Guest Blogger: Playing House Author Laura Chapman

GUEST POST PROMPT: HOME TOUR

My new novel, Playing House, explores the world (and romances) behind-the-scenes of a hit home improvement show.

While I don’t pretend to be an amazing home decorator, I do have fun trying to add touch of class (okay, cuteness) and comfort to my own home. Today, I thought I’d take you readers on a little tour of my bedroom to show you some of my favorite parts. I’ll also point out a couple of future DIY projects that I’m sure I’ll get to . . . eventually.

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So here’s my bedroom, which I haven’t written about outside of Instagram before. This room is probably what falls most under the “shabby chic” heading out of any room in my home. It’s a collection of pieces found at Michaels, Ross, and Wayfair thrown together with furniture I’ve inherited through the years.

I painted the room with Behr’s Moleskin Primer in One. At $30 a gallon, this paint is pricey, but worth every penny. I used only one coat, and it covered what was once a black well as neatly and easily as it did the cream colored walls. Like I said: worth. Every. Penny.

I adore the tufted gray headboard and nightstand, both ordered from Wayfair. I have never felt more grownup than when I installed that headboard. I found the bedding at Ross and the “Dream Big” pillow at Shopko—all on sale. The New York City screen in the corner was a 30th birthday gift from my brother’s family. They didn’t necessarily buy it for my room, but I love how well it seemed to fit into this space.

The art above the bed comes from different pieces bought at Michaels. The idea came when they were having a sale on fancy letters and I couldn’t find enough in the same variety to spell anything that made sense. Channeling my inner Joanna Gaines, I mixed and matched the letters until I found “DREAM.” I later added the shelf and picture frame—also acquired on sale from Michaels—later. I’m still trying to decide what to put in that frame. It’s only been six months.

If you haven’t caught on already . . . “on sale” is a big constant for me and my home decorating.

I find this room cozy and peaceful, but there is still work to be done. You’ll have to follow along on Instagram to see how I decide to refinish my dresser, cedar chest, and rocking chair, which aren’t pictured just yet.

Playing HouseAbout the Book

She’s a work in progress . . .

Bailey Meredith has had it. As an assistant at a prestigious interior design firm, she’s tired of making coffee and filing invoices. She’ll do just about anything to get out from under the paperwork and into the field for real experience. Then she sees an ad for a job that seems too good to be true.

He’s a fixer upper . . .

Wilder Aldrich knew she would be perfect for the crew the moment he saw her. His hit home improvement show only hired the best, and Bailey had potential written all over her. It isn’t just her imaginative creativity and unmatched work ethic that grabs his attention. There’s just something about her.

With chemistry on screen, it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly behind the scenes as well. But with Bailey’s jaded views on romance and a big secret that could destroy Wilder and everyone he cares about are either of them willing to risk it all for love?

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Excerpt from Playing House

Keeping a close distance, she followed Waverly up the cracked path to the house. Bailey took quick mental notes of her surroundings. The exterior needed a lot of work. The sagging roof missing gutters made her think they’d find the inside in similar disarray. They stepped through the front door, nearly tripping over Wilder Aldrich, who was measuring the entryway.

“Hey!” He sprang to his feet and out of their way. “What did I tell you about waiting until I gave you the all clear?”

“You were taking for-frickin’-ever, and some of us were freezing our tits off.” She pursed her lips and took on a warrior stance, seemingly daring him to say something else.

Conceding victory to her, Wilder turned and flashed an apologetic grin at Bailey. “Hey.” He offered a hand. Warmth permeated through the thin material of her glove. “Welcome to Casa de Waverly.”

Giving him a smug grin, Waverly sipped her coffee and faced Bailey. “Do you have a smart phone?”

Bailey stared blankly for a second, still dazzled by seeing Wilder up close. But she quickly snapped to attention and dug her phone out of her coat pocket.

