September 30, 2013

on sale now: 'whiskey lullaby'

Whiskey Lullaby
By Dawn Marten and Emily Minton

Book blurb:
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 shes 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.
Buy the Book

About the Authors

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 just finished writing Derek.

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!


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 Tatum 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 just finished writing my first solo book, Windows.  I hope you all enjoy it!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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September 29, 2013

little laura's dreams come true

Tuesday is the day Little Laura's whole life has been building toward.

No, my novel isn't being published (that day is coming soon), but something equally thrilling and potentially life changing is about to happen. I am of course talking about The Little Mermaid being released on DVD and Blu-Ray after far too many years in the vault.

Yes, I've had this moment on my calendar for months. Haven't you? Now, give me a moment. To compose myself. I promised... I wouldn't... cry.

This isn't just about me loving a movie. It's about how that movie has shaped my life. Consider the Little Laura you've met on my blog the past couple of months. She's filled with ideas. She believes in love. She wants to tell a great story. Granted, in her excitement to accomplish these tasks, she often butchers the English language and writing as a practice. But where did that love of storytelling come from?

As a storyteller, I cite several moments from my childhood as inspiration for taking this journey, and watching The Little Mermaid was one of them.

Little Laura was 3 when The Little Mermaid hit the big screen. While I can't remember going to the movie, though I'm sure my parents took me, I know LL watched that puppy so many times, my parents were worried I'd wear out the VHS tape. Little Laura used to strut around town wearing Ariel T-shirts. Singing the whole time, because isn't that what beautiful young girls are supposed to do? There were birthday cakes, coloring books, dolls, imaginary friends, dreaming about marrying a black-haired, blue-eyed, music-playing stud with a boat...

To celebrate this exciting moment, I wanted to share 10 lessons Little Laura Learned from The Little Mermaid.

1. Adventures are the best.

2. Life is more fun when you're singing.

3. The ocean is a beautiful place with endless possibilities.

4. Sometimes, we have complicated relationships with our dads, but they still love us (and we love them).

5. The world is better with good friends you can trust.

6. You're going to have to deal with bitches. (See Ursula)

7. My admiration for black-haired, blue-eyed men is a Prince Eric complex, not a dad complex.

8. Marrying a man with a boat and beach-front property isn't essential, but it's nice.

9. True love isn't something you look for - it finds you; and love is worth fighting to keep.

10. Dream big, even if your goal seems unobtainable

I wonder if I should go to the store before work, or take a quick shopping trip during lunch. God knows I won't be able to wait until after work to pick up this puppy.

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September 28, 2013

'swimming upstream' on sale

Swimming Upstream by Ruth Mancini is on sale for $0.99 until September 30.

About Swimming Upstream
I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened."

Lizzie has begun to achieve all the things she thought she had ever wanted, but realizes instead that she is far from happy. Then she steps out into the path of an oncoming car, and her life begins to unravel, setting off a life-changing chain of events. Lizzie leaves her boyfriend and her home and moves to London to pursue her career. There, she attempts to overcome the legacy of her past and find her true direction in life. Little does she realize that her life is about to take another shocking twist... and that the consequences will be enormous.

Swimming Upstream is a thoughtful but often humorous story about a young woman's pursuit of happiness. Set in the early 1990s in Cambridge and London, it is also a story of friendship, love and divided loyalties - and the moral choices that Lizzie ultimately faces, when the chips are down.

About the Author
Ruth Mancini was born in South London and educated in London and Cambridge where she gained a Bachelors degree in French and Spanish and a post-graduate diploma in law. For several years she worked in the publishing industry before becoming a practicing lawyer, author and freelance writer. She now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.

Connect with Ruth
Twitter @RuthMancini1 

Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble

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September 27, 2013

cinderella's prince charming: and the kick is good

I had another rough week in Fantasy Football-land. Cinderella's Fellas nearly lost its first game. For a full 24 hours, I was told I'd lost by 0.6 heartbreaking points. But the Fantasy Gods went back to recalculate everything, and by a miracle I pulled off a 128.1-127.82 victory. Talk about a roller coaster. This would've dropped me from first to third place in a league I'm basically dominating.

Even more troubling than that, I had to break-up with a few of my players.

My new ex-boyfriends... err... former Prince Charming candidates are:
  • Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts tight end on Cinderella's Ball
  • Michael Bush, Chicago running back on Cinderella's Ball and Cinderella's Fellas
  • LaRod Stephens-Howling, Pittsburgh running back on Cinderella's Ball
  • Justin Tucker, Baltimore kicker on Cinderella's Ball
All poor Dwayne, LaRod and Michael did was end up on the injured rosters. I'm sorry, boys, it's not you, it's me. I just can't keep investing myself in relationships when you're not able to be there. It's not fair to either of us. Someday, I'm sure you'll heal nicely and find a new team to love you.

As for Justin... he had the audacity to score negative points in week two. And... I don't even want to talk about it.

