October 30, 2015

friday night eats: pumpkin cheesecake brownies


Throughout First & Goal, Harper likes whipping up delicious treats to take to the weekly Sunday afternoon watch parties. As someone trying to win over her co-workers, Harper’s baked goods are one of the ways she quickly ingrains herself within her crew’s game day culture.

For one of those watch parties, Harper brings along Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, which are an instant hit with her colleague Gio.

(Forgive the fugly photos--these were taken years ago, before I ever imagined I’d write First & Goal let alone use them for a blog post to support the story!)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies


IngredientsCream Cheese Filling

1 ½ packages of plain cream cheese
6 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
¾ cup canned/cooked pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

Brownies

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 sticks unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

A crappy photo of me adding dollops of brownie batter to the top.

Directions

Grease 13 x 9-inch pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the cream cheese filling, mix together softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add canned pumpkin, egg, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and flour. Set aside. To make brownies, melt chocolate chips and butter in a sauce pan. Add salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour. Pour in a pan saving back 1 cup for later. Pour pumpkin cheesecake batter on top. Add dollops of remaining brownie batter and swirl to create a marble effect. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Serves 12-24 (depending on how big of slices you like)

While I can’t promise that you’ll win over your own crew with this recipe, I did take these to a Husker watch party a few years ago and they were a hit.

But as a bonus for the low-quality photos...

Me, baking this recipe, while wearing my Husker apron.

Follow the Pinterest Board for more recipes.


About the Book
When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way). 

Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.

With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

Now Available on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


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October 29, 2015

book boo

Halloween is days away, and with that in mind I figured it was about time to share five of my favorite book-influenced Halloween memories. (Or at least the ones I managed to capture with photographs, because what's the point if there isn't photographic evidence, am I right?) So here we go, in no particular order...

1. Painting a Harry Potter pumpkin
I grew up painting pumpkins with my family and rediscovered the pastime my senior year of high school. That next fall I went a little crazy. I painted a vampire, Frankenstein's monster, and a mummy. I also painted my first book-inspired pumpkin: Harry Potter.


I have so much love for that book series, which carried over into my next memory...

2. Making Cauldron Cakes inspired by the Harry Potter series
I set out to make this dish for my Reading in the Kitchen series. While doing the research, I discovered that most recipes imagined this as a chocolate cupcake, which I guess I get. But when I read the books, I imagined it being a little spicier. And cuter.


You can read the full adventure here.

3. Painting a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Pumpkin
Yeah, this pumpkin is just awesome. And I can't wait to see the movie.




4. Me as Amy Poehler's author photo for Yes, Please
There are few things I love more in this world than witty, empowering, and inspiring women, and Amy Poehler defines all three of those characteristics. So when I learned she would finally be publishing a book, I was obviously delighted. And then I saw her author photo on the back book jacket a few weeks before Halloween last year. I instantly knew what my costume would be for that year's parties.

Question: Who wore it better?
Answer: Trick question. Everyone wins when they look this in command.

While most people had no clue what I was talking about when I explained my costume (and shame on them for that) I had an amazing time wearing this costume. As a perk, that scarf and blue jacket have become solid parts of my wardrobe. And I've even put that captain's hat to good use as a prop to wear when I'm heavily involved in a writing project. It makes me feel totally empowered and in charge when I wear it, so yeah, it's great for helping me write.

5. Painting The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades Darker Pumpkins
Two blockbusters, two awesome pumpkins.



Happy Halloween!


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October 28, 2015

interview with the author of 'prosecco & paparazzi'

Today we're welcoming Celia Kennedy to Change the Word for an interview about the release of her novel Prosecco & Paparazzi. I hope you enjoy getting to know Celia and her story a little more.

Change the Word: What was your inspiration for writing this story?
Celia Kennedy: My husband and I watch Clint Eastwood on Inside the Actors Studio. We were both very inspired by this multi-faceted man, and thought how amazing it would be to meet him. Which begged the question, how does one go about meeting a celebrity in a non-stalkerish way? I began to wonder how celebrities make new friends, allow people into their lives. How does a celebrity know whether people are interested in them as an individual or their fame?

CTW: What do you hope readers take away from reading it?
CK: The first words you read on my website are, “No Damsels in Distress.” Women are more savvy, educated, and independent than ever before. I want to write books that appeal to them, but still take them on an adventure.

Romance is one of the facets of life, but so are bad hair days, falling down and picking yourself up, or having food between your teeth. So, whether you need to borrow a piece of jewelry from your girlfriends or get help you are navigating the deep end, your friends are there.

Love and Laugher, Friendship and Fashion – that’s my favorite tagline.

CTW: Where is your favorite real-life travel location?
CK: I’ve been so fortunate to have traveled extensively and it isn’t something I take for granted. I know many people who haven’t been able to. When I decided to start writing, I thought, “How can I help people escape on multiple levels?” One of them was traveling. All the locations in my books, down to the last little tearoom, are real places.

