August 30, 2013

try a recipe from susan mallery's 'fool's gold cookbook'

Enjoy this recipe from Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold Cookbook: A Love Story Told Through 150 Recipes.

Fool's Gold is known as the Land of Happy Endings, but it's also the land of hearty appetites. Throughout the series, the residents of Fool's Gold have found joy, comfort and great times through food. Now two local Fool's Gold chefs will also find love through food! Join them as they flirt, fight and fall in love, one season at a time.

Coconut Popcorn Shrimp with Mango-Lime Salsa
(Don’t be daunted by the long ingredients list—everything comes together in minutes.) 
Serves 4

¾ cup canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plain seltzer or club soda
  Salt and black pepper
¾ cup panko crumbs or bread crumbs
¾ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  Salt and black pepper

Tip: Panko crumbs make for a crisper crust. Find them in the Asian food section of your supermarket.

For shrimp:
1.  Warm oil in a large, heavy skillet with at least 2-inch-high sides. In a bowl, whisk flour, seltzer, salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine panko and

2.  Dredge shrimp in the flour mixture, then the panko mixture. Transfer to a wire rack to dry slightly. Fry shrimp in the oil in two batches, about 2 minutes per side, until cooked through. Drain on
paper towels.

For salsa:
1.  While the shrimp cooks, make the salsa. In a medium serving bowl, toss mangoes, red and jalapeño peppers, scallions, oil, lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with shrimp.

About the Author
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives.

Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.”

Susan grew up in southern California and currently lives in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

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August 29, 2013

august 2013 reads

I knew I wouldn't be able to completely give up book reviews for long. And while I still don't think I can keep up with them regularly or make good on promises to read, I figure I'll try doing a feature once a month highlighting some of the books I've read and enjoyed with mini-reviews.

Without further adieu, here are a couple of my favorite August 2013 reads.

Blue State
By Laurel Osterkamp

Since reading and reviewing November Surprise (which was quickly followed by my reading Campaign Promises) I have been an avid fan of Laurel Osterkamp's series featuring politically minded Lucy. I even subscribed to her blog and drop everything when a new post shows up in my email inbox.

Can you imagine how delighted I was to find Blue State, a short story with an update about Lucy and Monty?

This was a great addition to Lucy's story, which brought some resolution to many of the issues plaguing our main character on her blog. Osterkamp realistically depicts issues that working parents, children of aging parents and professionally confused adults must deal with, all with a beautiful romance that still faces challenges.

If you're a fan of the rest of these books, check out this update. It's well worth the time you'll spend with it.

By Brea Brown

A young woman overcomes some serious issues as she pursues a relationship with a serious cutie in Brea Brown's Daydreamer.

Libby Foster prefers living in a fanciful world filled with mad, torrid affairs with the likes of Colin Firth and Robert Pattinson rather than focusing on her rather droll life. Until a hunky architect -- and a British import -- enters the scene. Libby's real and imaginary worlds are a war as she battles past demons to find a happily ever after.

This book was a complete win from start to finish for me. Fifteen minutes in, my face hurt from smiling and there were countless laugh out loud moments. At the same time, it evoked other emotions ranging from sadness, sympathy, embarrassment, anger and total happiness. I'm channeling my inner Chris Traeger (that's a "Parks and Recreation" reference for those of you who don't know, which makes me sad) when I say I literally laughed and cried as I devoured this book. I was so completely caught up in the story, I snuck moments with it in a crowded bar on a Friday night, during a chill Saturday morning brunch and every other second I could find.

Everything from the character development to the pacing worked in this book worked. I was in awe of how spectacular this read turned out to be, and can recall few times I've been this gripped with a story. My only regret at the end of this story was that it was over. This is quite possibly one of the best books I've read this year, and I can't recommend it enough. (Just ask my friends who had to hear me talk about it on repeat at brunch.)

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August 28, 2013

little laura pushes the company line

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 7: Write an essay entitled, "Why I Like Hill School."
Date: Feb. 9, 1995
Age: 8
I like Hill because I like Mrs. (NAME)'s class alot because she teaches us cursive. We learn about the solar system and pets. We started book buddies with the kindergarten class.

I like science with Mrs. (NAME) because she taught us about animal habitats. We play games if we are good. Mrs. (NAME) is nice to us. We play with Butterball and look at the rest of the animals. We learn lots too.

My friends are next in line. (List of names) We all try hard to get along.

We play and talk at recess. Sometimes we eat together at lunch but mostly we talk. I'm glad I have nice friends. That's why I like Hill Elementary.

By Laura Chapman
OK. Before we dive into this essentially lackluster piece, I have to say something. I hate the word "entitled." Using the word "entitled," when "titled" is a more accurate and concise word annoys me. Blame it on the hard time I did at Journalism School. My journalism professors hated the word and now, but osmosis -- and the threat of being downgraded -- I'm with them.

And poor Little Laura doesn't have a clue about brevity at this point in her life. She's just eager to please the teacher and write the best damn piece she can for her teacher. As for the subject matter, propaganda much? I'm pretty sure my teacher said the school took the originals of these and gave them to incoming kindergartners. To show them how great school was. Because we said it was great.

Then they told us to tell these kindergartners the highlights of our lives -- getting to play with Butterball the hamster, learning fancy words like "habitat" and having a glamorous life that consisted of cursive and solar systems. 

Now, I didn't include the list of names in this post like I did last time I got list happy, because this one was more specific (and I don't really want to disclose personal information for people I haven't seen in years). But here's how I know this was propaganda. The list of girls I included... none of them were actually really my friends. I just put the names of the people I sat with. In assigned seating. 

