May 27, 2013

change in course

This holiday weekend I've kept busy doing (some) sorting for our upcoming garage sale. I've also had writing on my mind. I've managed to do a bit of editing on book two, and I received some great feedback from a beta reader on my forthcoming holiday short.

But what has most captured my mind is a new adult trilogy I've been thinking about off and on during the past couple of years. I've had a series of dreams during that time period, which I made concrete notes of, because they were so vivid and I wanted to delve into them more. Over time, I began to see them working together more closely until I found my inspiration for these characters and their lives. They've been in the back of my mind, stewing, and then about a month ago, the plot and characters began coming together more clearly.

On Friday night I wrote what may be the prologue of the first book. At the very least, writing those 300-some words helped me shape the tone and direction this series would ultimately take. After tinkering with those few words for about an hour, I keep re-reading them and finding myself more and more excited to write this book.

There are a couple of problems with that, though.

For starters, I need to continue my efforts to get book one published and book two more polished. I also have about one-third of a third novel written, and I should really finish it.

But this book keeps shouting to be heard.

For now, I'm managing to keep it at bay by committing to doing research. Even with the dreams as inspiration, I have several aspects of this story -- locations, character professions, tone -- to research more thoroughly. I'm no expert in this area, and having this background will make the story better ultimately. I've requested a series of books, travel guides and DVDs from my local library, saved a bunch of articles and web links and satisfied myself for the moment with that research.

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May 24, 2013

the envelope, please - part one

My sister and Bing get caught up in
Tarantino's Django Unchained.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards came and went months ago, but I'm finally getting around to watch this year's nominees for best picture.

Back in the days when I worked at a movie theater, I'd see all of the nominees, typically before the awards ceremony. Granted, back in those days, there were only ever five nominees, and I watched them for free.

This week I officially made it past the halfway point, so I thought I'd share my impressions of the flicks I've seen thus far.

Today, I'll cover three of the movies and write about the others next week to keep this post from being longer than any of the movies.

This is the movie that won best picture, and as far as I can tell from the movies I've watched, it probably earned this award. But... this also makes it the second consecutive year that the best picture winner was a movie about Hollywood. In some regards it seems like the Academy patting itself on the back, but... I liked both The Artist and Argo, so I'm not going to read too deeply into this.

I was completely caught up in the story, so much that I spent a whole night researching the real life incidents that inspired this film.

As someone who developed a super mad crush on Ben Affleck back in his Armageddon days, it's impressive to see how he has developed into a real, grown-up actor/director/producer who makes some pretty damn good movies.

Django Unchained
This was the first Quentin Tarantino movie I'd watched since Inglorious Basterds, and I'll admit it took me about 20 minutes to get used to his trademark violence. Once I was back in the swing of things, I found myself truly enjoying this story.

Hands down, the best part of the movie was Christoph Waltz. The man is a stellar actor and his character was one of the most fascinating I've ever watched. He made a great leader and later friend to the title character.

Though this was a controversial film, and I can understand why, but I liked this film.

Les Misérables
It's probably best I waited to watch this in the privacy of my home, because I surely would've driven my fellow moviegoers nuts by singing along.

Growing up, my father played the original Broadway soundtrack all the time. In high school, I finally had an opportunity to see an off-Broadway version, and it was one of my favorite experiences.

During my three years of living out of a suitcase, the soundtrack was one of the CDs I took with me everywhere I went. On particularly rough days, I'd sing along to "I Dreamed a Dream" -- sometimes even sneaking out a few tears. (I've always been a little dramatic.)

I waited to see this one, because I was nervous about how the musical would translate to the screen. Overall, I was satisfied with the product. I like that they recorded the music live -- gave it an edgy feel.

Now for the casting. It was fine. I still don't know if I liked Anne Hathaway in this role. I'm not a hater by any means. I just really liked the Broadway original abetter.

Probably my favorite part of this movie was having Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, play the part of Bishop of Digne. It would've been sad not to have him play a part in the movie of the musical he helped build. Sure he was only in it for about three minutes, but they were glorious minutes.

And Helena Bonham Carter was brilliant. She always manages to stun in everything. And I actually quite liked Sascha Baron Cohen as Thenardier.

Have any of you seen these movies? What were your thoughts?

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May 22, 2013

content, content, content

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Think Tank 2013. Through Think Tank, local communicators, marketing specialists, advertisers, developers, etc., have an opportunity to gather together for networking an informative sessions with industry leaders.

This year's theme was "Content is King." As someone who is responsible for a museum's content, as well as an aspiring author building her platform, this talk was perfect.

I am still processing a lot of what was shared and considering how I will use these lessons in everyday applications for both of my careers. But in the meantime, I wanted to share some of my immediate takeaways.