I am also now on an official break with Stevan Ridley, the Patriots running back who continues to disrespect me, and the rest of the boys on Cinderella's Fellas, by significantly under-performing every week. Fact: I'd planned to bench him last week and play Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns as my flex position. But at last minute I got a little sentimental and gave Ridley one more chance. And how did he repay me? By scoring a measly six points while Josh raked up more than 20 points. Needless to say, I've seen both of their true colors, and I know who cares about me more.

I know all of this must sound a bit extreme, and it is. As a fantasy football team owner, I give my players my support, devotion and even love. I give them everything. And when they go and throw it all in my face. I just can't waste my whole life waiting for them to come around. Not when there's money, honor and my heart on the line.

So, this week, I wanted to honor a man who showed his willingness to help me succeed. My Prince Charming is Matt Prater.

The kicker for the Denver Broncos and Cinderella's Fellas scored 17 points in Monday night's game. Before he took the field, I was behind my opponent by almost 18 points, and I didn't even think I had a chance. The man proved me wrong by scoring 50-year field goals and extra points all night.

While Cinderella's Fellas ultimately went on to lose (for a while), it wasn't his fault. Matt had nothing to do with his team fumbling their final position and losing their chance at having another shot at the end zone (or better yet a field goal). But he came out and gave it his all. And he kept me a contender in the game, even though I didn't deserve it after starting Ridley over Josh. I get a little emotional thinking about how much he must love giving me fantasy points.

And in the end, his antics ultimately gave me the edge when my opponent was docked one point after stats were reconfigured. 

During those 48 hours, when I thought all was lost and my perfect season was already gone, Matt taught me a lesson I'll keep with me forever: It is better to nearly win and lose than to have the snot beaten out of you.

In happier news, despite my near loss with Cinderella's Fellas, the boys of Cinderella's Ball banded together to get our first win of the season! I'm still probably going to lose this league (it's a keeper league, and I lucked out by getting LeSean McCoy and Peyton Manning in the first two rounds), but at least I'm not a totally defeated team.

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September 26, 2013

clc - being a beta reader

My first draft of Hard Hats and Doormats sucked. I'm not being cute or self-deprecating. In all seriousness, minus a few shining moments -- mostly dialogue related -- my book was rough. While I had some nice sub-plot going, the book was lacking a main plot.

I'll cut myself some slack. It was my first novel, so it's not unexpected the first draft needed work.

But thanks to a lot of editing, I'm happy to say the draft currently with my editor has a genuine plot. I owe much of that to my fantastic crew of beta readers who gave me the tough love I needed to get my novel's life together.

A great beta reader is an invaluable resource for a writer. Though not every writer becomes a beta reader to someone else, I like to think it's good karma to pay back the favor (either to your beta reader or another author).

In tonight's Chick Lit Chat discussion, led by Heather Thurmeier, we'll discuss how to be a god beta reader.

I've only been a beta reader twice to date. Though I certainly don't have all of the answers on the best and worst practices, I do have a few tools of the trade I've picked up.

Probably the best thing you can do as a beta reader is ask the author if he or she has anything specific for you to focus on. An author usually has a good sense on whether a certain character or plot element needs a little extra attention.

As an example, earlier this month I beta read a book that was a sequel of a story I hadn't previously read. The authors wanted to know if the story could stand on its own for people who hadn't picked pu the first book.

When I gave Hard Hats to my final round of betas -- after the story had already been re-worked and focused -- I wanted to know if there were any tense errors -- I'd changed it from first-person present to third-person past -- and if a couple of plot elements made sense.

Whether or not you have any areas of focus, it's good to let the author know about any reoccurring or major issues. These take the most time and effort to correct, and the sooner he or she knows about the issues, the sooner they're corrected. In some cases, an author will want line edits, but initially the major attention should go to ironing out the plot.

I'm looking forward to finding out what others have to say in tonight's discussion and to see what tools of the trade I can pick up.

Chick Lit CHat starts at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CDT on Twitter. Join the conversation using #chicklitchat.

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September 25, 2013

little laura gets lazy

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendancies -- 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. 11: Write a short story.
Date: Fall 1997
Age: 11
Once upon a time, there was a very small mountain town called Rainbow. Why?, because there almost always is a rainbow.

Wel, in this town there were four little girls, well they weren't really that little, they were 8 and 9, and in the 3rd Grade. They were all best-friends. Their names were Sarah, Morgan, Stephanie, and Elizabeth.

They did almost everything together. The only thing that kept them apart was the fact that a river split them all apart. So every day they would row their boats over to Sarah's house. Once there they would decide what to do.

Most of the time they went to the clubhouse. At the clubhouse they would play games like Twister, Monopoloy, and UNO, like most kids do, but their favorite was to use their imagination.

I would tell you what they pretend, but, I don't know that, and besides that's another story.
Holy run-on sentence, Batman! That first sentence in the second paragraph is almost as painful as your trite opener. "Once upon a time?" For serious, Little Laura? You're in sixth grade. You've made your way through most of the Baby-sitters Club and Little House series. You've graduated to reading biographies about Eva Peron and Maria Von Trapp. You should know better than to start a story with "Once Upon a Time."

