Gavin Greene is a writer for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, but he doesn’t write a column on stocks or sports. No, he writes the wedding column, which suits this romantic at heart. Still reeling from a bad breakup, Gavin is searching for that right woman…and finds her New Years Eve night at a party. Melinda. Gavin’s One. But when she slips out early, Gavin is left to search for the woman whose last name he isn’t even privy too. Can Gavin find her before someone else sweeps her away?
I thought The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher was a fabulous novel! I love chick lit from a guy’s perspective, and definitely think it should be on your to-read list. Gavin reminded me a bit of Ross from Friends or Ted from How I Met Your Mother, both characters that I simply adore. His journey to find Melinda kept me invested throughout the entire novel. I was thinking five stars all the way, but the ending really tripped me up. I felt a bit cheated as a reader. We go through this incredible journey of finding Melinda, and the epilogue didn’t really wrap up their love story. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was just bummed that more details weren’t given in their relationship and how it turned out. Other than that, loved the story and think you will too.
I really enjoyed the first two books from Dee DeTarsio – The Scent of Jade and The Kitchen Shrink – so I was excited when she contacted me regarding her latest story – Ros. I was intrigued because this story featured Ros, basically an alien from the future that time-traveled back in time and planets to try to figure out what happened to her brother. Heroine Micki has to try to figure out how to hide this extra-terrestrial from the military, her mother-in-law, and her cat – who is featured pretty heavily throughout this journey. Ros gave me a lot of laughs, and I love these little twists in books, so the whole alien part only added to my experience instead of hindering it. DeTarsio has a special way of writing. In The Scent of Jade and now again with Ros she can stretch the chick lit genre into something more. I love that she pushes these boundaries and really steps outside the box. I admire that from both a reader and author perspective. I have to recommend Ros, because the story will make you laugh, but will also really touch you. And it’s so fun to read the creative ways someone thinks the future will be like. Ros going to the bathroom – amazing! I will eagerly await the next gem from Dee DeTarsio!
Judah will be on tour in March with her contemporary adult fiction/chick lit novel She Tells All. This book will be available as an eBook worldwide, or a print book to US/Canada residents only. Please select your preference on the form below. Judah will also be available for a guest post or interview. I will contact everyone chosen to participate. Thank you!
Her magic stilettos ensure that she will get lucky tonight, while her big mouth ensures she will stay in trouble. This sleepy little southern town just isn’t big enough for the adventures of mischievous Madison Miller. But when tragedy strikes, she is forced to learn important lessons about life, love and why she should NEVER sleep with strangers.
**Judah’s blog tour is now full. Thank you to everyone who signed up!**
I had such a fun time in 2011 hosting the Chick Lit Reading Challenge, I’ve decided to run it again! If you are interested in joining the challenge, please check out the rules below, and use the Mister Linky to sign up. Last year we had 112 challengers, and I’m hoping for another great turn-out. Welcome to the Chick Lit Reading Challenge for 2012!
Challengers will read 12 chick lit books throughout 2012. You can (obviously( read more books of other genres, but you need at least 12 chick lit to count for this challenge.
Two of the twelve books need to be from debut authors. The debuts should be released in 2012. I have a feature on my blog that will highlight new releases and debuts, so you can find suggestions there.
Post your own challenge article on your blog, and put the link in the Mister Linky below. This must be to the specific post mentioning the Chick Lit Plus Challenge, not just to your blog. The post can simply say that you have signed up for the challenge, and please include a link back to this page so your followers can join as well! If you do not have a blog but wish to sign up, just email me at Samantha (at) chicklitplus (dot) com and I will get you signed up. Also, if you don’t have a blog, please add your name to Mister Linky and a link to one of your social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, ETC. Thanks!
Please add my challenge button to your blog. You can copy the HTML code and add that to your sidebar.
Please send me an email when you start a new book for the challenge. I will have a specific section on CLP that will highlight books being read.
Starting in January, there will be a link specific to the challenge. Challengers can add their links to their book reviews.
Readers can join the challenge anytime between now and the later part of 2012. The books you read do not need to be selected beforehand, you can them add them as you go.
I have some fantastic authors that are willing to contribute their books to this challenge, along with some fun swag gifts along the way. There will be monthly prizes, and each reader who links over their reviews or emails me the book they are reading will be entered to win the monthly prize.