Not only is Little Laura lying (AGAIN), but this time she's doing it for promotional purposes. And she didn't even manage to score a lucrative deal in the process. No endless recesses. No automatic As. No extra dessert at lunch time.

For shame, Little Laura. For shame.

As far as technique goes, this letter is better off than most of the other pieces. Little Laura misspelled "a lot," but also nailed "habitat." It's a give and take thing.

And unlike in second grade, when she went comma crazy, this time Little Laura could probably use a few extra commas. But, at least she's showing some punctuation restraint, which her journalism professors would one day preach.

One shining moment amid the blah is that Little Laura apparently knew she would one day be destined for a life of signing autographs. Instead of heading her paper properly, she gave herself a byline.

Little did Little Laura know, but more than 18 years later, she'd have the chance to put that skill to use in some Malibu sand.

All in all, the third grade writing samples are a little boring, and I'm excited for next week when we get to fourth grade and the paperwork gets more interesting and not so shamelessly promotional.

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August 27, 2013

cover reveal: 'teach me love'

Blogger's Note: Happy Cover Reveal Day to Saoching Moose. Check out the look and synopsis for her new book, Teach Me Love.

About the Book
Jacob Greene, sexy multimillionaire CEO of Greene Publishing is a broken man desperate to find reason in his life. Losing Katherine, the love of his life, makes a once gentle and kindhearted man into someone dark and miserable.

Abigail Anderson, single mother, second grade teacher, is tired of living her life alone. But the only man she's ever loved betrayed her and left her in the dark.

Now, three years later, their paths cross. A rocky beginning soon turns into something more. Real. The feeling is mutual and their feelings grow. But secrets always have a way of coming out.

Will Jacob and Abigail be able to learn how to to love again or will they suffer alone for the rest of their lives?

Find it on Gooreads

About the Author
My name is Saoching Moose, writing as S.Moose. My debut novel, Reaching Out For You, published on June 8, 2013. This novel is the first of the Never Letting Go Series. I am a self-published author and I love every moment. I have met some amazing people and am very excited about what's to come.

I live in Webster, NY with my husband. I enjoy being with my family and friends. I graduated from St. John Fisher College with my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2011.

I love writing and it's always been a dream of mine to publish my work. I'm an avid reader and love reading books with a happy ending-I'm a sucker for romance. I want to inspire others with my words the way I have been inspired through countless works of literature. I think that everyone has a purpose in life, it just takes time to find it.

Connect with Saoching
Twitter: @S_Moose060912

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August 26, 2013

it ain't no lie

What an emotional week. Naturally I'm talking about the ups and downs of wondering whether or not 'NSYNC was really going to take the stage together once again during the MTV Video Music Awards last night.

I was sitting at my desk managing social media content (yeah, that's a thing) when word of the story broke. Elation as I haven't known in... well... forever forced me to fan girl scream (I know, I'm professional).

My sister and I frantically sent texts back and forth. Yes, we were thrilled. Yes, this was probably the best news of summer. Yes, if JT and 'NSYNC reunited for a new studio album and went on tour they might solve all of the world's problems.

OK, so that one might be a stretch, but I know I'd be pretty damned happy about it.

Then the next day, awful news. Lance Bass announced word of the story was a hoax, and the ban had no plans to reunite.

Devastation. Anger. Hurt. Confusion. Loss. Of. Will. To. Watch. VMAs.

Even as I was coming to grips with this news, enough counter stories to give me hope. I may not have cable at home, but one way or another, I was going to watch JT's performance at the VMA's, because there was a chance my beloved boys would sing together once more.

As I told my sister, it was kind of like believing in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause. You know it might be full of crap and let you down, but what's the harm in believing in case you score some serious loot?

My love of 'NSYNC stems back to late middle school/ early high school. I tried not to like them, because I wanted to seem edgy and cool. But I couldn't resist the power of their voices and crazy awesome dance moves.

One of my favorite memories from high school was driving down to Kansas City with my friend and little sister during 'NSYNC's "Celebrity" tour to watch the band perform live. We had seats right next to this runway platform they had. And during the show, I shook hands with Joey, Lance and my favorite, J.C. Chasez. Justin shook his butt in front of my face, and I have to admit, I don't remember what was going on with Chris. I was too busy swearing I'd never wash my hand again and obsessing about how sexy Justin's backside was.

Then disaster struck. The band broke up later that year. Sure, I enjoyed JT's solo work, and some of the other members' various projects, but it wasn't the same.

I was at a cable channel award show green room party about five years ago while visiting a friend in L.A. (My friend was covering the show for his publication, and as his plus one I had the chance to brush elbows with Hollywood's beauties while he worked.) I met a cast of amazing people, but then we saw him. J.C. Chasez was in the house.

I dropped everything I was doing and spoke with him for about five minutes (maybe more or less, I wasn't exactly 100 percent sober at this time). We talked about his work as a producer. I told him about my job and seeing the group perform years earlier. He thanked me for my fandom, wished me well and gave me a hug and a Hollywood style kiss cheek. Granted, I'd always figured we'd run away together and live happily ever after if we met, but this was still one of the greatest moments in my fan girl life.

So last night, with the help of my sister and FaceTime, I watched 'NSYNC join JT on stage. We screamed like we were Taylor Swift (who they kept showing for some reason), earned laughs from our parents (who were watching with my sister) and decided the rest of the crappy show was worth watching for this moment. Because it was good.

Now comes me obsessing about that reunion tour...

Until then, you can watch the VMA performance here:

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August 22, 2013

clc: self-editing

Source: CafePress

I've never been much for following good ol' Ernie's advice, but sometimes when I look back at what I've written, I wonder if perhaps I was drunk.

How else can you explain the split prepositions, run-on sentences and the wrong uses of their and there? (I know. I did college, and my newspaper editing classes apparently didn't stick.)