"Contacts and Content: The Changing Role of Marketing" by Porter Gale
  • Technology has changed the marketing game.
  • Technology created stronger connections and only four degrees of separation.
  • More content is coming. Porter says with the number of web pages increasing you have to maximize your SEO.
  • Important to note: 92 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know over any other source.
  • "Power is shifting from the boardroom to the living room."
  • Product will bring people in. Service will keep them coming back. Customer service and marketing work together.
  • Empower people to take risks. Create an environment that encourages innovation and doesn't punish every failure.
  • The person who starts the movement isn't as important as the second, third and fourth that helps create the change.

"Content Strategy and New Brand Realities" by Greg Andersen
  • We've left the age of interruption and entered the age of engagement.
  • The way we approach marketing communication has to start with "How are we going to earn their attention?" Then you have to go about earning it.
  • "The bar for marketing content has to be placed higher than the content we are trying to displace in a media-rich world." 
  • Build new platforms that offer your audience something they want and need.

"Content Strategy for College Websites: Creating and Sustaining Content that Works" by Rick Allen
  • If you're on the web, you're a publisher. Act like one. 
  • People don't come to your website for design or widgets. They come for content, so make it good.
  • Content has so much possibility to reach multiple audiences.
  • Ask yourself: If my brand were a person, what would I be like? 
  • A brand is not just a logo.
  • Your brand should be incorporated in everything you publish -- from books to Tweets.

This only touches the surface of everything we covered. I'm glad my boss allowed me to attend this -- and not just because of the free T-shirt, book and pizza that they gave away. I left yesterday's meeting with a full head (and consequently a bit of a headache), but countless ideas that I can use at my job and in my writing career.

During yesterday's sessions, I also had a chance to sit with an old friend from college who is also now working at a local museum -- small world, ey? We did some brainstorming along with the other people at our table and came up with some great opportunities for working together in the future.

At times, all of this information left me feeling overwhelmed. I kept thinking, "I'm one person. I have limited resources. How can I make this happen?" And then I remembered one of the points each of the speakers made. You don't have to go this alone. Find people to work with and make the change together.

That's a good thought for anyone building a platform, whether you're a writer or a reviewer, an advertiser or a teacher -- enlist support from others.

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May 21, 2013

for sale

Right now I'm trying to simplify.

When it comes to where and how I live, doing that means sorting through all of my belongings and having a garage sale. I started this a couple of weeks ago, but really only got serious about it over the weekend.

As I sit here and stare at the ever-growing piles of items I'm ready to part with, I'm struck by how much crap I have. It's no wonder I can't ever find what I'm looking for and that I never have room.

With that in mind, I'm being more fearless with what I plan to sell and ultimately give away. I've often kept items -- such as a large rubber bin full of old dolls and stuffed animals -- because I have some sentimental attachment to them. Or, I'm able to reason with myself, maybe I'll find some use for it in the future.

But when you come down to it, does having these items make me a better person? Do I need them? Would someone else be better off with them? 

Asking myself these questions has made the sorting process easier. Though, I admit, the little girl in me continues to hold onto a few of those stuffed animals, because I just loved them too much.

There's a lesson I can learn in this for editing.

I'm working on significant changes to Book No. 2. Some of those changes are basic grammar fixes. Others involve removing scenes and subbing new ones; changing characters; adding a new major plot element; changing the end.

It's tough, because the story I first wrote was quite lovely. There's nothing terribly wrong with it. But it also isn't as special as it could be.

So as I go through and make these changes, I'll keep asking myself: Does this make the story better? Do I need this part? Would some other story be better off with these words?

Parting with anything -- whether it's a stuffed animal or a scene in a story -- is never easy. But easy isn't always best.

I know I'm making both my living space and my story better by bravely deciding what stays and what goes. The only drawback: The kittens and I are living in total chaos for the next couple of weeks.

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May 20, 2013

'heartbreak cake' cover reveal

Blogger's Note: I am pleased to share the cover for Cindy Arora's upcoming novel Heartbreak Cake.

And now here's a little more about Heartbreak Cake:
Business is sweet for pastry chef Indira Aguilar. Her indie bakery, Cake Pan, is fast becoming the talk of the wedding circuit for its unique take on cakes and homespun creations for the modern bride, garnering national recognition and drawing in celebrity clients. But while her professional life is blossoming, her personal life is crumbling.

Indira may have a talent for blending buttercream into bliss, but when it comes to relationships, she’s got a lot to learn. Considering that the love of her life, Josh Oliver is not only married, but also runs the award-winning pastry department of her fiercest competition, Crystal Cove Resort, Indira puts much more at stake than just her heart when she ends her affair with him.

Rumors begin to fly as the small seaside community of Long Beach learns of her secret relationship, and Indira must defend not only her actions, but her wedding business and her reputation while trying to maneuver the choppy heartbreak waters of starting over, finding new love, and facing her past. With the support of friends, family, a fondness for butter, and a determined spirit, Indira may just bake her way back to happiness and possibly into the heart of Crystal Cove's dishy new chef, Noah. But one thing is certain. Where there's heartbreak, there must be cake.

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May 19, 2013

drum roll please...