And you should know better than to include so many freaking ideas and clauses in a single sentence. Sheesh.

Can we also talk about your not-so-shocking conclusion. Did you learn nothing from last week's story. Remember. The one where you also copped out with the ending and produced a story with no falling action.

Hell, this one didn't even have a rising action. You may have improved your spelling and comma usage. But, Little Laura, the content is a little... lame. You wrote about nothing and plugged in your sister and her friends as characters.

How lazy can you get?

I know why. It's because you were given a sheet of paper with a couple of squiggles on it, told to draw a full illustration and write a story about it. You always hated writing prompts that stemmed from stupid lines on a piece of paper. By then, you'd kissed your art career goodbye, but you still had hope for your writing career. It's only natural you'd feel impatient with such as silly requests.

From what I can remember, there were a bunch of squiggles and you used it to make a river.

Unfortunately, that picture didn't survive with the story. It was probably the best part of this whole project. Granted, that's just from my memory, and I could be projecting, But I'm sure it was super awesome. In comparison, that is. At least the picture was probably cute. Unlike this story, which, to quote Clueless, your favorite movie at the time:
Amber: I thought it reeked.
Cher: No, I believe that's your designer imposter perfume.
Well said, Amber and Cher. This story was stanky.

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'cowboy town' on sale & giveaway

Ever since her parents passed away in a tragic car accident, Eden Cross has been living a quiet, stable and predictable life in inner Sydney – the total opposite of her carefree, relaxed, happy-go-lucky past. Her parents passing and the fact she’s an only child meant Eden was left with her best friend, Jules and Matt, her boyfriend of three years as her only family. That was until she discovered something about Matt that would turn her life upside down. Eden leaves Sydney in a hurry and begins an adventure that takes her across four Australian states before she lands in Pine Creek, Northern Territory.

Jackson Henley has lived in Pine Creek his entire life. He runs a massive cattle and cropping station with his twin brother, Jeremy, which they inherited when their parents retired. He’s had a bad experience with relationships courtesy of The Bitch - Dannika, so lately he’s preferred to play the field. That is, until he comes face to face with the stunning brunette beauty who’s behind the bar at the Cow and Calf. The problem is, she won’t tell him her name, she won’t give him the time of day, and she won’t give him a chance to prove himself.

What’s it going to take for Eden to give Jackson a chance? Does he have the patience to even bother fighting for her? How will he handle the competition?

In the end, will Jackson have what it takes to convince Eden to start living again, instead of just existing?

“Hey, gorgeous, can I get another beer?” I turn my attention from the one-man show and spot Luke, the guy who was here yesterday, and he’s waving an empty glass at me.

“Sure thing,” I reply. I grab a glass and pull his beer, hand it to him, take his money and return his change.

“So, Dory’s put ya to work, has she?”

“Just helping her out for tonight,” I smile, then sweep my gaze along the bar checking that no one needs refills. It’s during this exercise that I spot the man who has just walked in. My breath gets caught in my throat as I watch him take a seat at the bar. I see his lips move and he’s smiling at people but it’s too loud to hear what he’s saying. I’m captivated. He’s utterly gorgeous. The epitome of Cowboy Hot. His hair is dark and his jaw is square. His body is built – broad across the shoulders and narrowing slightly at his hips. He spots someone across the bar and hands them a fully-fledged, bright white, straight-toothed smile. My breath leaves me in a whoosh, and then catches again as what has to be his twin slides onto the stool beside him.Oh my fucking god.

I’ve got a job to do. I have to pull it together. It’s not like I’ve never been in contact with good looking guys before. I worked in one of Sydney’s hottest bars for four years for fuck’s sake. I mentally slap myself across the face and tell myself to pull it together. Then I walk across to where they’re sitting and set about getting their order.

“What’ll it be, boys?” I ask in my most relaxed I’m-not-affected-by-you-at-all voice.

Hotty One unashamedly rakes his gaze over my body. So slowly, I feel my blood start to heat – just from him looking at me. I must be going mad. Perhaps it’s the heat up here. I’m not used to it all. I really should have worn some linen shorts instead of jeans.

“You, later,” he winks suggestively when he finally pulls his eyes to mine. Now, don’t get me wrong – the wink was hot. Fucking hot. It was the way he said it that turned me off. You know those guys that can get anyone they want? Yeah, they’re not so bad. It’s the ones who can get anyone they want, and they know it, and they show it – that’s the turn off. Just with that line, Hotty One has shown me he’s a player, unfaithful, untrustworthy and most definitely not the kind of guy I want to get involved with – in bed, or out of. But, as a woman, I’d rather die than have him know how he affected me, so I tilt my head to the side, smile my cheeky smile and say, “Not tonight, handsome. Or ever. Drink?”