Those those are just the grammatical issues. I haven't even gotten into the part where I give the same character three different eye colors, and not because he has some crazy super power or genetic order that causes the change. No, it all comes down to sheer stupidity.

I suppose that's why we self-edit as writers. This process enables us to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves by publishing a story with words like "gooder" or a million appearances of "that." There's not an Amazon reviewer nice enough to overlook these glaring issues.

Self-editing also happens to be the theme of tonight's Chick Lit Chat. We'll swap tips for best practices, cover common issues and maybe even share an editing horror story or two.

Here are some links with tips to give you some more background research before tonight's discussion:
One practice I use -- and highly recommend -- is running my novel through the AutoCritter on the Savvy Authors website. The yearly membership is worth it for this alone but they also have lots of webinars, workshops and other services that come in handy, too.

Chick Lit Chat starts at 8 p.m. EDT/ 7 p.m. CDT. Join the conversation on Twitter using #chicklitchat. I'll be your host.

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August 21, 2013

little laura gets creepy

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 6: Write a letter to our pen pal at Cook's Food using a friendly letter format
Date: Oct. 17, 1994
Age: 8

Dear Mr. (CENSORED),

My full name is Laura Marie Chapman. I'm 8 years old. 6 people live in my house. Me, Sarah is my sister. Mike is my 15 year old brother. Shawn my 14 year old brother. Linda is my mother. Bruce is my father. My mom is 43 my dad is 42. I play Volly ball in my spare time I also read a lot. At home sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble. My father works at LT&T. My mother works at the Lincoln Childrens Museum.

In school we have 24 people. 26 counting Mrs. (CENSORED) and Mrs. (CENSORED). In math we are trading. In reading we are doing Imagine That. We are studying Walt Disney. There are 5 Disney places. Euro Disney, Tokyo Disney, Disney Land, EPCOT and Disney World. Euro Disney is in Parris, France. Tokyo Disney is in Tokyo. I like school a lot.

Where did you grow up?

Where did you go to school?

Where do you live?

Your pen pal,

Laura Chapman

Oh, dear, Little Laura. Someone should really clue you in on a little something the big kids call "Stranger Danger." For serious, LL, (and the teacher who thought this was a totally acceptable amount of information to send to a complete stranger) you can't just go around telling people you've never met your full name, age, family member's names, their ages and where your parents work.

The fact that you lived to see 9 shocks me, frankly.

I suppose we can be thankful the man who received this was apparently a gentleman not interested in:
a) abducting small children
b) into identity theft
c) a murderer looking for his next set of victims
Maybe I'm overreacting to this. Maybe it's a sign of the times, but for serious, Little Laura, why did you have to choose now to get honest?

Especially when you follow up the answer to every security question with a big fat lie. What lie, you ask? Well, Little Laura, let's take a look at this:
"I also read a lot. At home sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble."
When, oh when, did you ever get in trouble for reading at home? Mom and Dad loved that you read. Sure, sometimes they told you it was time to turn off the light and go to bed (and you need your rest, LL), but how does that actually qualify as trouble?

Speaking of trouble... what will your parents think when they see you've revealed their actual ages? Everyone knows old people are sensitive about their age.

As in last week, it appears you're still using lists to generate big word count. By the way, thanks for letting us know that Tokyo Disney is in fact located in Tokyo as opposed to being a clever name. I'm sure this nice man, who was being forced to be your pen pal  because of some company initiative to support the schools, really needed that fact clarified. I'm sure he's sleeping better at night now that he knows.

One thing I can appreciate is your consistency in this letter. You start it out creepy by sharing everything but your social security number with this man, and you end it by asking him where he lives. Given that he's a local man, I'm guessing he lived somewhere in town. That's all you need to know, you little creep.

I'm not even going to address the couple of misspellings and grammar issues. I'm too freaked out by you, Little Laura.

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August 20, 2013

cover reveal: whiskey lullaby

Title: Whiskey Lullaby
Authors: Dawn Marten & Emily Minton

About the Book
Julie Walker thought she found true love with Jase. Until he betrayed her in the worst way, with one of her best friends. Devastated and heartbroken she runs away, leaving behind her family and friends. She starts a new life filled with secrets.

When Julie meets Dean, she thinks he is the answer to all her prayers, but Dean isn’t who she thinks he is.

Jase Gibson is a player. Even when he had the girl of his dreams, he still played. When he lost Julie, his life fell apart. He turned to whiskey and women, to fill the void. But, only Julie will ever make him whole.

Nine years later, Julie's back home, but she’s not alone. What will happen when all of Julie's secrets are uncovered?

Jase vowed that if he ever got her back, he would do right by her and never let her go. Will he let Julie's secret keep them apart?

When Julie's ex-husband refuses to be her ex, Jase must choose to help her or hang on to his anger.
Jase and Julie have to find a way to give their whiskey lullaby a happy ending.

Expected Publication Date: September 30, 2013

Goodreads Link:
Series Facebook Page:

About the Authors
Dawn Marten

I'm Dawn. I co-wrote a two books (Chase and Kade) with fellow author Chantal Fernando, in the Resisting Love. We went solo on three of the books, she wrote Ryder, and she is writing James, and I'm writing Derek.

Also working on a book currently with my friend Isabella Bearden, called A Second Chance!

AND I'm currently writing a book with good friend Emily Minton called Whiskey Lullaby.

I drink too much, Swear too much, and Read too much. Yes I read too much. I don't have a filter, and I tend to speak before I think.