“Good,” Waverly said after inspecting it. “While you’re on the job, I’d like you to snap some photos for our social media accounts. I’ll want to vet everything before we post it, but we need to start building the buzz for the next season while we’re filming. In exchange, we’ll cover your phone payments to take care of your data usage. Understood?”

“I can do that.”

“Good. Now . . .” She pulled out her own phone. It was the latest model that had come out on the market a month ago. With all of its reported bells and whistles, it put Bailey’s poor phone to shame. “I’m going to make a quick call. I’ll be back in a few minutes, and we can get started on,” she gestured around her, “this mess.”

She spun on her heel and waltzed out of the room, cooing into the phone.

Wilder cleared his throat, and Bailey turned to give him her full attention. She estimated he was only a couple of years older than herself—maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He looked younger in real life than he did on TV. He was leaner and a little shorter—though she still had to crane her neck a little to meet his gaze.

He was also more handsome. Not the GQ model, your tongue-sticks-to-the-top-of-your-mouth kind of sexy. But he was hot in the same way the guy you sat next to in Chemistry was. It was enough to distract you from formulas and Bunsen burners every so often, but not enough that you’d ever set the lab on fire or forget to finish your final exam.

So far, he seemed much more serious. Where was the guy who scared Waverly with a stuffed dummy in a closet in the last episode she’d watched before calling an end to the marathon?

He was, she realized, studying her every bit as closely, with those hazel eyes speckled with green. Noting that, she didn’t feel quite as rude taking mental notes on the man in front of him.

At least she looked good. She’d laid out three outfits that morning in the hotel room. The first was a long, silky turquoise tunic that she’d paired with a pair of black leggings and knee-high boots. It was similar to the clothes Waverly favored on screen—only hers weren’t name-brand knockoffs. Then she had the casual jeans, a gray T-shirt that she could dress-up with a navy blue blazer. And there was option three: dark-wash, fit jeans, a chambray shirt, and a scarf. It was an ensemble that fell somewhere in the middle. It was the one that looked the most like her when she inspected herself in the mirror.

It was the one that felt most like her now in the middle of the foyer.

She wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Did he see a confident young woman ready to tackle major projects adeptly? Or did he see someone who was desperate to create, no matter what happened? Both were correct, but which one shone through right now?

Like a light switch, that triggered something in her. She offered her hand again. “We haven’t officially met. I’m Bailey Meredith.”

About the Author

Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, The Marrying Type, and Playing House. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. She loves talking to readers. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also get the latest news from her website, blog, and monthly newsletter.

***Giveaway***

This month, during the Playing House blog tour, you can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of 1 free Audible copy each of The Marrying Type, First & GoalGoing for Two or 1 $20 Amazon gift card.
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Guest Blog: Chick Lit & Football

Now that we’re settling into the football season and facing our second week of NFL competition, it’s time to focus on what really matters: food. Maybe this is the good Midwestern girl in me, but I can’t think about football watch parties or tailgates without fixating on all of the mouth-watering foods and beverages that will be served. I’m talking nachos and (veggie) burgers, dips and cookies.

This week, I am particularly excited about a tailgate party I am co-hosting with two of my friends and fellow football-focused chick lit authors Amy Avanzino and Brea Brown. And because it will be held on Facebook, you’re all invited. (Added bonus, you don’t even have to wash your hair and you can wear sweatpants to this party and no one will know!) It is Sunday, September 18, from 7-10 p.m. Click here to join and invite your friends.

Even though we won’t actually be partying together, we figured that was no excuse not to have delicious foods. The three of us searched through our recipe boxes and pulled out a dish to share with all of you for a three-course Game Day menu. Bon appetit!

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Idaho Nachos
By Laura Chapman

Ingredients
1 package frozen waffle fries
2 cups shredded cheese (I highly suggest a Colby Jack blend)
12 slices bacon, booked and diced
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1 packet Ranch seasoning
Green onions
Salt and pepper (optional)

Directions
Follow the directions for cooking the waffle fries (typically place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook for about 10-15 minutes over 450 degrees in the oven). While these are in the oven, cook and dice the bacon (I use Morningstar’s faux bacon, because I follow a pescetarian diet), and dice the green onions. Mix half of the ranch seasoning into the sour cream and set aside.