  • I'm 29 years old
  • I've been married to my husband Troy for 10 years and together we have 4 children - Zach, Jovi, Demi and Cruz.
  • I live in a small country town in NSW, Australia
  • I LOVE to read and write
  • I LOVE to bake
  • I LOVE socializing
  • My friends laugh at me because I will talk to anyone, anywhere. It's funny now but it wasn't so funny for my mum when she had to drag me away from strange homeless people at the train station when I was little, and I may or may not have been going to go in crop dusting plane with a man I'd just met when I was about 4!!
  • I read fiction until I was 11 years old. After that I read non-fiction, true crime, bio's etc. When my son Jovi drowned in 2011, I found I couldn't bring myself to read non fiction anymore - it was too "real." Fifty Shades was dominating the media so I got myself a copy and I'm not ashamed to say I read all three of those books at least ten times each. They allowed me to forget my reality for a little while. Then I decided that I was going to follow my dreams and write. I wanted to show my children that just because their brother died, didn't mean they did or our family did. I want them to reach for the stars and chase their dreams, and the best way to do that is to lead by example!

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September 24, 2013

outdoor writing oasis becomes office feature

Last weekend I did it. I finally finished the loveseat rehab project I started over the summer. If you'll remember, the project started off with a somewhat dated wooden loveseat:

With cushion covers in need of TLC.

When we last saw this project, I'd sanded the wooden frame, painted it matte white, covered it in a waterproof sealant and created new lime green cushion covers.

Now, I haven't done crap on this refinish in weeks. (Practically months.) But I finally pulled out the sewing machine, fabric and even made a trip to the craft store for pillow cushions. And after making pillow cases and doing a bunch of hidden slip stitches, I'm happy to report I now have a bunch of pillows to complete the loveseat's look.

Let's do a quick pillow inventory:
  • Two large pillows (made from the previous loveseat's back cushions and some batting)
  • One long pillow made of patterned and turquoise fabric, which almost spans the length of the seat
  • Four 18-inch pillows (two turquoise, two patterned)
  • Two 14-inch lime green pillows
Now something else has happened since I started this project of creating an outdoor writing oasis featuring this loveseat. I've realized I love it too much to have it be a seasonal chair that spends a chunk of the year unusable. So... right now this loveseat is sitting in my main living space, and I plan to put it in the office I'll have in my new place. (Move-in date still to-be-determined.)

I'm already getting great use out of it. Aside from my bed, this has become my favorite place to sit and write. (I'm actually on it right now as I'm writing this blog post.)

In addition to wanting to get more use out of this chair than I'd originally planned, I also realized it'd be selfish of me to keep this loveseat all to myself. Both Jane and Bingley have fallen in love with it. Take a look at Bingley making himself comfortable on it:

How can I even think about depriving Bing of a place he's come to love?

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September 23, 2013

cover reveal: merry & bright

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And I don't say that lightly.

I'm totally excited to share this with all of you. It's the cover of Merry & Bright, the anthology housing my holiday short, "Twelve Drummers Drumming."

Here's the cover...

I may be a little biased, but I totally adore this. I can totally imagine that adorable on the cover being Autumn and Tuck, the couple from my story.

Here's what you can expect from this book...
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Needless to say, it's super thrilling to see my name on a book cover, and I'm ridiculously happy to see it accompanied by five other amazing authors I admire.

Stay tuned for more details on the release date. Until then...

What do you think of the gorgeous cover? It's fantastic, right?

UPDATE: Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

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courtney's picks for sad songs that inspire

Blogger's Note: I definitely use music as a muse for writing. I have playlists for every story I write -- it's one of the first steps of my planning process. I use the music to put me in the mood to write, and to get me in the mindset to write the story in question. I've always wondered what other people who use music listened to when they wrote, and I was thrilled when Courtney Giardina sent me this post. It's fantastic, and by the time I made it through the end, I had to order the book pronto. I hope you enjoy this post, too. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post for your chance to win a copy of her book, Tear Stained Beaches

Courtney’s Picks for Sad Songs that Inspire
By Courtney Giardina

If you haven’t read Tear Stained Beaches yet, I will forewarn you, you’ll probably need a box of tissues and a glass of wine with it. It will take you on an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end as you follow the trials and tribulations of Haylie Julian and her crumbling marriage to Chase.

From the very beginning, before I even put pen to paper (or my fingers to the keys to be more accurate) I set out to tug at the heartstrings of its readers. I wanted them to be able to relate to Haylie. Everyone has suffered a broken heart and one time or another and I really wanted them to feel each tear that fell. I found while writing the best way to really get into the sad, tearful mood was to listen to some really sad love songs. For those of you who are thinking about writing a tear jerker, I wanted to pass along the songs that inspired me through Tear Stained Beaches!

"Goodbye to You" - Michelle Branch:

"Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You" - Kellie Pickler:

"You Can’t Break a Broken Heart" - Kate Voegele:

"Let Him Fly" - Jessica Simpson:

And there you have it! Some of the songs that helped inspire the sad scenes of Tear Stained Beaches.

What songs do you listen to while writing to help inspire you?

