced blizzard conditions to bring wheat to the people of De Smet. In These Happy Golden Years, he faced subzero temperatures to take her home every weekend to see her family. Aside from learning that winter can really suck, I also saw that quiet actions and kindness can make a hunky hero.

And who doesn't love a man who cares about the details important to a girl? For example, a custom-made pantry or using her favorite team of horses on their wedding day, because "Prince and Lady started this... so I thought they'd like to bring us home."

Now it's your turn. Who are your favorite couples in literature? 

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galentine's day!

Let the crafting and assembling begin.

Presentation is everything.
Parks and Recreation fans know Feb. 13 is much more than the day before Valentine's Day. It is Galentine's Day, a day set aside for women to celebrate their best girlfriends.

Inspired by Leslie Knope and her crew, some of my friends and I decided to hold our own Galentine's Day celebration.

We strayed a bit from the Parks and Rec girls' plans. Instead of meeting for brunch we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Instead of whatever breakfast-y beverage those girls drank, we had margaritas (or a daiquiri for one). What we kept the same was good company, delicious treats and funny gifts.

Channeling my inner Leslie, I wanted to give my friends something a little ridiculous, but fun. In addition to candy, stationary and some odds and ins, I also gave some old books a second chance at love.

That's right, I gave away a few of my old romance novels, dubbing them "Recycled Romance." As silly as I thought most of them were, I still wanted them to go to a good home.

Preparing the books for
adoption day.
I created a few different packages of two or three books falling in different themes. For example, I gave one friend two books with the same title (The Marriage Bed). Another received the royal treatment with three paperbacks with noble titles in their names (Prince, Lady and Duke).

I even sent two of my friends in other states Galentine's gifts themed with their new homes. One received two books set in Florida, and the other, a recent Texas transplant, received one book set in Nebraska and one in Texas.

With each book, I included a short note to explain the theme and assured my friends they were in for a few laughs (though not always intentional).

The response was just what I hoped. My friends thought the gifts were funny, and I think they may actually give their books a read. That means I'll finally have someone I can talk to about the laugh-out-loud moments from each story.

My inaugural Galentine's Day celebration was a success. I shared some books and laughs with friends. We made new memories. We had a good time. Yesterday reminded me of the importance of cherishing and celebrating every relationship — even the non-romantic ones.

The delicious cupcake my
friend gave. So good!
Whether or not you have a special someone to spend your Valentine's Day with, I hope you will take a few moments to remember the other loves in your life. Whether it's a good (or kinda bad) book, two naughty (but adorable) kittens or a best friend, think about it and appreciate it every day.

Also, don't let your books sit and gather dust on your shelves. If you don't think you will read it again, share it with someone else. Give it another chance at telling its story.

Check back at 2 p.m. CDT today for another special Valentine's Day post.

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February 13, 2012

interview with the author of 'waitlisted'

I'm pleased to welcome Laurel Gans author of Waitlisted to Change the Word as part of her blog tour. After reviewing her book yesterday, it's great to have her share some insight, today. Thanks, Laurel!

Change the Word: How has your own college experience compare with your character Kacey's?
Laurel Gans: Kacey and I both stunk at physics and were great at getting parking tickets, Scrabble and late night trips to Wal-Mart (I was bit wild in those days).

I loved college and I tried to mix my own experiences into the story as much as I could. We both studied plenty but had an amazing time enjoying our friends and our freedom. In addition to Kacey, I tried to give each of the characters a little bit from my experience. Like me, Natalie was a Spanish major and Taylor and I were both science tutors. I really enjoyed writing lines for Kacey’s goofy twin friends, Cara and Tara. Cara and Tara are basically how I think the rest of the world views my identical twin sister, Stephanie and me. We’re both giggly, overly co-dependent, and half the time people can’t follow our conversations.

The HSSL is based on one of my favorite places at Bowling Green State University, the HSRC (Health Science Residential Community). We got amazing tutoring, free food and all the Diet Sunkist you could dream of!

CTW: Did any of your college moments make it into the book?
LG: Oh yes! My moments and Stephanie’s moments made the book.

The scene where Kacey is shadowing the dentist and the old patient says, “She can sit on my lap if she’d like,” happened to Stephanie.  At first I changed the line to “Will she hold my hand if I get scared?” to make it a little more appropriate but Stephanie insisted I keep the line as it was said. Stephanie was also the amazing grade grubber, the one who made up her melting points in chemistry lab, and the one whose pen ran out of ink during the DAT.

I really did get hurt in organic chemistry lab. A glass pipette broke and half of it got lodged in my hand.  It was really bloody and I had to do that embarrassing thing when you sit in the hallway with your head down so you don’t pass out in front of the entire class. My TA was wonderful though and I got a great tour of the University of Akron health center! J
Like Kacey, I really struggled to pick a major. When I went to speak to my advisor she really did say, “It’s that you’re good at too many things, that’s why you can’t pick one thing to study.” I was really flattered until I found out she had said the exact same thing to Stephanie and our best friend.

CTW: How do you balance your writing schedule with your school schedule?
LG: I was very fortunate that I was able to finish Waitlisted just days before dental school began. It’s been tough to write regularly since school started but after boards this spring I should have much more time to write!

CTW: What was your planning process like for the book?
LG: I was rehearsing my answers to interview questions with my Dad before my Ohio State interview when I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone hired an overly dramatic acting coach to help them practice for an interview?” The idea made me laugh so I quickly wrote a scene in script format in which a young girl did just that. I also had been dying to write a scene about a science nerd excited over an actual cyclohexane “chair.” The two scenes were read by actors at that month’s local reading. I got some good laughs so I continued building the story around those two scenes.

It was my mom who suggested I try writing in novel format. I had only even written scripts in the past but I thought it might be fun to try. I knew my beginning and I had the basic idea of when I wanted to end the story. I also knew which funny aspects of my college experience I wanted to put in the book. Outlining didn’t really work for me. Instead, I wrote at least three pages a day and wrote until I made it to my ending. I would go to local readings once a month and pay close attention to the pacing of the story and how the audience responded to the humor. Afterwards, I knew which scenes to keep and which cut/change.

CTW: And how about the editing?
LW: I had a fantastic editor named Thalia S. Child who helped me tighten my story and make it flow perfectly!

CTW: What was the best lesson you learned from publishing this book?
LW: Hard work can lead to some wonderful things!

CTW: What are your future writing plans?
LW: I would love to write a fictional comedy about being a substitute teacher. The year between college and dental school I worked as a substitute at my cousins’ school district and I had an amazing time. I had five little cousins at the elementary school and had a blast seeing them every day.  I was everything from the gym teacher to the biology lab teacher. I think it would be really fun time of my life to write about!

CTW: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
LW: Try to write just a little every day even if you’re not feeling up to it. On days I was tired I would tell myself, “OK, I only have to write for ten minutes, and then I can go to bed.” Once I got going I was having too much fun to quit and would end up having a great three hour writing session!


CTW: You're a dental student, and my sister wants to know: Are you supposed to floss before or after brushing your teeth?
LW: Haha. I’ve heard either way is good!

About the Author
Laurel Gans is a graduate of Bowling Green State University where she studied Spanish. She is currently a dental student at The Ohio State University with her twin sister, Stephanie. She enjoys writing, water sports and spending time with her family and friends.

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