Remove the baked waffle fries from the stove and place them in overlapping layers in a pie plate or baking pan. Coat the fries with the remaining Ranch seasoning and salt and pepper. Pour half of the diced onions on top and cover with cheese. Put in the oven on broil for about two minutes, or until the cheese melts to your liking.

Sprinkle bacon pieces and remaining green onions over the top. Finish with a healthy scoop of sour cream in the middle. (Note: This photo is a partial serving, because I didn’t want leftovers!)

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Baked Pork Tacos
By Brea Brown

Ingredients
1 lb. boneless pork chops (medium thickness)
Olive oil
10 crunchy taco shells (flat-bottomed, free-standing kind work best)
½ can (16-ounces) refried beans
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 can (4.5 ounces) green chiles
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup taco seasoning (or one packet)
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400° F. In stock pot, boil pork chops for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through. While pork is cooking, drizzle olive oil in large skillet and cook onion on medium heat until brown on edges and translucent.

Grease (with olive oil or cooking spray) 9- x13-inch dish and stand taco shells side-by-side (with two on top… see photo) into the dish. Spoon and spread one tablespoon of refried beans into bottom of each shell. When onions are cooked, add green chiles and drained tomatoes to the skillet. Reduce temperature to low or simmer. When pork is cooked, shred (I actually use an electric chopper to a fine consistency). Add chopped/shredded pork to onion/chiles/tomato mixture. Add taco seasoning. Stir mixture until combined. Spoon combined mixture into taco shells, almost to the top (leaving just a tiny bit of room for cheese). Liberally sprinkle cheese into each shell. Bake at 400° for 12 to 14 minutes, or until cheese and edges of shells are golden.

Top with your favorite taco toppings (we like sour cream, guacamole, and jalapenos in our house).

Note: You can substitute ground beef or chicken for your meat. On opening day of football season, I made a batch of beef and a batch of pork, which is why there are eleven pork tacos in my photo (they were more popular, so I made one more of those). With beef tacos, make sure you thoroughly drain and rinse the meat, because too much grease will make your taco shells soggy, and they’ll burst through the bottom.

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Football Cocoa Krispies
By Amy Avanzino

Ingredients
6 cups of Cocoa Krispies
4 cups of mini marshmallows (or 10 oz bag of the big ones)
3 tablespoons of butter
White icing

Directions
Melt the butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add the marshmallows and cook until melted. Remove from heat and add Krispies, mixing until evenly coated. Tip: put a small amount of water in your hands to prevent sticking.

Shape the mixture into a footballs and let cool. Then, draw laces on top. Chill both icing and footballs in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes! before decorating.

 

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Remember, you are all invited to hang out with the three of us on Facebook this weekend for fun and prizes. The Chick Lit Virtual Tailgate will be Sunday, September 18, from 7-10 p.m. central. We hope to see you there.

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Laura Chapman is the author of the Queen of the League romantic comedy series. When the Nebraska isn’t hard at work penning her next novel (or pulling her hair out over her fantasy football line-up), Laura enjoys baking, crocheting, and binge-watching Netflix with her cats, Jane and Bingley. She will be back on Chick Lit Plus throughout the football season to share her insights. In the meantime, you can follow her misadventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Amy Avanzino is the author of From the Sideline. She received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children. Visit her at www.AmyAvanzino.com.

Brea Brown is the humble Indie author of The Family Plot, The Secret Keeper Series, Daydreamer, Plain Jayne, Quiet, Please!, The Nurse Nate Trilogy, and The Underdog Series. She lives in Springfield, Missouri, where she’s a mom, wife, chauffeur, chef, housekeeper, cheerleader, administrative assistant, personal assistant, and comedian. Her passions include writing, daydreaming, laughing, football, 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. Out of My League is the first book in The Underdog Series. You can purchase the e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. It’s also available in paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.