About the Author
Courtney Giardina was born and raised just outside of Rochester, NY where she jumped and tumbled her way through school as a gymnast and cheerleader. She credits cheering under the lights on Friday nights as the reason for her love of football. Realizing that becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader was probably not a realistic ambition, Courtney decided to take her creative talents down a different route. In May 2012 she traded cold, snowy winters for extremely humid summers in Charlotte, NC and worked early mornings and late nights on top of a full-time job to create Tear Stained Beaches. When she’s not in the midst of writing songs, poems or debut novels, Courtney enjoys being in front of the camera as an actress, running 5Ks and singing loudly to country music in her Jeep. In her world, everywhere is a stage.

About Tear Stained Beaches
Haylie Julian wants nothing more than to put her crumbling marriage back together. Chase used to be a fun-loving, light hearted husband who had lately become an overworked attorney obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder.  It isn’t long before Haylie starts waking up next to a man she barely knows. His secretive phone calls and late nights at the office leave her feeling alone and afraid of what he might be hiding. Ignoring his continuous pleas to just leave well enough alone, she continues to dig for answers and discovers a heartbreaking truth.

Struggling with what she has just learned, Haylie sets off to a quaint little North Carolina beach town to decide if her marriage can survive. It isn’t long after she arrives that her world is once again turned upside down as Chase’s secret stares her right in the face.

Tear Stained Beaches explores what happens when a marriage isn’t the happily-ever-after you thought it was. Can trust be rebuilt? Can a wife forgive the ultimate betrayal?

Give Back
Courtney believes that giving back should be an important part of our every day lives. Helping those who need it and supporting those around us make for a better tomorrow. As part of her mission to give back, Courtney has chosen to donate 10% of all purchases of Tear Stained Beaches that come from her website by October 23 to the organization Jodi’s Voice. Jodi’s Voice is a newly created organization working to raise awareness for a great cause of helping create stricter stalking laws.

Enter for your chance to win a signed copy of Tear Stained Beaches!

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Connect with Courtney

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September 21, 2013

happy release day, s. moose!

Happy release day to Saoching Moose! Her novel, "Holding Onto You" is now available.

About this New Adult Contemporary Romance
**Recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content.**
Losing my best friend was the worst feeling in the world. I always wondered what she was doing and how she was doing but I never went after her. I never took the time to find out how she was doing and that broke my heart into a million pieces. Not only did I lose my best friend but I lost the love of my life.

Now, four years later, I am back in North Carolina and find myself longing to see her smile and feel her touch.

One day, she finally sees me and our eyes connect. The connection is still there. She can still make me weak at the knees and she still holds my heart and soul.

Things are different. She is dating my teammate Kyle and I hate him. Not for dating my Sophia but for being the worst person imaginable. But I vow to make her mine again. Welcome to my mind and life. My story about finally seeing Sophia again and how I will always be holding onto her.


Buy the Book

Amazon UK


Book trailer made by Book Crazy

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September 20, 2013

meeting tracey garvis graves

If you follow me on Twitter (And if you don't, you really should, because I'm, like, totally clever. Or something.) than you may have seen that I met someone pretty awesome last night.

That's right. That's me hanging out with best-selling author Tracey Garvis Graves. With my now autographed copy of On the Island. The book I've been raving about since January.

TGG was at the Bookworm in Omaha, which is about an hour up the road from me, to promote her latest novel, Covet. I haven't dug into this one yet, but it's on my list.

Unfortunately I was a little late to the signing (damn you, traffic), my sister and I still had plenty of time to bask in the awesomeness that is TGG. Here are a few impressions I left the evening with:
  • Tracey is funny, charming and fun to be around. She has so much enthusiasm and passion for reading, writing and living life. It's hard not to smile when you're around her.
  • We have similar approaches to writing. We're plotters who aren't afraid to move away from our previously scheduled outline to taker our story in new directions. We also write a draft and then build onto it. 
  • When she's in writing mode, she isn't able to read other books. I found that particularly interesting, because I sometimes struggle to stay focused on my writing when I'm reading other books.
  • She is fiercely protective of her writing time. No music. Not social media. No TV. No kids. No distractions. When she sits down to write 2,000 words a day (her goal), she sets herself up for success.
  • Her book On the Island is still being optioned in Hollywood. No word yet on when or if it will make its big screen debut, but we should all keep our fingers crossed.
  • She's a fan of reading. Her list of read books is extensive, and she has excellent tasted.
  • She's supportive of other writers. When I spoke with her about my new book, she seemed genuinely excited for me and offered me lots of encouragement.
  • Her next two books are going to be freaking awesome. She's not saying much about either, but one will be another romantic story (similar to On the Island) and the other will be a women's fiction (like Covet). One has a crime reporter, the other has former lovers becoming reacquainted years later.
I feel a little bad for how much of Tracey's time I stole during my portion of the signing. While everyone else was off buying her book, I was busy gushing about how much I loved On the Island, how awesome I thought it was that she tries different genres and of course telling her about my book (but only after she asked). By the time we got through our portion, there was quite a line! Oh well -- I don't regret having the chance to talk with her. I left our meeting feel so... inspired to keep going.

I'm thrilled I had the chance to meet Tracey. I highly encourage you to stop in to say "hello" to her if she's ever in your neck of the woods. (And she might be. She's on tour.) I'm just glad I saw her Facebook update announcing she was in Omaha yesterday, or I would've missed it. And been mad, sad and not glad.