If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw this tweet go out last weekend:

You either connected the dots, ignored it or don't follow me on Twitter, but regardless, I'm pleased to officially make this announcement:

This month, I signed a contract with Simon & Fig to release a novelette by me, Laura Chapman.

* cue the applause and teeny bopper screaming *

Thank you, thank you. I'm beyond delighted. I've previously alluded to this, but the novelette will be included in a winter holiday anthology scheduled for release in November 2013. We'll do an official title and cover reveal for the anthology in September.

Until then, I can share a few details with you about my story:
  • The idea for this anthology was born during a Chick Lit Chat on Twitter last holiday season.
  • I started the first draft while I was in Colorado in April.
  • It's set in Breckenridge, Colorado.
  • It's chick lit with heavy focus on Christmas, romance and secrets.
  • It involves a rock band.
  • I finished it earlier this month while I was on vacation in L.A. 
  • Right now, the story is with my beta readers and will go on to my fabulous editor and publisher in June.
I am deeply honored to be included in this anthology and working alongside authors and a publisher I not only like, but admire and respect. I am thrilled, terrified and often still in disbelief that this is happening.

This is a dream come true. When I started this blog more than two years ago, my goal was to one day become a published author. I hoped to be one by 2013, and with this, it's happening. The years of dreaming, hours of writing and seemingly never-ending edits all make a little more sense, now.

Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming anthology. Hopefully, I'll have more exciting news to share with you on the publishing front soon.

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May 18, 2013

hbd baby sister!

On May 18, 24 years ago, I became a big sister. Sarah's birth was one of the happiest moments in my life. Though I have few memories of my life before her -- I was not even three at the time -- I do recall how badly I wanted a little sister.

Who could blame me? With two older brothers, I needed someone to help me level the playing field.

In that time, my sister has become more than family. She's my best friend. And so, today, I wanted to dedicate a blog post to her to celebrate the 24 years of my life she's made better by existing.

Her whole life, Sarah has known how to humor me. Whether it was being my pupil when I wanted to be the teacher when we played school or joining me in hosting an annual bad sweater party, she's been my constant wing girl.

And at the same time, she is very much the same person, who knows how to put me in my place. Like when I would get too bossy being the teacher and she'd refuse to do my assignments, or when she reminds me that my plans of making a volcano cake for our end of the world themed sweater party might be a little too much for a bar setting.

She's also my biggest supporter. When I need a beta reader, someone to bounce ideas off or just someone to vent to about a problem I'm having with a WIP, she's the first person I call. She constantly gives me support. 

We've made a lot of great memories together.

The photo above is the Facebook banner I made for my personal page. (We take our sister-ship and our FB seriously). It features 24 of my favorite sister photos. I shared it here for all of you to see. We have so many great moments from throughout our life it was tough to settle on only 24. It was a fun taking a few moments to look back.

Happy birthday, Sarah! Thank you for being in my life.

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May 16, 2013

beach reads 2013

Last week I hosted my first Chick Lit Chat on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who participated in the chat and made it a success.

We had a great discussion about this year's beach reads. While we veered off track a little when the subject of the summer's movies came up (damn you Leo DiCaprio and your controversial casting as Jay Gatsby), I came away from the chat with a list of books I'm longing to read.

Here are five reads I am excited to dig into this summer:

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

Taking Chances by Molly McAdams
Eighteen year old Harper has grown up under her career Marine of a father's thumb. Ready to live life her own way and experience things she's only ever heard of from the jarheads in her father's unit; she's on her way to college at San Diego State University.

Thanks to her new roommate, Harper is introduced to a world of parties, gorgeous guys, family and emotions. Some she wasn't expecting yet, and others she never knew she was missing.

She finds herself being torn in two as she quickly falls in love with her boyfriend Brandon, and her roommate's brother Chase. Covered in tattoos, known for fighting in the Underground and ridiculously muscled...they're exactly what she was always warned to stay away from, but just what she needs. Despite their dangerous looks and histories, both adore and would do anything for Harper, including stepping back if it means she's happy.

Her first year away is turning out to be near perfect, but one weekend of giving in to heated passion will change everything.

Trophy Husband by Lauren Blakely 
Sometimes you can't help falling in love, even when you try to do the opposite...Successful fashion blogger McKenna Bell has spent far too long protecting herself after the way her ex-fiancĂ© left her at the altar for a college chick he met the night of his bachelor party. Loving again, trusting again, well, that's just not in the cards. Especially now that her ex is back in town with his new woman, demanding custody of McKenna's favorite creature in the whole world--her dog. No effing way. McKenna's had enough of him, and she decides to even the score by finding her own hot young thing -- a Trophy Husband. Sure, she's only twenty-seven, but doesn't that make it even more fun -- and infuriating to her ex -- to pursue a younger man? When she declares her intentions on her daily blog, her quest quickly skyrockets in popularity, and that's when Chris enters the picture, and he’s got all the assets. He's handsome, successful, and turns her inside out with a kiss to end all kisses, the kind that makes you feel like a shooting star. But loving again could mean losing again, and it's so much easier to focus on getting even, isn't it? Unless, you just can't help falling in love. Which means McKenna will have to come face to face with what she really wants in life -- protecting her heart from hurt, or letting go of her fears of a new beginning.