My favorite place? Honestly? An outdoor market in Saint Tropez, France. It was a gloriously sunny day, and the scent of olives, fresh bread, and the salty sea breeze hovered in the air. The clarity of light, the colors of the buildings, the bobbing boats in the harbor. My gosh, it was heavenly.

CTW: What is the number one place you would most like to visit?
CK: Hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, the place I want to go desperately is Australia. Which to me, includes New Zealand. Because if you fly from Seattle to Sydney, you wouldn’t miss New Zealand.

CTW: What three items are always in your suitcase when you travel?
CK: Black skirt, white top, toothbrush.

CTW: If you were having a dinner party and could invite three fictional characters, who would be coming to dinner?
CK: Excellent question. I read a lot… about three or four books a week. So, this is tough.

  • Brett Bholinger, from Lori Nelson Spielman’s, The Life List.
  • Marta Zinsser, from Jane Porter’s, Odd Mom Out.
  • Velvet, from Mary Whitcomb and Tara Calahan King’s Odd Velvet.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
CK: I was really struggling with Des Bannerman’s character, The King of Romantic Comedy, and the Charlotte’s celeb crush, in Prosecco & Paparazzi.

I followed the life of a real celeb at the time I was writing it, and used his mannerisms, speech cadence and quirks to drive Des’ character. The problem was that this actor never appears in a bad light, angry, annoyed or otherwise.

When I was told his character didn’t work, that he wasn’t compelling, I freaked because so much research had been done. But… I threw it all away and created a much more funny, interesting, and compelling character. Sometimes you gotta take out the trash!

CTW: What is one thing you must have when you sit down to write?
CK: Water! I sometimes sit down for five or six hours without moving, and water is key. I often read out loud what I’ve written and that would be impossible without a gallon of water.

CTW: What has been the most important lesson you have learned so far in your writing career?
CK: Two! Can I mention two lessons? They are tied. One, be yourself. Write using the voice inside your head, because that is the real you. When you try to change it up, your writing doesn’t flow and when you read it, it won’t sound like you. The other, be yourself. Readers love the quirky you, the you that you expose to them in interviews, your books, posts on Facebook, Twitter, interviews. Celebrate yourself, invite them into your lives, and share the experience. We live in an interactive era and it isn’t going to change.

CTW: What are you working on now?
CK: I am completely and utterly rewriting Cognac and Couture, book two in The Passport Series. I had finished it, but when I read it back to back with Prosecco & Paparazzi I realized they were tooooooo different from each other. I will always love the first book. But, the second version is so much better.


About the Book
When fifteen minutes of fame goes horribly wrong…

Charlotte Young and her five closest friends ring in the New Year on a ski vacation in the swanky,
celebrity-packed French Alps, where her world collides with long-time celeb crush, Des Bannerman—aka “The King of Rom-Com.” Unexpectedly, Charlotte finds herself happily reconciled to an innocent evening of drinking champagne, gambling, and chatting to the celebrity of her dreams.

Charlotte’s friends join forces to help her realize her lifelong fantasy, yet his girlfriend, the latest Bond Girl, proves an insurmountable obstacle. Lighthearted banter turns into tabloid fodder and leaves Charlotte saddled with a restraining order.

With the help of her friends, Charlotte finds the answers to life’s biggest questions while trying to
deal with the fallout of her fifteen minutes of fame.

Prosecco & Paparazzi is a contemporary romantic comedy about what happens when the paths of a celebrity god and a mere mortal collide.

Find the Book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Author
Celia Kennedy’s passion for travel, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, love, and the designed and natural world is the foundation of her books. She was born on a military base in Wurzburg, Germany. Her parents’ penchant for traveling stuck with her, and she’s lived in and traveled through several countries. Celia has authored three fiction novels and published four anthologies. She is currently working on book three in The Passport Series. She lives in Washington state with the loves of her life.

Connect with Celia


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'peri in progress' release day

Happy Release Day to my good friend and label-mate Cat Lavoie and her latest sure-to-be-a-hit novel, Peri in Progress. I had a the privilege of beta-reading this story earlier this year and I adored it. The heroine is quirky, but relatable. The love interest is flawed, but swoonable. And the rest of the supporting cast was entertaining as can be. I'll have Cat on the blog next week for an interview, but until then, I wanted to share the details with you so you can enjoy this story as soon as possible.


After a disastrous thirty-first birthday party where she gets stood-up by a man she isn’t supposed to be dating, Peri McKenna decides it’s time to change what hasn’t been working—which is pretty much everything. Her love life is going nowhere fast, she’s bored to tears by a job that makes her the office pariah, and the lifelong junk food addiction that used to be somewhat quirky is now positively problematic. To top it all off, her newly-purchased home is falling apart and wishful thinking hasn’t done much to fix the leaky roof. 

