January 29, 2014

guest post and excerpt from jennifer vessells, author of 'life in plan b'

Blogger's Note: Jennifer Vessells stops by Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour for Life in Plan B, and I asked her to share the biggest she learned from writing this book, and how has it shaped the way she'll work going forward. Be sure to check out an excerpt from the book at the bottom of the post.

By Jennifer Vessells
Guest Blogger

In writing this book, (especially given that it’s my first), I learned several lessons about both myself and the realities of my writing process. Out of all these learned lessons, however, I would say the biggest one was this: no matter how hard you try, you cannot force creative writing. It flows when it flows, and although I wish it weren’t true, it definitely doesn’t when it doesn’t.

At my former job as an attorney, I was able to churn out several pages of briefs and memoranda in a matter of hours, leading me to mistakenly believe that I could produce the same volume of words for my book in the same time frame. As I’ve slowly and painstakingly come to accept, creative writing is vastly different from legal writing. With legal writing, the looming deadlines and informative or persuasive nature of the writing made it easier to complete (if for no other reason than it had to be completed). I was rarely called on to draw on my own creativity, and instead always had a framework within which to write. With creative writing, on the other hand, there are no deadlines other than those I’ve self-imposed. Unfortunately, the lack of outside deadlines allows me to find endless excuses to procrastinate instead of write. And sometimes, even when I’m dedicated to writing, the ideas just aren’t there. It’s nice to have a rough word count goal each day to keep yourself on track, but without good ideas, a word count goal is easily thrown right out the window - and unrealistic goals only cause feelings of failure or frustration when not reached.

Adjusting to this reality has been difficult, and I am still learning how to keep my goals flexible without feeling guilty or frustrated when a week goes by without significant progress. It’s become increasingly difficult recently with the birth of my daughter - carving out time for writing feels like a cruel joke with a newborn in the picture! But, like I’ve done for the past year and a half, I will have to learn to change my routine and be flexible. Even if I only carve out twenty minutes a day for the next couple of months, it’s important to devote some time to my writing. After all, it’s what I love to do and why I’m working on my second women’s fiction novel as we speak! 

I hope you enjoy Life in Plan B as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Excerpt from Life in Plan B
Two cleaned plates, a few sodas, and a whole lot of laughing later, the two of us leaned back in our chairs, too full to move. Although this was only my second real conversation with Nick, it felt like I’d known him for much longer. Talking to him was like talking to a close friend whose every significant life experience related to my own.

We’d both experienced traumatic break-ups (though I suspected his had been worse, given the length of time he’d been with his ex-wife and the obvious agony of going through a divorce); we’d both tried living in big cities, to no avail; and we’d both lost our fathers at too young an age. As it turned out, Nick’s father had left them by choice, picking up his life one day and moving across the country to remarry and never initiate contact again. I couldn’t decide which loss was more painful: one in which the person you care about most in this world experiences a horrific accident and dies as a result, or one in which the person who should love you more than life itself makes the conscious choice to up and leave you forever. Either way, both scenarios made my heart ache.

Groaning and rubbing his stomach, Nick looked at his watch with disappointment. “I’d love to stay and continue to ingest large quantities of food with you, but I have a meeting at two across town.” Looking at him sideways, I wondered why he needed to leave so soon – you could get anywhere in town in about twenty minutes.

“Well, what time is it?”  I asked curiously.

“Almost 1:40,” he replied in a tone that indicated he, too, thought the time had flown by fast.

“Wow!” I exclaimed in disbelief. “You better get out of here – I can’t believe it’s that late already!” Nodding his head in agreement, Nick stood up and grabbed his suit jacket from the back of the chair.

“I had a great time, Haley,” he said, throwing his jacket over his arm. Notwithstanding the fact that we’d talked about some painful past experiences, I’d had a good time, too. It was nice to talk about the loss of Dad with someone who’d experienced something similar. Empathy felt more genuine than sympathy and I was grateful for the chance to commiserate with someone who truly understood.  “Let’s get together and do this again,” he suggested. “I’m out of town this weekend, but how about sometime next week? Same day, different place? Perhaps somewhere without that scary lady?” I chuckled, but quickly stopped when I thought about where I’d be in a week. Incapable of hiding my emotions, Nick recognized the change in my expression almost immediately.

“I’m sorry,” he said quickly, running his hand through his hair nervously. “I’m just suggesting another lunch. No pressure; you can think about it and get back to me.”

“No, no,” I said, reassuring him that my suddenly clouded mood had nothing to do with him. “Next week is just a hard week for me. It’s the anniversary of my dad’s accident so I’ll be out of town – maybe we can get together when I get back?” Nick’s face fell as he looked at me.

“I’m so sorry, Haley,” he said softly. His hazel eyes were a light brown, circling his dark pupils like milk chocolate saucers. They regarded me with genuine concern. Checking his watch one more time, he stood at the table, seemingly conflicted over whether to leave me in my current state.

“It’s fine,” I assured him, shooing him with my hands. “You need to go or you’ll be late!  Seriously, go.” Studying me interestedly, Nick finally gathered his keys to leave.

“Okay,” he agreed hesitantly. “But are you sure you’re alright? I can easily cancel.” Shaking my head, I motioned him to go. I was honored that this sweet man was offering to cancel a business meeting to stay with me. I felt closer to him than I should have considering the fact that I’d only known him for a short time.

“Go!” I yelled loudly, standing up to follow him out. “I’ll text you when I get back and you can help me finish off a few pints of ice cream.” Satisfied that I was okay, Nick pulled me in for another hug. This time I’d been prepared and almost excited for the embrace. I let myself relax for the short second I was in his arms. It felt really nice.

“The ice cream will be ready when you get back!” He declared, releasing me and hurrying toward the door. I followed him out. “Bye, Haley!” He called. I waved at him as he rushed down the sidewalk.

As I watched him vanish around the corner of the street, my heart swelling at the sight, I wondered how it was possible for me to feel this attracted to two men simultaneously. It wasn’t common for me to develop strong feelings for one person, let alone two. This was uncharted territory, and I was hopelessly confused.