Delerium by Lauren Oliver
They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.

And I've always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed.

Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.

We were also excited when Lauren Blakely and Sarah Jio stopped by our chat. They even shared their must reads for summer 2013.

Now that I've shared a few of mine, I'm curious: What books are you taking with you to the beach (or woods/plains/city)?

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May 15, 2013

postcards from hollywood and beyond

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that my sister and I were off to a magical place called Hollywood. I promised to share some highlights from our adventure, so here we go...

We spent four days -- plus one of travel (boo) -- visiting a friend in the West Hollywood area. In addition to eating a lot (and I mean a LOT) of great food, making new acquaintances and catching up with a bestie, we managed to sneak in plenty of sightseeing.

Though we only had a rental car for two days, we covered a lot of territory. We checked at the Warner Brothers and Universal Studios areas. We saw the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, Walk of Fame and other tourist hotspots. We drove through Beverley Hills, Bel Air, Burbank, Brentwood and the Hollywood Hills. We visited beaches in Santa Monica and Malibu. And we saw a lot.

Here are a few images I snapped during our time away:

Visiting my friend's office and checking out a couple of recent editions.

Paying homage to our father's favorite filmmaker.

Appreciating the fact that RPattz has bigger feet than me,
after realizing how little most celebrities seem to be.

Sarah and I stop for lunch at the Santa Monica Pier.

A chance celebrity sighting of Lauren Graham, promoting her
new release at the Barnes & Noble in the Grove.

Leaving my mark on Malibu.

On the flight to L.A., I read and reviewed The Elite by Kiera Cass. It was a much stronger story than the first story, and it made for a great -- if somewhat page-turning/nerve-wracking -- read for the flight. You can check out that review here.

Also during our time away, I snuck in some time researching and writing for my current projects. I'm pleased to report I finished writing my holiday novelette (due out in November 2013 -- more details later) and made some edits to Book No. 2.

The best part of the whole trip was spending some quality time with my little sister. She's becoming an awesome young woman, and our time together reminded me of just how lucky I am to have her in my life. I also enjoyed watching her become better acquainted with one of my best friends. I left L.A. feeling truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

Now that I've gushed on my adventures, I want to hear all about your upcoming trips. Where are you headed this summer and what will you do?

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May 14, 2013

interview with the author of 'nobody's damsel'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to once again welcome EM Tippetts, the author of Someone Else's Fairy Tale (read an excerpt here and my review here) and Nobody's Damsel (read an excerpt here and my review here) to the blog.

Change the Word: What was your inspiration for writing this book?
EM Tippetts: I'd already written one book with these characters and loved them. I had fans who loved them too, so that was my inspiration, to find an excuse to spend more time with Jason and Chloe and figure out a plot structure that would allow me to do it again and again. Because book one was a romance, I needed to shift the plot structure in order for it to be repeatable without being stupid. If I'd kept the books pure romance, Jason and Chloe would need to have the rockiest marriage ever and the end of each book would be beyond predictable, so Nobody's Damsel is a police procedural for the main plot, and the romance issues are the B plot. Because criminal investigations are the kind of thing that repeat over and over with different outcomes, this will enable me to expand the Fairytale franchise into an ongoing series.

CTW: Were there any surprises that came up while writing it?
EMT: I corresponded with a forensic scientist while I figured out the plot and many times I'd have an idea for a twist, email her, and find out that the twist wasn't really possible. While I do take some liberties with how forensic scientists interact with the police, I try to keep the science and investigation procedures as accurate as possible. That's just a personal preference of mine. I always dislike books that don't even try for some modicum of accuracy.

CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this story?
EMT: Creating that plot structure. I've never written a mystery or a police procedural before so this was all new, but now that I've done it once, I think it'll be much easier to do again (famous last words...)

CTW: Do you share any characteristics with your MC? If so, which ones?
EMT: Randomly, we have scars in the same places. Actually, that was probably just my subconscious at work. Chloe survived a homicide attempt and has bullet wound scars in her right shoulder (I've got a little scarring on my left shoulder from where an IV was implanted when I was a child), stomach (I've got a surgical incision scar on mine) and left shin (where I used to have a scar from where I fell climbing the stairs of a bus, but it has since faded. It was very visible for decades, though.) She was also the same age I was when nearly killed, only she was shot by her brother and I was in a car accident. We were both eleven.

CTW: Who would be your ideal hero to save you if you were a damsel in distress?
EMT: Myself, because that's whom I want to be able to count on. Not that I mind anyone riding out to my rescue. If someone wants to help, I'll take it, but my ideal would be becoming so super-capable that nobody could ever put me in distress. I know it's unrealistic, but a lot of ideals are.