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cinderella's prince charming: go pack go

After a disappointing Thursday night game when Steven Ridley, a running back on both of my teams, didn't yield many points followed by a particularly crushing Huskers loss on Saturday, I was feeling particularly vulnerable going into game day last Sunday.

This week, needing to find comfort in the arms of someone I could trust, I turned to a hunk of man I'd consider a candidate for Prince Charming even if he wasn't on one of my Fantasy Football teams.

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson stole my heart long ago with his charming smile off the field and his consistent skill on it. As a longtime Packers fan, having Jordy as my Prince Charming was doubly sweet. After week one's hard-fought loss to the 49-ers, watching Jordy and the Packers win a solid victory over the Washington Redskins was absolutely welcome.

No, Jordy may not have been the top scorer on Cinderella's Fellas this week, but he followed up his first week success with 18.6 points this week, which he earned from 66 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Jordy Lambeau leaped into my heart this week with his perseverance. His first touchdown of the game was taken off the board, because of a holding call on a member of his offensive line. Instead of crying over his empty glass slipper, he set his focus on reclaiming his glory. And a few plays later, he once again made a touchdown for Green Bay. (He followed-up this success by scoring another touchdown later in the game.)

After the week one loss, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said he could always count on Jordy Nelson to make big plays when he was needed. Sigh. The only thing better than hearing my QB crush talk about my WR crush was seeing Jordy prove the words correct.

Sometimes, a lady likes to know she can depend on a man rather than having to sit by passively waiting for him to prove himself worth of her affection.

I'll be cheering for you lots this season, Jordy.

Creepy girlfriend meets devoted fan?

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September 19, 2013

clc - breaking the rules

Rules were made to be broken, baby.

Isn't that the kind of thing the bad boy heartthrob says to the prim and proper heroine who desperately needs to unwind in a romance novel? Well, imagine your novel is the uptight wench and you're the rake. You're on the scene to make life a little more interesting.

That's why we writers sometimes break the rules when we write. To be interesting. From shaking up common plot devices to totally botching grammar rules, we bend or break rules to progress the story and keep the readers engaged.

Tonight, on Chick Lit Chat, author Cat Lavoie will lead a discussion on the rules we writers like to break and how we do it.

One of my favorite rules to break when writing is overusing periods for emphasis. When. You. Write. Like. This. You create more emphasis on each word. You can practically imagine a person saying those words out loud, over-enunciating as he or she goes.

Along that same line, I also love writing sentence fragments. It adds a bit of underlying tension, because the reader knows -- consciously or subconsciously -- the sentence is too short and incomplete.

Probably the most common rule broken these days is starting a sentence with conjunctions, such as and/but/or. While this might bother some people (I've seen reviewers call out writers on this one) this has become a standard practice in journalism writing.

Fact: When I was a journalism student a few years ago, I was taught it was OK to start my sentences with conjunctions. Because the conjunction's function has kind of shifted gears. Conjunctions can connect thoughts from multiple sentences rather than phrases.

Crap. Now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head all day.

Chick Lit Chat begins at 8 p.m. EST/ 7 p.m. CDT on Twitter. Follow along with the conversation and participate in the discussion using #chicklitchat. See you there.

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September 18, 2013

little laura explores dialogue

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. 10: The Blabbing Plant
Date: Winter 1996-1997
Age: 10
"Mine, mine, mine," is what I'd say if someone took of mine. It was true I adored fighting. One day I decided to plant a Venus Fly Trap. When it wouldn't grow I yelled at it. My sister and I always seemed to fight in front of the Venus Fly Trap. One day it grew. I yelled.

"It's about time," I said.

"Well excuse me miss perfect!" This couldn't be true. I the queen of talking back had been beaten by a weird plant.

"Iiii dddooonn'tt bbbbellieevvee it," I stuttered.

"Well it doesn't help when I have a bad influence," it answered. Lucky for me dad yelled, "Amy time to go."

By the time we got back I had forgotten all about the plant. I went out back. It yelled, "Where've ya been. I've been yelling at myself."

"Well for your information I've been on a nice long cruise in the Caribean Sea. So there," I said.

"You didn't (snif) have to (snif) have to (snif) go and (snif) say that," he cried.

"Oh, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," I said kindly.

"Well you did meanie," he said."

"I am not," I said.

"You are."

"No you."


"You." I have no idea how long that went on. I told my friends Amber, Ashley, Amanda, April, Alison, Adam, Arnold and Alfred. Everyone said they hated me and said I was crazy. I went home friendless. What should I do?

Continued in Blabbers Back.

OK, let's start with the bad news. Little Laura is still struggling with comma placement, she's made a few spelling errors (Caribbean is a tough one, but sniff isn't) and she missed a couple of words in her hurry to tell this epic story about a bratty kid and her brattier plant. Still, those are grammatical lessons she'll learn with time.