About the Author
After practicing law for nearly three years, Jennifer Vessells decided to leave the practice to pursue her dream of being a novelist. After an intensive year and a half of writing, Ms. Vessells is proud to finally present her debut novel to the world - a story that's been marinating since her early college days.

Passionate about women's fiction and children's chapter books, Ms. Vessells plans to enjoy a long writing career. Keep your eye out for more exciting publications from this author in the future!

Connect with Jennifer

About the Book
When twenty-eight year old Haley Simpson, a sales associate for her best friend’s clothing boutique in Columbus, Ohio, begins a secret affair with the boutique’s potential New York City business partner, she digs a cavernous hole of deception that not only threatens to end her blossoming career, but to destroy a life-long friendship.

Jennifer Vessells's debut novel, Life in Plan B, encompasses everything classic chick lit should: the dynamics of friendship, the nuances of high-reaching career aspirations, and the struggles – both usual and unique – presented by romantic and familial relationships. An entertaining story at every turn, Life in Plan B is identifiable for readers of any age. In short, Ms. Vessells hits her debut novel out of the park!

Buy the Book
Paperback on Amazon
Nook and paperback on Barnes & Noble

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 27, 2014

cover reveal for 'i don't know how she will do it'

Blogger's Note: Today I'm pleased to share the cover for the re-release of blogger Kobby Tetteh Gyampoh's chick lit short, I Don't Know How She Will Do It. Look for the book Feb.13 on Amazon.

About the Book
Lily has had it with Aunt Lizzie. She wants her inheritance. She wants to be free. Aunt Lizzie wants Lily to find a husband, though she thinks it’s impossible. To her Lily could kiss freedom goodbye since it might be about the only person who’d allow that.

Aunt Lizzie’s thinking marriage; Lily’s thinking marriage-if-anyone-would-ever-want-me. Aunt Lizzie’s thinking cooking, cleaning and looking after a family; Lily wants a career that isn’t home-running. Aunt Lizzie’s not bent on making Lily have her way. So what would Lily do? She’d plot to gain her inheritance. She’d plot to gain her freedom. Her dad’s will says nothing about Mr. Right, neither does it mention an aspiring actress eager to break into Hollywood.

Join Lily in her quest for freedom as she poses as a couple with Clare behind a camouflage of flashy cars and cupcakes in order to get that inheritance. Follow this hilarious recipe of a low self-esteem girl, a sassy self-employed actress, an Aunt whose quotes would get you raising brows and two grannies who are willing to help low self-esteem girl. But watch out, one has a pistol which she stashes in her underwear.

From the Author
I’ve had lots of inspiration for writing. But the one that moved me into publishing my very first novel, I Don’t Know How She Will Do It has to go to Allison Pearson. Words can’t describe how much I loved I Don’t Know How She Does It─both the book and the movie. Something about Kate’s struggle and how lovable she was portrayed made me nuts to pen something down. Days and days the title I Don’t Know How She Will Do It resounded constantly in my sleep, in my wake, every moment in my life (mainly because it was one hell of a funky title). I was practically haunted to put down my baby I Don’t Know How She Will Do It. Though they are both different stories, they both portray that sense of feminism that makes women all around the world proud. And that’s why I penned I Don’t Know How She Will Do It, a short story that would make women rejoice for their womanhood and cheering them for giving men a run for their money. There are points I might make you reach for your Kleenex, but forgive me for you will laugh at so many moments they would make up for all my sins.

About the Author
First of all, KobbyTettehGyampoh, simply Kobby, hates referring to himself in third-person.

I just turned eighteen. I am Ghanaian and have always loved Chick-lit. My Chick-lit role models would be Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Janet Evanovich and Sarah Strohmeyer.

I was introduced to the genre when I was thirteen. Sarah Strohmeyer made the introduction with her Bubbles Series. Since I read Bubbles, I quit writing Harlequin-styled romances and have always considered myself-since then, a humor writer.

My biggest dream is to be an EIC to a lifestyle magazine someday like Kate White-for my obsession for Cosmo’s language since she was running as editor. But for now, I am good with studying English to break into Advertising someday.

I am currently working on my next title which is sort of a series like Cupcakes R US, but it’s based on the lives of editors, columnists and freelancers in a Cosmo-lookalike magazine. Which would be available in more formats than kindle. Epub, PDF, Docx, Doc, Mobi, PowerPoint. And oh, Paperback.

If I am not writing something funny, I spend most of my time reviewing something funny on my blog, ChickLit Pad.

Connect with the Author

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 24, 2014

the disney effect

Blogger's Note: This blog post previously appeared on the now defunct Good Humor Girl back in 2012. In the interest of preserving my obvious brilliance for generations to come (or at least for another year) I figured I'd bring it back home to Change the Word. In this piece, I address the impact Disney movies had on my expectations for men. Oddly enough, it's still pretty accurate two years later.

The influence started early. Unfortunately, in my
quest to find Prince Eric/Charming/Phillip,etc.,
I seem to have forgotten to turn myself into an
Ariel/Belle/Sleeping Beauty. Sigh. Double Standards.

Disney has ruined me for men. No point denying it, my standards for a suitable mate are high and difficult to meet. After hours spent glued to my TV screen watching the prince get the princess, my checklist (no denying it ladies, we all have one), is a hodgepodge of the ridiculous.

Take a look at a few items on my list to judge for yourself:

•  Confident and determined boat owner with a love for seafood and French cuisine. Is there anything sexier than a man than confidence and determination? Prince Eric has both in surplus. While the part about the boat may seem superficial, it is not. Well, not entirely.  Having a boat represents a sense of adventure and financial security. Wanting financial security does not make me a gold digger. It makes me responsible. As for the bit about food – I don’t want to be denied my favorite Indian and Greek foods, because they are too exotic. Take a page from Prince Eric, gentlemen. Expand your palette. 

Bonus points: Owns beachfront property.

•  Sensitive and misunderstood rebel who wants a better life and goes for it. When it comes to guys from the opposite sides of the track, Aladdin has a lot going on. Sure he may have a bit of a record, but circumstances pushed him into a life of thieving. Plus, he probably shares the goods with hungry kids, like Aladdin did. He will have a heart of gold. If you’re the type who likes to save the not-so-bad boy (guilty here), an Aladdin is ideal.

