BOOK and AUTHOR FEATURE: “Modern Love” by Beau North

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“Modern Love” by Beau North

Blurb: “Love at first sight wasn’t meant for millennials,” thinks Alice Aberdeen: art student, recovering addict, David Bowie enthusiast. Alice is among the recently dumped and only wants to keep her nose to the grindstone until she finishes her degree. Her sister has other ideas and sets her up with new-in-town Will Murphy–tall, dark, and aloof. To say it wasn’t an instant attraction is an understatement: He finds her abrasive, with her sharp tongue and don’t-screw-with-me attitude. She thinks he’s excessively reserved, too damn serious. But the more time Alice spends with Will, the more their slow burn begins to thaw her heart. A man of two worlds, half-Irish, half-Indian, Will feels at home with Alice. He soon realizes her tough shell is hiding extensive scar tissue–from her addiction and recovery to her spectacularly bad ex-girlfriend to the loss of her mother. Modern Love isn’t a story about love at first sight but learning to love yourself before being able to see the one you love.

*****

GUEST POST

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m relatively new to the Contemporary Romance world. From the first time my aunt snuck me a copy of Jude Deveraux’s ‘A Knight in Shining Armor,’ you could always find me with my nose buried in a historical romance novel. From ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Mysteries of Udolpho’ to Sarah MacLean and Maya Rodale, I just couldn’t get enough of a good, old-fashioned historical romp. Even my first two books, one set in the 1940’s and the other in the 1810’s, are firmly rooted in the past. So I was a late bloomer when it came to contemporary romance.

It wasn’t until my friend Shelley Ann Clark got her book,’Have Mercy,’ published by Loveswept that I began to sit up and take notice. At the time I was desperately trying to finish my first novel, ‘Longbourn’s Songbird,’ and wanted to be published so badly that I was instantly excited and consumed with envy. How did this happen? What made her book so special? So I read it, and it was like having a blindfold pulled off…by the sexiest person you’ve ever seen.

What made this experience such a revelation? What was it that made me connect so quickly and so strongly with contemporary romance? When Isabella asked me to name five things I love about contemporary romance, I was ready to go. So here is (in no particular order) five things that made this die-hard historical fan go modern:

  • Being rooted in present day make for a more immediately relatable story
    • I love forbidding castles and long carriage rides as much as the next girl, but it’s not exactly something I can relate to. These modern-day heroines have modern-day problems, be it making rent on time, getting their kid to daycare or jockeying for a promotion at work. These women aren’t fine, untouchable ladies, they’re us. I wouldn’t be able to parse the problems facing a countess on the cusp of social disgrace, but I do know about crappy waitressing jobs, cranky bosses, trying to finish a semester of college, being stuck working with a jerk (who is actually kind of hot, and maybe I don’t dislike him as much as I thought I did).
  • Women are in charge
    • While I’ll always love the petticoat adventuresses, princesses in disguise and penniless-but-charming wallflowers, there’s something so satisfying about a romance where an independent, successful woman has choices in her life, and can find some fulfillment beyond a husband and family. I cheer when a woman can laud her own achievements, silence her critics, and be comfortable in her own skin. Extra bonus love goes to stories where the female character is better at her job than her male counterparts. It gives so much more texture to the story, makes the romance that much more satisfying.
  • The men have evolved too.
    • Hey, we all love a pirate. Or a viking. Or a barbarian. You know what else I love? Consent. The total absence of male fragility. Judgement-free acceptance of a woman’s sexual history, her preferences, and the ability for a male character to accept that it’s not always about him. Maybe his love interest can have a conversation with another male character, and she’s not in danger of being labeled a wanton woman. As much as I love the protective spirit of historical romance heroes, it can be…a little much. A man who is happiest letting a woman just be herself is a man worth keeping.
  • Representation matters!
    • As much as I LOVE when historical romance revolving around a gay character or one that features an interracial relationship, it’s a lot more difficult to pull of in the 18th century when in many places who you loved could get you arrested, tortured, or killed. And now with the cultural shift of our interconnectivity through social media, we know so much more about ourselves and each other than ever before. I grew up in a tiny, tiny, southern town in the analog days before the internet. I didn’t know what nonbinary or cisgendered meant, because I was uninformed. Now I know better, and I see that  there is so much storytelling opportunity for Gay romance, transgender romance, nonbinary romance, even asexual romance! For someone who identifies as any of those things, it must be immensely satisfying to be able to pick up a book and lose yourself in a story with characters that you see yourself in. Everyone deserves that!
  • Let’s face it…it’s the sex
    • Okay, I’m going to just come out and say it: I really dislike the deflowering-of-maidens parts of historical romance. While I understand that it’s more probable that a young woman in 1805 would be inexperienced in lovemaking, I still tend to skim those parts, just knowing how unlikely it is that this lady’s first time is that enjoyable. I’m happy that this isn’t often a problem in contemporary romance, though I have read my fair share of modern day stories with a virginal heroine, they’re not quite as common. I’m certainly not here to judge you if that’s your thing! Contemporary romance does have the freedom to be open about sex, sexuality, and kink, where historical romance (for the most part) has to stay within the confines of what was known and acceptable at that time. Particularly with any story involving a kink, it’s much more likely that a historical romance will attach some element of bewilderment or shame to it. It’s also liberating to have a character who knows what she (or he!) likes, what pleasures them, and who isn’t embarrassed to ask for—even demand—what feels good.