I'm more troubled about Little Laura choosing an easy out on the ending. Instead of answering any of the questions raised by the story -- Did Amy make any new friends? Did she and Blabber resolve their differences? Did she learn to stop being such a dick? -- LL left the resolution "to be continued." And then, she never wrote it. That's on par with ending a story with, "And then I woke up. It had all been a dream." Totally amateur.

What would Twi-hards have done if Stephenie Meyer never wrote the final installments of the Twilight saga or Suzanne Collins stopped at "Catching Fire." Teens (and, heck, old people who dabble in YA like me) would've lost their shit.

Fortunately, no one in my class nor my teacher -- likely the only people to ever read this story -- apparently weren't that invested in Amy's outcome. Still, what if you had found an audience, Little Laura? You would've left them hanging thanks to your laziness, or at least your desire to get back to drawing that little sketch of yours.

The sketch is pretty cute though, LL. Even if you're still obsessed with illustrating blonde kids. Don't worry, someday you'll learn to love your brunette locks.

There are some other elements that are working with the story. For one, you've created a complex main character. One who isn't entirely sympathetic upon the initial meeting. It's easy to want to write a character who will be universally liked, so mad props for stepping outside of the mold on that one.

The story itself is also kind of cute. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the teacher's documentation sheet for this story, but from what I recall of fifth grade, this was a time when we did a lot of creative writing. Sometimes we were given a prompt on the writing or the story, but we always had to write and illustrate something.

I wonder why the teacher chose this as my example instead of the murder mystery story Little Laura wrote at the end of the year after she discovered Agatha Christie and Law and Order...

Little Laura is also beginning her fascination with dialogue. Sure, it's a bit trite. And yes, there are entirely too many tags, like "yelled" and "said kindly." You still pull crap like that as an adult, but you'll figure it out someday.

I hope.

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September 17, 2013

casting 'unfinished business'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to once again welcome Carolyn Ridder Aspenson to the blog to talk about her book, Unfinished Business. The book goes on sale for 99 cents September 19-23. Read my interview with Carolyn here and check out the cover reveal for the follow-up novel, Unbreakable Bonds, here.

Casting Unfinished Business
By Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

I'm so excited! I get to pick actors for my characters in my book, Unfinished Business, an Angela Panther Novel.  A few years ago I picked the actors for the Janet Evanovich movie, One For The Money, but none of mine made it in and I was bummed. I might be a little older than some who read these kinds of books but let's consider me more 'worldly' instead of 'older'. I like that better. Trust me, when you're my age, you'll feel the same way and if you're already my age, you get my point.

Before I start, I'm going to give you the blurb of the story, so you can get a feel for the book. The tone is funny and heartbreaking in fairly equal doses. My own sense of humor is fairly sarcastic so consider that when reading the blurb.
Sometimes the dead need our help and sometimes, we need theirs.

ANGELA PANTHER HAS A PERFECT LIFE:  A lovely home, an attentive, successful husband, two reasonably behaved children, a devoted dog and a lot of coffee and cupcakes. But while her life might border on mundane, she's got it under control. Until her mother, Fran dies-and returns as a ghost. It seems Fran's got some unfinished business and she's determined to get it done.

Now Fran's got some nifty celestial superpowers and isn't opposed to using them to levy a little ghostly retribution on her granddaughter's frienemies and even her own daughter, which doesn't make Angela happy.

While Angela's shocked and grateful to have her mother back, she's not thrilled about the portal to the afterlife Fran opened upon her return. Now every ghost in town is knockin' on Angela's psychic door, looking for help-and it's a royal pain in the butt.

Now Angela's got to find a way to balance her family life with her new gift and keep her mother in line. And it's a lot for one woman to handle.
Okay. Are you ready? I'm so excited about this I think I might pee a little. Here we go!

The Main Character
Angela Panther - She's in her early, early, early 40s (I'd say she's 40). She works out and lives in a reasonably nice, upper-middle class area of the Atlanta suburbs BUT... she's a Chicago girl at heart. Says what she thinks and though she doesn't take crap from anyone, she also doesn't like to be noticed too much. Oh, and she's part Italian. She's also blonde, with a lot of hair.

Leslie Mann gets my vote. You may recognize her from 17 Again. Why does she fit the bill for me? I like her acting style and I think she can pull off the begrudged heroine I see in Angela.  Angela isn't prepared for what happens in her life and though she likes doing what she does after the fact, it's the before and during that's rough for her. Hardin would play that well.

The Scene Stealer
Fran Richter - this character has a very strong resemblance to my mother, whom I wrote the book to honor after her death in 2009. She was a fiesty, purebred Italian with, if you'll excuse the expression, balls bigger than most men. She cared for her family to the point of distraction. She was a protector, the life of the party, my best friend and the most aggravating and frustrating woman I'd ever met. I'd take being like her any day of the week. In fact I recently noticed a strong resemblance to my mother and instead of thinking, "Oh crap," I thought, "Wow, I might be beautiful, just like her."

Kathy Bates gets my vote. Fran is in her late '70's, so Kathy would have to be aged but Hollywood can easily do that. Why do I choose her? Because she's funny, strong and can play a variety of roles.  And she's got spunk, which is very important for someone playing an Italian woman.