Bonus points: Has well-defined abs and arms. And a sweet ride.

•  Mysterious art collector with an extensive library. Do you remember the envy and exhilaration you felt the moment the Beast gave Belle his library? If a man wants to know the way to my heart, it is with a one-of-a-kind library featuring floor-to-cathedral-ceiling fully-stocked bookshelves with plenty of natural lighting. A man who collects book, artwork and music, has depth and cultural awareness. You are guaranteed at least a few nights out to the symphony or a play instead of going to see the latest action flick every date night. And we all love mystery.

Bonus points: Employs a quirky, but efficient, staff.

•  Gentle equestrian who can sing. Of the old-school men, Prince Phillip has to be my favorite. He is dashing and witty and goes to extreme lengths to get the girl. But aside from that, he displays other welcome qualities. He is an animal lover. He knows how to sing. Have you ever had a guy sing/perform a song just for you? Trust me, it’s hot.

Bonus points: Doesn’t think you’re crazy for talking to your cats – he talks to his horse.

•  Mad fashion sense with smooth moves on the dance floor. Prince Charming is the type of guy you can take out for a night on the town. The guy knows how to dress, and he can work it on the dance floor. If you want to hang with my friends and I on the weekends, you are going to have to bust a move.

Bonus points: Recognizes a girl needs her shoes.

•  Goal-oriented hard worker with high career ambitions. In Mulan, Li Shang leads an army to victory against the Huns. He wants to rise to the top of his field. Instead of crying about the lack of talent in his ranks, he vows to make them better soldiers. Even though a man in uniform is totally hot, I would settle for one with any career goals. This has nothing to do with money and everything to do with motivation and ambition. It’s sexy. Granted, he will need to balance his work and personal life, but we can get there.

Bonus points: Has martial art skills.

•  Zero in-law drama. Ever notice how most men in Disney movies have absent or uninvolved parents? How awesome would it be to never have to worry about pleasing the in-laws?

Bonus points: Not afraid of a little PDA.

There may come a day when I have to concede a few of these points. Until then, a girl can dream. I’m still holding out.

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 22, 2014

soundtrack to 'vegas to varanasi'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Shelly Hickman, who is on her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for her novel, Vegas to Varanasi. Today, Shelly is sharing her soundtrack for the book and an excerpt. Enjoy!

Soundtrack for Vegas to Varanasi
By Shelly Hickman

When Laura suggested the idea of creating a soundtrack for Vegas to Varanasi, I thought I might have a hard time coming up with more than three or four songs. But then I got a little carried away, as you will soon see. LOL.

“Melt With You” by Modern English
This is Anna and Luke’s song from high school, and they share a blast from the past when they dance to this tune at a wedding reception.

“Dress You Up” by Madonna
While Anna and Kiran share a dance at his mother’s birthday celebration, Anna jokes about having had a Madonna phase during high school.
I love how the mini Madonna’s pile out of a station wagon in the beginning of this video. Yeah, you’d get a ticket for such irresponsible parenting these days.  

“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
I see this as Kiran’s serenade to Anna, since he loved her from afar when they were young, from the moment she got lippy with some jock who enjoyed tormenting him.

“Imagination” by Frank Sinatra
In my opinion, no romantic comedy is complete without a track from the Swing era, whether it be Sinatra, Bennett, or BublĂ©, as you’ll see again in the final track below. When Anna begins to suspect Kiran has a thing for her, she tells herself it’s just her imagination.

“Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift
Yes, I will be including two Swift songs here today, but this selection is perfect for the scene when David asks Anna to sit with him the night his father dies, because he doesn’t want to be alone.

“Mera Mann Kehne Laga” by Falak
I had to include a Hindi song in my playlist, and admittedly, I’m unfamiliar with the music. However, I found this song and LOVED it. It was listed as a Hindi song, so I’ll feel really stupid if it isn’t. I have no idea what it’s talking about, but the video is too cute. I tried using Google Translator to learn the words, but couldn’t get it to work. Anyway, I digress. It has such a light, happy feel to it, and I can just picture it running in the background as Anna and Kiran walk along the ghats in Varanasi.

“Boom” by Anjulie 
Anna performs a silly little striptease for Kiran to this tune.

“We Are Never Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
This has to be Anna and David’s song because when David realizes their break-up isn’t really what he wanted, Anna has to deal with his repeated attempts to slip back into her life.

“The Best is Yet to Come” by Tony Bennett
This tune must play the closing scene of the story, perfect for a Happily Ever After. 

I hope you all enjoy the selections, and thank you for having me, Laura!

I have the most difficult time looking directly at Kiran. For someone who comes off as reserved and somewhat shy, he has no problem with the constant eye contact. In fact, I can feel his gaze on me at this moment.

“You know, you make me very nervous,” I admit.

“I make you nervous?” He gives me an incredulous stare. “I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable, Anna. I know that you’re in a relationship.”

That’s another thing about Kiran. He seems to say my name a lot when we speak. Most people don’t do that.

“Well, no... I’m not, actually. Not anymore. And I didn’t say you make me uncomfortable. I said you make me nervous.”

“You’re not? You’re not what?”

“I’m not in a relationship. David moved out a couple weeks ago.”

His hand slides from my waist to my upper back, like he might pull me in for a hug. He looks into my face with concern and squeezes my hand. “I’m sorry.”

“I’ll be fine,” I reply promptly. “These things happen.”

I expect him to conclude our dance when the song ends, however, we continue through the next song, neither of us saying anything for some time. I move in a little closer to him, mostly to avoid the intimate gazes.

My stomach is in knots. By all appearances, Kiran is attracted to me. Either that, or he truly is hiding out on the dance floor to avoid Miranda.

But no, he’s given me this feeling each time I’ve seen him. At my office, that day at Starbucks, even a little at the wedding reception. Though, I didn’t want to admit it when Luke made his comment about Kiran being “smitten” with me.

Pft! Anna, you’re crazy. There’s no way someone who looks like Kiran...

“I was just thinking.” He breaks into my thoughts. “About something else I’ve always remembered about you from high school.”

“Please tell me this isn’t going to be about my Madonna phase. If so, be kind.”

Kiran purses his lips together, as if he’s considering that visual. “No, not about your Madonna phase, which sadly, I missed.”

