Ah, one my favorite indie authors, Heather Wardell, has done it again. I have been enthralled with her books since number one, and I’m super happy to say I’ve reviewed them all here on ChickLitPlus. Finding My Happy Pace features thirty year old Megan, a teacher with absolutely no backbone. Megan has been letting people such as her brother and “best friend” Amanda take advantage of her for years, thanks to her mother’s “don’t count beans” philosophy. Megan struggles to stand up for herself in any situation, but things begin to change when she meets Andrew, and MMA fighter and marathon runner. Megan begins training for a marathon herself, and during her time with Andrew and fellow runner Jeanine, Megan begins to understand that being assertive doesn’t automatically mean being selfish. Can Megan change her outlook on life for good after so many years of being a doormat?
Loved! One of my favorite things about Wardell’s books is that she brings back previous characters, or at least hints about some. While others were featured, the dominance was Andrew – the boyfriend from Planning to Live. I loved hearing his story and catching back up with him, and seeing a romance between him and Megan blossom. Sometimes it got difficult to read about Megan constantly being treated like nothing by her friend Amanda (and James –ugh – what a character!) and it could almost cross the line into her being too whiny. But this is where Wardell’s superb writing skills come in, and she helps readers understand why Megan lets herself be treated bad. I highly enjoyed watching Megan grow as a person, and this is another 5 star referral for Heather Wardell from me!
More Heather Wardell Reviews!
Life, Love and a Polar Bear Tattoo – 5 stars
Go Small or Go Home – 4.5 stars
Planning to Live -4.5 stars
Stir Until Thoroughly Confused-4 stars
Blank Slate Kate- 5 stars
A Life That Fits -5 stars
Live Out Loud- 4 stars
Seven Exes are Eight Too Many – 4 stars
October Challenge Reviews
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Prize for October: Three (3) winners will win a complete eBook collection from Heather Wardell. Titles included are: Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, Go Small or Go Home, Planning to Live, Stir Until Thoroughly Confused, A Life That Fits, Live Out Loud, and Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many. 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.
Special Note: For every review that is posted during the month of October, I will be donating $1 to the Susan G. Komen Organization in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month. If you would like to make a donation, please see the PayPal Donate button on the right hand side of this page, or email me directly at Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com. Thank you!
**The October review pages is now closed.**
The winners are: Nancy- Chick Lit Bee, Jill S, and Sarah- Today I’m Reading.
I don’t believe in writing absolute garbage just to have words on the page, but I also don’t believe in editing while writing a first draft. I’ll write, “Ian smelled great” in the first draft, and by the final draft it’ll be, “I closed my eyes and breathed in Ian’s scent of fabric softener and lumber. Only the wife of a carpenter would find the smell of wood sexy.” The short version is fine for a first draft, and it avoids me sitting there staring at the screen or page trying to find the perfect words. The first draft isn’t about perfect words. It’s about words that do the job.
So how do you get from “Ian smelled great” to the more detailed lines? Here’s how I do it.
This picture shows a page from one of my current projects, which I plan to release in early 2011. The main character, Mary, has just been turned down for her dream chef job and is now camping out on the restaurant’s doorstep until the owner Kegan agrees to hire her. On this particular page, Mary goes to a nearby coffee shop and is then confronted by one of Kegan’s staff members.
Note that I am working on a print-out, double-spaced and single-sided, of the manuscript. It might seem like a waste of paper, but take a look at how many notes I’ve added (and this is an average page, not one with unusually high changes). Trying to squish those into tiny margins would make the process impossible.
I use my own code to mark up the pages. There’s a “No P” scrawled about halfway down, which means that I don’t want a new paragraph there, and “New P” in the second last paragraph where I do want one. There are official proofreading markings out there, but I find them too hard to remember. These are just for me so I can use whatever I want.
Before going through the book scene-by-scene, I like to read the entire book top to bottom. I do my best not to fiddle with or peek at the manuscript between revisions, so this read brings it back to my mind and also lets me get an overview of what’s really on the page instead of what I think I’ve written. It’s amazing how different those two can be.
After that, I start with the first scene and read it sentence by sentence. At least, I try to. In practice I bounce around the page, making a correction in sentence five and then going back to change the change when I hit sentence eight. But I do give each sentence my full attention at least once.