*****

And since I never do anything by halves, my newfound love of Contemporary Romance inspired me to write my new novella, aptly titled Modern Love. The name, other than being a tip of the hat to modern romances, was inspired by the music of David Bowie. I started writing this book the week he passed away, a few days after his birthday (which was, in fact, a few days after my own birthday). For me, there’s always a great deal of emotion tied in with music. A first dance, the song playing on the radio behind those early, clumsy fumblings of intimacy, a wedding march. In Modern Love, Allie and Will first meet to the sounds of David Bowie, which is where I take you now.

ALLIE

Chanda grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor where we spun and flailed around. While I’m notoriously bad at it, I love dancing. When you dance, you’re not thinking about your shitty ex or your overdue MFA paperwork or the way your boss likes to hit on you when he gets two beers in. It’s like yoga (only more fun and way less bougie) where you just get boiled down to your most physical self. Move. Breathe. Dance. Your problems are non-existent. You’re not a complex human. You’re biology. And biology doesn’t have problems. Biology just is, so dance. Shimmy like an amoeba under a microscope. Prance like a cat stalking the red dot. Sway like a sapling in high wind. You get the idea.

So, we danced, and because I haven’t an ounce of physical grace, we laughed. Laughed so much my face started to ache. My dumb ex, my bad boss, the pressure of school—all of it went on the back burner as I gulped down the ginger ale Gabe brought us. It was in that moment, when I was feeling pretty good about things, that I ran into a wall, drink-first. Cold ginger ale and half-melted ice cubes spilled everywhere, all over me, the floor, the wall…

“Watch it.” The wall snapped, brushing ice off of his v-neck.

I craned my neck back, my eyes finally lighting on a beautiful face made severe by flinty disapproval. He took my breath away. His glossy black hair curled gently behind his ears, long features softened by thick brows and a silver-flecked beard, incongruously reddish against his olive skin. His frame was broad-shouldered and lean, and if it weren’t for the glare, he’d be a perfect specimen of male beauty. It’d been quite some time since I’d been with anyone (the sex with Jamie became occasional at best well before our relationship ended) let alone a guy, but this one made my neglected libido sit up and take notice.

“My bad,” I said. My fingers twitched towards the soft fabric of his shirt, but I thought better of it and let my hand drop.

“Ugh, perfect,” he said, looking down at the damage. His voice was deep with the telltale flatness of the Midwest. “All I need is to smell like booze all night.”

“It’s ginger ale,” I protested. “I doubt it ruined your Prada.”

His full lips pulled back with a hint of a sneer. “I didn’t realize this was an all-ages show.”

“And I didn’t realize you had to have a stick up your ass to get in the door,” I retorted, bristling. I was twenty-six but often mistaken for younger. It’s frustrating to be underestimated because you happen to have tits and good Scandinavian genes.

He opened his mouth to speak when Gabe ran up to us. “Will! There you are! I see you met Allie.”

“You know this guy?” I asked, incredulous. Maybe he was Gabe’s boss and Gabe had to be nice to him. Gabe was so open, so friendly, so nice. It seemed weird to me that he would be friends with this strange, forbidding man.

“This is my friend Will, don’t you remember? I told you I’d invited a friend…for you to meet…?”

Oh no. No, no, no. I started to get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. No wonder Emma had been so adamant I come to the show. She’d been dropping so many hints lately about “getting back out there.” Gabe had the good grace to look embarrassed, at least. There was a pause in the music, enough for me to hear the gorgeous jerk say, “This is who you’ve been talking about?”