And that’s it! If you are wondering if a specific book will count towards chick lit, just send me an email and I will let you know. Also, if you have any trouble adding your URL below, send me an email with the link and I will get it added for you.
Please use the sign-up below to join the challenge. I will be placing all challengers in a special email group, and will alert you to when the sign-up sheet for January is ready for reviews!
**PLEASE NOTE** The Mister Linky below is to sign up only! Please do not post reviews below.
November Challenge Reviews
Please note this is not the sign up page. To sign up, click here
To see what challengers are reading, click here
Only signed up challengers are eligible to win
Prize for November: One (1) winner will receive a print copy of Dollars to Donuts by Kathleen Kole and two (2) winners will receive a print copy of Maid of Honor by Jillian Conley. You must post the link to your review in the Mister Linky below. This can be to your blog, GoodReads page, or other sources such as Amazon.
**The November review page is now closed.**
Dollars to Donuts- Sheena
Maid of Honor- Ashley @ The Book Fetish & Michelle- Just Jump
While I’m not one to take on memoirs a whole lot, I had to read Take Me Home From the Oscars by Christine Schwab. Her resume includes a massive list of beauty and fashion jobs, working with television shows such as Live with Regis & Kelly, Oprah!, and The Today Show. She has attended all the big name award shows: The Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, dined with celebrities, met Presidents- but for many years, Schwab kept a secret tightly under wraps. She was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. In a world where beauty is everything, she felt as though she couldn’t confess her disease to anyone, for fear of the backlash that would head her way.
Take Me Home From the Oscars kicks off with Christine having to do just that- be taken home from the Oscars. The effects from RA were too much to bear that night, and her ever faithful and supporting husband calmly led his wife away from the glamorous world of celebrities, back to their home where Christine could find a little comfort from her ever-aching body. The tale that Schwab tells, with strength and conviction that will leave you in tears, is one that enchanted me from the beginning. You travel with Christine through her highs and lows with the disease––to where she thought she could control it to the out of control moments, to the drug trials and countless pills and procedures that she endured, and finally, to the remission and her new work in being a spokesperson for the National Arthritis Foundation. And all of this while trying to hide her RA from her public persona, to fool everyone into thinking that sneakers were trendy and lace gloves were all the rage, only to have them hiding the effects of her disease. This book really was inspiring, and I suggest everyone pick up a copy for themselves- to learn, to be informed, and to read a great tale of triumph. And chick lit lovers- you will be a fan of all the behind the scene tidbits Schwab drops from being a veteran in the Hollywood scene!
Madison Lee has graduated from college and is ready to take on the real world…the real world that comes with a ten percent unemployment rate that is only going up. Unable to nab her dream job in print media, Madison settles for the only paying job she can find- a service rep at a call center in Pocatello, Idaho. She gets to work with her BFF all while staring down the delectable foreigner Mika Harket, another co-worker who may be the sexiest man alive. While the phones calls can range from thankful, hilarious, to downright rude (a caller insisting she address him by Dr.) Maddy learns through many trials and tribulations the humbling world of working in a call center.
I had a lot of fun reading Confessions of a Call Center Gal, the debut from Lisa Lim. While I have never worked in a call center, I have held many customer service jobs, and this book reminded me why I hold my tongue when speaking to a service rep. They are just regular people like myself, trying to make a living. Some enjoy working at the call center, others are doing it just to scrape by. Some are young guns trying to make it to the top, others are older women who like to crochet booties for their grandkids on their breaks. This book was a real eye opener to a job that many people either take for granted or look down upon, and I’m glad Lim offered me a copy to read. Maddy and her slew of friends are funny and down to earth. The only thing that lacked for me was the relationship between Maddy and Mika. I really just didn’t get it. I felt it was really awkward and strained the whole time, but other than that, super funny book, great writing from Lim and I would definitely recommend this to chick lit fans. Oh- and my little blog makes a cameo in the eBooks. How fun is that? J
Lucky Santangelo is back! The dynamite Jackie Collins recently released number 27, Goddess of Vengeance, and the Santangelo family and friends (and enemies) are back in a big way. Goddess focuses mainly on Lucky’s daughter, the eighteen-year-old Max, as she stars to make adult decisions- like sleeping with her mom’s best friend’s soon to be ex-husband. Venus and Billy have headed for splitsville, and Billy finds himself besotted over Max, while Venus simply starts sleeping around. Lucky is somewhat in the background of the story, but her fierce determination, loyalty, and balls of steel are at no shortage. When the disgustingly sleazy billionaire businessman/Middle Eastern Prince, Armand Jordan, tries to buy out Lucky’s precious casino and hotel complex, The Keys, Lucky quickly lets him know who has the last say. And we can’t forget Lucky’s gorgeous son Bobby and new girlfriend Denver, who are trying to work through there relationship obstacles.