I’m watching for emotions and physical sensations and people’s movement in space. I’m making sure that I haven’t over-complicated a situation. (In the first draft I had Mary carrying a cushion around so she didn’t have to sit on the cold concrete in the rain. I removed it because it didn’t add anything but an unnecessary prop.)
I’m also analyzing how I’ve put the words together: if I repeat words or re-use a structure, I want to be sure I’ve done it intentionally. (I learned so much about this from Margie Lawson’s “Deep EDITS” online course; while I don’t use her actual editing technique I still refer to my notes for the rhetorical devices that can add such depth and interest to writing.)
Be especially vigilant in the early scenes. Finding a character’s voice can take a while, and I for one tend to do the written equivalent of running around in circles yelling, “Hey, where are you?” at the beginning of a book, which results in a lot of unnecessary elements.
When I’ve finished a scene, I type it in right away. (Take another look at the notes above. If I left it until I’d finished the whole book, I’d have no idea what I was trying to do!) I don’t type mindlessly, though. I read as I go and pay careful attention, and often change a word here or there as I enter the corrections.
After the typing, I re-read the scene, out loud if I can and in my head if I can’t, to make sure it all flows, and then it’s on to the next.
I won’t bore you with the second draft of the entire page shown above, but I will give you the before-and-after versions of the last few paragraphs.
“He’s said it himself and it didn’t make any difference.”
She squatted down in front of me. “I’ve worked for Kegan since he opened Steel, longer than anyone else here. So listen up. What you’re doing is pointless. If you think he’s going to feel bad because you look so pathetic–”
“I don’t think that.”
I wouldn’t have expected him to do such a thing. “He’s said it himself and it didn’t make any difference. Why does he think sending you would work better?”
She didn’t bother answering. “I’ve worked for Kegan since he opened Steel, longer than anyone else here. So listen up. What you’re doing is pointless. He’ll never hire you. He said as much yesterday when we asked why you were out here.”
My stomach twisted at this revelation. He really didn’t plan to hire me if he’d told his staff. But she’d probably pass along whatever response I gave, so I made myself smile and say, “We’ll see.”
She rolled her eyes. “If you think he’s going to feel bad because you look so pathetic–”
“I don’t think that.”
You can see that I did make additional changes as I typed in the corrections, adding a few short sentences and reorganizing some words. I view the typing stage as one more chance to make the book shine.
This book’s edit took me about seven weeks (I work Monday-Friday) and I did about ten pages a day. It’s tiring, and occasionally frustrating when the right word just won’t come to mind, but it’s important. This is a tough industry, and you don’t want to send out your book with any rough edges that might bother agents and editors. If you choose to self-publish instead, you still need a thoroughly edited book written to the highest standard you can reach, because readers deserve that. Put in the time and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful your book can be!
Candice and Ian’s marriage has been strained for the last eight months, ever since Ian’s parents were killed in a car accident. When Ian decides to leave for a month to do overseas work, Candice is relived she has some time alone to reflect on her marriage and whether she should stay with her husband. But when a blast from the past enters the picture, Candice can’t fight the feelings and emotions that come with her ex, Keagan. As the four weeks away from Ian stretches on, Candice gets swept away in the comfort, familiarity, and excitement that Keagan brings to her life. But is she letting Keagan distract her so she doesn’t need to address the painful reason her and Ian have grown apart? Is leaving her husband the right decision, or is there more to life and love that Candice will discover?
Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, the debut novel from Heather Wardell, was so beautifully written, so touching and relatable that I could feel the characters jump out of the pages while reading, and skyrocketed Wardell to the top of my Favorite Authors list. Her writing flowed so effortlessly between scenes, and the emotions and vulnerability the heroine projected left me reading for hours at a time, unable to tear myself away from the characters. There is no question Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo deserves five stars, and I look forward to many more from Heather Wardell.
Author Name: Heather Wardell
Bio: Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go and many more in e-book form on my Palm handheld.
I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.
This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.
I succeeded, and the first draft of “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo” was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven’t looked back since!
In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet (I am on Ravelry and would be happy to add you as a friend!), take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Sapphire, and play clarinet. Generally not all at once.
Titles: Life, Love, and Polar Bear Tattoo; Go Small or Go Home; Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many; and Planning to Live.