CTW: What is the best piece of advice you have received as a writer?
EMT: The day it's not your fault is the day your career is over. "It" refers to whatever you're complaining about as the reason why you don't have the success you want. Gaining as much control of your career as possible is the name of the game. 

CTW: What is your favorite book of all time?
EMT: Here I'll be a boring religious person: The Bible. It's the one I read the most. As for fiction books, there are just too many to name.

CTW: What literary character do you have the biggest crush on?
EMT: None really. Even in my own romances, I put myself in the guy's position and try to think out how and why he's attracted to my main character. There has to be chemistry and they both have to be desirable, but I get to that via an intellectual route as much as an emotional one. When I was a kid, I had a crush on Luke Skywalker, though. Loved him. Now I see the movies and note that I'm nearly twice his age. Oh well...

CTW: What's next for you and your writing career?
EMT: I am currently working on a new adult romance called Love in Darkness, and then I will write the next installment of the Fairytale franchise. The working title is: The Hunt for the Big Bad Wolf.

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
EMT: Just my thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your site. I very much appreciate it!

Check out an excerpt of Nobody's Damsel here and my review of it here. Check out an excerpt of Someone Else's Fairytale here, my review here and an interview with the author here. Also, return tomorrow to read a new interview with the author.

**Everyone who leaves a comment on E.M.’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Nobody's Damsel before May 20 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

About the Author
E.M. Tippetts grew up in New Mexico and now lives in London, where she raises two boisterous toddlers, designs jewelry, and writes novels. A former attorney, she used to specialize in real estate and estate planning, specifically literary estate planning. She currently has five novels out, Time & Eternity, Paint Me True, Someone Else's Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and Nobody's Damsel (Fairytale 2).

Connect with the Author

Buy the Book

Barnes and Noble: 


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May 13, 2013

book review: nobody's damsel

Let me start this review of EM Tippetts' Nobody's Damsel with a little bit of a story.

I read this book in March when, after getting so caught up in book one in the series, I decided to keep reading right along and finished book two that same night. Okay, technically it was early Monday morning, but you catch my drift. And after that, I wrote a beautiful book review fully expressing my love for this book. My review was witty. I quoted songs. Embedded videos. I did everything a person riding on the high of a great read followed by a night of no sleeping would do.

If I was Francis Ford Coppola, this review would've been my The Godfather. Actually, given the number of songs featured, calling it Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris is probably more accurate, but you catch my drift. This review was spectacular.

"Good job, Laura," I thought to myself. "You have one whole book review for the month of May done well in advance. You rule. Now go make yourself some coffee and take a shower."

Then last week, while checking on that Oscar-worthy review and preparing to update it with the necessary links and information, I somehow managed to delete that whole post. Fortunately, I was just back from my vacation, otherwise I would've probably had a coronary. Instead, I took a moment to breathe -- and vent my frustration on Twitter -- and I set out to deal with the problem. I toyed with scratching the whole review and making a finger painting of how this story made me feel. Ultimately, I decided the logistics of procuring finger paints, a good scanner and any artistic talent were far more troublesome than writing this new, undoubtedly more tame and less lengthy post.

Fortunately, I remember the gist of my lead, so you'll get a taste of the awesomeness that was my original review. After that, I'm going rogue.

The words to best sum up Nobody's Damsel, the sequel to EM Tippetts' Someone Else's Fairytale, came to me in the form of song. It goes something like this:
Oh we've got trouble my friends.  
Right there in Albuquerque. 
With a capital T, 
And that rhymes with P, 
Which stands for Paparazzi.  
Does it make your blood boil? Well I should say.

That's right, my friends. I just went all The Music Man up in this book review. But wait, I'm not done. Because the paparazzi played such a huge role (for bad, worse and then slightly redeemable), I had Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" in my head for the next few days after finishing this read. (Instead of messing with embedding, I'll give you the link here to watch the video at your leisure. See, this was a high quality book review.)

Here's what you need to know about this book. Since we last saw Jason and Chloe, both of their careers have transformed. Jason is having the chance to be a little pickier with his roles and Chloe has graduated from grad school and landed a job with the Albuquerque Police Department in forensics. The down side: their marriage is under intense media scrutiny, with cameras following them constantly as people wait to watch one of them slip.

Jason commits a bit of a career faux pas early in the story, which means he -- and his marriage -- under greater scrutiny. Throw in a clingy ex from his past (who openly wants him back!), and he and Chloe are in trouble.

As for Chloe, her first big case hits a little too close to home. As she and her team race against the clock to find a kidnapped girl, she must face demons from her past and new ones. A troubled marriage, a problematic case and baggage from her past reminds Chloe of the reality that happy ever afters are never guaranteed no matter how in control of your life you try to be.

