April 30, 2014

interview with lydia laceby

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Lydia Laceby to the blog as part of her tour for Redesigning Rose. Check out Lydia's other stops on the tour and scroll to the bottom to enter a Rafflecopter.

Change the Word: What was the most important lesson you learned while writing this book?
Lydia Laceby: That I can do anything I put my mind to!

CTW: What was your biggest obstacle during the process, and how did you overcome it?
LL: Patience! I wanted it finished and published so many times, but it wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to release something I knew wouldn’t be my best work so I reworked it, I gave it to more beta readers, and I hired an editor. Eventually I reached the proofreading and publishing stage and my patience paid off because every round of edits (thirteen in all!) made Redesigning Rose stronger.

CTW: Finish the sentence: When I sit down to write I need my...
LL: Laptop, Scrivener and a window, because Scrivener is a lifesaver for my chronic unorganized chaos and my muse demands a view with sunshine, particularly during out long Canadian winters.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
LL: Show, don’t tell. I know, I know, we’ve all heard it before, but this advice came to me regarding my main character observing other characters: She looked sad. His angry look. Well, how did he look angry? Did he clench his jaw or have wild eyes? Did his cheeks flame red? Did he slam his hand down on a table, shout or whip a vase across the room? What about her sad look? Did her brows furrow together, did she have tears in her eyes, did her frown meet the floor, did she refuse to make eye contact? This advice was invaluable.

CTW: Where do you find inspiration?
LL: Anywhere and everywhere! I’m finding inspiration more and more in my daily life. Ever since I began writing in earnest five years ago I’ve become a vigilant observer (unless I’ve got my nose in a book!) I watch everything, and so much of what I see and hear gets flagged and cataloged somewhere in my writer brain for future use, particularly unusual quirks, habits, and uncharacteristic actions.

CTW: What literary character do you have a crush on?
LL: Jack Jackson from Pillars of the Earth. I fell in love with him when I read the book at fifteen and have loved him more with every re-read. You never forget your first.

CTW: If you could spend a day shopping with any three book characters, who would you pick and why?
LL: Carrie Bradshaw, Angela Clark and Bridget Jones. These are some seriously fun ladies and I grin just thinking about the trouble we’d get into.

CTW: What was your favorite book growing up?
LL: Just one favorite? Are you insane? Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? Anything Sweet Valley High and Flowers in the Attic.

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career?
LL: My next big adventure, besides Book Two which I’ve been working on for a while, is that I’ll be attending Book Expo America in NYC at the end of May. This is another dream come true.

CTW: Is there anything else you'd like to add before we say good-bye?
LL: Thank you for having me and for your wonderful questions!

Excerpt of Redesigning Rose
Two women shoved strollers through the tight seating arrangement in Starbucks before disappearing to order. One peek at the pink bundles and all the enthusiasm I had acquired with Abby evaporated.

I glanced at the mothers. Oblivious, they ordered their mocha frappuccinos. I could have been a crazed baby snatcher. I peeked back at the babies, desperate to stick my nose in their strollers and breathe in their powdery scent.

The women returned and I forced a brief smile to cover my interest, refusing to strike up a conversation about their pink bundles. They resumed rocking the strollers and began an incessant comparison of infant accomplishments.

Blocking out their conversation proved impossible. First smiles and roll-over ages punctured my ears. I wished I had my iPod.

“Shit,” I cursed under my breath. My iPod was still at home, my old home.

The stroller mommies whipped around and glared as if their babies could pick up swearing at six months. I tucked my nose back into my coffee. Now that would be something to brag about.

A blast of heat washed over me when the door opened. I breathed a sigh of relief. The two women who entered were stroller-less. They weren’t even sporting watermelon stomachs.

“John’s sperm count is worse than Janine’s husband,” the blonde said loud enough for the entire coffee shop to hear. Maybe the entire country.

Then again, maybe there were worse things than gurgling babies or pregnant bellies.

“And he’s still smoking and drinking?” replied the redhead, her over-plucked eyebrows reaching the ceiling. “At least my hostile uterus is my own issue and I can control what I do. Charles would never change anything. Thank God our fertility issues aren’t his problem.”

The blonde sighed, ordered, and resumed their rapid fire before collecting their beverages.

“Are you sure this is decaf? We can’t have any caffeine. We’re trying to get pregnant,” the blond barked at the barista while the redhead pried the lid off and looked into her cup like she could tell the difference by looking at it.

“Let’s sit inside. It’s too hot to sit on the patio,” said the blonde before dropping down in a chair on the other side of me.

All of Starbucks succumbed to a collective sigh.

Couldn’t they continue this conversation over coffee at home? Even the stroller moms looked offended. Sperm-Challenged eyed the babies like a wolf leering at a chicken coop, slyly plotting its next move. Hostile Uterus observed the tiny bundles like a woman on a diet staring at a tray of brownies she was desperate for. I snatched my coffee and bolted before a showdown ensued.

I hustled down the street to the grocery store, their looks haunting me with every step. Would I ever be boasting about my baby? Or was it too late? Would I leer at infants like a wolf, doing everything in my power to get what I want, or would I curl up in despair and gaze at them with sorrow?

If I hadn’t been stupid enough to marry Frank, I might have found a loving husband, a wonderful man who would have jumped at the chance to have a child with me. I might have been pushing a stroller or dragging my kids to play group or school instead of this solo trip to the grocery store. I’d wasted years, and now I was old and alone. And even though I knew I could do it on my own, I didn’t want to. I wanted a partner, an extra set of hands to help with the late night feedings and to hold mine during ballet recitals and baseball games. I wanted someone to cradle me during the scary times, a man with infinite patience to teach how to ride a bike, hold a hockey stick or baseball bat, and how to use a hammer and screwdriver. I could barely tell the difference between the tools, let alone give lessons.

About the Author
LYDIA LACEBY is a co-founder of the fiction book blog, Novel Escapes. Since 2009, she has read and reviewed as much women’s fiction as humanly possible while designing, organizing and expanding the blog from two reviewers to seven.

In her spare time, she knits cute baby hats, would pick cheese over chocolate, and longs for the days she was able to cheat on her allergy free diet.