I'm a beta reader for many authors, I'm on a few authors ARC list, because apparently I'm THAT awesome. ;) And I also edit. Not a professional, but I do help a few with that.
I have two children, 5&2, and have another on the way. They bug the shit outta me, but hey, that's what kids are supposed to do. ;) Married since 2007. He's amazing, but he's also a bigger pain in my ass than my kids are.

I love to read, and I love being able to write stories that *I* want to read!

I couldn't do this without the help of some very special friends!

Connect with Dawn

Emily Minton
I'm Emily. I am the proud mother of two lovable but irritating teenagers. I have been married for over twenty years, but I would gladly trade my husband for Tatumn Jackson any day!

If you are wondering who that is, you need to read Sweet Dreams by KA now. Kristen Ashley is my queen!

I love to read. I am a complete mommy porn junkie! I have more books on my kindle than most people could read in a lifetime, but I will get to them all eventually!

I am also an avid blogger. I love to share my favorite books and pimp my favorite authors.

I hope you all enjoy Whiskey Lullaby!

Connect with Emily



Chase and Kade eBooks and $5.00 Amazon Giftcard
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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blog swap with Caroline Fardig

Blogger's Note: Today, I'm trading places with Caroline Fardig, author of It's Just a Little Crush. That means I'm over on her blog, for the day, and she's here at Change the Word. For our swap, we asked each other covering our writing styles, characters and other books we've read -- and then we had to answer them for ourselves. I hope you enjoy getting to know Caroline as much as I have, and please show her some love as she takes over for the day.

What's one thing you have to have (i.e. music, socks, juice, silence, etc.) when you sit down to write?
When actually sitting down to write…it’s silence. However, when I’m doing my initial plot construction in my head (also known as daydreaming), I’ve gotta have some music.

You're stranded on a desert island and can't take an e-reader. What three books do you take with you?
Aside from Boatbuilding for Dummies, I’d have to take Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (for the portrayal of unconditional love), Bridget Jones’s Diary (for a laugh), and The Great Gatsby (for the drama and romance). I realize that these titles are also all movies, and if this question were about movies instead, these three would certainly not be my choices.

What literary character would you like to have as your best friend?
Trixie Belden, but only if I were a kid again. Now it would just be weird.

What literary character do you find most crushable?
I know, as women, we’re supposed to say “Mr. Darcy” here, but I always thought he was a pompous jerk. I like Joe Morelli from the Stephanie Plum series. He’s hot, he’s dependable, and… did I mention he’s hot?

What's the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
The best advice I’ve received is to develop a thick skin! You pour your heart and soul (and untold hours of your time) into writing a novel, and it becomes your baby. Then, you put it out there for people to read or for agents/publishers to consider, and they tell you that your beloved “baby” is not good enough.  You have to brush it off and keep trying, because you’ll never make it if you quit.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get over it?
Yes, I do. And to get over it, I just walk away.  If you try to force it when you’re not feeling it, your writing will show it. I go back to my plot construction/daydreaming with music and see where my mind will take me.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Yes, always. You’ll have a totally different perspective when you come back to it, and you might have worked out all the kinks subconsciously in the meantime.

Who is your least favorite character in your book? What makes him/her unappealing to you?
I don’t like one of my secondary characters, Jed Stewart. His wife is murdered, and he doesn’t even act like he cares.  On top of it all, he’s a cheater and a womanizer, and totally not worth any woman’s time. And that’s exactly how I intended him to be.

What would your main character think about you if you met in real life? Would he or she want to hang out with you?
I certainly hope Lizzie Hart would want to hang out with me! She’s fun-loving and hilarious, and I’m pretty sure I could get her to laugh. My life might be a little too boring for her, though.

What sort of Starbucks coffee would your characters order? 
Lizzie is easy, because she’s addicted to coffee (too many late nights make it a necessity) and tells us that her favorite is a Caramel Macchiato—sweet but complex.  Blake strikes me as a Caffè Americano type—manly but refined. Julia (Lizzie’s best friend) would order a Cinnamon Dolce Latte—she’s super sweet. Bethany (Lizzie’s frenemy) would order a Skinny Hazelnut Frappuccino—heavy on the “nut” part.

About the Author
Caroline Fardig was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline has completed her first novel, It’s Just a Little Crush, and is currently hard at work churning out a second novel in the series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Connect with Caroline
Twitter: @carolinefardig

Book on Amazon

Book on B&N

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August 19, 2013

interview with the author of 'keeping score'

Blogger's Note: Today, I'm pleased to welcome Jamie Deise, debut author of Keeping Score, on the blog for this interview.

Change the Word: What surprised you most when writing this book?
Jami Deise: How long it turned out to be. I thought it would be too short and I'd end up stretching things out to have enough words for a novel, and it went up to 106K and I had to do a major edit to bring it down to the appropriate length for women's fiction.

CTW: What is your writing style? Are you a plotter? A pantser? A combo of the two?
JD: I lean more toward plotter. I used to write screenplays and I'd outline every single beat before ever writing "fade in." I'm a little less strict than that with my novels, but I still end up outlining major plot points while I'm writing. My philosophy is that writing is like driving -- you don't get in the car without knowing where you're going, and you should write with certain plot points in mind as well.

CTW: What approach do you take when editing your own work?
JD: There are different levels of editing, and I think the brain works in different ways depending on what you're doing. My first few edits, I concentrate on plot, character, and structure, so I re-read the book as fast as I can to get a feel for the complete story. I make notes through comments on what needs to be changed -- which scenes can be deleted, which ones should be expanded, which subplots don't work. Then I get the book to beta readers and take their opinions into account. Then I do an edit for wordiness, word choice, etc. The last one is for grammar, punctuation and spelling.

CTW: What's one thing you have to have (i.e. music, socks, juice, silence, etc.) when you sit down to write?
JD: Definitely silence. I need to be able to hear the voices in my head.