“I’ve got pictures I can share with you sometime. If you’re ever interested.”

“I’d like that.” He gives me an appreciative chuckle. “But what I remember is that there was this one student who, I think, must have been autistic. I never knew his name.”

I nod because immediately I know who he’s referring to. “Yes! His name was Benny!”

“Benny? Well, Benny almost always sat by himself in the cafeteria. In fact, he seemed to prefer it. But I remember seeing you, on several occasions, go over and talk to him. Once, you even managed to get him to join you and your friends.”

I smile at the memory. “Yeah, I think after that he decided there was a little too much estrogen going on at that table and it wasn’t for him.”

When I look up, Kiran is regarding me so intently, I swear he’s mentally calculating the diameter of my pupils. “It was truly exceptional, for someone your age to be so compassionate toward others.”

This is becoming far too intense. My insides feel as if they’re playing musical chairs. “I could really use a drink. You?”

About the Author
Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.

Connect with Shelly

About the Book
Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard.

Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her.

In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”

Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 17, 2014

catching up with kristina knight

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Kristina Knight to the blog to talk about The Saint's Devilish Deal. It's been a while since I last had a chance to interview her, and I was excited to see what she has been up to lately. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for an excerpt of the book. Enjoy!

Change the Word: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Kristina Knight: Ah, what a question! Like a lot of writers, I get my story ideas from everywhere: a snippet of overhead conversation (unabashed eavesdropper here!), stories on the news, pictures in magazines. This particular story was a combination: I'd been to a surfing competition and then I saw a surfing movie … and then I wondered what would happen if a laid-back surfer got all caught up with a Type A woman…and the rest is history.

CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing this story? 
KK: The research! I set this book in Mexico in an area I'm familiar with (Puerto Vallarta), so that part was fairly simple. But getting the surfing details just right was a challenge!

CTW: How did you overcome it?
KK: I gave myself permission to get it wrong, if need be! Lol Seriously, I did my best, through my research, to get those details write but in the end, I'm not a surfer (gasp!), so I had to be okay with possibly missing a little detail here or there. But, from the response I've gotten, I think I managed to walk the line of real-life surfing and fiction pretty well.

CTW: Where do you find motivation and inspiration for writing?
KK: Oh, everywhere! Books, movies, a beautiful sunset. The ideas and the motivation to do my absolute best with every book I write come from everywhere.

CTW: How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
KK: I don't wait for 'the mood'. Writing is my business and I treat it like one: when I set down at the computer, I'm ready to do the work. I have a couple of cheats – I leave the last scene of the day 'open' so that I'm eager to get back to the page the next day, I make playlists for my books that help me keep the mood of certain scenes and I turn off the Internet connection – that way there are no distractions!

CTW: What literary characters do you have crushes on?
KK: So many! Mr. Darcy, first and foremost. Because, well, Darcy!

CTW: What do you look for in a hunky hero?
KK: A heart. The hunkiest hero out there will fall flat if he doesn't have heart.

CTW: What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
KK: Don't give up and keep learning your craft. Take workshops, listen to the advice of established authors…but know what you want and go after it with determination, focus and joy.

CTW: What are your three most-read books on your bookshelf?
KK: An old Harlequin Presents called Snow Bride – it was my first and is still one of my favorites! The Christmas Present by Johanna Lindsay – I pull it out every holiday season. Huckleberry Finn – that book never gets old!

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career? 
KK: I have a new release coming later this month that I will be self-publishing. It's called Mr. Right Now and it's a vacation romance set about a cruise liner. And then I have a new series coming out in the Spring that I hope I'll be able to announce very soon!

CTW: Is there anything else you'd like to share? 
KK: Thank you so much for having me here today! I've enjoyed every second!

About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. When the opportunity to focus a bit of energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it. And she's never looked back. Now she writes magazine articles by day and romance novels with spice by night. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and daughter. Happily ever after.

Connect with the Author

About the Book
A billionaire surfer… A down-on-her-luck hotelier… One hot summer fling…

Esmerelda Quinn has one shot at saving her aunt's beloved vacation villa – and the only home she has ever known. Putting up with ex-surfer Santiago Cruz's antics? He's burned her before but she can handle The Saint, this time around.

Santiago Cruz wants out of Puerto Vallarta in a bad way but after hearing the stipulations that could cost Esme her beloved villa, he can't leave. And as long as she's willing to play by his rules, they might just have some fun along the way…

As long as he plays by her rules, Esmerelda knows she can salvage the estate – and keep her heart intact. The only problem? The Saint's charms are hard to resist…and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall – all over again.

Buy the Book

“You forget yourself, Esmerelda. You’re talking about making this simple for the staff, that doesn’t mean I need to come to you for every new guest registration or idea I have. Besides, we need this campaign.” Santiago waved his hand. “We need more guests of a certain means to make the villa stand out. Families are great, but they won’t make Casa Constance a go-to destination. These people will. So, we use our new guests as features in a new campaign for the high-end travel magazines. A few shots in the tabloids wouldn’t hurt, either.”

“You weren’t even going to discuss this with me?”

“I’m telling you now. While we’re on the subject—” he tossed a few magazines from his desktop onto her lap “—what do you see in these pictures?”

Esme sent him a killing glance and then flipped through the pages. “Boring. Bland. Not home.”

“Exactly. This isn’t a home, or it shouldn’t be a home first. If you want Casa Constance to succeed you need to treat it like a business. So, make-over, what do you like?”

She tossed the magazines back onto the desktop. “Our guests love the color and textures of Old Mexico. They say so all the time.”

“Your guests haven’t been in residence, at least not actively, in more than a year. We aren’t appealing to anyone right now and we need to. So, makeover starts this afternoon and your new training begins in the morning.”

“I know what I need to know about running a vacation resort.”

“You need to experience a vacation to sell it. We need day-trips, we need amenities. I’ll bet you’ve never gone para-sailing or sky diving, much less enjoyed a couple’s massage.” Her cheeks pinked at the last suggestion and Santiago smiled. “Celebrities visiting Casa, playing on our private beach, being featured in an advertising campaign—with a few pictures leaked to the tabloids to get the word out even sooner. Casa needs this.”