It’s a little difficult to write a synopsis with so many leading characters, and I always worry that readers new to the series will give up hope, but don’t! Once you start reading, it is easy to identify and connect with the jumbled cast. I really enjoyed learning more about Denver and Bobby and where there story continued from Poor Little Bitch Girl, and even diving into Max’s character more was interesting to read about. There is no shortage of raunchy scenes and vulgarity, of course, especially when it comes to Armand’s character and his dimwitted view of woman. The ending of the book really picked up for me, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved how all the characters were slowly gravitating towards one location, and had to see how it all finished. I will say that I thought the ending with Armand was a little bit of a letdown. I would have been okay with a much less easy and way out for him to die, after all his disgusting behavior and lewd acts. But other than that, another delicious and frantic story to add to the Santangelo collection!
Luckily, yes. I’ve been writing since I could pick up a crayon. Before I learned how to spell, I’d tell my stories to my parents. In first grade, writing stories in my class journal was my favorite part of school. In second grade, my teachers started sending me to young authors’ conferences, which had been geared toward fourth-graders and upward. In third grade, I decided I was going to journalism school and that’s exactly what I did after graduating from high school. After finishing my journalism degree, I decided to do an M.A. in English part-time, outside of work, purely out of love for language and writing.
Q: What inspired your first novel, Rock Star’s Girl?
I started freelancing as a promotional writer and web designer for musicians when I was a senior in high school. That led to making friends and acquaintances who are musicians, and then meeting their friends who are musicians, and so on. Some of them are in independent bands, and others are or have been in more popular bands signed to major labels. Several are guys I’ve gone on dates with, or have been in relationships with.
When you meet someone who is known in the music or entertainment world, in a context that’s entirely separate from their career—usually it’s been through mutual friends, or friends of mutual friends, or at a friend’s show or something—you just don’t really think about what they do for a living. You forget that there are people out there who follow their lives, or who would recognize them in a crowd, or discuss and dissect things they’ve said or done, or even what clothes they’ve worn somewhere.
I was reminded of this one weekend afternoon while hanging out with someone I knew who is in a fairly well-known band. We’d met through mutual friends, and to this day I’ve never seen one of his band’s shows, so the career/public-self wasn’t the context I knew him in. We were at his place, and he was looking at something on his computer. When he explained that he was reading a message board about his band, to check on what people were saying about him or all of the band members that day, it made me stop for a second. It was a really strange moment, and it made me think about what it would be like to read what people are saying about you when they know your face and name, but don’t know YOU. The idea for Rock Star’s Girl initially came out of that moment. I wanted to explore that idea from the side of someone who didn’t have a career in the entertainment industry, and who would never expect to be in that situation at all.
I should also mention that I have nothing but good things to say about any of my friends who are musicians. Cory and Jesse (characters in Rock Star’s Girl) are very much fictional.
Q: What was the most difficult process in writing for you?
The first big revision of Rock Star’s Girl was definitely the most difficult part of the process. Anyone who remembers writing their first novel can probably relate to this. Here you have this manuscript, finally complete at between 80,000 and 90,000 words. You’ve been working on it for ages. You want to query agents, or send it out into the world. Then you start getting feedback and suggestions and realize that something could be much more effective if you changed this, or changed that, or added this subplot. Before you know it, you’re deleting 20,000 or 30,000 words from your manuscript, and that’s only the first revision. They become much easier to do after that, I think.
Q: Can you tell us about your second novel?
My second novel is about as different from Rock Star’s Girl as you can get. It’s not chick lit. Think more along the lines of something you’d study in a contemporary literature class. It experiments a bit with form and with concepts of time. Plot-wise, I’m keeping that under wraps for a while. I know that’s really vague!