It’s time be an adult now that she’s officially ‘thirty-something.’ 
But when the first step of Peri’s self-improvement plan backfires, she starts to wonder if change might be overrated. 

Enter Milo Preston, an up-and-coming chef who’s in town to take over a local restaurant. When Peri and Milo begin working together, she finds it hard to ignore his easy charm and captivating emerald-green eyes. Since Milo is her best friend’s estranged brother, Peri has to keep reminding herself that he is completely off-limits. As they grow closer, Milo introduces Peri to new foods, the joy (and pain) of jogging, and makes her think her luck might finally be turning.

But when the past catches up with them, Peri finds herself back at square one. Will she be able to sort herself out—or will the roof cave in on her once and for all?

Find the Book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


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'sex, snow & mistletoe' release day

Happy Release Day to Laura Barnard and her new holiday love story: Sex, Snow and Mistletoe. This sounds like a fun read for the upcoming holiday season.


*´¨✫)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨)✯ ¸.•*¨)
✮ (¸.•´✶ (¸ Release Day!

Sex, Snow and Mistletoe by Laura Barnard


Melinda is already having a crappy Christmas.  Forced to attend some snotty bitch's wedding is not the way to start out the holidays.  But when a car crash pushes her into the path of a handsome stranger she's glad to follow his snowy, sexy and seductive path.  But is he too good to be true?  And will she make it to the wedding before her best friend loses her mind with worry?

Find the Story on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads


About the Author
My name is Laura Barnard and I am an author from Hertfordshire, UK. I'm the chick-lit author of The Debt & the Doormat, The Baby & the Bride, Tequila & Tea Bags and Dopey Women.

In my spare time I enjoy drinking my body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of my face, drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio...oh and my husband of course :-) I like wearing yoga clothes and reading fitness magazines while I sit on the sofa and eat chocolate. I'm a real fan of the power nap and of course, READING!

I write not to get rich or famous, but because I LOVE writing. Even if one person tells me they enjoyed my book it makes the midnight typing worth it!


Connect with Laura


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October 27, 2015

interview with the author of 'this one's for you'

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Brandy Jellum to the Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour for This One's For You. This sounds like a great read, with a unique and wonderful back story as inspiration. I hope you'll enjoy getting better acquainted with Brandy and this story. Also, she's generously offering up a prize to one lucky reader, so be sure to enter on the Rafflecopter below.


Change the Word: What was the inspiration for This One's For You?
Brandy Jellum: In August of 2014, I lost perhaps one of the greatest people I had ever known. Her name was Mirranda and she was one of my best friends. Writing this story was my way of dealing with the loss and my way of honoring thirteen years of friendship. The main character, Brennan, reflects very much of who I am, what I dealt with as far as losing a part of me, and letting people in to help me accept and move on with everything that had occurred. She was my inspiration for This One’s For You.

CTW: What kind of research and planning went into telling this story?
BJ: Not very much to be honest. All I knew was I needed an outlet to deal with the loss and writing was the best way I knew how. A lot of the characters had physical/personality traits came from Mirranda and the kind of person she was. Some things that happened in the book, actually happened in real life, and I just elaborated on them. I just sat down one day, started to write, and let the words come out. It was all I needed for telling this story.

CTW: If you could grab lunch with one character from This One's For You, who would you choose, where would you go, and what would you talk about?
BJ: I’d go to lunch with Brennan. We’d go to McDonalds, grab cheeseburgers with only Mac sauce, and we’d talk about how wonderful and how much of an impact Mirranda/Reagan made on our lives.

CTW: How do you choose the names for your characters?
BJ: I have a funny way of choosing names. I’ll come across names I really love, ones that I’d like for future children. But since my husband and I already have four between the two of us combined, we taken steps to ensure no more surprises happen. Four is already a lot to juggle. So when I come across names that I love, they are reserved for future books!

CTW: What has been the best lesson you've learned about yourself as a writer?
BJ: My best writing comes from when I reach into myself and really pull out how I’m feeling. That if I put myself into the character’s shoes, how would I feel? How would I react to a situation? And how do I move forward? I’ve learned a great deal of what I would do if I was to come face to face with situations all my characters encounter and I’m pretty sure I have it figured out what I’d do.

CTW: What are three things you need to have in order to write?
BJ: My headphones, an endless playlist of music, and caffine.

CTW: Where is one place you would like to have a week-long writing retreat and why?
BJ: Probably just the opportunity to shut myself in my room because if I was to travel anywhere, I’d want to go out and explore, to see things, and to do things. I’m pretty sure I would get zero writing done if I went on a retreat outside of my house.