Esme took a few breaths and then settled back into her chair. “I can’t afford to pay the salary of a New York advertising crew. Seriously, Santiago, you have to cancel.”

“My three months, remember? It won’t cost you a thing. The photographer owes me a favor. The only cost will be the campaign copy, which will be negligible. I do know what I’m doing, Esmerelda.”

“Okay, mail.” Esme shook her head as if clearing thoughts of the upcoming ad campaign from her head. “Marquez usually separates bills from letters—”

“As the mail will be delivered to the front desk, I’m happy to see to it. And let’s cut to the chase.” He leaned back in the chair and clasped his hands behind his head. “I don’t want to be tied down to a vacation villa for the rest of my life. But if you really want this, there is something you have to do for me. First.”

Esme swallowed, crossed and re-crossed her legs before clasping her hands in her lap. “What do you want? A payoff? You’ve seen the books, you know there isn’t much money. But if it’s money you want, I’ll agree to your price. I just need time to come up with the capital.”

She really didn’t know him at all. He shouldn’t be surprised, but he was. Surprised and a bit disappointed. “I need your money like I need another surfing championship,” he said, sitting up straight. “No, what I want from you is a bit more. . . ephemeral. I want your time. For three hours each day, you belong to me. No villa work. No guest handholding.” He walked around the desk to rest his hip against one corner. “No conferences with staff. No following the maids on their routine cleanings and no visits to the kitchen to give Gloriana instructions. For three hours each day, your time is my time.”

“You can’t be serious. That... that’s just...” She trailed off when his index finger traced the line of her jaw. He lowered his voice.

“No work. No phones. No villa. You do what I say, what I want.”

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 15, 2014

why every author needs an editor and a proofreader

Blogger's Note: Today, Mary Metcalfe, author of New Beginnings, joins us for a guest post as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour. Mary addresses a topic that every aspiring author needs to consider before they submit their novel to a publisher or hit the "publish" button his or herself. Enjoy the post!

Why Every Author Needs an Editor and a Proofreader
By Mary Metcalfe

When I think of the hundreds of hours authors spend researching, writing, editing and polishing their work I’m still surprised to come across manuscripts that have not been professionally edited and authors who don’t think they need to be. In my day work, I’m a book editor so I see dozens of manuscripts a year. The company I freelance for always provides an editorial evaluation as the first step in the publishing process. It also has the author complete an interview.

One of the key questions for me is “has your manuscript been professionally edited?” When I see “no” and a comment like “I have a degree in English” or “a teacher friend proofread it” I know I have my evaluation cut out for me. Bottom line: I have yet to read an unedited manuscript that is ready for publication without any further work. Many authors don’t realize they need to standardize the spelling of words for consistency; standardize spacing after punctuation; watch for grammatical and punctuation errors; etc.

Historical fiction and non-fiction brings its own set challenges. The words used need to fit the time period of the story. Using the word “sniper” or “foxhole” in an 18th century military piece doesn’t work. The words didn’t exist in military usage at the time. Similarly, the word “socialite” didn’t exist in the 18th century, nor did “call girl” (only after telephones were invented).

As a reader, I want to be transported into the time and place and characters of the novel. So, when a word is missing or the wrong punctuation is used or a word is completely misspelled, it just stops me. The fact that I’m an editor has nothing to do with it. When I’m reading, I’m a reader first and I want the story to flow without interruption.

In today’s demanding world of publishing, an author who doesn’t have an editor or proofreader is up against what I call Reader Revenge. These are readers who post online reviews such as: “great story but there were too many typos so I’m only giving 2*.” That happened to an author who I now edit for. His novels are excellent but his first one encountered several Reader Revenge reviews that kept the book’s rating down to the point that he couldn’t advertise through some of the main online channels such as Book Bub, which requires a minimum 4* rating.

Moral? Every author needs an editor and preferably a separate proofreader. When you’ve spent hundreds of hours crafting your manuscript, it deserves to have professional polishing. You owe it to your readers.

I hope you enjoy New Beginnings. It went through several rounds of editing you can be sure!

About the Author

Mary Metcalfe is the author of three published novels –Winds of Change, New Beginnings, Road to Tomorrow – and currently at work on her fourth. She and her long-time husband live in the foothills of the Laurentians in Quebec,Canada with a small herd of cats and a Canadian Eskimo dog. Their daughter is a published literary non-fiction author.

Connect with Mary

About the Book
Workaholic real estate agent Carol Brock can't seem to find a good man. Her first husband cheated with a law clerk less than half his age. Then she found herself in a string of bad relationships with unscrupulous men, including a con man and art thief, who shredded her professional reputation and strained her relationship with her college-age children. Carol has sworn off men and is determined to reclaim her life and career on her terms. But, when Boston’s most eligible bachelor, restoration specialist Devin Elliott, puts in an offer on a charming Victorian, Carol admits she’s attracted. Devin’s offer unwittingly unleashes a psychopathic rage in an ex-girlfriend that spills into Carol’s life. As she and Devin try to stay one step ahead of violence, Carol must decide whether she's ready to risk her heart again.

Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 13, 2014

greetings from... the mid-atlantic

In my novel Hard Hats and Doormats, human resources manager Lexi Burke travels the Gulf Coast training employees, settling disputes and maintaining order for a chemical company. Like Lexi, my first job out of college involved a lot of travel––I visited more than 20 states in four years. In this series, I'll share some of my real life experiences exploring the country.

The first time I set foot in the Mid-Atlantic, I was awe-struck. It was September 2008, and I caught my first glimpse as my plane finished its trip over the Great Lakes and landed in Buffalo. I was in New York. A place I'd always dreamed of visiting. Sure, I'd sort of been dreaming about Manhattan, but still, this was close.

On that first day, I had to drive from Buffalo to my hotel in a town near Boston. This gave me the opportunity to take in the scenery. I had a chance to see the Adirondacks on the north side of I-90. I saw the Catskills to the south. I paid tolls to a toll booth for the first time.

And, I was pulled over by a police officer for the first time. It was the first time in my 22 years of living that I'd ever seen those flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I nervously pulled over to the side of the road, and rolled down my window. The police officer asked for my license and registration -- which was my paperwork for the rental car I'd picked up a few hours earlier.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I had a fairly good idea, but I didn't know for sure. "Was it because I was talking on my cell phone?" I asked, not knowing I should have played dumb.