CTW: You're stranded on a desert island with no way to connect your e-Reader to electricity. What three books do you take with you?
JD: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Stephen King's The Stand,  and Gone with the Wind.

CTW: If you could swap places with any literary character, who would you choose?
JD: Hermione Granger

CTW: What character from a book would you like to have as your best friend?
JD: LOL, again it would be Hermione Granger

CTW: What literary character do you have the biggest crush on?
JD: Rhett Butler

CTW: What's the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
JD: To set daily goals. I took a class in which the teacher required us to sign a contract pledging to write 90 minutes a day. I tried that, but I found that what worked best for me was a daily word count.

CTW: Anything else you'd like to add?
JD: Keep reading!

About the Author
A lifelong resident of Maryland, Jami Deise recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, along with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, Keeping Score is her first novel. Jami is an associate reviewer at and a generalist reader for an NYC-based literary agency. Along with women’s fiction, she loves all things horror and watches too much TV.

Connect with Jami
Twitter: @JamiDeise
Facebook: Jami Wann Deise

Buy the Book

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August 18, 2013

excerpt of 'stained' by elizabeth marx

“Is that why you were living in the same city as me and you never came to see me?” I asked a little bit more accusatorially than I meant to. “Why didn’t Mandy call me or come to see me?”

His jaw seemed to harden as he looked over the top of his sunglasses. “Do you want to know about me or Mandy?”

I rolled my eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Maybe I was just admiring you from afar as I always have.” Revell merged onto the highway in the direction of Crossroads.

I snorted. “What’s Mandy’s excuse?”

Revell took one hand off the steering wheel and rubbed the back of his neck. “She took Daddy’s death hard and she’s been busy with school there.”

“So for some reason, which you won’t explain to me, one of few people I consider a true and loyal friend came to live in my home town and she didn’t even want to see me?”

Revell sighed. “Since you didn’t come here when Daddy died, maybe she thought your friendship was over.”

“Is that what you thought? That our friendship was over?”

“We weren’t friends, Scarlett, don’t fool yourself into believing that!”

“Then I’d like to know what we were?” I countered angrily.

He wouldn’t look at me, and his voice was rough and tense when he spoke. “You knew I’ve wanted you in every way a man can want a woman since you were fifteen.”

“Friendship is better than nothing, especially when what you wanted to happen between us was completely inappropriate.”

“It was only wrong if it was one sided or if I’d acted on it when you were under age.”

“The summer I was fifteen and Mamaw found us in the deer stand you came pretty close to you going to jail.”

“The age of consent in Alabama is bit lower than it is up North.”

“You were twenty, it was a crush on an older man on my part. What was it on your part?”

Revell paused, turned, and looked me up and down. “It was I’m going to rot in hell because I want a minor or I’m going to die a slow death because I don’t believe I can live without her.”

I grumbled in disbelief, “And yet here you are perfectly healthy and happy.”

“You were the one who just said that I don’t smile the way I used to.”

I moved away from his ire closer to the door. “Are you blaming me?”

“I’m not blaming anyone, I’m just trying to tell you how I feel because you wouldn’t let me tell you back then, and you never came back to let me explain how it was.” Revell sighed. “Why didn’t you come when I wrote you?”

“I couldn’t.”

“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?”

“Couldn’t, Revell, couldn’t.”

Buy the Book
Pre-order Stained on SMASHWORDS.  
Add Stained to your GOODREADS want to read list

About the Author
Windy City writer, Elizabeth Marx, brings cosmopolitan life alive in her fiction—a blend of romance, fast-paced Chicago living, and a sprinkle of magical realism. Elizabeth resides with her husband, girls, and two cats who’ve spelled everyone into believing they’re really dogs. She grew up in the city, has traveled extensively, and still says there’s no town like Chi-Town.  

Connect with Elizabeth

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August 16, 2013

are you involved?

A writer on one of my online groups (Christy Lewis on Chick Lit Goddesses) shared a quiz that determines your reading personality.

Here's a link to the quiz.

My result: Involved Reader
You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others. If you don't already belong to a book club you probably should consider joining one, or even starting your own!

No surprises there. When I fall for a book (or even TV shows, movies, music and so on) I'm desperate to know everything I can about it. I want to know about the creator. I want to know their thought process. I want to find out what their next project is. I want to check out the bonus features (blog posts, extras on DVDs, bonus tracks).

And if it's part of a series, chances are good I'll sit down and plow through the rest of it as soon as possible. (I'm looking at you Hunger Games trio and my 48 hours of reading overload.)

I devour whatever I can get my hands on until my obsession has reached an unhealthy point (and usually beyond) or I find something else to obsess about. For me, stories in whatever format are supposed to be devoured and enjoyed over and over.

Now I'm curious, what kind of reader are you? Take the quiz and share the results.

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August 15, 2013

clc - on holiday

When I heard about tonight's Chick Lit Chat topic -- vacations/holidays in books -- my mind instantly traveled to Bridget Jones.

OK, so that's from the first movie, but it sets the tone, right?

In both the first and second (no word on the third) vacations/mini-breaks/holidays not only serve to provide some misadventurous humor, but they take the plot in a new direction.

Who can forget Bridget's ill-fated trip to Thailand in The Edge of Reason? From psychedelic mushrooms to making an unexpected trip to prison, the whole experience does what it should: brings her closer to Mark Darcy.

(Sidebar: Rumor has it MD doesn't play the role I'd like -- or maybe even much of one at all -- in this new book, and I am not OK with that if it's true.)

What are some of your favorite vacation scenes -- or even books entirely set on vacation? We're talking about them tonight at 8 p.m. EST on Twitter. Join the conversation using #chicklitchat.