CTW: How do you stay motivated to keep writing?
BJ: This is a hard one that I’ve been struggling with. However, I just keep pushing myself forward. I’m one of those authors who hears voices in my head, so that’s been pretty motivating. If I don’t write, they keep talking, and keep driving me insane. Which is enough motivation for me to keep trucking forward.

CTW: What advice would you give to someone just starting his or her writing career?
BJ: There’s this thing called self-doubt – and it’s a real pain. IGNORE IT! That little voice in your head that’s telling you that you’ll never make it, that your story is horrible, and that you should quit while you’re ahead is a nuisance. It’ll always be there, book after book, year after year. The best thing one can do is learn to live with it. If you don’t, you won’t get anywhere. Keep pushing forward. Believe in yourself. And hire a GREAT editor!

CTW: What is up next for you and your writing career?
BJ: I’m still waiting for a book to take off. Right now, I’m fooling around with a couple of ideas I’ve got running in my head, and hoping one takes flight soon. As far as my career, I’m going to keep writing. That’s all I can do. And I love it.


About the Book
All alone in a new state, Brennan Daniels has only the memories of her best friend, Reagan, to keep her company as she starts college.

Reagan is the reason for everything Brennan does—before she died, she made Brennan promise to stay good until she found a man worth keeping. No boys, no dating, and definitely no falling in love—those were the rules for college, and Brennan carved them into the brick walls guarding her heart…

But there’s a fire burning behind those walls, and when Brennan meets Owen Scott, the (mysterious) new guy across the hall, she can’t deny the pull between them. He is everything she should never want. Everyone warns her to stay away—even Owen himself—but the heart wants what the heart wants, even if it knows that it’s going to get hurt—even if it means throwing old promises to new flames…

Find the Book

About the Author
Brandy’s passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun). At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers. When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.

Connect with Brandy
Facebook | TwitterWebsite

Enter the Rafflecopter here!


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October 26, 2015

release day: 'clutch'

Happy Release Day to Lisa Becker and her new novel Clutch. To celebrate the occasion, she is offering a giveaway. Be sure to check out the details of the book and enter to win below.


About clutch
clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.


Buy the Book on Amazon

About the Author
In addition to clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters. To learn more, visit www.lisawbecker.com.

Connect with Lisa



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October 23, 2015

friday night eats: sweet potato and chickpea sliders


This season we've already tried a hearty veggie burger for our football watch parties (view it here), so this month I figured we should go for something a bit lighter. This veggie burger is made with sweet potatoes and chickpeas, takes a little bit of prep work, but holds up better than some of the other veggie burger recipes I have tried. Again, this is not a recipe directly featured in First & Goal, but it is very much like the one she munched on before going to a football game with one of her new friends.

(Unfortunately, I would also imagine J.J. and most of the other guys in the league would starve before allowing something like this to be served at one of their watch parties.)

Sweet Potato Chickpea Sliders



Ingredients
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup dried barley (cooked)
1/4 cup dried quinoa (cooked)
1 medium sweet potato (baked)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
12 small hamburger buns or dinner rolls

Directions
Prepare the ingredients (boil the barley and quinoa, bake the potato, rinse and dry the garbanzo beans). Combine chickpeas, sweet potatoes, olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Stir in barley and quinoa. Form into 12 equal-sized patties. Cook on stove over medium heat, flipping to evenly toast both slides.

Serve with your favorite toppings on a small bun or roll.


For a little something different, I made this recipe as sliders instead of full-sized burgers, which gave me 12 patties instead of six. You can make it in whichever size you like, though I found the sliders were a perfect size.

I served these at my launch party for First & Goal back in September, and they were a hit with my vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends alike. While I liked having this as a slider, it can also be served on romaine for a lower calorie/carb option.

Aside from your usual burger toppings, I also suggest trying this one with caramelized onions or roasted peppers for a sweet and savory treat.


Follow the Pinterest Board for more recipes.

About the Book
When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way). 

Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.

With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

Now Available on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


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October 22, 2015

my land of lincoln

As I mentioned on Monday, yesterday I had an opportunity to be a co-host for the Love and Laughter Around the Globe Facebook party thrown to celebrate the re-release of Celia Kennedy's Prosecco and Paparazzi. While featuring Lincoln, Nebraska--the setting of my novel First & Goal, might not have seemed like a super sexy destination, I had a lot of fun showing off my hometown.

For those of you who weren't able to participate in the party, I wanted to share the photos and messages I posted to showcase Lincoln during my half-hour stint.

(I almost lost that copy of my book, got a blister on my Achilles tendon, and nearly had someone crash into my car in my efforts to take these photos, so I also want to get some bonus miles out of these. ;) ) 

Post 1:
Greetings from Lincoln, Nebraska! I’m Laura Chapman, the author of FIRST & GOAL, which is set right here in my hometown. For the next half hour, I’m going to share some of my favorite parts of Lincoln that made it into the story and give away a couple of e-copies of my book. 