Lydia began her career writing a soap opera at the tender age of thirteen. It never aired. Redesigning Rose is her first novel.

Connect with Lydia
Twitter @lydialaceby

About the Book
Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements–her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude–Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself.

Buy the Book

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April 23, 2014

the belle effect


I have a healthy sense of adventure.

You wouldn't know it based on where I live (a corporate-managed apartment in my hometown), what I do for a living (communications at a small museum) and the car I drive (a Honda variety without any bells or whistles). My life is pretty vanilla, but I spend the bulk of my time fighting the urge to sell my belongings and hitting the road for an unspecified destination. Only my sense of responsibility to my debts (damn student loan and car loan), not to mention a rental agreement, prevents me from giving in to the desire to go on a spontaneous adventure.

Sometimes I attribute this wanderlust to my ancestors. Between immigrating from their home countries to the United States and packing up their wagons to "settle the West" they must have loved the thrill of exploration, too.

I also blame the Belle Effect -- named for one of my favorite Disney characters who wanted nothing more than to explore the unknown. You remember the scene from Beauty and the Beast. In Belle (Reprise) our heroine goes running through a picturesque meadow a la Fraulein Maria.

I was born in 1986, which means Beauty and the Beast -- like a handful of other Disney flicks -- had a pretty profound impact on me during my formative years. And while I was captivated by the story of a smart pretty girl falling for a prince trapped in a beast's body (and let's be honest, the Beast was pretty damn sexy for being a dog-wolf-bear mix), the glamor of the castle and the general majesty of the whole deal, what most stuck out to me was this element. Belle's unflinching desire to live a remarkable life unlike anything expected for her. A life filled with adventure and wonder.

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned

I made this my motto of sorts when I graduated college. It's the mind-set that led me to a summer internship in Southern Illinois. It's what made me want to take a job that promised a lot of travel.

Six years later, it's what sneaks into my mind at random moments. While I'm on the treadmill pushing for five more minutes of cardio. While I'm going through a series of website updates at work. When I'm trying to finish edits or write a new scene on one of my books.

My first full-time job out of college did a little assuage my desire for adventure. As challenging and exhausting (and at times beyond frustrating) as that job could be, there was something kind of spectacular about waking up one day in Rochester and not knowing whether I'd head west to Buffalo, east to Albany or north to Massena. If it hadn't been for some aspects of the work, I might've done it forever. Or at least through the rest of my 20s.

I've spent the better part of the past few years sitting in an office. To say I'm feeling stir-crazy right now is an understatement. I'm in serious need of another adventure, whatever that might mean. My writing, my sanity and my inner Belle depend on it.

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April 21, 2014

books in bloom - seven titles on sale for 99 cents each!

A Questionable Friendship – Samantha MarchBrynne 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 café 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.

Zoey & The Moment of Zen – Cat Lavoie
When coffee shop owner Zoey Everwood takes her obsession with ex-boyfriend Braden too far, everyone—except Zoey—is convinced a bit of fun in the sun at the Moment of Zen Wellness Resort will help her get over him once and for all.

But Zoey's relaxing vacation turns out to be anything but peaceful when she meets Shane Lawson, a resort guest who bears a striking resemblance to Braden. And things get even more complicated when the resort's owner starts spilling secrets about Zoey’s aunt Nessa, the woman who raised her. Add a snarky Wellness Coordinator and Nate Holmes—Shane's grumpy friend—to the mix, and you've got the recipe for a perfect tropical storm.

When Zoey comes back home with a new husband instead of tacky souvenirs, she must convince everyone she hasn't completely lost her mind. As Zoey and Shane struggle to keep the magic alive outside the resort, Zoey discovers that she isn't the only one having trouble letting go of the past. And when Nate drops a bombshell that changes everything, Zoey must decide if the old saying is true—what happens at the Moment of Zen stays at the Moment of Zen.

Hard Hats and Doormats – Laura Chapman
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?

Becoming Mrs. Walsh – Jessica Gordon
Shoshana Thompson is 26 years old, miles from home, and engaged to Andrew Walsh, the last single Walsh brother of one of Washington, D.C.'s wealthiest families. Throughout her engagement she becomes enamored with the Walsh lifestyle.

Life in the fast lane comes to a screeching halt when Shoshana develops feelings for another man. When she discovers the feelings may not be one-sided, things are about to get a lot more complicated. This man is not only part of her fancy new world, he is also completely off-limits.

The Right Design – Isabella Louise Anderson
Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.

Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job—Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be cad.

But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him—something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one…?

When Girlfriends Collection – Savannah Page
For a limited time only, grab the first three novels in the When Girlfriends collection for only $.99! This digital boxed set includes: When Girlfriends Break Hearts,When Girlfriends Step Up, and When Girlfriends Make Choices.

Sophie Wharton doesn't like losing control, especially of her life. She's always been the girl who's kept it together--the girl with a charming boyfriend, a lively social life, and plans to start her own bakery. Life is great for Sophie a few years out of college in Seattle...or so she thinks.

Then a series of events start to turn Sophie's perfectly ordered world upside down.

After three years, her boyfriend suddenly decides to call it quits. Her close camaraderie of girlfriends is starting to fall apart. Secrets are exposed. And when she thinks things couldn't get any worse, Sophie learns that one of her friends is fighting a devastating battle.

Now living with her best friend Claire, Sophie struggles with learning to forgive or forget those who break hearts, while trying to accept that there are some situations she cannot control. But is there still a light at the end of the tunnel? Can a girl find the "good" in the "bad"?

This is a heartfelt story about what happens when friendships take different paths and when life doesn't exactly go according to plan.

Robin Sinclair is young, determined, and has a promising career at a small publishing house in Seattle. Even though she considers herself unlucky in love, Robin still dreams of eventually meeting Mr. Right and having a happily-ever-after kind of life. And at twenty-five, the world of opportunity is wide. But it's been a difficult year filled with trials...and it's only just begun.

While long-time friendships are finally on the mend, and things are starting to look up again, Robin is faced with her biggest challenge yet. She's single and pregnant.

