November 30, 2015

samantha march shares her favorite holiday traditions

Bloggers Note: The traditions surrounding the holiday season are part of what make it so special. In Making Christmas and What Happens at Midnight--my novellas featured in All I Want For Christmas--both celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve traditions. To spread the merriment of the season, I have invited five writers to share their favorite holiday traditions on the blog this week. Enjoy!


By Samantha March
Author of The Christmas Surprise in All I Want For Christmas and Up To I Do

When I was thinking about favorite holiday traditions, the same memories kept popping up. Unfortunately, the tradition I’m going to share is no longer, which sticks with me each holiday season.

My favorite tradition as a child around the holidays was simply going to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. Before we arrived my mom, stepdad, myself and my brother would slowly drive around the blocks, looking at the beautiful Christmas lights, which continues to awe me into adulthood. Something about those lights just make me believe, you know? Then the whole family gathered at Grams, and we had a big present-opening ordeal. The kids went first and we got gifts from Grams, our godparents, and the children also had like a Secret Santa theme too (though usually not very secret). The adults went after, and I know they had a White Elephant gift exchange and things could get rowdy, but I was usually too busy playing with my new dolls or trying on new shoes at that point to pay much attention.

We stayed well into the night, making sure all the food was eaten, all the gifts were good and played with, and all us kids were tuckered out. I usually didn’t even remember being carried out to our vehicle and driven home. My memories from the end of the night blended easily into the next morning, where I would spring out of bed and my brother and I would run to the tree and see even more presents waiting for us.

As I got older, and my Grams got older, and then eventually sick with breast cancer, the tradition slowly started to slip away. I no longer live near any of my family, which does make me homesick around the holidays, but I do count myself as lucky, because I married into a great family who lives close by us. We’ve been able to start our own new traditions – Find the Pickle, for one – and I’m sure once I have children of my own even more traditions will start around our house. But I truly feel blessed to be able to look back on my childhood and know each year I felt the magic of Christmas and the love of my family. Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season.


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 beauty related. In 2011, she launched her independent publishing company, Marching Ink, and has four published novels—Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, and Up To I Do. 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 All I Want For Christmas
Making Christmas by Laura Chapman
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

Nine Ladies Dancing by Cat Lavoie
Casey Ellis is the last person who should be planning her office’s holiday party. Convinced she’s plagued with chronic Christmas bad luck, Casey isn’t interested in tempting fate. But when putting on a party planner hat seems like a good way to get closer to her longtime crush, Casey takes charge—and braces for impact.
When things start to fall apart—just like Casey knew they would—will she run and hide, or will she learn that bad luck can sometimes turn out to be Christmas magic in disguise?

The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March
Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother...until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

What Happens at Midnight by Laura Chapman
Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.

All I Want For Christmas is Now Available


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November 25, 2015

wcw: meet natalie from 'what happens at midnight'

Every good love story needs a relatable, but badass heroine to cheer on to victory. This Woman Crush Wednesday, get to know Natalie, the lead character in What Happens at Midnight, now available in All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink.


As I've previously mentioned, What Happens at Midnight is a story I've been toying with for the past few years, and it finally came together in its current evolution. As such the main character, Natalie, is someone I've put a lot of thought into.

Smart and slightly awkward, a little icy on the surface, though warm underneath, Natalie is kind of a contradiction to herself, which she finds annoying. I had a lot of fun creating her, because like my other characters she has some personal growth to accomplish, but unlike most of my other protagonists to date, she fights it a bit more.

I made Natalie an anthropology grad student turned adjunct professor/part-time curator at a folk art museum as a nod to my day job. While I'm neither of these things, I work alongside talented professors and curators at a museum that celebrates a specific form of folk art. I love my co-workers, and this seemed like a fun way to play tribute to them. I even made one of Ivy's signature drinks the one a couple of my curator co-workers favor. The other is one of my favorites (I'll let you decide which is which, but it's probably not too hard to figure out).

And like Ivy, the story behind her name is pretty easy. Natalie = nativity. Or something like that.

When it comes to casting Natalie, I'm pretty flexible. I'm a big fan of the actresses in the Hallmark movies, so I'd probably be inclined to go with someone I'd like to meet in real life like Katie Leclerc.