But first, let’s do a roll call: Where are you from originally?



Post 2: 
***PRIZE ALERT*** Lincoln is home to a vibrant and trendy district known as the Railyard. My MC Harper occasionally meets her co-workers in this newly redeveloped part of town after a day at work. 

For a chance to win an e-book of FIRST & GOAL: What is your favorite Happy Hour drink?


Post 3: 
Harper goes on a casual date at one of my favorite restaurants in Lincoln: Lazlo’s. While Harper shows discipline and orders a salmon and avocado salad (which is still delicious), I’m a sucker for their crinkle cut fries dipped in honey mustard. 

What is one of your go-to comfort foods?


Post 4:
***PRIZE ALERT*** A book about football that’s set in Lincoln wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Memorial Stadium, home to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Even during a tough season (like this one) there is no place like Nebraska on a Game Day. Fun Fact: Memorial Stadium becomes the third largest city in Nebraska when the record-setting sellout crowd is in residence. 

For a chance to win an e-book of FIRST & GOAL: What is your favorite sport and team to follow? 


Post 5: 
That’s all for me, today. Bon Voyage! Thanks so much for visiting FIRST & GOAL and me in Lincoln, Nebraska. I hope you enjoyed your time here, and please continue commenting on the prize posts for your chance to win free books. Please keep in touch, wherever your travels may take you.


Congratulations to the prize winners and thanks to everyone who participated in the party. It was a lot of fun!


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October 20, 2015

interview with suzanne nicole

I am delighted to welcome Suzanne Nicole to Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour for Unravelled in New York. In addition to checking out her interview below, be sure to enter to win a prize in the Rafflecopter below.


Change the Word: What was your inspiration for Unravelled in New York?
Suzanne Nicole: I wanted to write a contemporary story that spanned two countries … I love New York so thought it would be the ideal place to start.

CTW: What was your favorite part about writing this story?
SN: It was seeing how the characters began to interact with each other and also where they took the story.

CTW: What kind of research and planning went into telling this story?
SN: It’s amazing where research will take you, you start off looking for one thing and you end up with loads of notes on something else – at one stage I was looking up carousels and I ended up finding out so much information about carousels all over the world and the history of them – it was insane hours and hours of carousel history for one scene.  I was also lucky enough to visit New York twice when writing the book and it was amazing to do research first hand.

CTW: If you could spend a day hanging out with one of the characters from this story, who would it be and what would you do?
SN: Well it would be a toss-up between Jack and Clark.  Jack because I’d like to try and break down his icy mannerisms (and he is my favorite – wait – am I allowed favorites?) and Clark because I think he’d be great fun to hang out with.

CTW: What are three things you need when you sit down to write?
SN: A quiet place, my notebook and computer.

CTW: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
SN: I’ve always loved writing and reading, when I was in my final year at school I always wanted to write and teach dancing, a funny combination, but it’s kind of what I’m doing now … although it’s been a while since I left high school … sigh … so it’s taken me a while to achieve both.

CTW: Where is your favorite travel destination?
SN: Oh so tough … maybe New York, London and Paris … in Australia anywhere near a beach.

CTW: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three books with you to re-read over and over, which would you choose and why?
SN: Pride and Prejudice –  I just love the wit and it’s so clever, I find something new in it every time I read it. I loved the Twilight series … I read it maybe four times … so maybe I would have to say it’s a favorite and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldron, when I found this series I seriously read it about three times (well the first four books anyway) back to back (I had a serious book-hangover afterwards) I had a newborn at the time and I remember doing a 4 am feed putting him to bed and then I would still be up reading an hour later … addictive reading right there.

CTW: What is one piece of advice you would offer up to someone who wants to write a book?
SN: Just start! I’ve learnt so much through this journey and loved it all – even the frustrating moments.

CTW: What is up next for you in your writing career?
SN: I have kind of started my next story … another contemporary romance set this time in Australia but with a global connection as well.

About the Author
With a passion for reading and writing Suzanne has been creating stories all her life through both her writing and dance teaching. Suzanne is a graduate from IMEB (Aus) and is a member of Romance Writers, Australia, she is also a qualified and registered dance and drama teacher. When she is not bombarding family and friends with story ideas she can be found in front of a class of students teaching dance or curled up with a good book. She loves romantic stories, angsty reads and dark-haired heroes. She also loves travelling, her recent highlights have been her trips to Los Angeles, New York and Boston and she dreams about going back there soon. Suzanne lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and three gorgeous boys.

Connect with Suzanne

About the Book
Sydney journalist Charli Cooper is making major changes in her life. She has no idea what destiny has in store for her as she moves half way around the world for a fresh start.

Jack Manning is everything Charli shouldn't want. He is arrogant, cocky and use to getting what he wants. He has no time to deal with an inexperienced journalist who has no idea of the New York social hierarchy.