Uncertain now of her future and scared of being alone, Robin must re-examine her life and choices, and summon the courage to step up.

With the love and support of her best girlfriends from college, especially her best friend and roommate, Lara, Robin will learn that when the going gets tough, the best of friends become family. And, perhaps, with their encouragement, Robin can mature and gain the confidence needed to become a single mother. And, who knows about being unlucky in love. Things are suddenly getting interesting with Robin's attractive co-worker, Bobby.

This is an endearing story about maturity and perseverance. It's a story about friends coming together as family, about finding the strength within and around, and about writing your own happily-ever-after.

Lara Kearns has it all. She has her MBA, a successful career in advertising in Seattle, and she's even living with her best friend and single mom, Robin. Reliable, dedicated, and eager, Lara is the resident go-to-girl, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

Lara's that girl who has everything going for her...everything, that is, except for true love. With the big 3-0 on its way and no man in sight, Lara wonders if she'll always be married to her career, or her cat, and never find the One.

But then, when she least expects it, a handsome and suave executive at her firm, Paul Mackenzie, makes a pass at her. Hesitant at first about striking up an office romance, Lara eventually finds herself falling for her charming colleague. And the best part? Paul is falling in love with Lara, too!

What happens, though, when the man of your dreams loves you...and his wife?

Battling with what the head and the heart want, Lara finds herself in a precarious situation. Life is spiraling out of control, but with the support of her therapist and friends, Lara must make a choice. Is she really prepared to chase after love...at all costs?

This is a provocative story about struggling between right and wrong. About what you will or won't do for true love.

Private Air – Billie Bates
When Sienna Harris joined the Australian Air Force as a flight attendant for the Prime Minister, she thought she’d hit the glam-job jackpot. But three years of weapons training, outback destinations, and a cheating fighter pilot fiancé, and she’s realized it’s not so fabulous after all. Time to embark on a new adventure, this time to the prestigious world of international VIP aviation.

Sienna and her best friend leave behind their small-town lives for a glitzy career flight attending on a Saudi prince’s private jet. Money, parties, designer clothes, and exotic locations fill the job description, while the sexy pilot, Ted, makes it hard for Sienna to obey the “no fraternizing” rule.
But even the most opulent of journeys can hit turbulence. Sienna’s boss, the appearance-obsessed chief stewardess, issues diuretics and Botox with the uniforms and catering orders, and the prince is a man who’s never told no. Underneath its lush appearance, could this desert oasis be more of a muddy puddle?

The Devil Wears Prada meets Pan Am in this fun frolic to the glamorous side of air travel, inspired by the author’s own experience as a VIP flight attendant in Saudi Arabia and Europe.

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April 18, 2014

coming soon... a kind of mad courage

I am pleased to announce that I’ll be releasing a new story this month. And I’m proud to share that “Oh Baby,” a sequel to the holiday short, “Twelve Drummers Drumming,” is part of an anthology to raise money for charity.

Without further delay, please say hello to…


A Kind of Mad Courage

Nineteen authors from around the world were given six weeks or less to produce “a story involving a mother somehow.” The result is a gorgeously eclectic collection of tales that will make you laugh, cry, and truly appreciate the “mad courage” of motherhood.

Laura Chapman, Francine LaSala, Nikki Mahood, Heather McCoubrey, and Karen E. Martin each present unique takes on impending motherhood, while Sheryn MacMunn, kc wilder, and Julie Valerie portray the end of the journey. Samantha Stroh Bailey, Louise Wise, and Maria Schulz show the pride and peril of dealing with teenage daughters, while Elke Feuer, Diana Shafter Gliedman, and Donna Valenti demonstrate that a mother’s work is never done, even under the craziest of circumstances. Regina-Cash Clark, Wendy Janes, and Monique McDonellexplore the impact on lives in which mothers go “missing,” while Carey Heywoodand Jen Tucker warm your heart and tear it out, respectively.

About the Editors
Francine LaSala and Samantha Stroh Bailey have more than 40 years of editorial experience between them. Francine is a novelist, ghostwriter, and book publishing veteran who’s edited New York Times bestselling fiction and nonfiction. Samantha is a former grammar and writing instructor, including at the University of Toronto, and a prolific journalist. She has a Master of Education and has edited countless manuscripts for clients all over the world. They have also “team-edited” numerous works of fiction, each lending their singular editorial strengths to create perfect and polished prose for their clients. The author of Finding Lucas, Samantha is based in Toronto, while Francine, author of Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, the Gold Tooth and Everything, is based in New York.

About the Stories

Hide and Seek – Samantha Stroh Bailey
Claire’s teenage daughter, Emily, goes missing on a birthday cruise, and Claire can only fear the worst from the lately rebellious teen…

Autumn’s Eyes – Regina Cash-Clark
June’s abandonment of three of four of her children, told in alternating points of view between June, and her oldest daughter, Edwina.

Oh Baby – Laura Chapman
Rocker Tuck and new wife Autumn return from Chapman’s “Ten Drummers Drumming” (Merry & Bright), now with a baby on the way.

The Sacrifice – Elke Feuer
Melissa learns there isn’t anything she won’t do to protect her children from the abuse and neglect of her alcoholic husband Roger…

Love in the Time of Cannibals – Diana Shafter Gliedman
Could a zombie apocalypse finally give rudderless Jessica the direction she needs–and the connection she craves? It will if her mother has anything to say about it.

A Poem for Mommy – Carey Heywood
In helping his young daughter craft a poem for Mother’s Day, a father beautifully recounts the story of the romance with her mother that led to them becoming a family.

Verity – Wendy Janes
After an accident means she’ll no longer be able to live on her own, septuagenarian Susan may need to divulge a secret she’s been keeping from Verity all her life.

Monkey Bread – Francine LaSala
Amy and Deck (Rita Hayworth’s Shoes) learn more about having babies than they ever wanted to know at a madcap family dinner celebrating President’s Day.

Last Words – Sheryn MacMunn
The bond shared between Ruth (Finding Out) and her mother, Eliza, is revealed, from the time of Ruth’s childhood before the War to the death of Eliza.