Supporting Characters 

Angela's Husband
Jake Panther - Ah, Jake. He's a fabulously supportive, wonderful man with a great sense of humor and he loves his wife, a lot. He's in decent shape, though his character isn't described in too much detail, I do have an image in my head of this man.  Gawd, I really, really want to pick Rob Lowe but he's just too damn pretty. The character is in a good amount of the book but not to warrant such beauty. I should change that in book three, then I can pick him. Oh-la-la.

I'm going to go with someone that most of you may not know, unless watched All My Children or The Bold and the Beautiful or are currently watching General Hospital.

William DeVry is my pick. I think he's extremely attractive but not in that 'too obvious' way and his eyes? When he looks at a woman in a scene, they make me swoon. Love him. Oh, and he's fit. Can't complain about that.

Angela's Daughter
Emily Panther - Em's about 15ish. Full of drama and insecure. Like every other teenage girl alive.

My vote goes to Elle Fanning. The girl can act. 'Nuf said.

Angela's Son
Josh Panther - Josh's about ten and as sweet as a candy bar. He also has a little gift like Angela and is most definitely a momma's boy.

I'm going with Noah Lomax. I mean, seriously. Have you seen his adorable face?

Psychic Linda
Angela's Psychic Counselor - This is a patient, understanding woman who isn't the stereotypical psychic.

Neve Campbell. She's got a great 'girl next door' look that I think oozes trust. A psychic needs to be trustworthy.

Angela's Best Friend
Mel - Mel is a very, very important character. She's Angela's BFF and the kind of friend every woman should have and frankly, should be. Here's the kicker, Mel is Asian. I didn't define Chinese, Japanese or any other nationality but she's Asian.

Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy is my choice. She's funny, sexy and can play a plethora of roles.
I thought long and hard about these characters. The reasons I picked the actors and actresses I did varies, but I didn't want one to especially standout over and above anyone else, except for Kathy Bates, whom I think is really an amazing actress and for that very important role, the actress needs to be amazing.

Praise for Unfinished Business
Carolyn Ridder Aspenson tackles, with comic cleverness, the serious subjects of mother-daughter relationships, death and raising teenagers in this smart, funny take on the love of family and the uncontrollable paths our lives take.

"It's about ghosts, the love of family, the never-ending love of mothers and daughters...add some humor and it's the perfect combination of adult/chick- lit/paranormal (all in one book)."
- The Book Trollop
"Aspenson hits the ground running with her debut novel and carries the reader along on a rollicking adventure highlighting both the joys and conflicts of mother-daughter relationships."
- Katrina Rasbold

Connect with Carolyn

Buy the Book
Barnes and Noble

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September 16, 2013

how to survive life as a klutz

Blogger's Note: I "met" Laura Barnard in online writing groups, and I'm pleased to host her on Change the Word as she promotes her debut novel, The Debt & the Doormat. Right now, her book is available for free on Amazon, where it recently reached No. 1 on Amazon UK's Humor best-seller list.

How to Survive Life as a Klutz
By Laura Barnard

Some people have commented on the main character Poppy’s extremely unlucky nature. Some have even said ‘this much bad stuff can’t happen to one person.' Well it does and it has. I am a Poppy. Bad things happen to me. I choke on food in public, bus doors shut on my coat, I send wrong letters to people. It’s basically a disability. I even walk into walls. For no reason. I have no spatial awareness and am always sporting at least three leg bruises. 

I’ve always dreamed of being a more sophisticated woman. As a gangly teenager with frizzy hair and braces I actually thought it could be achievable when I grew up. I’m twenty seven and I’m still waiting. I couldn’t even hold it together for my wedding day. By the time I got to the church I had a flower stain on my dress and I even tripped walking down the aisle. Luckily no one noticed. Or… perhaps they were too polite to mention it. Most brides glide everywhere as if floating on a cloud. I had my shoes off within an hour and was dancing on stage with the band. Most brides go to the toilet with ease. I had to squeeze two bridesmaids into a cubicle so they could lift my meringue over my head. 

But you know what? I wouldn’t change my life for the world. My friends know me and they like me for what I am. They know I’ll be the one at the party that falls down the stairs or gets violently sick on someone’s shoes…and they still want to know me. At no point have they told me I’m boring or too much hard work. I laugh things off as I know life is too short to care what others think. I’d much rather enjoy the night and yes, maybe fall over a few times… and maybe take someone down while attempting to do the Dirty Dancing lift. I’d much rather be a dumb-ass, scatty cow who enjoys herself than one of those beautiful, glamorous women who exude confidence and sophistication. They always seem such a bore!

In The Debt & the Doormat Poppy is still desperately trying to be sophisticated. She craves normal behavior. Yet with the help of her best friend Jazz she learns to let herself go and accept herself as the natural klutz, disaster zone she is. And she realizes life is far more fun this way!

About the Book
Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of uni. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates; there’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan. Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

Connect with Laura
Buy the Book

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