A major shift in content from book one, this story falls more along the lines of a crime procedural than a romantic comedy. While the love story takes a necessary backseat in this book, it was still strong and enjoyable to read. The tension between Chloe and Jason was a perfect blend of sexy and painful to keep it interesting. After investing a lot in their future during book one, it was good to see them have to work at building their relationship and future together. Their love story avoided being boring without crossing too many lines.

As for the main point of the story... The crime in question was one that evoked plenty of emotion and intrigue. Less of a "whodunit" and more of a "how do we pin down the person who did this and find the girl" my mind was constantly engaged in trying to figure out how Chloe and her team would save the day. I don't know if the lack of sleep made me even more emotional than usual, but I definitely teared up at several moments in this story as Chloe tackled the many issues she faced.

It was great to see supporting characters from the first book reappear in this one. At the same time, Chloe's new job creates an opportunity to add new characters. Each of them brings something to the table, and I look forward to seeing what cases they handle in the next books.

Oh, and what the heck. After that hype of finger painting my review, I went ahead and threw together a picture of one of my favorite scenes from the book. I can't give you any context without spoiling the story, but I can tell you that by the time I colored it, I didn't exactly remember Jason and Chloe's eye or hair color, so I improvised. I'm also pretty certain Jason makes enough money as an actor his TV doesn't require rabbit ears, but I was setting a scene, people.

With that, I give you "Laura's Favorite Scene from Nobody's Damsel." 

Laura's Favorite Scene from 'Nobody's Damsel.'
Media: crayon and scratch paper. May 2013.

I know. I have clearly missed my calling in life. I should become an artist. I also recognize that I have officially gone nuts. I blame society. And jet lag.

With that, I hope Tippetts continues to write stories about Chloe and Jason, because I want to know what comes next. Just don't put them through too much? Please?

Fans of book one -- or people looking for something more along the lines of a thriller laced with love -- will find this an appealing and worthy read.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Check out an excerpt of Nobody's Damsel here and Someone Else's Fairytale here, my review here and an interview with the author here. Also, return tomorrow to read a new interview with the author.

**Everyone who leaves a comment on E.M.’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Nobody's Damsel before May 20 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

About the Author
E.M. Tippetts grew up in New Mexico and now lives in London, where she raises two boisterous toddlers, designs jewelry, and writes novels. A former attorney, she used to specialize in real estate and estate planning, specifically literary estate planning. She currently has five novels out, Time & Eternity, Paint Me True, Someone Else's Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and Nobody's Damsel (Fairytale 2).

Connect with the Author

Buy the Book

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excerpt of 'nobody's damsel'

Blogger's Note: I have a review of E.M. Tippetts' Nobody's Damsel coming up next, but first, here's an excerpt of the sequel to Someone Else's Fairytale. Check out an excerpt of that book here, my review here and an interview with the author here.

When I emerged from the van, I found myself face to face with a woman who definitely did not belong inside the roadblock. Her stance was shy and tentative, one knee bent, hands behind her back. Further down the street another front door was open and another silhouette watched us. Understanding dawned. She’d come from her house, so hadn’t been herded away in Miguel’s sweep. Her blond hair with dark roots was swept up in a casual ponytail and she wore jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a teddy bear on the front.

“Can I just ask you what it’s like?” the woman asked.

A broad question if there ever was one. “I’m really sorry.  I’ve got to get back to work.”

The woman followed me across the street like an eager puppy.  “Wow, the media’s right about you. You’re a total snob.”

Not what I needed. I tried to make nice. “Sorry, I’m under some stress right now-”

“Because you’re going to get a divorce?”

My terse refusal to engage her would only fuel these rumors, but I wasn’t sure I could feign the relaxed happiness required to dispel them. I took a moment to remember Jason’s unreserved smile as he lay in the back of his car, waving at me, amused at how we couldn’t even be seen together for two seconds on a random street on the West Side without attracting a crowd. I remembered the way he always turned his full attention to me when I walked into the room, his gentle, caring touch, even if it was just a squeeze of my hand in passing.

“I’m not getting a divorce,” I said. “I’m stressed because this is a nasty crime scene and I’m not good with those.” It was the best excuse at hand.

The woman’s expression melted into one of sympathy. “Oh, right, of course. Because you were almost killed.”

“Yeah. Exactly.”

“So why do this job? I mean, it’s not like you have to work.”

“Some things are more important than money.”

“What’s it like to go to bed with him?”

I wished I had the same control over my features that Jason had over his, but I didn’t. I knew I let my flash of indignant outrage show. When I’d gotten engaged to Jason, I was still so inexperienced that questions about our sex life just bounced off me. We didn’t have a sex life yet, but Jason had embarked on a campaign to make ours a good one, and he did that by teasing me mercilessly. On the red carpet he’d lean down as if to whisper in my ear and nibble my skin instead. Whenever we had even so much as a second alone, he’d kiss me hungrily and break it off so I always wanted more. Soon I was biting my lip to keep from trembling every time he so much as ran a finger across the back of my neck, and when we’d reached our wedding night, I’d all but hauled him into the bedroom. Even then, he was a tease, making me wait, taking control, and looking down at me with such intensity that I’d had to close my eyes at points just to endure it.