Source

Maybe I'm typecasting after seeing her play the fun and adorable, but superbly intellectual Deb in Cloudy with a Chance of Love earlier this year, but if the shoe fits, you snap it up.  I also think she also has the ability to play a Midwest transplant in Austin well.

Let's play a round of My Favorite Things with Natalie...

Favorite Christmas Song: It's really more of a guilty pleasure, but I can't help singing along to Wham!'s "Last Christmas." And great. Now I have it stuck in my head.

Favorite Christmas Movie: My all-time favorite is When Harry Met Sally, which is really more of a New Year's Eve movie, so I guess I'll say Love Actually, too.

Favorite Holiday Treat: Ugh. It might be easier to ask what isn't my favorite holiday treat. I am a certified junk food addict, and I've never met a cookie or cake that I didn't love. But if I had to pick an absolute favorite, I suppose I'd go with those little tree-shaped cakes that come in a box.

Favorite Holiday Drink: I usually stick to my usual Diet Coke or gin and tonic order, but if I'm feeling really festive I might have a Dirty Shirley (that's a 7-Up with grenadine plus vodka if you don't know).

Favorite Holiday Memory: I really enjoyed having my family get together at my grandparents' farm when I was growing up. But probably my favorite memory was spending New Year's Eve huddled up in front of the TV having a movie marathon with my younger brother. He shares my love for rom coms, so it was nice not to have to fight over what to watch--we both wanted the same movies!


About Making Christmas
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

All I Want For Christmas is Now Available

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November 24, 2015

my football confessions

I’m a lifelong football fan, which means I’ve had more than twenty-nine years to develop some kind of ridiculous habits and quirks. To commemorate my latest novel, First & Goal, and the approaching end of the college football regular season, I figured now was as good a time as any to come clean about them. I don’t normally do this outside of my blog, but since we’re friends…


Welcome to my football confessions. Now brace yourself, some of these are shocking. And I would apologize for them, but… I can’t. They make up my football persona. So here we go.

Confession 1: I’m a terror on Twitter.
In all fairness, I’ve made a conscientious effort to improve on this front, but sometimes I tend to get a little carried away while watching football. And sometimes, when I have access to my phone or a computer (and it’s 2015—I always have one or both at my fingertips) I express myself on Twitter. Usually it’s just banter like, “I want to marry Jordan Westerkamp!!!” but sometimes, especially when I’ve had a couple of drinks, I can get a little ranty. This isn’t probably that big of a deal—until the day comes that I drink a little too much wine and tweet “Shut up @KirkHerbstreit” so many times I end up getting blocked. This year, I’ve made a rule that I’m not allowed to tweet anything if I’ve had more than two drinks—or unless I’ve vetted the comment with a friend.

Confession 2: Parody accounts are a crucial part of my game day routine.
When I’m home watching the game, I have @fauxpelini and @MyKriley pulled up on my Twitter feeds so I can watch the game with the jokers. I’m also deeply saddened when there isn’t a new Tunnel Walk of Shame comic the day before a Husker game. I just feel so empty. And no football Sunday is complete without checking out the latest Aaron Rodgers photobomb or Smokin’ Jay. My father tells me it’s sad to have comedy be such a big part of something as serious as football, but I’d rather laugh than cry.

Confession 3: On Game Day I swear… a lot.
Look, I’m not particularly proud of this, but there’s something about a football game that brings out the inner sailor in me. In my defense, I grew up watching football with my dad, which is where I learned a lot of my go-to phrases (i.e. “G—D—Refs!”). And my swearing doesn’t just come out in times of strife. Only a couple of weeks ago, I told a collective fan base to go eff itself while wielding my middle fingers at the TV screen after the Huskers made a particularly exciting first down conversion. My sister told me to calm down. Rather than tell her to go eff off too, I counted to ten. See, I’m growing.