It's co-host Cat Lavoie's first time leading the conversation, so stop by to show her some love.

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August 14, 2013

little laura does quantity over quality

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 5: Write a Story About Seeds
Date: April 27, 1994
Age: 7

"Hi!" "I'm a seed." "I want tell you about my execiting life." "I wass in my mom's house and all of the sudden a big wind blew my mom's house down. I had to fly a long way. I lived in California now I live in Lincoln. Boy I was tired. I could not eat. One day a teacher got me. 2 years later Mrs. Mitchell got me out put me in water I stared to eat and drink. I got stuffed. I got to meet some kids.

Two Jennys, Two Ashleys, Kassy, Kavon, my Favorite Laura, Matt, Two Mikes, Evan, Roger, C.J., J.J., Brooke, Cory, Tyler, Pat, Sam, Andy, Julia and Nick. Lots of nice kids.

Laura thout about it she picked me. I was glad to be there.

Lots of people were picking my brother's and sister's. Mrs. Mitchell's class was so nice. Laura fed me when I was dry. I'm glad Laura picked me. My brother's and sister's got sick I was growing fast. I was young they were old they didn't look old I looked old. One day, I heard Laura sound happy. I was a flower.

Now you know my life!

This was still second grade, which means I still had the sweet overachieving, overly complimentary teacher I mentioned last week.
Objective: To create a fictional story.

Describe Activity: We learned about how seeds travel. Then we wrote about an adventure of a seed.

Strengths: Laura is a talented writer! She uses good sentence structure and creative ways of writing.
Thanks Mrs. M. I liked you a lot, too.

For the first time in this adventure, we're actually starting to see some longevity and thought process. I mean, there's a bit of a story here. It's not Pulitzer Prize winning by any means, but it's kind of cute, right?

Who knows if Little Laura actually came up with the concept herself or if my mini-me borrowed the idea.

Little Laura also recognizes her own self worth. More than once she works her way into the story as the clear frontrunner for this seed's affections. Little Laura clearly knew she was a badass. So refreshing. 

By the end of second grade, Little Laura has apparently discovered the merits of studying for her spelling tests (or maybe she learned to use dictionaries). Sure, it started a little shaky with a misspelling of "exciting" (which is a tough one, I'll give LL a free pass). But then Little Laura followed that up by butchering the word "was" (I'm taking back that free pass, you little turd).

Little Laura apparently spent her bank of commas, apostrophes and quotation marks during the first half of her story. She went from using them all the freaking time (please tell me you didn't miss that list of classmates that's comparable to a passage from the Bible) to having practically none in the last part when the story needed the punctuation.

Little Laura also doesn't comprehend the difference between plurals and possessives, but I can't even handle diving into that grammatical hot mess of epic proportions.

Sigh. People say Rome wasn't built in a day. That may be true, but if Little Laura had been managing the construction crew, I doubt they would've known which end of the hammer to use.

While we're on the subject of the list of classmates, I have to admit I'm a little proud of Little Laura. At 7, she apparently understood the meaning of a filibuster and recognized it had use in racking up word count in addition to delaying a vote in a legislative body. If Little Laura was getting paid by the word for this story, she would've banked.

And isn't that what all of this is really about? Writing for profit?

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August 13, 2013

pop the cork, y'all

If you follow my official author page, or heck, even this blog's page on Facebook (or my Twitter profile), you were treated to a view of this:

That's right. I, Laura Chapman, will soon be a published author. Commence the bottle popping, booty shaking and all-around total baller tomfoolery.

Right now, I'm a total mix of nerves -- excitement, nervousness, euphoria, nostalgia, to name a few -- but mostly I'm glad to be able to share this news with you. I'm thrilled to work with an awesome publisher, like Marching Ink, and happy you'll be able to read this book. Finally.

I admit, I'm still in a bit of shock, but I did manage to take some moments to celebrate over the weekend with my family and a few friends. How does someone as hip as I am mark this milestone? Fortunately, I snapped some photos to document the mayhem.

Friday morning: Contract official.
Friday evening: Grabbed dinner with my sister and
followed her to work where I indulged in one or four
tasty beverages. (Don't worry, I was off my cold
medicine well before then.)
Early Saturday morning: Elegantly stumbled into my house
for some shut eye and kitten cuddles.
Saturday morning/afternoon: Run errands, work on
edits for my short story and do some talent scouting
for this year's Fantasy Football team.

(Watch out - Cinderella's Fellas plan to dominate.)

Sunday afternoon: Toast to "Hard Hats and Doormats"
with sparkling cider, cupcakes and my family.
Sunday afternoon: My brother's girlfriend gave me a
beautiful photobox to put a copy of my book in, so I'll
always be able to display my first book. Sweetest gift ever.
Only bested by this wonderful card made by her daughters.
Even Jane and Mr. Bingley make a cameo in the card.
How stinking cute is this?

This has been a wonderful, whirlwind several days. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and warm wishes. This journey is just beginning, but I won't forget you for being part of it.

Stay tuned for more details to come!

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August 12, 2013

cover reveal: blogger girl

Blogger's Note: I'm thrilled to be able to give you a first look at the cover of Meredith Schorr's upcoming novel, Blogger Girl. This sounds like a fantastic read that is right up my alley. Enjoy!

About the Book
What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.

A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, "Pastel is the New Black," has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that "chick lit is dead" once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.

While Kim's day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick-lit scene with a hot new book that's turning heads--and pages--across the land. It's also popped into Kim's inbox--for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim's coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

About the Author
A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women. When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal.  Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. Blogger Girl is her third novel.

For more on this book, read an excerpt on Meredith's blog.

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August 10, 2013

cover reveal: unbreakable bonds by carolyn ridder aspenson

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to share this cover reveal for Carolyn Ridder Aspenson's new novel.