And while he wrote me a ticket for using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, I learned my first valuable lesson -- using a cell phone while driving a car is not only a bad idea, but it's illegal some places.

At the same time, I also panicked. Crap. Was I going to be fired? I'd only been at my job a month, and getting pulled over didn't seem like a good mistake to make that early on the job. Fortunately, after paying my ticket, all was well. But it left a lasting impression.

During my two years of making bimonthly visits east, I had the opportunity to travel across New York state countless times, including several trips through the Adirondacks -- one of my most favorite places in the world. I also visited customers in northwestern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, though I spent the bulk of time in New York.

And with that, I give you my postcards from the Mid-Atlantic.

(Quick Note: Unfortunately, I didn't save any of my photos from Pennsylvania or New Jersey.)

Buffalo Central Terminal in Buffalo, NY.
October 2008.

I first saw this building featured on an episode of
Ghost Hunters, and I had to stop to take a few
photos. I would've loved nothing more than to go
check out the building, but I already felt a bit naughty
driving this close to a derelict building.

My first glimpse of Canada (taken from between Watertown and Massena NY)

Lake Placid, NY (Spring 2009).

Lake Saranac (Spring 2009)

Manhattan (Winter 2010)

I loved how the water would freeze down mountainsides.
I'd never seen anything like it before.

The most beautiful rail yard in the world - Selkirk, NY (south of Albany).

One regret: Not stopping to check this out.

Flying over the Great Lakes toward Buffalo.

I've never seen snow like the snow I saw in Upstate New York.

This is younger me - 23 years old.

About Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

Order the Book
Barnes & Noble
Marching Ink

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

cover reveal - 'the right design' by isabella louise anderson

Blogger's Note: Today, I'm pleased to share the cover for The Right Design, Isabella Louise Anderson's debut novel. I had the opportunity to beta read this book last summer, and I am proud of Isabella for all of her hard work and dedication to see this novel through to publication. Best wishes on your upcoming release, Isabella, I can't wait to see the finished product.

About The Right Design
Interior designer Carrie Newman’s day starts out perfectly. For their sixth anniversary, her boyfriend, Roger, gives her diamond earrings, but the sparkle is lost later that same day when she catches him in the act with another woman. Heartbroken and in disarray, Carrie chooses to leave the past behind, possibly forever. She lands in ritzy Palm Beach, Florida where a new job and a new client leave her wondering if The Right Design for her life has finally been found.

**Release date: Coming soon!**

About the Author
Isabella Louise Anderson grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn't blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing.

She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading.

Isabella's short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig's Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design will be her first novel.

Connect with Isabella
Facebook Fan Page

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 10, 2014

how to dress like a writer - winter 2014 edition

Last winter, I addressed some of the important style factors us lady writers should consider. We do, after all, have a reputation to uphold. But as you also know, fashion constantly changes, so it's time for a refresher on how to look the part when you write.

Whether you're writing from the comfort of home or venturing out into the world, the right look can help you play the part. Of course some items never go out of style for us writer-types: jeans, sweaters, etc.

In 2014, my writer wardrobe tips can be summed up in three little words: Accessories, accessories, accessories. Yes, my friends, we have officially entered the year of accessories. From the perfect hat and bag to the bling around my neck and on my feet, I've carefully selected new accessories to help me channel my writing goddess when I'm scheduling a hot date with my novel.

My Five Winter 2014 Must-Haves

1. Equestrian Boots

About the Photos: Unfortunately Miley Cyrus, Annie Leibovitz and
Grace Coddington weren't available to oversee the photo shoot
for these pictures. I had to snap them Instagram-style on my iPhone.

While the slouchy boots of my past were perfect for an aspiring author, I'm loving this year's new boot. The sleekness of this pair tells the world I'm ready to be taken seriously as a published author. As an added bonus, their equestrian style also suggests I may or may not have a wild, but gentle horse named Buttercup stashed away in some stable. Naturally, my horse is being kept by the equally dynamic and thrilling stable master. Probably someone tall and dark called Niall or Jacques - who I am taming along with the horse. When you're writing books with romantic elements, it doesn't hurt to give the appearance your personal life is as equally thrilling as the stories you craft.

In addition to sending my thoughts in a more fanciful direction, wearing these boots makes me feel like a total bad ass. There's nothing better than feeling like you could rule the world when you're writing.

(Boots by Avenue)

2. Personalized Jewelery

One of my good friends sent me this adorable typewriter key necklace as a "congratulations on publishing your debut novel" gift. Personalized with my first initial, the necklace is so me, and I wear it almost every day. This, more than any other item of clothing, gives a solid shout-out to my writing profession in a subtle way. And best of all -- it goes with everything.

(Jewelery by Rocky Mountain Accents)

3. Purse in Lieu of Laptop Bag

I'm saying buh-bye to my laptop bag this year in favor of two new purses. The first was an impulse buy while watching E! News. During their "Love It Buy It" promo, they featured this navy blue tote from Emperia Handbags. Made out of faux leather (the only way I wear the fur/hide trend), the bag was on a major sale. The interior compartments are great, and there's plenty of room for multiple notebooks, books, pens and even a tablet. This bag is perfect for those days when I'm not using my laptop, but still need plenty of room to store writing supplies.

My Steve Madden bag was a Christmas gift from my sister. She scored major points for listening when I said I was over my laptop bag and wanted a purse big enough to stash a laptop. Like the Emperia bag, it's faux leather and has ample pockets and storage space. I'm currently in editing mode, which means this bag - and my laptop - are going everywhere with me this week, and I love it.

4. Bold Print Scarves

Like last year, I'm fully committed to saving my neck by wearing scarves throughout winter. (Neck protection has been a top concern of mine ever since I read Nora Ephron's memoir.) While I was more into heavily woven textiles last year, this winter my scarf wardrobe expanded to include lighter-weight fabrics with bold prints. My favorites include a black and white zebra print, red and white polka dots and a turquoise and black floral motif. I wore the polka dot scarf to work yesterday, and had multiple people stop to tell me how much they liked it.