Bio Retrieved from www.heatherwardell.com
In My Mailbox: Week of July 25, 2010
Title: Dating Mr. December
Author: Phillipa Ashley
Received: Danielle Jackson @ Sourcebooks
Synopsis: Emma Tremayne leaves her high-powered PR job and moves to the Lake District looking for peace, quiet-and celibacy. So perhaps it’s not the best idea when, in the spirit of “community-mindedness,” she agrees to help the local mountain rescue team fund raise by putting together a “tasteful” nude calendar. Especially since quite a lot of the community seems to mind what she’s up to-including the tall, dark and handsome Mr. December, Will Tennant, who appears to have gotten the wrong impression about Emma’s intentions. So how does she convince him that he’s more than just the flavor of the month?
Title: A Desirable Residence
Author: Madeleine Wickham
Received: From Sallie Madden @ St. Martin’s Press for review and giveaway
Synopsis: The asking price for this house includes a stunning renovation of hearts and dreams….Liz and Jonathan Chambers were stuck with two mortgages, mounting debts, and a miserable adolescent daughter. Then realtor Marcus Witherstone came into their lives—and it seemed he would solve all their problems. He knew the perfect tenants from London who would rent their old house: a glamorous PR girl, Ginny, and her almost-famous husband, Piers.
But soon Liz is lost in blissful dreams of Marcus, Jonathan is left to run their business, and neither of them has time to notice that their teenage daughter is developing an unhealthy passion for the tenants, Piers and Ginny. Everyone is tangled up with everyone else, and in the most awkward possible way. As events close in, they all begin to realize that some deceptions are just a bit too close to home.
Author: Lisa Unger
Received: From Amanda Parker @ BookSparks PR
Synopsis: Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous. Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father. “I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.” As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?
Author: Robert Rave
Received: From Matt Walker @ Period Media
Synopsis: Waxed is the story of three relationship-challenged sisters working together at New York’s hottest waxing salon, catering to socialites, actresses, and regular folk alike. Yank. On the surface, glamorous Carolina Impresario—big sister and owner of Impresarios—unapologetically wants it all, but secretly she is caught between her successful boyfriend and the only man she has ever truly loved. Pluck. After a painful divorce, middle sister Anna reluctantly reenters the workforce and puts on a brave face while attempting to raise her children, one of whom is decidedly different. Tear. Newlywed Sofia is a hybrid of her two older sisters: She loves the idea of a domestic life like Anna’s, but is entranced by New York nightlife and a new best friend, resulting in some major complications at home. Amid the sticky confines of a perfectly manicured world, these three sisters search for love, friendship, and better versions of themselves. Waxed is a funny and heartfelt novel that illustrates the lengths to which some women will go to present a seemingly flawless exterior, even when it involves pain. . . .
Title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Her Brother’s Shotgun Wedding
Author: Noreen Riley
Received: From Noreen Riley
Synopsis: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Her Brother’s Shotgun Wedding” is the story of Evelyn Dunleavy, her close knit circle of family and city-dwelling friends, and the chaos that ensues when her oldest sibling, Michael, announces that he is getting married. In London, where he now lives, to the girlfriend no one really knows. And by the way…she’s pregnant. The rest of the story follows Evie over to London for a few months as the official family delegate charged with getting to know her soon to be sister-in-law. It certainly doesn’t hurt that because of his cramped living quarters her brother has lined up a room for her in the apartment of one of his groomsmen, Nate, that Evie feels an instant attraction to…despite his love of the music group ABBA, or the fact that he chooses curries over pizza. It doesn’t help that Michael still considers his sister to be off-limits from the advances of his friends. She comes to the quick conclusion that wedding planning can be stressful no matter which side of the Pond you hail from, and it’s always more fun to have your best friends around you for a bachelorette party, especially when the bride-to-be is seven months pregnant.
Title: Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo
Author: Heather Wardell
Received: From Heather Wardell
Synopsis: When Candice’s in-laws died in a car accident eight months ago, she lost her husband Ian too. After only two years of marriage their guilt and pain have left them living together but apart. During Ian’s month-long trip overseas, Candice plans to decide if her marriage can be saved, but when the first man she ever loved is the new client at work, she wonders what she truly wants from life and love.