Unbreakable Bonds 
An Angela Panther Novel
By Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

When Angela's best friend Mel thinks her husband is having an affair, she turns to Angela for help.   The two come up with the perfect plan to catch him in the act but to make it work, they'll need help from Angela's mother, Fran.

There's just one teeny, little problem.

Fran's dead.

And since Angela's psychic gift is currently out of service, connecting with Fran is a little complicated.

While Angela searches for a way to fix her psychic radar Fran and a multitude of other ghosts continue to try to make a connection. And it's driving Angela crazy.

But Fran won't let her daughter's problem stop her from helping someone she loves and she sets out to catch the cheater on her own, using a few tricks and tools from the afterlife to get it done.

Book two of the Angela Panther series will be available November, 2013 in e-book and paperback.

For more information

Follow Carolyn on Twitter

Win a free e-copy of the first book in the Angela Panther Series, Unfinished Business, an Angela Panther Novel. Share this blog post on twitter and @writingwoman or share it on Facebok and tag Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, Author in the post. Enter every day until August 15th!
About Unfinished Business
An Angela Panther Novel
Angela Panther is an ordinary stay at home mom with a satisfying, albeit slightly mundane life.

Things get a little crazy for Angela when her mother dies and comes back as a ghost.

 It seems Fran's got some unfinished business on earth and she's determined to get it done, no matter what.

But Fran's not the only ghost with unfinished business and her return opens a portal between Angela and the afterlife. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry ghost around comes knockin' on Angela's psychic door, looking for help.

And it's a pain in the butt.

Having her mother around is a double-edged sword for Angela. On the one hand, she's glad to still have the connection but on the other, death has given Fran some annoying abilities and she's seriously trying Angela's patience.

When Fran tells Angela her teenage daughter Emily is in trouble, Angela decides to let her mother use her ghostly skills to keep tabs on the girl.

Well, not all of her ghostly skills.

But that doesn't stop Fran from causing a little trouble - just to protect her granddaughter, of course.

Now Angela has to find a way to keep her old life in tact and help the dead with their unfinished business, all while trying to keep her mother out of trouble.

And it's a lot for one woman to handle.

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August 9, 2013

cover reveal: lying to meet you

Lying to Meet You
By Anna Garner
Expected release date: September 5, 2013
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
Age Group: Adult – but it might appeal to YA/NA readers
Cover designed by: Sue Traynor
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours
Add it on Goodreads

About the Book
Does being in a relationship make you a hot commodity in the eyes of would-be suitors?

Chloe Lane is about to find out. When her childhood pal, Ethan Webster, asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test this theory, she reluctantly agrees. As a work-crazed fashion designer, boutique owner and soon-to-be reality show judge, Chloe has no time for a real boyfriend, but being part of a faux pair will do just fine. Not that she has any intention of trying to attract someone else.


Opportunity unexpectedly knocks when Chloe meets fellow reality judge, William Shannon. Super successful and super sexy, this high-powered entrepreneur inspires Chloe to test Ethan’s theory herself. Now, on top of keeping her fashion business productive, carving out a new role as a television personality, maintaining a fake relationship and attempting to lay the groundwork for a future relationship, she’s lying to William, lying to her friends, lying to her family and quite possibly lying to herself. Will Chloe be able to keep it all together, or are things about to explode?

About the Author
Born and raised in the Midwest, Anna Garner's adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she's since lived in Boston, NYC and London. For several years, Anna worked in fashion--first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper, and for a while she dabbled in design. Although chick lit was her first love, Anna started writing quirky romances, and her first one, Fashioning a Romance, was published in May 2012 under the name of Libby Mercer. This was followed by two more quirky romances: Unmasking Maya and The Karmic Connection. Since Lying to Meet You is written in old school chick lit style and isn't a clear cut love story, Anna decided to publish it under her real name. She currently lives in San Francisco and spends most of her time cranking out more stories.

Connect with Anna on Facebook.

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August 8, 2013

clc: querying and writing book reviews

Tonight I'm hosting Chick Lit Chat, and we're discussing an issue near and dear to my heart: book reviews. Book reviews are an important part of the publishing game. Authors need these reviews on websites such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., because it helps readers make more informed decisions. At the same time, they offer publicity when published on blogs, newspapers, magazines, and so on.

In tonight's chat, we'll cover two sections. First, best practices for querying book reviews. Second, how to write good book reviews. Let's get into it, shall we?

(Quick note: I'm on the tail end of a nasty cold, and what makes sense in my head might not translate 100 percent to this post, so bear with me, please.)

Querying Book Reviews

If you're in charge of seeking out book reviews, either from publications or bloggers, the most important step should always be to find out if there are any guidelines or requirements for submission. You want to make sure your book is a good fit for that particular reviewer. This is as much for your benefit as it is for them. A person who specializes in futuristic science fiction (think Star Trek) might not know what you're going for if you write chick lit. That's not to say this person couldn't write a book review of your story, but he or she might not be your best audience for judgement.

When I started writing book reviews, I agreed to read just about anything people sent me. I quickly learned this was a bad choice, because I ended up with a few books that just weren't my cup of tea. It didn't feel right to critique them.

If you're a book reviewer who faces this issue, consider including a review policy on your blog. This is a place where you can list what kind of books you're interested in, what formats you prefer, how best to get in touch and what timeline you're able to work with. You can also tell authors whether or not you are currently open for review requests.

Back when I wrote book reviews, authors scored major points with me when they followed my review policy.