This Year’s Love – Nikki Mahood
Fallon and Abner are married, mortgaged, and expecting a baby any minute in this fun, heartfelt mini-sequel to Fallen.

Two Thousand Steps – Karen E. Martin
With the unsolicited help of a fairy friend from their childhood, two grown sisters – one with kids, one without – each get to walk a mile in the other’s shoes…

Emily’s Promise – Heather McCoubrey
Even though pregnant Emily’s life is shattered by Jason’s infidelity the night before her wedding, she’s determined to give her baby the best life possible.

A Tale of Two Mothers – Monique McDonell
How do you deal with the mother who abandoned you when she shows up out of the blue – and what does it mean for the woman who raised you? Chloe’s about to find out.

Like a Boomerang – Maria Schulz
Tess has been stressing out her mother, Charlotte, since the day she was born. But when disaster strikes during a campus Halloween party, it could prove the worst stress yet…

Heartstrings – Jen Tucker
Young widow Vicki’s no stranger to loss–and guilt, as another mother’s loss helped her daughter live. Will meeting up help them the two mothers heal? Or make matters worse?

In the Nick of Time – Donna Valenti
Iris may be dead but her insistence on looking after her children is far from buried. Will her husband Nick get it together? Or will Iris have to move Heaven and Earth to make him?

LLL – Julie Valerie
In this hilarious yet heartwarming story, words of wisdom from the game of Scrabble unite a daughter with her aging mother, a former Scrabble champion whose mental faculties are quickly fading.

Lady in Red – k.c. wilder
Her dying “Gran” is the only mother she’s ever known. But only when Gran is gone does a woman discover the woman her grandmother really was, and the secrets she hid.

Becky’s Mum – Louise Wise
Straight-A student Becky’s being pulled off the straight-and-narrow by her derelict boyfriend Darren. Will her mother’s wisdom sink in before it’s too late?

Visit http://akindofmadcourage.blogspot.com/ for more information about this anthology, the authors involved and the amazing charity being supported by this work.

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April 16, 2014

interview with chineka williams

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Chineka Williams to the blog as part of her tour for her debut novel Love Illusion. Check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

Change the Word: How did you get the idea for this story?
Chineka Williams: I got the idea for my story by first having Lucy’s character in my mind. I knew that I wanted some suspense so that’s where Charles’ character came in. I also wanted to highlight the serious subjects of alcoholism and domestic abuse in the book.

CTW: What was your writing process like?
CW: My writing process combines a lot of things. I like to start out by writing notes on a story such as location notes, timeline, and character traits. Once that is complete I write an outline. I like to have a rough idea of what to go by while writing. After the first draft is complete I start making edits and rewrites. This is my writing process in the beginning stages.

CTW: Name three things you have to have when you're writing.
CW: Noise canceling headphones, water with lemon, classical jazz

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
CW: Write with all of your heart.

CTW: Who has most inspired you to be writer?
CW: My Dad. He was always writing or reading something.

CTW: What was your favorite book growing up?
CW: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

CTW: If you could spend a day with any literary character, who would it be and why?
CW: I would spend the day with Leslie Carter from Dorothea Benton Frank’s The Last Original Wife. I loved Leslie’s strength throughout the book and how she grew as a character. She also had a southern charm, which was infectious.

CTW: Who is your biggest literary crush?
CW: My biggest literary crush is Eric Jerome Dickey. He has such a way with words and when I met him in person he was so humble. I’m looking forward to his next book release in April.

CTW: What's up next in your writing world?
CW: I am in the early stages of working on my next book. Currently I am working on the location notes and preliminary notes for the book.

CTW: Do you have anything else you'd like to share?
CW: Writing can be extremely emotionally draining, but the end product is worth it. It is the only thing besides reading that has been a constant in my life since I was a young child. Writing is one of my most treasured friends. Thanks to all those who have bought Love Illusion and those who will buy it in the future.

Excerpt of Love Illusion
Lucy shoved the purple sixteen hundred thread count sheets off of her as the sunlight beamed through her bedroom window. She lifted a hand to her face to redirect the stream of sunlight. Her Friday was just getting started and already she was feeling sluggish.

She had a few sleepless nights in between getting moved into her new house and her breakup with Charles. The last few days had been rough. She didn't even want to think about all of the boxes that she still had to unpack and was still getting adjusted to being in her own place. She was so proud of her accomplishment of being a homeowner at the age of twenty eight. She was excited about all of the interior decorating plans that she had and already clipped a few ideas from a magazine.

Working in the public relations field she put in long hours during the week, but it was worth it for doing what she loved and being able to go on the Summer vacations that were so relaxing to her. She took one big vacation a year that usually consisted of a cruise or some lavish getaway.

Her ability to speak Spanish fluently allowed her more flexibility to choose the clients that she worked with. Her sparkling brown eyes, long red hair, and flawless olive skin were sure to turn the eyes of any guy.

She had the fashion sense of some of the best designers in the business She loved flipping through fashion magazines to gain new ideas and put her own spin on it.

She loved taking the outfits that she found on Pinterest and recreating them by finding items at her favorite online stores. She could stay on the site for hours pinning to her board entitled Fashionista Finds. Her closest friends went to her whenever they needed fashion advice.

It was 7:15 am, and with her work day starting at 8:00 am she was pressed for time this morning. Lucy quickly showered and  prepared for the day by listening to her  daily devotional on audio book, while applying mascara and her favorite lip gloss shade, Plum Luster. She took a curling iron and curled her straight hair around it to create soft tendrils. It was an effortless hairstyle that didn’t take long to create.

She made her daily morning smoothie by turning the high quality and professional blender on full speed, blending up a citrus blend of strawberries, peach, and orange juice to keep her energetic and full until lunch. With the smoothie in her hand she exited her house and was ready to take on the day.

Her outfit was one straight out of a fashion magazine. Lucy was ready to take on the days challenges at work by being dressed in a chiffon Banana Republic blouse,  Express black pencil skirt, Nine West pumps, and her signature pearls . She never forgot to spritz on some perfume. Today she was wearing Lola by Marc Jacobs.