Oh well, excuse me for existing. The opening “aaaahs” of “Let’s Dance” started playing, drowning out the end of his question. Gabe pointed at his ear and shouted, “Sorry! Can’t hear you!” He shooed us towards the dance floor before wandering off, leaving me alone with Sir Scowls-a-lot. I was still trying to wrap my head around why Gabe and Emma thought we’d hit it off. Aren’t you supposed to seek balance? One pessimist, one optimist, that sort of thing? Whose bright idea was it to try to pair up two obvious misanthropes?

“I had no idea!” I shouted over the music. “I didn’t ask Gabe to do this!”

The guy, Will, gave me a long look before nodding curtly at me, turning and stalking away without another word.

“You okay?” Chanda asked from behind me. “That guy seemed…intense.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her. She looked at me doubtfully as I excused myself to go to the bathroom. My hands were sticky with ginger ale. The water in the ladies’ bathroom was hot enough to scald, but I washed them anyway, avoiding looking up at my reflection. I felt stupid now, in my costume and makeup, because from the moment I’d locked eyes with Gabe’s sneering friend, I’d felt like a fraud. The whole evening had clearly been a mistake and I wanted nothing more than to go home and curl up on the couch with a jar of Nutella and Jon Stewart. The sooner the better.

WILL

Well, that went as badly as anything could. Now here I stand, covered in soda, alone, and hating the world. Pretty much like any other night.

How hard is it to just meet someone at, say, a bookstore? Or at the gym? Or in a cooking class? Isn’t that how every chick flick started? Two sexy people meet, have an equal exchange of appreciating glances and hurled insults, and eventually fall in love?

This scenario shouldn’t have been so much different. I’m new in town, my best friend is dating a nice woman, a leggy ginger who suggests that her sister isn’t seeing anyone and would I like to meet her? Sure, why not. It doesn’t have to be love. It doesn’t have to be anything.

But then I meet her, and it is the worst.

Meet isn’t the right word. Rammed into? Nearly toppled? I didn’t see her; all I saw was Gabe waving at me in that ridiculous getup. And then, splash. And there’s this kid, her face is all flushed, eyes big as saucers in her head. I can’t tell what color they are in this light, but there’s something behind them that I could almost…almost reach. She’s small, flint-eyed and sharp-tongued with a strong don’t-fuck-with-me vibe that doesn’t quite hide the way she stared at me. I’m not blind, I know what I look like. Girls like this never notice the tired circles under my eyes or the angry patches of acne I get under my beard.

When Gabe explains that this is Emma’s sister I want to deck him. What was he thinking? Even if she’s not a kid, she looks enough like one to land me on some kind of sex offender registry. And apart from her looks (which, youth aside, aren’t all that bad) she seems like the kind of girl who’d break your bones, your balls, and your will to live.

From across the room I see her standing at the door, watching people dancing to this impossible-to-dance-to music. Maybe it’s the hangdog expression, but I can see her age better now, and that thing behind her eyes that I couldn’t quite grasp. It’s loneliness, something I’d recognize anywhere. It sets my teeth on edge, and I’m glad when she finally turns and leaves.

The second she’s gone I feel it. A nagging guilt that buzzes in my ear like a mosquito. It says did you have to be such a dickhead?

No. I guess I didn’t.

The second I step out the door the muddy smell of the Mississippi hits me, mixed with exhaust fumes and piss, the perfume of cities. I’m still getting used to this place, not nearly as big as Chicago but bustling enough. Those that welcomed me thus far did so with their trademark “Minnesota Nice,” which seems to me to be grandly self-congratulatory passive aggression. People in other states were nice, why did Minnesotans have to act like they had a trademark on the concept? When I pull out of the public parking garage, the Tesla moves smooth and silent as a snake over the patched asphalt. The condition of the streets here should be a crime.

And there she is, the thin white duchess. Standing at the bus stop, pulling her jacket closer to her. She’s pulled her hair out of its braid and it hangs down her back in a wavy curtain of gold. What the hell, I tell myself and pull up beside her. She looks startled when she sees me behind the wheel. Wary.

“Hey,” I say. Off to the races.

“Hey?”

“Can I give you a lift home? I didn’t intend to scare you off back there.”

Her smile is a jackknife that pins me to my seat, balls first. Her eyes glint in the streetlight. “Scare me? You wish, moneybags.”

*****

There’s more that follows, of course, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into Modern Love. Thanks so much for giving it your time!