Here are a few examples of well-done policies:
Book Mama
Chick Lit Central
Chick Lit Goddess
Chick Lit Plus
Novel Escapes
Three Chicks and Their Books

For an awesome post on how to pitch a book blogger, check out this post from Lydia Laceby, who also runs Novel Escapes. It's basically the most cohesive piece I've ever seen on best practices. I especially like the part where she mentions not pitching on social media. It always made me feel like I was being put on the spot and uncomfortable when people did that.

Writing Book Reviews

This part is going to be totally subjective, and I'm basically going to tell you how I review books. As far as I'm concerned, there is no right or wrong way.

I'll be the first to admit, my book reviews can be a bit formulaic. It's how I learned to write them while working at a newspaper, and in journalism school, we were often taught to write in an inverted pyramid style. Here's the basic outline (keeping in mind, I've strayed from time to time):

I. First sentence introducing the title of the book, author and a theme of the story in fewer than 25 words.
II. Two or three brief paragraphs addressing the general plot of the story (similar to the blurb on the back of a book).
III. Analysis: My go-to points are typically character focused, followed by pacing. If I truly love a story, I'll usually get gushy at this point and start referring to male characters as crushable or flat out saying "I love this book."
IV. Send off. Instead of saying, "in conclusion," I'll write a sentence or two about the author's overall job with the book.
V. Give a star rating based on a scale of one to five. 

The rating system has been a tough point for me. In my mind, a three-star rating shouldn't be bad. That should mean average. But because I often cross-post my reviews on Amazon, which doesn't favor three-star ratings, I'm more likely to use half points with a 3.5 on the lower end and a 5 at the top. If I don't care for a book, and would rate it below a 3.5, I'll typically avoid posting a review, because it was my policy not to post negative reviews. I don't judge other people who do -- they're just being honest -- but as a fellow writer, I didn't want to send that karma out into the world.

It's quite rare for me not to like a book. For one, I'm a fairly easy person to please. I also became fairly considerate of the books I selected to read, and was seldom disappointed with my selections.

With that, I'll remind you to join us on Twitter at 8 p.m. EST to have our discussion. Use the hashtag #chicklitchat to share your thoughts.

Update: Check out a transcript from the chat here.

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August 7, 2013

little laura recalls bears

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 4: Writing to Recall Facts Learned
Date: December 16, 1993
Age: 7


In spring time they leav theri winter den. They climb vary well. They eat honey, fish, roots and berries. If one bear fights for its home who ever wins stays who lost leavs. Most bears live in North America. They don't hear or see vary well by they have good smell.
By second grade, I had a somewhat overachieving teacher (she was still in her first couple of years in the business and terribly sweet). She actually included objectives, descriptions of the activity, a list of strengths and general comments along with both of my second grade samples. She wrote:
Objective: Writing to recall facts learned.

Describe Activity: After listening to books read aloud (on bears) and reading some on their own, students wrote what they'd learned about bears.

Strengths: Great sentence structure ability!

Comments: Also Laura uses appropriate editing skills. 
While I appreciate her kind words about Little Laura's writing abilities, I couldn't help but question her compliments on my editing skills. Oh, sure, my sentence structure is great. And commas, periods and apostrophes appear to be in the correct place. But Little Laura still seems to struggle with her spelling.

Granted using the appropriate version of their/there is something many people struggle with well into adulthood (have you ever read the comments section of YouTube?). I will give myself props for knowing its was a possessive and it's was a contraction. But vary in place of very? More than once? Seriously, girlfriend, you don't need to use words like "very" or "really." They're essentially a waste of space and tend to detract emphasis rather than enhance it. I suppose you won't learn that until journalism school.

Plus, Little Laura should have recalled the mantra she was taught over and over in first grade: "The bossy 'e' at the end of the sentence goes back to the vowels and says, 'Say your name. Say your name.'" We must have recited that over and over almost as many times as we said the Pledge of Allegiance.

While we're on the topic of patriotism, one small shining moment in this is my proper spelling of America. That's kind of a tough word, isn't it? Again, citing YouTube, a lot of people tend to misspell our damn country's name.

To be honest, even though I know I was prompted by the teacher to write about bears, all I can think about is Stephen Colbert and his frequent mention of bears in his "Threatdown."

And poor Brick worrying about attracting bears with a lady new team member.

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August 6, 2013

decisions, decisions

I'm having a tough time making up my mind lately.

Whether it's trying to decide where the kittens and I move this fall (Are we willing to sacrifice space for an in-unit washer and dryer? Am I willing to have a 20-minute drive to work if it means having it all? But what if it's all lies?) or trying to figure out what my character will do next (Should she have a blowout fight with her boyfriend right now? Just how douchey should I make him in this scene? Maybe she should take the dog for a walk instead.), I'm struggling. Every decision I make seems huge with countless possible results for the bad or good.

It's overwhelming. And, consequently, I'm doing more procrastination than ever.

But because I can't put off every decision forever (or can I?), right now I'm trying to manage what I can. I'm making my decisions in the order of importance. What has to be decided first? Which one can I take more time to mull over? What decision isn't even worth freaking out about?

I'm also finding ways to make myself relax before I have a full-fledged panic attack every time someone asks me a question. Take deep breaths, Laura. Turn off the laptop for a while. Pick up a book and read for fun, not because you have to. Sit around with a cup of tea and do nothing for a while. I might not be making any decisions during those breaks, but when I'm done taking the me-time, I can approach everything with a clearer head.

Maybe I should take up yoga, or something like that, bur right now that seems like another big decision to make.

In the meantime, while I'm struggling with what to do next, I'm taking a couple of days to look at what I wrote on the novel I started last month. It comprises the first quarter of the book, and it's kind of nice to pause and examine what I've done before proceeding. I've had to do a lot of editing with my first two novels' manuscripts, and maybe this will prevent me from having to do so much work later on.

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