Confession 4: Sometimes I fantasize about writing a time-traveling romance novel starring Clay Matthews.
I’ve addressed this previously in a post (read it here), but here’s my premise:
“A Clay Matthews-like professional linebacker (Go Pack Go) is magically transported back to the Scottish Highlands in the year 1206. (Again, I'm not sure how, because I'd like to be a little surprised when I read this book.) One of the most powerful lairds in all the Highlands mistakes his football uniform as the plaid of a rival clan and declares war. Our football player's life is in danger until the laird's only daughter, a beautiful and spirited young woman, throws herself in front of him and begs for mercy. Naturally they're forced into marriage, he tosses her over his shoulder and carries her to bed a time or ten, and they begrudgingly fall in love only to have time and some other major obstacle stand in the way of their happiness. Let's see if Clay Matthews would be available to do the cover photo shoot.” 
I’m not sure I could actually pull off writing this book, but I’m desperately waiting for someone else to take the prompt and make it their own. My imagination and I would be ever so grateful.

So there you have it. I hopefully didn’t come off too nutsy (just nutsy enough). If you enjoyed this, I hope you’ll check out my new novel, First & Goal. You can also read my other confessions here.


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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November 23, 2015

mcm: meet rob from 'what happens at midnight'

Every good love story needs a swoon-worthy heartthrob. This Man Crush Monday, get to know Rob, the man who captures Natalie's fancy in What Happens at Midnight, now available in All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink.


Oh, Rob. You fulfill so many of the traits I find appealing in a young man. You're smart, fun, family-oriented, and focused.

You also become a firefighter, which is a profession I've crushed on since I was in kindergarten. (Our bus drivers were two dishy Tom Selleck-type firefighters who shared the route, and my heart.) Aside from paying tribute to two of my first crushes, I also made Rob a firefighter as a nod to a young man I exchanged a series of texts and phone calls with during my days in Houston. (You can actually read more about that what-if story in this guest post I wrote earlier this year.)

Because Rob doesn't actually get a POV in What Happens at Midnight, I had to develop his character as much as I could through his actions and words. That's always a fun challenge for an author.

And like Everett in Making Christmas, Rob's name has a special behind-the-scenes meaning. I named him Rob in honor of Robert Burns, who wrote Auld Lang Syne, which seemed to fit the theme of this story.

For the Hallmark adaptation of this story, I'm open for casting options. I wouldn't mind introducing some fresh new talent. And I also wouldn't mind seeing Michael Trevino take the helm.

Source

And now for a questionnaire to get to know Rob's holiday tastes.

Favorite Christmas Song: Is it too cute if I say "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

Favorite Christmas Movie: We used to watch Scrooged a lot every year.

Favorite Holiday Treat: I know it's traditionally a Thanksgiving food, but I like pumpkin pie all through the holiday season.

Favorite Holiday Drink: I'm usually a beer drinker, and I like Shiner's Holiday Cheer.

Favorite Holiday Memory: There are too many to pick just one. I come from a big, loud family. Spending time with all of them is my favorite part of every holiday season. If I had to pick one, I'd probably say the first year I got my dog. My nieces and nephews went crazy for him. He did end up eating a giant cinnamon candle, though, which means he spent most of the night throwing it up. Still, it was a good chance for us to get to know each other better.


About What Happens at Midnight
Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.


All I Want For Christmas is Now Available


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November 20, 2015

'what happens at midnight' the soundtrack

As promised, this week we're back with my imagined soundtrack for What Happens at Midnight, my second novella in the recently released collection, All I Want for Christmas.


Here's the scoop on What Happens at Midnight
Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.
Same drill... these songs are in no particular order--mostly just in the order in which they were added to the list. I will note that though "XO" by Beyonce was the last one officially added to the playlist, I probably listened to this song 100 times while I was writing this story. I've blogged about this before, but sometimes I listen to the same song on repeat while I write a scene to set the mood. And this particular number just seemed to fit for a lot of Natalie and Rob's story.

This is a story I attempted to write a couple of times during the past eight years. (I started my first draft while working as the night reporter at my local newspaper during the holiday season my senior year of college. I didn't get far, but every year after, I'd pick up the concept and start over. This year I finally managed to do it.) So some of the songs have been part of the playlist for a long time.

Regardless, I hope you'll enjoy listening to these playlists while read the story or before or after if you're just hoping to get in the holiday spirit--though not all of the songs fall under the heading of Christmas music.

Have fun!

Find it on Spotify


And YouTube


I hope you enjoy these tunes (which are in no particular order) while you read this story! Check back next Friday for the playlist for What Happens at Midnight.