Ever since, questions about our love life bothered me. I wanted all of it to myself; that’s what everyone else seemed to get, but for Jason’s fans, these questions weren’t the least bit off limits. They watched his movies and therefore each felt entitled to a piece of him.

“Miss Chloe, there you are.” Detective Baca leaned out the front door. “I need you-”

“Answer one question. Just one, okay?” said the woman.

“Ma’am,” said the detective. “Move along now.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I do need to get back to work.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, he can do better.”

I watched her storm back across the street with a mix of relief and annoyance. Relief because she was finally gone, annoyance because simple etiquette didn’t seem to apply to the famous. I didn’t understand why people assumed that if you had your face in the papers, you wouldn’t mind people hurling insults at you at the drop of a hat. It was as if fame made me not a real person, but a media construct, like the fictional characters Jason played.

“You just ignore her,” said Detective Baca. “She’s got no business here.”

The woman met up with the other woman who’d been watching from her doorway. They stood in the middle of the street and spoke in indignant tones, casting sharp glances in my direction.
Check back soon for my review!

**Everyone who leaves a comment on E.M.’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Nobody's Damsel before May 20 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

About the Book
Chloe has finished her masters degree and taken a job as a forensic scientist back in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, only the press will not leave her alone. They follow her to crime scenes and report on her every move, eager to show that her marriage to Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt, is on the brink of collapse. Millions of fans who dream of their own celebrity romance with him want this more than anything. This scrutiny comes at a particularly bad time as Chloe's first case is a crime against a child roughly the same age that Chloe was when she survived a homicide attempt.

Now that she sees the case from an adult's perspective, she realizes it's much harder than she ever dreamed. It's even worse for Jason, who is two steps removed from the crime. He must watch and try to support his wife as she battles with past demons and tries to keep up with a nameless suspect who evades identification and capture. Never has Jason been more frustrated with his job, its frivolities, and its lack of connection to the real world. When he storms off the set of his latest movie, the press goes wild with conjecture. Perhaps he never was anything more than a pretty face after all.

Together, Chloe and Jason must find their way past all the popping flashbulbs and through the dark maze of the criminal investigation to discover whether they can balance their professional goals with the demands of a celebrity marriage. The odds are entirely against them.

About the Author
E.M. Tippetts grew up in New Mexico and now lives in London, where she raises two boisterous toddlers, designs jewelry, and writes novels. A former attorney, she used to specialize in real estate and estate planning, specifically literary estate planning. She currently has five novels out, Time & Eternity, Paint Me True, Someone Else's Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and Nobody's Damsel (Fairytale 2).

Connect with the Author

Buy the Book


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May 10, 2013

interview and excerpt from 'how do you spell love?'

Blogger's Note:  I'm pleased to welcome Zanna Mackenzie to the blog, today, to share an interview with one of the characters from her latest release How Do You Spell Love? You can also check out an excerpt at the bottom of this post.

Today we’re chatting with Alex, a character in Zanna Mackenzie’s novel How Do You Spell Love? So Alex, tell us a bit about yourself…

Er, OK, I’m an architect and development site project manager currently working in Yorkshire.

Do you have a woman in your life?

I have several.

Oh, right. So you’re ‘that’ guy are you? Dating several women at once?

No. Far from it. I’m not dating any of them. In fact, I’m kind of sworn off dating at the moment for reasons which I’d prefer not to go into too much. Let’s just say it’s probably best to give myself time to sort some stuff out first in my head. Complications, the past, you know how it is.

Fair enough. So, who are these women in your life then?

Well, one of them is the building development’s interior designer Sally, we work together. The other is Kat, she delivers sandwiches to the site that I manage and she drives a pink van with ‘A Bit of Crumpet On The Road’ emblazoned down the side. That’s the name of the deli delivery company she works for but she gets no end of hassle because of it. The first time she arrived at the development I had to warn the lads to behave.

(Note to those not in the UK - For those out there who don’t know English slang, a crumpet is a kind of toasted cake in the UK but it is also slang for a sexy woman

Why was that?

Well, you know, pretty woman, building site, a load of builders and a van with that on the side, I didn’t want the guys winding her up. Also, it took long enough to get someone to bring food to the site because it’s so controversial and all the locals fought against it, so if we upset Kat we’ll probably all end up starving!

And when you decide to date again do you think you might be tempted to date Sally or Kat?

Sally has asked me out but I’ve tried to make my excuses. Kat is great, we have fun, most days we end up eating lunch together. She’s pretty, very down to earth, natural, great company. I think she’s a bit reluctant to get involved though, not sure why, maybe she has some issues to resolve as well as me. So, maybe things might develop with Kat but we’ll have to wait and see I guess.

Thanks Alex!   

About the Book
Make A Wish…

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan? 

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.

When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down. 

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated. 