Guest Blogger: Author Laura Chapman

The 2016 NFL season kicks off this week, and for me that marks the start of something equally significant: fantasy football.

I have a complicated relationship with fantasy football. We began our tumultuous on-again off-again relationship four years ago. My then-co-workers invited me to join their league. It’s also possible I wheedled the invite out of them, but it was four years ago, which basically makes it ancient history. I approached that first fantasy season like you would any new relationship–with a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and even a bit of fear.

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The league commissioner walked me through a mock draft and explained the rules of the game. I felt pretty good about the whole thing until I experienced my first draft and realized I had no idea what I was doing. That paired with the scathing automated draft report card I received from Yahoo inspired me to write the Queen of the League series.

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My goals that first season were simple. I wanted to gain some knowledge and experience to write a book and then make it to the play-offs, which I did. I accomplished the first–though I’ll never feel like an expert–and I took my team to the post-season. But after I lost in the semi-finals to a person who hadn’t set a line-up most of the season, I decided that wasn’t enough. No, I wanted to win.

It’s a goal I’ve had every year since with every team I’ve managed. And every year, with every team (all six of them as I doubled up on leagues for three years) I’ve fallen short. One year, I made it to the finals only to succumb in that final round and win the silver medal. That’s the closest I’ve come to the ultimate prize, and after a while, losing takes its toll.

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Last year, when I failed to take either of my teams to the play-offs, I realized I needed to do some soul-searching. I almost quit straight-out. I’d already questioned doing fantasy football that year, because we’d lost some of that love and feeling. It was only natural to have the same thoughts during the past off-season.

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But as usual, once players returned to camp and pre-season football geared up, I found that familiar sense of longing for victory. Could I do it this year? Could this be my time to take a team all the way? It was a complete 180 from where I found myself last January, but once you’ve fallen for fantasy football, it’s hard to give up.

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Rather than call it quits completely, this season I’m only managing one fantasy team. I also promised myself I wouldn’t overdo the prep work like I did my second season, but I wouldn’t go in blind like I did last year. Granted, I skipped doing a mock draft, a choice I only regretted about half-way through my live draft last Sunday when my plan went to the wayside and I had to take players I knew little about.

Despite my pre-draft laziness, I managed to put together a scrappy team of players who might have the power to take me to the championship circle. This year Yahoo! gave my team a B- saying “That’s not bad! It’s not great, either.” Here’s who I’m counting on to lead me to victory:

Cam Newton – quarterback
Ryan Tannehill – quarterback
A.J. Green – wide receiver
Doug Baldwin – wide receiver
DeSean Jackson – wide receiver
Vincent Jackson – wide receiver
Tavon Austin – wide receiver
Eddie Lacy – running back
Melvin Gordon – running back
Ameer Abdullah – running back
CharlesSims – running back
Gary Barnidge – tightend
Dwayne Allen – tightend
Mason Crosby – kicker
Pittsburgh – defense

We’re in this to win it. At least until I tinker with my team by surfing the waiver wires and making trades with my fellow league mangers. And who are we kidding? I already admitted I didn’t know some of the players on my team, so I have a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, you never know. Here’s hoping this year doesn’t lead to another heartbreak.

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I’ll be back next week along with a couple of my fellow authors to share some of our favorite football watch party foods. Until then, wish the Dread Pirate Rodgers (yeah, that’s my team name) and I luck in our first week of competition.

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Laura Chapman is the author of the Queen of the League romantic comedy series. First & Goal and Going for Two are now available from Marching Ink. Three & Out will be available later this year. When she isn’t hard at work penning her next novel or pulling her hair out over a fantasy football line-up, Laura enjoys baking, crocheting, and binge-watching Netflix with her cats, Jane and Bingley.

She will be back on Chick Lit Plus throughout the football season. In the meantime, you can follow her misadventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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