Find What Happens at Midnight in All I Want for Christmas


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November 19, 2015

interview with the author of 'thirty days to thirty'

Today we welcome Courtney Psak, the author of Thirty Days to Thirty, to the blog for an interview as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a $50 Amazon card.


Change the Word: How would you describe Thirty Days to Thirty in fewer than 25 words?  
Courtney Psak: A girl who has it all until she doesn't, decides to benchmark her turning thirty in a month to accomplish a list she made.

CTW: Where did you draw inspiration from to write this story? 
CP: I realized a lot of my friends, including myself, started to get the ‘quarter-life crises.’ We were upset over the fact that we were not where we thought we would be by this point in our lives. What I started to realize though, was that when life happens, it’s going to bring you places you never could’ve imagined you would be. In the process of trying to be a particular version of ourselves, we in fact, discovered who we really were. It made us all realize that it’s not necessarily about the goals in life, but what you learn along the way.

CTW: What was your greatest challenge writing this story? 
CP: Myself. So many times I wanted to throw it out because I didn't think it was good enough, or not believable. There was a lot of internal struggle with my confidence. What do you like most about Jill, the main character in Thirty Days to Thirty? I like how brave she is to get out of her comfort zone. At first she is hesitant, but then she fully embraces it. I would love to have the confidence that Jill has.

CTW: What are three items on your personal bucket list? 
CP: Heli-skiing, sky diving and become a full-time novelist.

CTW: With Thanksgiving a week away, what is one thing you are thankful for this year? 
CP: I'm thankful for my husband, who gave me the push I needed to publish this book and I'm thankful to all of my friends, family and readers for all of their support!

CTW: What does your writing routine look like? 
CP: I start with a basic outline that I will continue to flesh out, over and over again. Once I start to actually write, this keeps me from reaching a dead end since I have a way to keep the story going. This allows me to to get more into the dialogue and emotions of the characters.

CTW: What is one goal you have for yourself in the coming year? 
CP: I'd love to make this book successful and publish another one.

CTW: What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone just beginning his or her professional career?
CP: You are going to make a lot of mistakes, but don't let yourself get in your own way. Stay confident and continue on no matter what. Persistence is the real key to success.

CTW: What’s next for you and your writing career? 
CP: I'm currently editing my next book about a Hollywood socialite who ends up on a reality show as the made of honor to her best friend and her ex-boyfriend. I'm also outlining a book about a murder that happens at a corporate retreat and the three crazy/flaky characters that it surrounds.

About the Book
What if you were on the cusp of marrying the guy of your dreams and reaching that career goal you set for yourself, only for all of it to be taken away in one fell swoop?

What if this all happened a month before you turned 30?

This is the story of Jill Stevens, who after moving back home, finds a list she made in high school of thirty things she wanted to accomplish before her thirtieth birthday.

With a month left and hardly anything crossed off her list, she teams up with old friends to accomplish as much as she can before the big 3-0. Along the way, she discovers her true self and realizes it’s not about the material successes in life but the journey.

Find the Book

About the Author
Courtney Psak is a New Jersey native who grew up with a passion for reading and writing.
After traveling the world, she settled into New York City where she earned her Masters in Publishing.

She is a member of the National Writers Association and the Women's Fiction Writers Association.
She currently resides in Hoboken with her husband.

She spends her weekends seeking adventure through hiking, skiing and traveling.

Connect with Courtney




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November 18, 2015

wcw: meet ivy from 'making christmas'

Every good love story needs a relatable, but badass heroine to cheer on to victory. This Woman Crush Wednesday, get to know Ivy, the lead character in Making Christmas, now available in All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink.


If I could be any of the characters I've created when I grow up, I would want to be Ivy from Making Christmas. She's been on some adventures--like living and thriving for years in San Francisco--is a super inventive and productive worker--and entrepreneur--and she has a wardrobe I covet. And she also recognizes the importance of stopping to smell the flowers and taking time to celebrate the moment.

Yes, Ivy is who I would like to be when I get where I'm going.

Creating Ivy was a lot of fun. To develop her new profession as the owner of Whiskers on Kittens, a eco-friendly/organic/DIY mail order pet product line, I drew inspiration from my hometown. In recent years Lincoln, Nebraska, has become the home of several Internet startups. I also used my kittens, and their particular likes and dislikes, to create the product. (My cat, Jane, was also the real life inspiration for Ivy's cat, Hazel.) There's a small part of me that wishes this story had been longer so I could explore Ivy's job more extensively.