*****

**About the author, Beau North: Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with English Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, an internet collective focused on pop culture.

**Contact Beau!: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram

*****

**Click HERE to see other stops on Beau’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour!

EXCERPT of “First & Goal” & GUEST POST by Laura Chapman

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“First & Goal” by Laura Chapman

Blurb: 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.

**Buy “First & Goal” now: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

* * * * *

EXCERPT

While I dig through piles of green and yellow shirts, I call my younger brother, Christopher. I need advice before the draft. I may not be in this for the glory of victory or the money, but I don’t want to embarrass myself by coming off as an idiot.

His sleepy voice answers a second before it goes to voicemail. “What’s going on?”

Not wasting any time, I explain the situation. After giving him a minute to get the laughter out of his system, I tell him what I need from him. “I need a crash course in drafting a team.”

“Why do you care if it isn’t about winning?”

“Pride?”

He snorts. “Fair enough. Do you have a pen and paper?”

My hands freeze on a long-sleeved green and yellow rugby style shirt. “Not on me. Should I grab some?”

He busts out laughing again. This time I struggle to stay patient while he pulls himself together. “Can we get through this?” I ask. “Today if possible?”

“Calm down, BK.”

I glare at the pile of shirts. “I told you not to call me . . . that.”

“Technically, you told me not to call you—”

“Don’t even say it. And don’t pretend saying BK is any different.” I walk over to a rack of jerseys. “Tell me your ‘rules.’”

Christopher clears his throat and begins. “Rule number one: Don’t draft a kicker or defense until the last few rounds.”

“Why not?”

“It doesn’t matter if they show up as the highest-rated available player or if someone else makes a grab for kickers and defenses early. It’s a wasted pick. The guys in your league will make fun of you for the rest of the season if you do something so amateurish.”

Noted. Saving myself humiliation is the primary objective.

“Number two,” Christopher continues. “Don’t try to draft every player from your favorite team.”

“Why not? The Packers are good.”

“Yeah, but what happens if they have a bad week?”

I feign mock outrage. “Are you actually suggesting our beloved Packers would have anything less than a perfect season? What would Dad say?”

“Trust me on this one, Harper. Your Sunday . . . or Thursday or Monday will be a million times worse if you’re dealing with a Packers and fantasy loss.”

“Okay, avoid drafting the entire Packers starting lineup. Got it.” I’m going to have to do some fast research to find out who else I might want on my team. Basically, all the players I know are in Green Bay. “What’s next?”

“Have you found out what pick you have?”

My eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Pick?”

“Where are you in the draft order?”

Oh. “Fourth.”

“The first three people have selected the top three running backs in my mock drafts.” I want to ask what he means by ‘mock draft,’ but there’s no time. “You can have a little fun with being fourth, but I say you should take the Pope. You’ll impress the guys in your league.”

“Who’s ‘the Pope?’”

“John-Paul Massa. An underrated but totally badass running back.”

“Massa it is.” I stare at the Chad Baker jersey in front of me. “When can I draft Baker?”

“No sooner than the second round, but try to hold off until the third. You want to make sure you get a solid wide receiver, and they tend to go fast after the top six running backs are off of the board.”

“But I want Baker.”

“He’ll be around,” Christopher assures me. “And if things get hairy during your draft, you can always text me.”

“Is there a fourth rule?”

“Yes.” He clears his throat again and hesitates. Content with my clothing selections, I walk toward the checkout line. “My fast and final rule: Don’t let the guys seduce you into giving them the best players.”

My gasp of outrage draws attention from the person standing in front of me. I dart an apologetic grin, before hissing at my brother. “Why would you even go there?”

“Harper, you’re smart and driven.”

“But . . .”

“You’re an idiot when it comes to men.” He releases a heavy sigh. “Maybe it’s because deep down you’re a sweet person or maybe you’re too trusting, but you have a talent for giving it up to douchebags.”

I want to argue back on principle. I am a strong, independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to succeed. But, a glance back at my dating track record gives Christopher’s commandment some weight. Maybe I should tell him I’m a new woman after what happened with the last guy. Instead, I thank him for his advice and pay for the new football gear.

* * * * *

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**About the author: Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and All I Want For Christmas. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

**Contact Laura:

Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram

YouTube   Goodreads   Sign up for Laura’s newsletter

* * * * *

GUEST POST

No two days are exactly alike. That’s the beauty of being an author. One day you’re plotting, another you’re navigating your way through a tricky passage, and on the next you’re swearing at your computer, because your marketing plan hit a hiccup. While I’m a big plotter, one of my favorite parts about being an author is that it challenges me to adapt as the situation changes—which is every day.