She had just arrived at her office. She took a detour to the break room and poured herself a cup of hot tea with a wedge of lemon and a few squeezes of honey. She loved what the flavor of the sweet and sour combination brought to her tea. She plopped the cup of tea down on her desk, creating a splash. On the corner of her desk she was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers. They were cheerful and upbeat with their bright yellow hue.

She wasn’t used to getting flowers at the job and her intuition kicked in. It was on high alert. With her heart pounding like two beating snare drums, she  sensed that the flowers were from her ex-boyfriend, Charles. He  had been sending her things to the office trying to get her attention for the last two weeks. Obviously he was having a hard time letting her go.

Lucy quickly took a picture of the arrangement with her cell phone and slipped it back into her purse. She walked around the flowers, observing their fragile petals and inhaling their fragrance.

She took the card out of the plastic stem and flipped it over. When she looked at the card, which had a red rose border, her suspicions were right. The card read “Some sunflowers for my sunshine. Love Charles.” Lucy traced the handwriting on the card. The note looked to be rushed and the handwriting was angry. She put the card in a zip loc bag and sealed it.

She would put it in a box that she had at home that had evidence of what Charles had been sending the last few weeks. She was worried that Charles was getting too out of control. This had to be stopped.

Their breakup had been on her part because she didn't feel that Charles could be the man that she needed him to be. He wasn’t as mature as she had wanted him to be and then there were his anger issues. He had demonstrated to her  several times while they were dating that he was controlling.

One time he had snatched her arm back when she walked ahead of him in the grocery store. The imprint of his hand had been on her forearm for days before the bruise had healed.

Charles would get mad when they were with friends and she would voice her opinion. He would also check the browsing history on her computer when he occasionally used it. He liked to feel in charge, and most of all important.  He had serious self-esteem issues, which were evident in his actions.

There came a point when Lucy couldn’t take the mental and physical abuse any longer. She knew that she was worth more than being treated like a rag doll and she made the decision to end the relationship.

Lucy would call her best friend Jade as soon as she got a chance to get her advice on the situation. She always gave sound advice and was always willing to lend a listening ear. She wouldn’t worry Jade too much though, since she was in the process of planning her wedding. They  had been friends since high school and had been through a lot together, including growing pains. Jade  was always there and was the one person who never let Lucy down.

For  now Lucy would focus on planning and advertising  the event for her next big celebrity client, author Angela Dobson. Lucy had read a few of her books and enjoyed them. She was well known in the literary world for her books on bold topics and independent women. Angela wanted an upscale tea party for about twenty of her biggest fans as a way to say thank you for their support. She had ran a contest on twitter and personally selected twenty people to attend the tea party.

Since people were flying from all over this event had to be special and unlike any other tea party. It would include appetizers that were sophisticated and a twelve piece jazz band. It would be sure to keep those invited entertained throughout the event. Angela had a list of things that were required to be at the tea party.

A spreadsheet with all of the above details as well as a list of contacts lay beside Lucy’s MacBook Pro. The desk that it lay on was organized with pink metal containers for her pens and highlighters. It was time to start sending out emails to some of her most trusted contacts in order for this event to be a success. Lucy tapped away at her keyboard, carefully choosing the correct words to describe the upscale tea party. For an hour she emailed everyone from wholesale florists, vendors for table linens, and fine china companies.

After a brief staff meeting going over what the agency had on their calendar for next week it was time to go. The boss kept talking about how the clients had certain expectations and how they needed be treated a certain way. He knew how some of them could be overly demanding, but he urged the employees to not take it too personally.

It felt like the workday would never end. Today it seemed to drag on.  She was ready for the weekend to start so that she could relax and finally get some things done around the house. She was planning to paint an accent wall in her living room the perfect teal color, Mariner by Sherwin Williams. Film from her Nikon F Classic 35mm film camera would also have to be processed. She would go to a lab with a dark room to process them.

Lucy had always loved photography, but she really got into it when she took a few photography classes in college. She loved the different assignments that she had the opportunity to take pictures of like the holiday toy drive and the annual picnic. She then began to understand photography terms like shutter speed, aperture, and f-stop. Everything about dark rooms and processing film on classic cameras she learned by watching youtube videos and taking notes on them.

She loved the feeling of looking through the lens and creating something out of pixels and light.

Before these things she would have to attend an important event this evening that she attended every year. She looked forward to being in the company of celebrated media professionals while enjoying a night out. The annual Media Professionals Gala was tonight.

About the Author
Chineka Williams found a love of reading and writing early on as a child. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism. Books and Stilettos is the blog that she maintains for all things women's fiction and writing updates. Outside of reading, her hobbies include baking, playing the clarinet, photography, and DIY. She can always be seen with a cup of tea close by. Love Illusion is her debut novel.

Connect with Chineka
Facebook Author Page

About the Book
Lucy is a confident PR professional, who is fearful of her troubled ex-boyfriend Charles. He is in denial about their breakup. With issues of alcoholism and abandonment, he spirals out of control.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s best friend Jade has found love and is about to get married. She is a loyal friend who is there for Lucy every step of the way.

Feeling trapped, Lucy is determined to fight back against Charles, but it won’t be without complication. After great debate, she optimistically accepts a new job offer miles away. Lucy soon embarks on an uncertain journey all connected to love.

Buy the Book
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April 14, 2014

interview with samantha march

Blogger's Note: Today Samantha March is stopping by on her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for her latest novel, A Questionable Friendship. Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post.

Change the Word: How was the process different for writing book three than it was for books one and two?
Samantha March: It gets smoother with each book. With the second book I knew what worked for me and what didn’t through trial and error with the first book, and that only got smoother when I started plotting out the third. I knew my strengths and weaknesses when it came to plotting, editing, and creating my writing schedule. I’m currently writing my fourth novel, about 30K words in, and I’m happy to say that I took plenty away from book 3 to help this time around, as the setting once again is somewhere I have never been and the characters are quite a stretch from my own life.

CTW: What was your favorite part about writing this story?
SM: Getting to do something new. Really challenging myself on creating the atmosphere and building the character’s lives. I didn’t let myself get too invested in plotting and knowing each next move my character would make, I let the words and the ideas flow when my fingers hit the keyboard.