Q: Do you have a certain writing schedule you try to stick to?
Writing something every day is the schedule I most try to stick to. It isn’t always fiction-writing, although working on a novel-in-progress is something I aim to do the majority of the days each week. For me, the most important part of getting a manuscript finished is to work on it consistently most of the week, every week. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing only a sentence or two, or if it’s writing 9,000 words over a weekend, as long as I’m writing something every day. It’s when I leave something sitting for a week or two that I slow down a lot.
Q: I noticed from your website and blog that you are really into fitness. What are some of your go-to workouts?
I’m a cardio nut right now. You can usually find me on the elliptical three times a week, doing about 6 or 7 miles each time. About once a week after the cardio, I’ll do the lighter hand weights for more arm toning, or use some of the weight machines. I also walk my dog three or more times a day, so that gets added into the mix.
When I have days with a little bit more free time, I like to hike. One of my favorite places to hike, Runyon Canyon, is mentioned in Rock Star’s Girl. Kundalini yoga is also one of my favorite things to do. I find that it really strengthens my abdominal area, and also puts me into a great headspace.
The biggest part of “dream big” for me is getting to the true, most ultimate dream or goal, and not selling myself short. It’s about asking yourself what you would do, where you would live, and what your life would be like ideally, and not taking into consideration anything perceived as a limitation or restriction. That’s important. If something is a dream, and you’re restricting or limiting yourself in that dream, then where else in your present-day life are you constructing restrictions or limitations that don’t have to be there?
If there is something you want to do in your life, just do it. Don’t talk about wanting to do it, or write it off as, “One day I’ll do this,” or “I want to do this, but�” Writing a book is a good example of this. A lot of people never get to that point. It’s abandoned a few pages in, or several chapters in, or even after a first draft. Or they think, “Wow, I could never do that,” or are daunted by the concept of a word count and don’t begin at all.
Something I’ve enjoyed a lot lately is discovering aspiring writer’s right around me, whom I never knew had the ambition to write. Since finishing Rock Star’s Girl, I’ve found myself in conversation with people I’ve known for years, hearing about how they want to write a screenplay but don’t know where to start or if they’re doing it right, or how they want to write a book but don’t know if they can. It’s great to be able to talk about the perceived limitations that keep people from writing, and to help them shift their focus from hypothetical roadblocks to achieving their dream.
I strongly encourage everyone out there to think about what they truly want to do and the places in this world they want to explore, and to go after their dreams. You may come across people who question what you want to do, but the important part is to listen to what you know about yourself, and not what others think they know about you or see as limitations.
Q: What are some of your favorite Sephora products?
My number one, can’t-live-without product that I purchased from Sephora is the Jonathan Beauty Water Shower Purification System, but I don’t think they sell it anymore. I wish they did! When I first moved to California, the building I lived in had ridiculously hard water with a lot of copper in it. I have blond hair, so it started looking not-so-blond until I got the filter. I’ve also noticed that if I wash my face using only the filtered water, instead of tap water from the sink, I don’t get skin blemishes. Results may vary by person, but what this filter removes from water is amazing.
Second is Bare Escentuals mineral veil, although you can get that from several places. I usually get it from Sephora, though. I love this stuff, and have been using it for about four years.
For the summer months, I also really like the self-tanning gel made by Clarins. My skin is very fair, and although it doesn’t burn easily, it also just doesn’t tan. I was always afraid of self-tanner turning my skin orange, but when I read the first 50 great reviews of this product on Sephora, I decided to try it. It gives your skin a really natural-looking, “just-got-back-from-the-beach” type of glow.
Q: What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading White Noise by Don DeLillo and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Next up is The Tenth Insight, also by James Redfield.
Q: What are some top places on your travel wish list?
The top places right now are London, Paris, Brisbane, and Sydney. I’ll hopefully visit all of these places soon!
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is the advice I discovered in a post on Write It Sideways that helped me forge ahead with Rock Star’s Girl. The advice was simple: don’t edit as you write. When I began writing Rock Star’s Girl, I was in the habit of going back over every sentence I’d written and editing it, then editing it again. When I stopped doing that and left it for the many revisions to come, it was amazing how quickly the rest of the novel came to life.