As she unlocks the truth about Manning and his empire, she realises all is not as it seems and if she digs deep enough, she might just find the story she has been looking for. She has to make a decision between her ambition and her heart.

Will the secrets they both hold cause their delicately poised relationship to crumble?

Can one mistake unravel their lives?

Buy the Book for only 99 Cents During the Tour!


Enter to Win
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d17395a196/?



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October 19, 2015

party all the time


Partying all the time is certainly going to be a thing in my world this week. I'm participating in two bookish Facebook parties full of fun and prizes. And guess what? You're all invited. If you're so inclined, I hope you'll check-out both of these events and participate however you're able.

To quote a book I've never read (and a show I've only dabbled in watching) "winter is coming" to us Northern Hemisphere folks. And you're going to need to load up on books to tide you over until spring. That's where these parties come into play.

Here's what you need to know...



Halloween Book Hop

About the Party: We have over 130 authors, book bloggers, and publishers representing all different genres signed up! Readers stay tuned so you can go trick-or-treating and collect ALL the treats and tricks.

Book-lovers join this event so you'll know what author pages to hop to on Monday, October 19th - Saturday, October 31st.

Here is how this spook-tacular hop will work:
Every day during the hop, authors who have signed up will give out a "Trick" or a "Treat" (Tricks and Treats are explained on the sign up form) to their hop visitors on their designated day to be featured. Each day here, in our FB event, we'll post the links to the author's Facebook page where book-lovers can then hop to the page and collect the treat or enter for the trick. You won't know whether you're getting a "Trick" or "Treat" until you hop to the author's page! 

Gift cards, eBooks, signed paperbacks, swag, and more are what you can expect to find when you hop to the author's page.

Happy Halloween! Time to satisfy that sweet--err book tooth. ;)

Check Me Out: I'm offering a "Treat" on my Facebook page beginning on Wednesday, October 21. I'll provide more details on the day of the post (it wouldn't be a surprise if I spilled the beans today), but between myself and the 130 other authors participating in this hop, there should be a lot of great swag up for grabs. Go ahead and join the event to stay up-to-date with the latest info.  



Love and Laughter Around the Globe

About the Party: Thirteen fabulous authors from across the globe help Celia Kennedy celebrate the release of, Prosecco and Paparazzi! A day of love, laughter and giveaways you don't want to miss.

Check Me Out: I'll showcase Lincoln, Nebraska--the setting of First & Goal, and my own hometown--from 9:30 - 10 a.m. Pacific (that means 11:30 a.m. to noon for my fellow Central time zoners). I had a lot of fun creating the topics for my short portion of the party, and I hope you'll enjoy getting a taste of Lincoln through my eyes. It might not be the most exotic destination on this travel map, but there's plenty of room for adventure. Remember to join the event so you can follow along on the fun!

Until the fun begins, please join me in rocking out to Eddie Murphy's classic tune. It's Monday, and who doesn't want to start off the week with a dance party at your desk?


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October 16, 2015

friday night eats: wing dip by samantha march (and mitch!)

Continuing our celebration of football watch party dips, this week I invited my publisher and fellow Packers fan Samantha March (and her husband, Mitch) to share a favorite recipe.


Buffalo Wing Dip by Samantha March (and Mitch!)


So... I am not a domestic goddess. I don’t know what it is, but that just is not me. I can’t decorate my house for the seasons, I don’t get excited to light fresh candles and whip out my dust rag, and I don’t want to be in the kitchen. Really for any reason. You know what I would rather be doing on a Sunday afternoon? Watching some NFL action. Monday night? Same thing. Thursday night? You betcha.

Luckily, I not only found a man who was not turned off by my undomestic goddess status, but in some respects, he prefers it. Sure, my husband would probably like to see me tidy the house more than once every two weeks or occasionally bust out the mop, but there is one aspect that he is more than happy I stay away from, and that is cooking.

Whew! I’m not going to lie, I’ve had about every cliché kitchen mishap you will read about in a chick lit novel. I’m twenty-eight but ready to call it quits on trying to find that domestic goddess switch. It’s honestly embarrassing, but crazy frustrating at the same time. Enter...Husband. He not loves cooking and creating in the kitchen, but he’s darn good at it. I would probably either starve or live off fast food if it weren’t for him!

So as we celebrate the release of one of my new favorites read, First & Goal, I asked him to share his favorite recipe with me so I could share it with the rest of you. I give you...Buffalo Chicken Dip!

Ingredients
1 Package (8 ounces) of cream cheese, softened
1 can (10 oz) of chunk white chicken, drained
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese (he insists, blue cheese NOT ranch!)
2 cups (8 oz) of shredded cheese – he prefers Colby- Monterrey Jack

Directions
Throw everything in a crockpot and turn on high :) My kind of cooking!