On colder days, I revert to my heavier scarves. I'm still leaning towards ones with bright colors, like my teal sparkly scarf.

(Scarves by Target)

5. Caps

According to Elle, we have plenty of hat options available for those of us living in colder climates. This year, I'm embracing the cap. My black cap is a classic from my collection, but I'm pleased to pull it out of storage. My bright cap in bold red also doubles as the perfect accessory when college football kicks off again next fall. (Go Big Red!) With it's large, knit design, the red cap offers plenty of warmth, and can be worn like a beanie. I also recently figured out how to do a fishtail braid, and the caps allow me to wear one without looking like a total idiot.

And as I mentioned, I live in Nebraska. Winter can mean days of 40 degrees or days below zero. Protecting my head and ears from the harsher elements means a healthier, happier me.

(Caps by D&Y and Old Navy)

For more accessory inspiration to spruce up your 2014 style, look here, here and here.

To broaden our writing fashion scope, I reached out to six of my Literary Glam Squad members to discover what other trends are sweeping the writing world this winter. Check out their tips.

Tip 1: Represent Your Brand

Since I brand myself as "the older, divorced, suburban Carrie Bradshaw," I have been into sporting my gold "Jacqueline" necklace that looks just like Carrie's "Carrie" necklace. It had been missing for almost 25 years until I found it in a box last month. I'm also into wearing cashmere scarves, loosely hanging down. They're sexy and they keep me warm, and really define me as a Chicago author! 

- Jackie Pilossoph, author of Jackpot!, Free Gift with Purchase, Hook, Line and Sink Him and Divorced Girl Smiling

Tip 2: Get Comfortable

True, I used to be a fashion journalist, but my current writing attire does not reflect this at all. (My former editors would be aghast!) I'm all about comfort these days: tee shirts and yoga pants, with a bulky cardigan and a pair of warm socks if it's cold.

- Anna Garner, author of Lying to Meet You and Sugar Spun Sister

Tip 3: Stay Warm

Right now, it's almost -40 Celsius in Toronto so my must-have wardrobe has got to be warm. Even though I work from home, I still want to look somewhat put together in case the doorbell rings or I actually venture outside. Comfort is key. This winter, I'm loving my black Lululemon yoga pants that I've had for ten years (they still look new--ish), my fuzzy blue socks and a variety of striped sweaters that hang just so off my shoulders. On particularly chilly days, I throw on my thick purple cardigan that wraps stylishly over said yoga pants and sweaters, and I'm in writing mode. A little deodorant, a swipe of lipstick and mascara, and I'm ready for...the mail to come.

- Samantha Stroh Bailey, author of Finding Lucas

Tip 4: Embrace Work-to-Play Ensembles

This winter, it’s all about staying warm while I get started on writing my fourth book. With a new puppy in the house and constant trips outside, my new “boyfriend sweatpants” from Victoria Secret are a must. They are comfy and cozy, and being from VS – fashionable too! On my writing breaks I like to clear my head and walk or run on my treadmill, so a workout top with a good sports bra is also handy. I think I am more motivated to work out if I have cute clothes on, so racer back tops in bright colors are my go-to. My breast cancer mug will also continually be filled with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows – a must for typing away at my computer and keeping me on track.

- Samantha March, author of Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship

Tip 5: Don't Fear Color and Flare

I'll be starting a new fashion trend for writers this winter; I like to call it "Bag Lady Chic." To achieve this look, one must wear sweat pants (always black, because I'm all about sophistication), a long cardigan (Rock it like Mr. Rogers, ladies! According to Fashion Allure, cardigans are a sweater trend for 2014.), and to show a bit of whimsy, a colorful t-shirt with a fun, writing-related quote on it (i.e. "I'm plotting against you. I'm a writer. It's what we do."). The look should be completed by stylish, but practical, footwear that will be comfortable when a writer is pacing her office, trying to work out a scene. Santa just brought me a pair of Brooks Pure Flow 2 sneakers that are black with neon magenta accents - neon is hot, my friends!

- Tracie Banister, author of Blame it on the Fame and In Need of Therapy

Tip 6: Pair Cozy with Stylish

Being somewhat of a (reformed) diva, I'm all about looking fabulous at all times. The only time you will catch me looking anything less than cute is if I'm sick and dashing out to the pharmacy in the middle of the night to buy cough medicine. But when it comes to writing, I need comfort as much as style. This winter, I'm loving leggings with boots underneath a long tunic in a soft fabric. It's a super cozy combo, great for parking it on your behind for hours at a time at your favorite coffee house.

- Lucie Simone, author of Hollywood Ending and Picture Perfect

What are your writing wardrobe must-haves for this winter?

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

January 8, 2014

interview with laurel osterkamp, author of 'the holdout'

Blogger's Note: I've enjoyed following Laurel Osterkamp's writing career since reading November Surprise in Fall 2012. Since her last visit, she's published another novel. She's back, today, as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour to tell us more about The Holdout and what else is new in her world.

Change the Word: This book revolves around a former reality TV show contestant -- what are your favorite reality shows to watch?
Laurel Osterkamp: I’m a Survivor fan through and through. There have been seasons when I haven’t watched, but I still love the whole dynamic of who is going to get voted off. It fascinates me. I also really enjoy Project Runway because I love fashion.

CTW: If you had to compete or participate on a reality show of the past or present, which one would you choose and why?
LO: I would love to do Survivor, but I’d have to have a version of myself that doesn’t get dehydrated and sunburned so easily. I’d also have to magically become good at throwing things and being fast. If I could just adopt those qualities, I’d be applying for the show.

CTW: What would be your strategy for surviving until the end?
LO: I’d try to fly under the radar for as long as possible, and make lots of friends. It’s always the bossy, flashy people who get voted out first! I’d also try to make myself useful. Maybe I could contribute something valuable at camp, but I don’t know. It’s hard to predict what you’ll be good at.

CTW: Like the main character in this book, you also recently served on a federal jury. What was that like?
LO: It was quite the experience. Most of what I put in the book was true, like all the snacks we were given, the individual TV screens in front of our plush jury seats, and even the stretching breaks. And there was actually a moment when we all thought the judge had dozed off. The jurors were also based off my real-life jury members, but exaggerated.