When Isabella asked me to write about my life as an author, I found I couldn’t put it succinctly, because it’s always evolving. Rather than speak in generalities on the subject, I figured I’d share a few days that illustrate the world of Laura Chapman: My Life as an Author.

November 30, 2010

Only 1,000 more words to go. I note the time on the display in the corner of my computer monitor. It’s after seven—plenty of time to meet my deadline, yet it doesn’t seem like enough. It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t finish. No one will die, no wars will break out, and no one will care. Except for me. I will care.

When I started National Novel Writing Month on the first (Has it really been a whole month?) I was out to prove something. I had to show myself that I could do it—I could write a book if I sat down and made myself finish what I started. Finishing would be the key difference this time. The partial manuscripts rotting in a folder on my desktop were evidence of my inability to complete what I began. “Laura Chapman likes to start stories,” they seem to scream. “But she doesn’t have the follow-through to reach the end.”

Not this time. This time, I will hit the 50,000-word mark. And then I will keep at it until the story is done.

With only 1,000 words more words needed and a few hours until midnight, when I have to verify my word count online, I pack my laptop and drive to Indigo Bridge Books. The local bookstore has the vibe I need. People are always writing there, and productivity sizzles in the air. It will be good to spend some time around like-minded people. The bookstore also has another distinct advantage over staying home: it has Internet.

I’m two years out of college, and I’m still in a financial crunch. The recession hit mere months after I earned my diploma. I’m lucky to have a job, even if it doesn’t pay much. Tack on the student loans, rent, and the debt I accrued when I moved to and from Houston during the past eighteen months, and Internet is a luxury I can’t afford.

But I need the Internet tonight to verify my words. And I need to finish writing those words.

Settled in at a small table with a mocha latte and my laptop, I type away furiously. I can do this, I can write 1,000 more words tonight. I can paint the picture of Lexi Burke’s quirky world on the Gulf Coast. I can show her chemistry with Jason Beaumont. Oh man. Jason Beaumont. I may have broken the mold with this character. To my twenty-four-year-old self, he’s the epitome of male perfection. He has a good job, the motivation and drive to succeed, a sense of humor, and the everyday southern charm I witnessed countless times while I lived in Texas. And like Mr. Darcy, he has a pretty bitchin’ house. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a big sprawling home with a pool? I bet he has Internet, too.

And so I type and type away, giving pause every so often to check the time and my word count. What would Lexi do? Write it down. Keep going. Around nine, I do it. I pass the 50,000-word mark with some change. Adrenaline pulses through my veins. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I still have a ways to go until I type “the end,” but this is a huge step in that direction.

Feeling like I just scored a six-figure advance from a major publisher, I pull up the NaNoWriMo website so I can let them know I finished. The page takes a full minute to load, and another minute passes before I get to the word verification section. I copy my document and paste the contents into the form. Blood pumps loudly in my ears. I click “verify my word count.”

And nothing happens.

The spinny wheel of death pops up and still nothing. I refresh the page, only to find I have to copy and paste my text once more. This time I wait longer. I’m about to break a pencil in half when an error message appears on the page. What the eff. I try a few more times without success. I hit up Twitter to see if anyone else is having issues. Just as I expect, the frustrated tweets flow on screen. Due to an influx of traffic, the NaNoWriMo website is having problems loading.

Well hell.

Not one to sit in my failure for long, I call a few friends with faster, stronger Internet connections until I find one who can help.

“CanIsendyoumynoveltoverifyformeplease?”

“Sure.”Of course Aja will help. We’ve been friends since first grade. We were in the same Brownies troop. Aren’t the Girl Scouts always preaching preparedness? Or is that Boy Scouts? At the very least, I’m quite certain we sang a song about being friends until the end. And this is as close to the end as I’ve ever come.

Staying on the line, I give Aja my password to log-in. I send her my document, and she runs through the same motions I had earlier. Only this time, instead of a spinny wheel of death or an error, a congratulatory message pops up on her screen.

“’Congratulations,’” she reads to me. “’You did it.’”

While she enters in the necessary information to complete my winner certification, the excitement returns. My eyes burn with unshed tears. For the first time ever, I feel like an author. I can do this. I can live my dream.