He usually starts this about an hour to two hours before we want to eat and voila! So easy you would think I could do it but...I would find a way to mess it up, so it stays with him!

*Quick confession/disclaimer: When I recreated this dish to take this photo
I actually used a soy-based faux chicken. And it was amazing.

About Samantha March
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

Follow the Pinterest Board for more recipes.

About the Book
When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way). 

Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.

With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

Now Available on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


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October 14, 2015

'plan bea' release day

Happy Release Day to Hilary Grossman and her latest novel, Plan Bea. This looks like a great one, which I'll be adding to my to-read list. As part of the celebration, Hilary is offering her debut novel, Dangled Carat, for only 99 cents and she's gifting a Bath & Body Works gift card to one lucky reader and she's hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. Read through the post for the details on how to enter to win. Enjoy!


About the Book

How well do you really know the people in your life?

Annabel O’Conner has the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job, and the mother from hell! Annabel doesn’t like it but has come to terms with the fact that her relationship with her mother, Bea, deteriorated to the point of forced and strained communications. However, an unscheduled call from Bea turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believed about her life.

Despite the fact secrets, lies, and misplaced blame have destroyed the women’s relationship; Annabel reluctantly agrees to help Bea plan her wedding. Little does Annabel know the impact of her decision.

In this Women’s Contemporary Fiction novel, Hilary Grossman explores the complex relationship that exists between mothers and daughters in a light-hearted and relatable manner.

Now Available
Add it to Goodreads

About the Author
Hilary Grossman loves to find humor in everyday life. She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She likens life to a game of dodge ball - she tries to keep as many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. When she isn't writing, blogging, or shoe shopping she is the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer. She lives on the beach in Long Island.

Connect with Hilary


And now for a limited time, get her debut novel,
Dangled Carat, for 99 Cents on Amazon!

Enter the Plan Bea Goodreads Giveaway
and Enter to win a $25 Bath & Body Works Gift Card.


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October 13, 2015

interview with brea brown

Happy publication day to Brea Brown and Out of My League, her newest chick lit novel. I was fortunate to read an early draft of this story, and if you're a fan of work-in-progress heroines, quirky friends, and a hunky love interest you want to cheer for on and off of the field, you'll enjoy this fast-paced and laugh-out-loud read.

In honor of her new release, I am pleased to have Brea on the blog to share a little more information about Out of My League along with more about her writing practices. I hope you enjoy getting to know Brea better in this interview.

Change the Word: Can you please tell us a little about Out of My League?
Brea Brown: First, thanks for having me and helping to spread the word about Out of My League, the first book in the Underdog Trilogy. I'm excited--and frankly, surprised--it's finally going public. It's one of those books I wrote, then shelved, then would take out every once in a while to remind myself how awful it was, then shelve again. I changed the point of view from third to first, the tense from past to present, and I even switched the entire plot. Then someone wise got me thinking about it again in a whole new way, and the project was reborn. About the only thing that's the same now as it was in the original is the core cast of characters: Maura, Jet, Rae, and Colin. In a way, it's a coming-of-age story (although Maura's a little old for that) about discovering yourself and your place in the world and valuing your self-worth. Which makes it sound really touchy-feely and full of belly button staring, but placed against the backdrop of professional sports and including some fun secondary characters, it's a lot lighter than that.

CTW: How did you develop the character Jet Knox?
BB: *cue blushing* Jet Knox is based on a real NFL quarterback. Well, sort of. Considering I've never met the guy, I guess it's more accurate to say Jet Knox is based on how I imagine a certain real NFL player to be. Of course, after a while, the character took on a personality of his own, and we left the original guy behind. But I still love the inspiration guy (I'll 'fess up now and say it's Matt Cassel, because I'm sure inquiring minds want to know), and I follow his career like we're besties, even though he's long since left my favorite team, the Chiefs.

CTW: When and how did you become a fan of professional football?
BB: I've enjoyed pro football since I was a teenager, and I'd watch the games with my dad, but it hasn't been until recent years that I've become an avid fan. It's more than just about the game, too. Sure, I watch every game my team plays, but the NFL season is also a social affair in our house. We have friends over to watch games, and my slow cooker sees a lot of action. It's fun to cheer with friends. And as long as the Chiefs aren't playing the Cowboys (my husband's team), it's always a lighthearted, good time.

CTW: What does a typical day of watching football look like for you?
BB: Come home from church, get the crock pot going, settle in front of the TV for the first game of the day (usually noon, in my time zone), crack open a beer, and that's pretty much it until there's a break between the afternoon and evening games. Put the littlest kid to bed, then watch about half of the night game. I have to go to bed early, since I get up at 4:30 a.m., so I rarely stay up for the whole prime time game, if my team's not playing. (I'm old.) If my team's playing, I stick with it until the end, consequences--and exhaustion--be damned.