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…

Buy the Book 
*Crooked Cat Publishing
*Amazon UK
*Amazon USA

Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.
Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.

Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.

Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.

Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’

Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.

Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.

Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.

A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”

“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.

“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”

The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”

Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.

About the Author
Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were published in early 2013.

Connect with Zanna
Find out more about Zanna at:
Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie
Facebook: mackenzie

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May 9, 2013

hostess with the mostest (ish)

I'm vain enough to believe you faithful readers are on the edges of your seats to hear all about my recent trip to Los Angeles. Well, this isn't that post, but never fear. It's coming. Tomorrow.

But today I'm excited to share something else with you.

Now can I get a drumroll? (ba dum baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa) Or better yet a club beat? (mm chhh mmm chhh mmm chhh) Yes, that works. Now for the announcement.

Tonight I am making my debut as a hostess of Chick Lit Chat.

For those of you who don't know, CLC meets virtually on Twitter every Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 7 p.m. Central. Using #chicklitchat authors and readers of women's literature connect with each other to dish on a topic. It's a great way to get the latest news on the industry a fab networking opportunity.

I'm deeply honored and excited to be asked to join the team. I look forward to leading interesting -- or at least fun -- discussions every six weeks or so.

This week, our discussion will be the beach reads of 2013. We'll talk about recent and upcoming releases that would be great to pack along for your summer vacations, wherever they might be.

Please consider this your invitation to join us, tonight. Join us at 8 Eastern on Twitter using #chicklitchat. Feel free to follow me @lmchap.

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May 8, 2013

swanky digs

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

Look how swanky that hotel entrance is? Can't you just
imagine Christian Grey tossing his car keys to a deliriously
happy valet in the middle of the night before taking Ana
into a luxury suite to make sweet, passionate love all
night and again after breakfast? Yeah. Me, too.

Before visiting Seattle, thoughts of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel made me weak in the knees remembering the sexy interludes between Christian Grey and Ana Steele during E L James Fifty Shades Darker.

Fans will recall, Christian and Ana flee Escala, his luxury apartment in the middle of the night after a close call with a stalking suicidal ex-sub to stay at the swanky hotel in downtown Seattle. There, the two proceed to do what they do best: get sexy. It's also the first of many times they "make love" in the books, but because that phrase makes me seriously uncomfortable, I try to push that part out of my thoughts.

While in Seattle, I decided to check out a few of the Fifty sites, and after seeing the Fairmont Olympic, my thoughts went in a different direction. Namely: Why the hell did Taylor put Christian and Ana in a hotel a few blocks away from where they lived?

It's a five-minute walk from Escala and the hotel, which I was appreciative of as someone who had parked her car for the day to explore, but as a normal person I can't help but think it was a waste. A waste of time, driving north on I-5 to lose the ex-sub. A waste of money to pay a valet to park your car, when it's so close. And a waste of hiding, unless you subscribe to the "hiding in plain sight" rule of thumbs.

I know Christian makes a bunch of dough, but he also hates waste, and that seems wasteful. But I suppose he values Ana's safety more, so who am I to judge. And frankly, what's wrong with me that I have spent so much of my time, and this blog post, analyzing this?

Maybe all of the other hotels in Seattle were booked. Ana didn't bring this up with Taylor or Christian, so I guess we'll never know. Taylor is nothing if not a pro, so who am I to judge him?

All that aside, staying at the Fairmont Olympic was definitely out of my price range at more than $300 a night for a room, but making a quick walk by was worth the time. Like Escala, it is mere blocks away from Pike Place Market, a must visit if you are in Seattle. It, along with the other buildings in the downtown area, isn't hard on the eyes.

During my walk, I passed through a nice little park and even saw what must be the offices for On another trip, maybe they'll let me stop by so I can thank the staff for their hard work keeping me fed (and blogging for Reading in the Kitchen). 

After checking out the Fairmont Olympic website, it's clearly a nice place to stay and might be worth the dough if you have it to spend, like Mr. Grey. But, if you're an aspiring author like me, I'd suggest staying across Lake Washington in one of the suburbs and driving into town early and walking by.

And, after looking at the website and drooling in envy, I can understand why Mr. Taylor booked his boss a room there. I'm sure he would get no complaints from the super picky Mr. Grey. I know I wouldn't be whining about having to take sanctuary there for a night.

Who knows? Maybe I'll become the next E L James, and I'll be able to take out a Cascade-suite like room for myself?

Book Reviews
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed

Reading in the Kitchen Recipes
Pan-Seared Pacific Cod with Asparagus Dipped in Hollandaise Sauce and Sauteed Potatoes from Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker
Ana's Spanish Omelet from Fifty Shades Darker
Poached Salmon and Sour Cream Dip Salad from Fifty Shades Darker
Christian's Birthday Cake from Fifty Shades Darker
Carrick Grey's Lemondrop Martini from Fifty Shades Darker

Related Links
City of Seattle
Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Pike Place Market
Port of Seattle 
Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau

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