(Incidentally, my friend and I totally want to pursue this as a business, but it would mean learning more skills than I can imagine at present.)

And while looks aren't everything, I see Glee alumni Dianna Agron portraying Ivy in the Hallmark adaptation. While she definitely has Ivy's blonde hair and brown eyes down, I also think she has the ability to portray Ivy's warmth and ambition.

Source

And now the questionnaire to get to know Ivy a bit better...

Favorite Christmas Song: Hands down, it has always been, and will always be, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." I grew up watching classic movies like Meet Me in St. Louis, and I always loved that song.

Favorite Christmas Movie: Again, I kind of like older movies, like Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Beautiful Life.

Favorite Holiday Treat: I like gingerbread and ginger snaps. I'm a fan of anything with a little spice.

Favorite Holiday Drink: I recently discovered a gingerbread latte that I really like.

Favorite Holiday Memory: Christmas is also my birthday, so my parents always worked really hard to make it a special day for me and then fun for my family. To do that, my parents would wake me up really early, and we'd have a little celebration just the three of us. They did the same thing for my siblings on their birthdays too, and I always thought it was lovely to have that little smaller celebration time.


About Making Christmas
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

All I Want For Christmas is Now Available

Stay connected. "Like" Change the Word on Facebook. Follow my other adventures on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Receive news updates via my e-newsletter.

November 17, 2015

release day: 'death before decaf'

Happy Release Day to Caroline Fardig and her latest mystery: Death Before Decaf. This looks like another fantastic read, perfect to curl up with in the upcoming winter months.


Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson, Caroline Fardig’s captivating new mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse . . . where murder is brewing.


After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancĂ© robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved cafĂ© down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.

The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.

Buy the Book


Connect with Caroline



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November 16, 2015

mcm: meet everett from 'making christmas'

Every good love story needs a swoon-worthy heartthrob. This Man Crush Monday, get to know Everett, the man who captures Ivy's fancy in Making Christmas, now available in All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink.


Oh, Everett. The quiet and broody guy who secretly has a heart of gold. In his late twenties/early thirties, Everett is a lifelong Nebraskan who writes copy for agricultural clients, plays guitar in a cover band, and has a slight obsession with reading biographies to kill time. out of any character I've ever created, he's probably the most like the guys I grew up knowing in marching band and working at a movie theater.

Only he's better, because I invented him. There's just something about a cool Nebraska guy.

Fun fact: Everett received his name, because every day I drive by "Everett Street" on my way to and from work. I also drive by "Washington," and I nearly named him Everett Washington, because I thought it had a nice ring to it. Then I remembered why it sounded so perfect: There is an actually Everett, Washington, located near Seattle. So I nixed that full name and left him Everett. But as a tribute to my lapsed thinking, I made the city Ivy's hometown.

As far as movie rights go...

Source

I imagine Ben Hollingsworth playing Everett in the Hallmark adaptation. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for him, I'm sure. Especially not after he starred in A Wish Come True and Lucky in Love. But there's more to Everett than looks. He's a man injured from the past, who needs a little light in his life. Can the spirit of the season save him? Or is he doomed to be a curmudgeon forever?

You'll have to read Making Christmas to find out, but until then, here's a little character questionnaire to tide you over...

Favorite Christmas Song: I don't know... I guess "Good King Wenceslas," because it has a good story.

Favorite Christmas Movie: Probably A Christmas Story.

Favorite Holiday Treat: I like frosted sugar cookies with sprinkles.

Favorite Holiday Drink: Egg nog.

Favorite Holiday Memory: One year my sister and I were excited to meet Santa Claus, but we both chickened out at the last minute. But just as we were about to leave, we had a change of heart. Even though the mall was about to close, and the line had been pretty long, somehow my parents managed to get both of us in to see him. They must have bribed an elf, but even though we kept them all at the store an extra ten minutes, Santa still brought both of us what we asked for: new bikes.


About Making Christmas
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

All I Want For Christmas is Now Available

Stay connected. "Like" Change the Word on Facebook. Follow my other adventures on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Receive news updates via my e-newsletter.