CTW: What's your favorite real life football story? (Can be your own or one you've read/seen.)
BB: I'm actually terrible at remembering this stuff. I love the game and really get into it while I'm watching, but I don't remember big plays or big games after they're over. I do enjoy a great human interest story, though. One of my favorites is Kurt Warner's. The dude lived in his in-laws' basement and worked as a stocker at a local grocery store. Then he played arena football, and drew the attention of the NFL with his impressive performances there. He was signed to the St. Louis Rams, where he was part of "The Greatest Show on Turf," and subsequently also played for the Arizona Cardinals. He's an All-Pro Superbowl champ, a Superbowl MVP, and a Hall of Famer, among other awards and accolades. From stock boy to superstar QB? That's a Hollywood story, for sure!

CTW: This is the first installment of a trilogy. You're no stranger to series--this is your third--how do you keep track of characters/plot continuity/etc. from book to book?
BB: I re-read my own books before writing the next one in the series. It feels narcissistic, but... you do what you have to do. I have a pretty bad memory about most things, so I need frequent refreshers. I also use a writing program that makes it easy to keep my research and background information organized and accessible.

CTW: You written chick lit and lad lit, what other genres might you like to try writing?
BB: I don't plan to write any other genres, but if someone told me I had to try something else, I'd probably choose cozy mysteries. I enjoy reading them, and every time I finish one I like, I think, "I wish I could write something like that!"

CTW: What's the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
BB: I've received so much! (That's kind of the nature of the business.) But I'd have to say the advice that's stuck with me the longest and that has seen me through many self doubts and bouts of block is to embrace my own voice and deliver the story I'd like to read in a way that only I could deliver it.

CTW: What three fictional characters would you most like to have dinner with and why?
BB: Oh, geez. Only three? I'd love to go all literary and feminist here, but I must stay true to myself and be honest (and shallow). I'd want to have dinner with Mr. Darcy, Atticus Finch, and Mark Darcy. But not all at once. Separately. Like a serial dater. And in modern times, mostly so Mr. Darcy would have to rely on me to help him navigate modern social norms, and I could call him Fitzwilliam. And take a selfie with him. The other two are amazing legal minds (albeit fictional) and would be great conversationalists.

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career?
BB: Now that I've released Out of My League, I'll move forward in the publishing process with my third and final book of the Nurse Nate Trilogy, Let's Be Friends. Nurse Nate is a reader fave (and I like him, too). I hope to bring the final chapter of his story to readers in Spring 2016.

I'm also in the process of writing a completely new story (a standalone... I think), set in a small New England town. I have no idea when I'll publish that one, but it's been fun to write and meet some new characters.

By this time next year I hope to have the second installment of the Underdog Trilogy ready, although I have only a vague idea of what it will be about.

And... whatever else pops up between now and then. I always have more ideas than time.

Thanks, again, for hosting me. I hope everyone loves Out of My League as much as I loved writing it (eventually... when I finally figured out how to make it work). People can get caught up on all of my other published books, to date, at my website.


About the Book
Maura Richards has a plan for her life—it involves not having a plan. From biding her time at a long-term temp job to ending relationships before they get too serious, Maura’s only commitment is to being noncommittal.

When she meets Jet Knox, the starting quarterback of her beloved hometown football team, she dismisses their encounter as a thrilling brush with celebrity she can drag out at parties for a few years, and nothing more. Jet has other ideas. He’s someone who’s made a living setting—and scoring—goals. Wooing Maura is his latest objective.

Everyone in Maura’s life seems to have an opinion on her relationship with the All-Pro QB, but with so many swirling opinions, rumors, and doubts, Maura must rely on the judgment of the very last person she feels she can trust: herself.

Available on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

About the Author
Brea Brown is an internationally acclaimed journalist-turned-novelist. She splits her residency between Cayman and London, occasionally vacationing in Australia with family. Her hobbies include counting her stacks of cash, praying for those less fortunate than she is, and drinking fair trade coffees and teas. She’s a hermit, so don’t contact her.

Just kidding! (That person sounds hideous.) The real Brea Brown is the humble Indie author of Out of My League, The Secret Keeper, The Secret Keeper Confined, The Secret Keeper Up All Night, The Secret Keeper Lets Go, The Secret Keeper Fulfilled, Daydreamer, Plain Jayne, Quiet, Please!, Let’s Be Frank, and Let’s Be Real. She lives in Springfield, Missouri, with her three hilarious sons and her amazing husband. Her passions include writing, football, daydreaming, laughing, and not taking anything too seriously. When she’s not doing those things, she hangs out on Facebook and Twitter or blogging as “The Reluctant Blogger.” She loves to hear from readers, so please, take a minute to visit her website, where you can get in touch with her in a variety of ways and view and purchase her entire catalog of books.

Connect with Brea


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