CTW: What is the biggest difference between this book and your previous two novels?
SM: Book three was pretty different from the first two in regards to my writing research, because I was writing about a place I had never been before and writing from a perspective as both a wife and mother, neither of which I was at the time of writing (I am since married).

CTW: Finish the sentence: When I sit down to write, I need ____, ____ and ____.
SM: When I sit down to write, I need a water glass, the TV off, and a hair tie. I cannot write with my hair down because I constantly play with it!

CTW: What literary character do you have a crush on and why?
SM: I’ve been asked this question just recently, and I honestly don’t think I have one. I feel like this makes me quite weird in the book world.

CTW: If you were having a dinner party and could invite five characters as guests, who would attend?
SM: Rachel and Darcy from Something Borrowed because who doesn’t? Drew from Pulled Beneath by Marni Mann because I would love to see how things are working out with Saint! Roxy from Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie because I’m dying to know how her journey is continuing! And then Lexi from Hard Hats and Doormats, because I’m curious how things are going with her and Jason! :)

CTW: What are a few songs you like to listen to while you write/edit/work-out?
SM: I actually can’t listen to music while I write or edit, or watch TV. It’s just too distracting. When I workout I like a good beat, so I typically go for rap or hip-hop to keep me in the groove!

CTW: Since the last time you published a book, you've gotten married, moved into a new home and expanded your family with a puppy. How has that changed your writing career?
SM: Whew! It’s definitely made me need to juggle my time better and more efficiently. Especially with having the pup around, she demands our attention, so I have to plan to write on days she is in doggie daycare or in between her kennel time, because I could get nothing done when she’s out! But it’s also given me more ideas for my next books – the book I’m writing now is all about planning a wedding, and I have plenty to say on that topic :)

CTW: What's in store next for you and your writing career?
SM: I’m hoping to get book four out by the end of the year or early 2015, and release a new book every 12-15 months after that!

Excerpt of A Questionable Friendship
I lay in bed by myself that night, as Trent said he still had some reports to look at. I flipped onto my stomach, my favorite sleeping position, and tried to will myself to sleep. But my mind wouldn’t shut off. I flashed to the papers I found in Trent’s desk last night, purely on accident. I had never thought to snoop on my husband of two years. I was trying to find our tax returns from last year to give to the accountant, as we were severely behind and the April deadline was just around the corner. I had tried calling Trent to see where they were, but his phone was going to straight to voicemail. I knew he was driving home and sometimes his service cut in and out, so I didn’t think anything of it. I decided to find the papers myself, mostly out of boredom and the need to do something.

Trent’s office in our 2200 square foot ranch home was on the first floor, all the way to the east. I rarely ventured in there as I had no reason too, only popping in when Trent was working. It felt a little foreign being there, but I sat at his desk chair and looked around me. His desk wasn’t just some shoddy little thing tucked into the corner, no, the desk ran almost the full length of the wall, big enough for three people to easily fit at. He had one desktop computer set up and a laptop as well, and he carried yet another laptop with him on business trips. A printer that doubled as a scanner sat on one corner, and a fax machine on another. He had multiple calendars hung up with agendas scribbled on the majority of the dates, and another smaller calendar that sat to the right of the desktop. It was opened to that date, March 14, and scribbled on there was “Petosi.” He had been in that town for the past two nights, and was due home late in the night.

After some searching, I finally found the drawer that seemed to hold important records. Our passports were in there, our wedding license, birth certificates, and deed to the house. I found the titles to both our vehicles, but no tax information. I frowned, trying to think of another spot he would have them. I slipped all the papers back in the appropriate files and shut the drawer, and when I did, a single piece of paper had floated down to me, from somewhere at the top of the desk. I grabbed the sheet and read over the words, my eyes growing wide, then squinting as I read and re-read. My body turned cold as I sat in shock, trying to process what I had read. When I realized I’d been sitting there for probably thirty minutes doing absolutely nothing I jumped, understanding that Trent could walk through the door at any minute and find me. Then what would I say?

Carefully, I pushed myself up and climbed onto the office chair, putting the piece of paper back where I thought it had come from. From my new vantage point, I saw the top of his desk was riddled with other papers and...a calendar. I swallowed hard as I peered closer and saw what was written in under March 13. My stomach heaving, I quickly left the office after righting the chair to its original spot, and fled to the bathroom.

I blinked back tears in bed as I forced myself to calm my mind. Trent had some explaining to do sure, but how did I tell him what I had found? Did that really even matter in the grand scheme of things? But knowing the Trent as of lately, he would try to turn this around on me and make me look like the bad person. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed for sleep. I just wanted to sleep, to forget about what I had found. The day had been torturous enough, trying to make everything seem like it was hunky dory and nothing out of place. And what would tomorrow bring? More questions. And next week – Trent would be gone for two weeks. Would he be going where he said he was? What was he actually doing on his trips away?

The bedroom door opened and I saw Trent enter the room, already in just his boxers. I let my breathing become even so he would think I was asleep.

He plugged his cell phone in and set it on the nightstand, then pulled the covers back and crawled in. I felt his cold feet touch mine and jerked involuntarily. “Are you awake?” he whispered. I could feel his erection pressing into my back, and knew what he wanted. He probably touched me on purchase.

“Mmmph,” I mumbled, not opening my eyes.

“Port. You awake?” he asked again, clearly not getting the hint as his hand wandered to my breast.

I rolled away and made more sleeping noises, begging in my mind for him to leave me alone. He stayed quiet for another moment, then finally rolled the other way.

I was off the hook – at least for one night.

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

About the Book
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 café 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.

Buy the Book
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Kobo – eBook

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April 11, 2014

the two 10k weekend

Source: Freeimages.com

In my efforts to get healthier, I've let my Camp NaNoWriMo goals get away from me. But instead of being hard on myself for slipping up on one aspect of my life in the pursuit of another, I figured I'd find a way to make them work together.