The second piece of advice I have is to write something every day. It doesn’t have to be something for your current writing project, but the very act of just sitting down and writing for even five or ten minutes every day can move mountains. Once you get your mind used to switching over to writing mode by writing every day, writer’s block really does become a thing of the past.
Becoming a Writer
I wrote, but I wasn’t serious about writing until the summer of 1995 when I sold my car, quit my job, and jumped on a greyhound bus with no idea where I was going. My life was a mess and I needed to find myself. I got off the bus to discover new places like Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, before I ended up in Moorhead City near Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. There I rented a small house (I think it may have been haunted), bought a typewriter and started writing my story, which became my first novel, The Gentlemen’s Club: A Story for All Women.
“No matter where you go, there you are,” kept ringing in my mind. I had heard the saying years earlier but it didn’t make sense until I was alone, sitting in that house, looking for the answers that were hidden deeply inside of me. While writing my book I got honest with myself, and wanted to face my problems the way Angie, my main character, was facing hers. I had to stop running, get strong and stand up for my life. So with the first draft of the manuscript in my hands, I got back on the bus and headed back to Minnesota.
Once back in Rochester, Minnesota, I returned to my old job at Dison’s Drycleaners. I rented a hotel room; I had to pay rent by the week and had to share the shower with others, but at least I had my own toilet and sink. I liked it. The place was perfect for a writer—old, rundown, lots of character and lots of characters living there; I was one of them. With my feet planted firmly on the ground, I focused on work and my writing.
My writing was giving me purpose and a deeper understanding about life. Feeling confident that I wouldn’t run from my life anymore, and being tired of paying for phone calls and eating out for most of my meals, I decided it was time to find a place to live and sign a year’s lease like normal people. I rented an apartment in an old building—another great writing place. I lived above a variety of always failing businesses—furniture store, hobby shop, record store—and the people in the store below controlled the thermostat for my apartment. When the store was empty, I had no heat. So during the winter, I’d pull a folding chair in front of the open oven door, sit down and write for hours.
Around that time, my mother was cleaning closets in her house and wanted to get rid of a lot of old school art projects, report cards and other keepsakes from my younger years. She packaged it all up and mailed it to me. As I sifted through the box, throwing most of it away, I came across an old test comparing students in the same class throughout the state. As I looked down the column of my x’s, it was clear I was average in everything. But I noticed one x that was further to the right, meaning above average. I curiously followed the x to see what it represented—written expression. I started crying and knew this was a sign that I was on the right path.
Never having had a father, I was taken in by a man who owned a small publishing company. Ray offered to help me but refused to publish my books, claiming I needed a bigger publisher. I took the bus or walked to his place almost every day after work all year long. I didn’t have a car, a warm coat or winter boots, but I’d trudge my way through the Minnesota seasons to his place to use his computer and to get his guidance. Ray disciplined me, motivated me, inspired me and encouraged me to be great, just the way I envisioned a real father would.
At night I’d leave his place and walk two blocks to catch the bus back to my cold apartment. If I was early, I’d step inside the gas station and grab a vanilla coffee from the machine before getting on the bus. Then high on caffeine, I’d write into the early morning hours.
I was writing constantly but publishing nothing, so Ray helped me send out about fifty query letters. Eight agents were interested in The Gentlemen’s Club until they read the manuscript. I was told that the story was good, but the manuscript needed some work. I couldn’t afford a professional editor, so my written books were put on hold and I continued writing.
In spite of this, my many rejection letters gave me a sense of accomplishment—at least I had tried. Every small step I took in my writing career was a step in the right direction, and one step closer to achieving my goals. So for two years, I lived a disciplined life of work, writing and living below my means. I went back to school and I started volunteering with Victim Services. I wanted to do better, and I wanted to be better.
When the hard work paid off and I had money in savings, I started looking for an editor and investigated independent publishing, which is basically starting your own publishing company. You put up all the money, do all the marketing, promotion, etc., and hope your book sells. The idea was exciting: Instead of going back through the long route of looking for an agent to look for a publisher, I started Due Publications, found amazing people to help me and the rest is history. I published The Gentlemen’s Club, Blue the Bird On Flying, Touchable Love, Returning Injury, The Dumpster and I’m working on my sixth book, and all of my books have either won or been finalists in several national independent competitions. I’ve made many mistakes; I’m still making them, but I love my career.