September 10, 2015

This isn’t a great time to be leaving town. My third novel launched yesterday, and there’s still a lot to do in the way of promotion. But I did my best to plan ahead. I sent out interviews and guest posts to more than thirty bloggers, and I scheduled my tweets and Facebook posts during the next few days. For the most part everything has gone like clockwork.

Except for one crucial element: one vendor still doesn’t have First & Goal available for sale. Oh, they say it’s available on the publishing dashboard, but the null searches on the purchasing side beg to differ. I suppose this isn’t a big deal—or so I keep telling myself to avoid having a stroke. It doesn’t look terribly professional to have to keep saying “It will be up soon,” to waiting readers, but what can you do?

You can have a heart attack or cry. I’ve come close to both, but to what end? I have a flight to catch for a previously planned business trip. Death and hysteria aren’t practical options.

At least the screening lines at the Lincoln Airport are fast. The small municipal airport usually gets you in and out without much fuss. That’s a good thing. I didn’t sleep much last night—or the night before. In addition to releasing a novel, I spent the previous day wrapping up a bunch of projects at my other job. Then I had to do laundry and pack my suitcase. As icing on the cake, I had to draft a crappy fantasy football team at almost midnight. It wasn’t my best draft, and there’s a lot of opportunity for heartbreak this season.

There’s always next year, I suppose.

Successfully through the TSA search, I park at the gate and pull out my laptop. Maybe there’s something I can do to help my book’s cause before I fly to Indianapolis by way of Chicago. Sure enough a new email appears from my publisher. Great news. The rogue distributor finally has First & Goal up on its site.

“We’ll begin pre-boarding for Chicago, please…”

With limited time, I update my blog and website. I post to Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully this helps me with a few more sales. Almost as quickly, I repack my suitcase and board the airplane. Crammed into the tiny puddle jumper, I check my social media pages and email until we are collectively asked to turn off our mobile devices. We taxi around the tiny tarmac then come to a halt.

A few minutes later, the captain’s voice booms over the intercom. “We’re experiencing some slight delays getting into Chicago. They’re a little backed up on account of some weather in the area. We’re going to hang out here for half an hour, but we’ll get you there as soon as possible.”

Sneaking out my phone, I check the status on my other flight. Still on time. Normally that would be great, but I only have a forty-five minute layover. And my gates are on opposing sides of the airport.

I guess that’s why the phrases “just one of those days” and “it’s always something” exist. Hell.

February 23, 2020

“Just five more minutes,” I plead. “I’m almost done with this scene.”

I said the same thing ten minutes ago, but this time I mean it. I know we should be out the door an on our way already, but there’s no stopping inspiration when it strikes. I’ve always written when the mood arises. I did it ten years ago when my stories were ideas, and I do it now that I’m a best-selling novelist. I can’t change who I am just because someone is in a hurry to hit the Red Carpet.

Not that I can blame him. My husband is up for an Academy Award—again—but this time I have no doubt he’s walking away with Oscar gold. He’s deserved it every time he’s been nominated, but the Academy would have to be crazy not to reward his ingenuity on screen. Besides, this year he has his good luck charm—me. At least that’s what he told me when he walked away with his Golden Globe and SAG awards earlier this season. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to the superstition. But if there is, well, my lucky charm skills can only be stronger now that we’re good and truly married.

(That’s between us right now, though. How we managed to sneak off to Germany for a simple, but beautiful, wedding with only our families and closest friends without alerting the media is still a mystery to me. But it will only be a secret for a few more hours. I snuck a peek at his acceptance speech—the one he won’t carry on stage, but has memorized. I distinctly saw a note to thank his “magnificent wife.” He actually called me magnificent. I’m living a fairy tale.)

I guess luck really is on our side this year. I’m married to one of the sexiest and most brilliant men alive—who is hours away from having “Academy Award winner” attached to his name—and my last five novels have hit number one on the bestseller lists.

And not to toot my own horn too much, but the screen adaptation for one of those books begins filming next month. The hubby and I are headed to the set after we take our overdue honeymoon. I helped pen the screenplay, so who knows? Maybe I’ll be adding “Academy Award winner” to my list of accolades one of these days too. For the moment I’m perfectly content with everything I have, including the scene I am just about to finish—

“My dear,” he calls out. “You know I could sit here and watch you write all day, but the studio will kill me if I don’t make a couple of stops on the Red Carpet. I’d hate to have Harvey tell me I’ll never work in this town again.”

I tear my eyes away from the screen and freeze. No matter how many times I see him in a tuxedo, I never seem able to keep myself from gaping. It’s hard not to—the man looks like he was born wearing an Armani suit.