That's why I came up with my Two 10K plan. Here's the concept: between tonight and Sunday night, I'm setting a goal to write 10,000 words and walk/jog 6.2 miles -- or 10 kilometers. If all goes well, I'll have taken care of my novel and my body. Both would make me incredibly happy.

To make it happen, I've set mini-goals. Here's the break-down:
  • Write 2,000 words tonight
  • Take a break half-way for a quick 2-mile walk/jog
  • Write 2,000 words tomorrow morning
  • Go for a 2.1-mile walk/run mid-day
  • Write 2,000 words tomorrow afternoon
  • Repeat Saturday on Sunday

Though, I'm willing to cut myself some slack if it doesn't go exactly to plan if I do my best. See -- I'm being all zen about ambition. Isn't that healthy and well of me? (ha) While this will be a lot of work, I hope that by breaking everything down into smaller pieces, I can also give myself ample time for fun and relaxation. I'm sure I'll be able to appreciate those times more if I've accomplished these goals of mine.

I came up with this plan last weekend, and I have to say it's given me a lot of peace this week. I was able to focus on the workout and meal routines I made, my work at the day-job and even plug away at some other writing and personal projects.

Who knows? If it works out, maybe I'll have a new way for creating some sort of work-writing-life balance in my own life.

Have any of you found some unique approaches to creating your own writing happy place?

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April 9, 2014

interview with hilary grossman

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Hilary Grossman to the blog as part of her tour for Dangled Carat. Check out her other Chick Lit Plus tour stops. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.

Change the Word: What was the inspiration for this book? 
Hilary Grossman: Dangled Carat, while it reads like chick lit, is a memoir about my attempt to convert the ultimate commitment-phobic man into a doting husband with a lot of help from his family and friends. While many of the things that happened to me (two faux engagement parties, for example) were very unique being involved in a relationship with a commitment-phobe is a very common situation.  I felt that my story was something that so many women could relate to.

CTW: What did the writing process look like?
HG: I have a very high stress, long hour “day job” so I was only able to devote time to writing Dangled Carat on the weekends. But for the seven months or so that I worked on the first draft, writing Dangled Carat was all I did. I would sit myself down at my dining room table in front of my laptop and type from early in the morning until about 6 PM every Saturday and Sunday. I would only get up to refill my water bottle.... 

CTW: What surprised you most about the writing process?
HG: I am so pleasantly surprised by how generous and supportive authors are. I am used to working in corporate America where everyone’s main objective seems to be their own success.  Authors are different.  They really seem to want to go the extra mile to help one another. They are always eager to give advice or a just shoulder to lean on.  It is a wonderful feeling to be part of such an amazing community.

CTW: How do you keep yourself motivated to keep going?
HG: Some days are easier than others... But, when I need a moral boast I think to myself I am living my dream...

CTW: What is the best writing advice you ever received?
HG: If you want to write, just write. Don’t worry finding readers. Don’t worry about publication. And don’t worry about sales. None of those things will matter if you don’t have any words written.

CTW: Who is your biggest fictional book crush? Why?
HG: With the exception of the red room, Christian Grey. I love how he was so strong and in control but also had a vulnerable side.

CTW: If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you pick and why?
HG: Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz....  I would love to be able to spend a day in that magical place.  How much fun would it be to hang with the Tin Man, The Scarecrow and my all time favorite the Cowardly Lion? I always wanted to give that guy a hug!

CTW: What are the three most worn-out books on your bookshelf? (Meaning ones you go back to and read and re-read.) 
HG: Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster - this is the book that motivated me to start my blog and write my memoir. It’s All Relative by Wade Rouse - by far one of the funniest books I have ever read. Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock - this is a book where nothing is as it seems and when you turn the last page you just have to read it again....

CTW: What else is going on in your writing world?
HG: I have actually started my next book. YEAH!  This time I am dabbling in fiction.  I haven’t written much yet, but I like where it is headed... And I especially like that I don’t have to relive so many difficult moments in my life, as I had to do with Dangled Carat.

CTW: Anything else you'd like to share?
HG: I just want to thank you for welcoming me to your blog....

Enjoy an Excerpt of Tangled Carat
For whatever reason, this restaurant attracted an elderly crowd.  Our two tables were pretty much the only ones in the entire place that weren’t occupied by people north of their seventy-fifth birthdays. As soon as the waiter cleared off our dinner plates, my mom headed to the bathroom and Marc sat down in her seat.  “I just want to see what it feels like to sit next to you,” he said as he smiled at me.

As I arched my eyebrows at him, I asked, “Well, how does it feel?”  He pondered for a second, and I noticed the table of two elderly couples sitting to the other side of us.  They were watching Marc and me interact as if they were watching a movie.  We were clearly their entertainment for the evening.

“I think I can get used to it,” Marc replied solemnly.

All too quickly, my mom returned from the bathroom and Marc had to go back to his seat. We continued to chat for a little while as Marc’s brother squared away their bill, and the waiter brought my mom and me over coffee and cappuccino.

As Marc and his family got up to leave, he said, “This was fun.  Can we do it again?”

“Sure,” I said.  “Call me.”

“Are you going to give me your number?”

“My number?” I asked, playing coy.  “Oh, you want my number, do you?”

“Well, it usually does help,” he retorted, “if I am to call you.”

“Okay.” I rattled off “766-722” with a twinkle in my eye.

Marc wrote down the digits and stared at the paper.  A confused look appeared on his face.  “Huh?  You only gave me six numbers.”

Flippantly as if I didn’t care whether he called – though I desperately wanted him to - I answered, “I know…You need to guess the missing number.”

Why I did this, I don’t know.  It wasn’t a plan.  It wasn’t my signature move (not that I actually had a signature move, mind you)  it just happened.

About the Author
Hilary Grossman dated a guy so commitment-phobic that she was able to write a book about their relationship. She is currently the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer and lives on Long Island.

Connect with Hilary
Facebook author page
Facebook blog page

About the Book
Hilary had gotten used to dating the commitment-phobic Marc, thirteen years her senior. They had a great relationship--why rush into things? She saw no need to pressure him for marriage, believing that when the time was right, he would propose. But after they had been together for four years, their friends decided to take matters into their own hands, pushing Marc to propose and making Hilary realize how much she really did want to marry the man that she loved. Unfortunately, Marc still wasn't ready--and their friends' meddling in the form of a faux engagement party led to a disastrous New Year's Eve that brought their relationship to an inevitable turning point.