CTW: I imagine it's hard to track everything both sides say. How did you keep your focus during the trial?
LO: I took a lot of notes. They did provide us all with these little binders, but we weren’t allowed to take our notes with us.

CTW: What was your favorite part about writing The Holdout?
LO: I really enjoyed all of it, but I guess my favorite part was writing the scene where Robin has her breakdown at Island Assembly (tribal council). It was a chance to go a little over the top, and use both humor and drama. It’s probably my favorite scene I’ve ever written for any book.

CTW: Do you have any favorite snacks you like to eat while you're writing?
LO: What don’t I like to eat while writing? J - I guess my favorites include anything chocolate, or cheddar potato chips.

CTW: I'm having fun following the adventures of Lucy, your heroine from Campaign Promises, November Surprise and Blue State via her blog. How do you balance maintaining that storyline while working on other projects?
LO: Actually, I was still so involved in her story when I started writing The Holdout that it was a tough transition. Then I couldn’t think of a last name for Robin; I just kept coming back to “Bricker.” So I thought, what the hell, just make them related. Boom! Robin is Jack and Monty’s cousin, and I have a bunch of supporting characters who are already developed. It was really fun to write about them from a new perspective while also figuring out who Robin is.

CTW: Can we expect another novelette/short story from Lucy?
LO: Probably. Part of the reason I moved Lucy and Monty to Iowa was so I could involve characters like Jack, Robin, and Ian in the blog entries. I’m also writing a follow-up to The Holdout, and Lucy will be in that too. After that, we’ll see. I was thinking about writing a couple of short stories and working on her blog entries from 2012 campaign. I’d like to compile it all into something publishable.

CTW: What's up next in the world of Laurel Osterkamp?
LO: A nap!

Just kidding. I guess just more of the same. I’d love to finish writing The Fallout (my follow up novel to The Holdout) and have it up by the end of the summer, but it all depends on how busy I get. My dream is to someday get paid enough to write full-time.

Excerpt of The Holdout
Henry, Klemi, Grant and I walked back to camp in virtual silence. But once we arrived and set down our torches, I immediately pulled Grant aside and led him down to the shore.

“What the hell!” I demanded. “Why didn’t you vote out Klemi?”

“Because.” His voice was calm in contrast to my intensity. “I don’t want to be sitting next to Bailey when the jury votes. He could win. But Klemi was right when she said that nobody liked her.”

“Nobody likes Bailey either.”

Grant sighs and looks up at the dark, starry sky. “Robin, come on. Bailey is the underdog. He’s seventy years old, crusty, and no-nonsense. He’s worked hard for everything he has. Anyone sitting next to him will look silly and over-privileged in comparison.”

I pretended like the same thoughts hadn’t occurred to me as I crossed my arms over my chest and jutted out my chin. “You’ve really considered every angle, haven’t you?”

“Of course. Haven’t you?”

I breathed deeply to keep myself calm. “You wouldn’t look silly and over-privileged if you had some tragic story about your parents’ death, would you? Or what if everyone thought you blamed yourself for your sister’s addiction? What if we thought that nobody, including your grandparents, loved you? Then you’d be sure to win.”

Grant didn’t even flinch. Either I was spot-on or I was the biggest bitch in the world. I had no idea which.

“So have you been flirting with Klemi to get ahead in this game?”

“Yes.” Grant replied without blinking, without apology.

I could feel tears start to form. I looked away, knowing I had just lost the staring contest. “What about me? Was that about getting ahead too?”

“No.” He reached to touch me but I stepped away. “Okay,” he said. “Since we’re being so honest, I’ll just tell you now that I’m voting you out next.”

I stared at him with widened eyes.

“Robin, it’s what I have to do. I can beat Klemi and I can beat Henry. Neither of them deserves to win and the jury knows it. But I’m not so sure I can beat you.” He grinned like a car salesman. “You should take it as a compliment.”

“What about your original claim that you’d rather go to the end with someone you can trust and respect?”

His face was lit by the glow of the moon and the ocean waves crashed behind us. The evening air was warm with the sand smooth and cool beneath our feet. It would have been so romantic if it wasn’t for everything about him being completely wrong.

“I lied,” he said simply.

“Well, I didn’t.” I stepped in closer, and whispered. “You’re voting me out?” I shook my head. “Not a chance. I will destroy you before I let that happen.”

He laughed. “You don’t scare me. You could have voted me out tonight and you didn’t even have the nerve to do that.”
Then he patted me on the head. “Enjoy your last two days here, Robbie. Because you’re next to go.”

About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp's award winning novels have been hailed as funny, intelligent, snarky and poignant. She is the author of four novels and two novellas, including the November Surprise series, which, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.

Connect with Laurel

About the Book
Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.

But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor.

Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.

Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.

Buy the Book

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.

cover reveal: a questionable friendship by samantha march

Blogger's Note: Check out the cover for the next title due for release from my publisher, Marching Ink. A Questionable Friendship is Samantha March's third novel, which is set for release in February.

A Questionable Friendship
By Samantha March
Pub Date: February 2014
Cover Design by Scarlett Rugers

Brynne Ropert and Portland Dolish have been best friends since being paired as roommates in college. Seven years later they are now twenty-five, married, and living in Maine–– but the two women couldn’t be more different. Brynne finds fulfillment in her life as a wife, mother and owner of a small cafĂ© and bookshop, but is struggling to expand her family. Portland is still coping with her mother’s death during her childhood, and her marriage is unraveling before her eyes. Portland envies her friend’s seemingly stable and easy life while Brynne doesn’t understand the growing distance between them and cannot begin to guess what secret Portland is hiding about her husband and crumbling marriage. While one woman feels shut out, the other enters into a web of lies to protect herself.

A Questionable Friendship explores what really makes someone a true friend, a support system, a sister. How much trust goes into a friendship and when is being a friend not enough? Brynne and Portland’s story will attempt to answer those questions, and show that happily ever after isn’t in the cards for everyone.

About the Author
Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has three published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Connect with Samantha

Have the latest posts from Change the Word delivered to your Inbox by entering your contact information under "Follow by Email." Stay connected with Laura Chapman on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Receive updates from Change the Word between posts on Facebook.