November 13, 2015

'making christmas' the soundtrack

We're continuing the release week celebrations for All I Want For Christmas, which features two new holiday novellas from me, including Making Christmas and What Happens at Midnight.


Here's the scoop on Making Christmas
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.
While writing this story during the summer, I listened to a mixture of Christmas and non-Christmas music to help me capture the spirit of Ivy and Everett's story. I've now whittled it down for this playlist--or soundtrack if you like--for your listening pleasure.

Find it on Spotify


And YouTube


I hope you enjoy these tunes (which are in no particular order) while you read this story! Check back next Friday for the playlist for What Happens at Midnight.

Find Making Christmas in All I Want for Christmas



Enter the giveaway for a chance to win three $10 gift cards from Cat, Samantha, and me using the Rafflecopter below. Just in time for the holidays, the winner will get the chance to pick out three gift cards from the following stores:
  • Cat: Lush, Amazon, and Best Buy
  • Samantha: Sephora, Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works
  • Moi: Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Target

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November 12, 2015

book spotlight 'losing eva'

Today we're featuring Jennifer Sivec's book Losing Eva as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. Enjoy!


About the Book
Tragedy often seeks us out at the very moment we least expect it.

Brynn and Adam Michaels are rebuilding their lives after Brynn's painful and cruel past threatened to tear them apart. Just when Brynn lets her guard down and imagines that she and Adam can have a happy life, a stranger arrives, threatening everything.

And when the one thing holding them together is ripped cruelly from their lives, they are irreparably changed, their fragile life together, teetering dangerously on the edge.

Losing Eva is the deeply complex, emotional sequel to Leaving Eva, and the second novel in the Eva Series. Caution: Eva’s story contains graphic violence, strong language, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and child abuse.

Jennifer Sivec, author of women’s fiction, once again creates a deeply beautiful story of hope and promise, while exploring the dark edges of the human spirit and questioning how much suffering one can endure, until they are finally lost forever.


Find the Book


About the Author
Women’s fiction writer, Jennifer Sivec, has always found an escape in books and beautiful stories. In writing, she has discovered refuge and sanctity her entire life, which quiets the chaos while giving her perspective and peace of mind. She finds inspiration in the balance of beauty and tragedy, which is something she has experienced personally.

Jennifer was born in Seoul, Korea and then abandoned at a very young age. At the age of three, she was adopted and has lived in Ohio for most of her life. She is married to her best friend, Jeff, and together they share two incredible, funny boys.

Jennifer is the author of The Eva Series and the standalone novel, I Run to You. Leaving Eva is her first complete work and was originally released in April of 2013. Losing Eva is the sequel and continuation of Eva's heartbreakingly beautiful story. The Eva series is an intense journey into abandonment, abuse, alcoholism, and cutting, with numerous twists and turns that will keep the reader holding their breath until the very end.

You can stay up to date with Jennifer by visiting and signing into her website.

Connect with Lisa


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November 11, 2015

now available: 'all i want for christmas' now available


Three, no make that, FOUR cheers for All I Want For Christmas, which is now available on your e-readers. (We'll have print copies soon!) Can I get a Hip-Hip-Hip-HIP-Hooray?

This collection features four new holiday novellas, including Nine Ladies Dancing by Cat Lavoie and The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March along with Making Christmas and What Happens at Midnight by me.

Here are a few more details about what you can expect to read in these stories...

Making Christmas by Laura Chapman
While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

Nine Ladies Dancing by Cat Lavoie
Casey Ellis is the last person who should be planning her office’s holiday party. Convinced she’s plagued with chronic Christmas bad luck, Casey isn’t interested in tempting fate. But when putting on a party planner hat seems like a good way to get closer to her longtime crush, Casey takes charge—and braces for impact.
When things start to fall apart—just like Casey knew they would—will she run and hide, or will she learn that bad luck can sometimes turn out to be Christmas magic in disguise?

The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March
Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother...until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

What Happens at Midnight by Laura Chapman
Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.


Find the Book


Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win three $10 gift cards from Cat, Samantha, and me. Entering is easy--just complete the Rafflecopter below. Just in time for the holidays, the winner will get the chance to pick out three gift cards from the following stores:

  • Cat: Lush, Amazon, and Best Buy
  • Samantha: Sephora, Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works
  • Moi: Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Target
Stay connected. "Like" Change the Word on Facebook. Follow my other adventures on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Receive news updates via my e-newsletter.