Swallowing hard, I find my voice at last. “I’m done.” I slam the laptop shut, not caring whether or not I’ve saved the current draft or finished the scene. I rise from the desk in our hotel suite and gently smooth out any wrinkles that might have formed in my vintage Oscar de la Renta gown. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

He captures my hand and raises it to his lips. “Worth waiting for.”

My stomach tumbles. It’s just like I’m seeing him for the first time when we met at that bookstore in London. He was picking up a couple of books to take on a shoot. I was finishing up a signing. That was almost two years ago, and here we are now.

He nods toward my laptop. “Are you at a good place for stopping? We can take a few more—”

“It’s good—great,” I correct myself, squeezing his hand. “And anyways, we can talk about the book later. You won’t have much of a choice when we’re on our way to Fiji. But tonight is about you.”

I can’t resist straightening his already perfect tie, just because I can.

“Your phone is charged?” I nod. “Then you can sneak in another scene in the car or during the commercials. And if any of the acceptance speeches go too long . . .”

Laughter about to erupt, I silence him with a kiss. We pull apart at last, and I can’t even remember what we were talking about. He does that to me. With my thumb, I smooth off the lipstick I inadvertently left on his lips. My shade of red does look nice on him though.

“Shall we?” he asks, taking my hand in his once again.

I nod. He leads me out of the room, down the elevator, and through the lobby to the waiting town car.

The driver scurries to open the door for us. “Ms. Chapman. Mr. Fassbender.”

If this isn’t living the dream, I don’t know what else could possibly compare.

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**GIVEAWAY**

**Click HERE to enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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**Click HERE to see other stops on Laura’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours!

Courtney Clark

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Courtney Clark: Besides aspiring to use wit and, yes, sometimes sarcastic comments to write comedy gold, Courtney Clark is a proud pet parent to two awesomely neurotic dogs, a book nerd, a tattoo enthusiast, and her parents’ favorite child (just don’t tell her brother that).

**Contact Courtney: Email   Facebook   Goodreads   Twitter

INTERVIEW

Describe your writing style in five words? Laughing, typing, more laughing, typing.

Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process: I wrote my first book, A Story of Like: A Decidedly Unromantic Romance Novel, in less than a month. It seemed to flow so easily. Little did I know that the hard part was still ahead. Currently, I am self-published, so I am still learning how to be an editing/publishing/marketing superstar. I’m a perfectionist, though, so I’ll get the hang of it…someday.

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? eBooks

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Starting at age three, I wanted to be a doctor, but then I took college chemistry (grimace).

Do you have any writing rituals? I like to plot out my chapters on the elliptical machine, so I always keep a notepad and paper nearby when I’m working out.

Salty or sweet? Hmmm…this is like the Sophie’s Choice of snack questions. Nope, I just can’t choose.

At what time of day do you work best? Without copious amounts of coffee, my brain doesn’t actually work until at least 9 AM, so late morning is when I usually get in the zone.

Every author must have (a): perseverance.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully sipping cocktails somewhere.

If you could meet any other author, who would it be? I think that my chick lit idol has to be Jill Shalvis. I binge read everything she writes, and I would love to pick her brain to see how she comes up with so many uniquely endearing characters.

What do you want readers to take away from your books? Romance is great, but sometimes real life is better.  Love isn’t always about instant connections or six-pack abs.  For me, it’s about who you laugh with and who is going to be there for you, even when you’ve briefly hopped aboard the crazy train and are mid freak out.  I wanted to put something out in the world that showed how amazing the ordinary—making fun of your girlfriend because she laughed so hard she snorted—kind of love can be.

What are you working on right now? Right now I am working on my second novel, An Introvert’s Guide to Living Abroad. I think if the way I’ve been bursting into laughter at the keyboard is any indication, it is going to be one hilarious adventure!

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GUEST POST

Congratulations! It’s a…Twitter Account.

 After only a few months of using social media to connect with readers, bloggers, and fellow authors, I can now say I know what it’s like to have a baby, except with less poop. Okay, don’t get me wrong, being a mom is a far more difficult and greater job than managing an author’s Twitter account, but for a fledgling author, Twitter can become a real, breathing entity that requires constant attention and care. Who knew?