Buy the Book
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April 7, 2014

greetings from... the south

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.

During my travels across the country, I spent a considerable amount of time visiting a few southern states. Since Texas is basically it's own world, I'm going to save it for another post and focus on Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

I loved my time hanging out in the South. I only visited Oklahoma and Arkansas a couple of times each, but Louisiana was like a second home for a while there. For me it was the place I'd seen in movies and on TV shows like Steel Magnolias, The Waterboy and True Blood. And I mean that as a compliment. The communities were wonderful -- if a little different from what I've always known -- the scenery beautiful and the food to die for.

My favorite foods were found in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The beignets at Cafe Du Monde were one of the most delicious things I've ever had. And I still think about the crawfish etouffee (served on top of avocado) I had for dinner one night at the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe.

I tried other interesting foods, like fried okra (I didn't even know what okra was until I went down south). I never did indulge in cracklin, though the locals told me it was a must, but I think I ate enough crawfish during my time down there to make up for it.

And of course no trip in that part of the country would be complete without trying the Waffle House once or twice. I kid you not, there must be a Waffle House at every other exit on I-10 between New Orleans and Houston. While there's nothing super special about the Waffle House, it was my first time trying grits, which I soon learned to love. I could actually go for some right now.

I still think a lot about the men and women I met on those trips down south. They opened up to me about their families and told me stories about their lives. Every so often I'll see something on TV that reminds me of one of them. And I wonder how they are and what is new in their world.

Fried Okra.

The swamps of Louisiana.

The rocky terrain of southern Oklahoma.

A full meal -- including grits front and center -- at the Waffle House.

Jackson Square in the French Quarter.

Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter.


Birthplace of President Clinton.

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
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Marching Ink

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April 4, 2014

movies that destroy your makeup

We all have them. A handful (or maybe even a truck-load) of movies that no matter how many times you watch them, will totally rip you apart and make you cry. 

Now, I'm a crier by nature. I get a little misty of there's a particularly emotional commercial on the TV or if I read a story that touches me. But then there's the movies that bring out the big tears. You know what I'm talking about -- the ugly ones that send you running to the mirror to check the damage.

I've been sitting on this list since winter break when I binge-watched a bunch of movies -- old favorites and new. I was... inspired to blog about it, I suppose, to see if I'm alone in this insanity. I figured it was about time I got around to sharing it. So here you go. My top contenders for movies that destroy my makeup:

(WARNING: There are spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution.)

Love Actually

I don't know why, but this movie makes me cry. Not always the big, ugly cry, but tears all the same. It starts about 15 to 20 minutes before the ending. Something about Liam Neeson's and Colin Firth's story just gets me. I can't explain exactly what it is about each story, but they're beautiful to me. And then you get everyone hugging and kissing at the airport with the Beach Boys playing in the background.

This movie has affected me so deeply that now every time I hear "God Only Knows" -- a song I'd known and loved my whole life -- my eyes well up. Talk about Pavlovian conditioning.

Steel Magnolias

This movie gets me. Every. Single. Time. I know it's coming. But still, the moment I see Sally Field's face as she purposefully walks through the empty hospital corridor, I let out my first sob. And it only gets worse from there. I mean, this was a movie made to make us cry. Even one of my brothers says he was almost induced to tears with Julia Roberts' baby comes toddling down the steps into Sally's arms. Then there's Sally losing it at the grave site... oh my goodness, that part ruins me. It actually makes my chest hurt.

Out of every movie on this list, this is the one that makes me the ugliest crier. Trust me, I've gone and looked at myself in the mirror after watching this movie (don't judge me). I'm a heaving, hiccuping, near-hyperventilating mess until the Easter bunny hops on the back of a motorcycle and rides off-screen.

The Land Before Time

I don't even feel like I have to explain this one. If you've seen the movie, then you know how -- like Bambi -- it's sad from the moment Littlefoot's mama dies. Only... unlike Bambi, Littlefoot's mama mom makes a cameo later in the film to inspire him when he most needs it. I'm not saying you cry the whole time with this movie, but your heart is made of stone if you don't join me in getting verklempt.


The end of this movie is so sad. Based on the life of the Queen of Tejano, the finale of the movie is devastating to watch. The filmmakers did a good job of showing how horrifying and emotional Selena's death was without being too graphic and by paying tribute to the late singer's life.

This movie came out when I was in elementary school and brought to life actual events I had been too young to be aware of at the time. It's actually how I came to know Selena's music and appreciate her talent, which was so cruelly and unfairly cut short at such a young age. What a waste. I tear up whenever one of her songs pops up on the radio or on a playlist -- because they still do 20 years later -- or whenever I see her name mentioned in an article or on TV. It's a sad reminder of how one person's actions can ruin lives.


Four words: "You Must Love Me." I saw this movie for the first time at 11, and as soon as this song started playing, I was gutted. There's something about the desperation in Madonna's voice as she's reminding/pleading/hoping for her husband to love her through this dark and final chapter of her life that just... I can't even.

The Little Mermaid

OK. I'll admit, this one is a bit ridiculous. This has been one of my favorite movies since I saw it back in '89 at the impressionable age of three, and I think that's part of why it gets me now. There's something so bittersweet about Ariel's father deciding to let her go to be with the man she loves, followed by the totally adorable wedding, which is capped off by a hug from her father who sends her off with a rainbow.

Now, I'm not saying I weep, but I definitely get choked up during that hug, when Ariel whispers, "I love you Daddy." And there's something about the finale music. Something about the oboe and trumpet combo that forces tears into my eyes (or at least tugs at my gut). Whenever it pops up in my playlist -- and yes, the final song "Happy Ending" is in my playlist -- my eyes either well up or I let out a dry sob once we make it to the climax.

Now that I've gone and ruined my makeup by reflecting on these movies, it's your turn to weigh-in: What movie brings you to tears?

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