November 10, 2015

interview with the author of 'lowcountry bordello'

Today Susan M. Boyer stops by to talk about writing and her new novel Lowcountry Bordello as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. Also, check out the super slammin' giveaway of a $50 Amazon gift card with the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.


Change the Word: Can you please tell us a little bit about Lowcountry Bordello? 
Susan M. Boyer: Sure… It’s almost Christmas, and Liz Talbot’s wedding is fast approaching. The last thing she needs is a new case. But when one of her closest friends—one of her bridesmaids—discovers a body in a historic Charleston home, Liz has to help.

CTW: What has been your favorite part about writing this series?  
SMB: I love revisiting these characters. They’re like old friends. Also, I love Charleston and the area. We lived there once, and I love the excuse to visit often for research.

CTW: What has been the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it? 
SMB: Finding the time to do everything. I’m having trouble finding my balance between my writing, promotion, and my family. I can’t say I’ve overcome it. Each day is a new challenge. I just do the best I can every day and try not to stress too much.

CTW: How do you create and solve the mysteries in your series? 
SMB: Wow. I have no idea. The ideas come to me bits at a time. I start with a single idea, mull it a while, and it starts to blossom. I usually start with the crime—who did what to who and why. Then I work through to see how my detective could solve the case.

CTW: What kind of research went into telling this story? 
SMB: Ha! Well, I didn’t visit any bordellos, I promise! Mostly this one involved research on specific places in Charleston—inns, restaurants, etc.

CTW: This story takes place during the holidays--what is your favorite holiday tradition? 
SMB: I love everything about Christmas. My favorite part is time spent with family. We have a very large family, so this involves several parties. I love them all.

CTW: If you could have dinner with any three authors (living or departed), who would you invite and why? 
SMB: This is so hard! I can think of a hundred. I only get three? I’m going fudge a bit and say I love having dinner with the other Henery Press authors, and would do this any day  had the chance. It’s a fun group, and also it’s great to share ideas.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received? 
SMB: Keep the other cooks out of your soup. For a while I was a bit of a feedback junkie, taking to heart everything anyone said. While I do think critique groups are great, you have to learn to filter. If you hear something once, you have to really weigh it to see if it resonates with you. If you hear something ten times, that’s a whole nother story.

CTW: What are three of your favorite mysteries from other authors? 
SMB: I love Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series. I’m reading X right now. I love everything Charlaine Harris writes. My favorite of hers…that’s tough. I love her new Midnight, Texas series. And I’m a big Harlan Coben fan. My favorite is the one I’m reading at any given moment, but I did particularly like Tell No One.

CTW: What's up next for you and Liz Talbot? 
SMB: Lowcountry Book Club comes out in April of 2016.


About the Book
The Charleston streets are dressed for the holidays in sophisticated Southern style: topiaries adorned with red ribbons, garland entwined with white lights, and poinsettias potted in gold planters. The high class bordello in a stately historic home is certainly no exception. When Private Investigator Liz Talbot’s dear friend Olivia swears she saw a dead body in the parlor of this bordello, one Olivia accidentally co-owns, Liz promptly comes to her aid.

With her wedding back home on Stella Maris less than a week away, Liz must juggle one elderly madam, two ex and future in-laws, three ghosts in the bordello, four giddy bridesmaids, five lovely courtesans, six suspicious patrons…and a partridge in a pear tree as she tries to keep her bridesmaid out of jail and live to walk down the aisle.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, private investigator mystery series, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations, Southern fiction, Southern humor, Southern living.

Buy the Book

About the Author
Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations, including the Macavity. Lowcountry Boneyard, the third Liz Talbot mystery, was a Spring 2015 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. Lowcountry Bordello, the fourth book in the series, was released November 3, 2015. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels.

Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.

Connect with Susan

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November 9, 2015

my tips for a successful write-in

We've officially made it through the first week of National Novel Writing Month. If you're participating this year, go ahead and give yourself a round of applause.

Source

This marks my sixth consecutive year of participating in NaNoWriMo. It's how I started all of my novels, including Hard Hats and Doormats, The Marrying Type, First & Goal, and the soon-to-be released Going for Two. This year I'm working on a new standalone, but I also have the privilege of being one of the Lincoln, Nebraska, municipal liaisons. Basically a ML is a local volunteer who serves as a resource to other writers in the area, and we help coordinate write-ins. And if you don't know, a write-in is a planned time for writing at a location other than home. While NaNoWriMo write-ins are officially a group endeavor, I maintain that you can have a write-in for just yourself.

Today I wanted to share a few of my tips for holding a successful write-in whether it is for yourself or a group. I'd also love to hear any of your tips, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

My Tips for a Successful Write-In

1. Location, location, location
It's the number one rule of real estate, and the number one rule for a good write-in. It's also totally subjective. I write best at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and cafes, which is where I scheduled our official write-ins. (I also like writing at bars, but that's more of a personal thing.) But your special writing place can be anything. The other good factor to keep in mind for your location is to select a place that has electrical outlets for your computer and preferably comfortable chairs, because you're going to be sitting a lot. I also prefer a place that is a little busy or quiet so I can get lost in a story. But really, I wrote almost half of Hard Hats and Doormats in airports, so you can make it work anywhere.

2. Stay hydrated
I'm talking water. I'm talking coffee or tea. I'm talking beer (though I'd encourage moderation). Whatever it takes. Regularly drinking some sort of liquid has the added benefit of making you feel replenished and full, which means you can concentrate on your story without those nagging hunger or thirst pangs. It also has the added benefit of forcing you to get up every once in a while to relieve yourself. I'm not being gross here, but making a point. I can't tell you how many times I've stood up, walked to the restroom and walked back to have resolved a tricky issue I was dealing with in my story.

3. Bring some headphones
I've found that if you have a pair of headphones and some music, you can escape into your story that much better. Actually, forget the music. Sometimes just having the headphones in will help you feel like you're getting serious about your story. It also will help you drown out the noise if your selected location has a bit too much hustle and bustle for your liking. It also also keeps you from chatting with your other writers too much. (Guilty here.)

4. Set and track goals
I'm a bit of a nerd about this, but I like to set word count goals for myself each time I sit down to write. It usually involves making a chart and/or list that I can check off as I accomplish my goals. There's something pretty rewarding about seeing that you're making progress. And speaking of rewards...

5. Give yourself rewards
I give myself a sparkly sticker every time I write another 1,000 words. I also made treat bags for my fellow writers, which is their reward for showing up to a write-in. Just because some of us are almost thirty doesn't mean the thrill of getting treats has gone away.

So those are my write-in tips. Do you have any others to add to the list?


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November 6, 2015

friday night eats: chili by brea brown

For this week's Friday Night Eats post, I invited Out of My League author Brea Brown to share one of her favorite football watch party dishes.


Chili by Brea Brown


Hey, all! I'm a dump-and-go kind of girl when it comes to a lot of things in life (hahaha), but most especially when it comes to cooking during football season. There are games to watch, people!!! My slow-cooker gets a ton of use during the season, but this is one dish I actually make on the stove. It's "my" chili. Bit of a misnomer there, because I basically use the recipe on the back of the McCormick's Original Chili Seasoning Packet, but... whatevs. My maiden name is McCormick. Does that count? Plus, I modify the recipe a bit and always make a double batch. Here it is:

Ingredients

2 packets McCormick's Original Chili Seasoning
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce AND
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 oz) cans chili or kidney beans, undrained
2 cups jalapeno slices (optional)
1/2 cup jalapeno juice (from the jar the slices come in) (optional)

Suggested Toppings: Shredded cheddar, sour cream, mustard, finely chopped onions

Directions

Brown ground beef in large skillet. Drain. Mix drained beef, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, beans, jalapenos and jalapeno juice in large stock pot. Cover and heat on medium-low, stirring often, until heated through (usually about 40 minutes). Simmer on low for all-day grazing (just make sure you stir occasionally, so it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan... that's gross). Serve over Fritos, tortilla chips, corn bread (I use a boxed mix), or hot dogs, if you're feeling really frisky.

Sit back and enjoy the game... and the food! Go team!


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 LeagueThe Secret KeeperThe Secret Keeper ConfinedThe Secret Keeper Up All NightThe Secret Keeper Lets GoThe Secret Keeper FulfilledDaydreamerPlain JayneQuiet, 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

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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