Second guessing yourself: Just like new parents constantly turning to parenting books, panicking over each and every decision made about their precious bundle of joy, each new author obsesses over each and every tweet. “Is this one funny enough?” “Does the sarcasm shine through?” “Will this get any retweets?” “Wait, why didn’t this get any retweets?” “You know, I’m just going to text Anne and see if she will retweet it.” Although I’ve never been decisive about picking which restaurant to eat at, I’ve always felt confident in my humor and my choice of words. It only took about one week on Twitter, to put all of that self-esteem in doubt.

Two AM Feedings: New parents rarely get any sleep; neither do new authors on Twitter. With new tweeps all over the globe, there never seems to be a good time to disconnect. Whether I’m chatting to my new favorite blogger in New Zealand, who loves my work, or up with the night owls, playing hashtag games and looking for likeminded followers, Twitter never sleeps, and it is always crying for my attention. Chime…

Dangerous Diaper Changes: The diaper explosion is a horror that each and every one of my parenting friends has experienced, one that I don’t envy. Although the poop on Twitter is mostly metaphorical, with the exception of that cheeky little emoji, it is a mess to clean up just the same. I don’t know what makes the Twitter trolls target certain people, but, like a new parent with a diaper changing that should come with a hazmat suit, I was in shock the first time it happened to me. Just…why? How did my sweet, witty comment, turn into a toxic waste dump of negativity? My immediate response was to fire back—big mistake! The comments started to multiply, creating an even bigger mess, and I finally had to learn the beauty that is blocking people on Twitter, which consequently comes in handy while trying to keep dubious characters (the kind that exclusively tweet butt cleavage shots) from my Twitter baby.

            All in all, taking care of my Twitter baby has been a daunting task, one that I am still trying to figure out as I go. However, through all of the poop, neediness, and self doubt, Twitter has provided me with a place to connect to other book lovers, writers, and fabulous bloggers, making it a positive experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

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AStoryOfLikeCoverPic**Blurb: He’s every woman’s idea of the perfect man: a middle income job, a receding hair line that only Mr. Clean would envy, and a body fit for the beer Olympics.

Who could resist?

Meet Addison Anderson. Although Addy is happy with her life—she has a job she loves, family and friends who support her, and her very own sidekicks in her neurotic Superdog named Lola and a nefarious looking cat named Moustachio—she’s missing the one thing that every girl wants, a plus one to couple’s game night. Enter Charlie. Not exactly the man of her romantic fantasies, Addy is quick to put him in the friend zone, but as he rapidly becomes an invaluable part of her life, Addy must make a big decision: which is more important, that elusive spark or someone to share her life with? Join Addy on her comic voyage as she discovers that not every story is a story of love, sometimes it’s a story of like.

**Buy “A Story of Like: A Decidedly Unromantic Romance Novel” now:

Amazon   Barnes & Noble

The Marrying Type

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“The Marrying Type” by Laura Chapman

About “The Marrying Type”: Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.

**Buy “The Marrying Type”: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   Marching Ink

**Other book links for “The Marrying Type”: Goodreads   YouTube

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GUEST POST

“Second Times a Charm?” by Laura Chapman

Like dating, each new book you write offers valuable experience that you can use the next time around.

When I wrote my first novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, I’d toyed with the idea of telling the story of a young human resources manager trying to fit into a very grownup world while still trying to understand what adulthood meant. When November 1, 2010, rolled around, and I saw friends posting updates on Facebook about how they were participating in National Novel Writing Month, I decided I might as well give it a try. I’ve always a little too competitive for my own good. I spent that evening creating a rough outline of the book and went to work. Progress was slow, because like my main character, I too was traveling a lot for work and not quite sure what being 24 meant. I still felt like a college student a lot of the time, but my student loan, mounting bills, and professional responsibilities begged to differ.

I was well behind reaching the 50,000-word goal when I decided to take off a few days from work the week of Thanksgiving. I had a little bit of vacation time I had to use or lose, and it seemed like this was as good of a time as any. During the last week and a half of NaNoWriMo, I wrote between 4,000 and 5,000 words a day, determined to reach my goal on November 30. When I did, with just a few hours to spare, I cried. It was such an exciting and overwhelming experience to realize I could and did write 50,000 words in a month. It took me a few more months to finish the first draft of the book and years to revise.

Writing my second book was a vastly different experience. I knew a month before November 1, 2011, that I was going to write The Marrying Type. Figuring I was an old veteran by this point, I carefully outlined my novel and had a game plan for crossing the 50,000-word mark by November 30. Working alongside a couple of local friends who were also participating in NaNoWriMo, I met my goal two days early. Now I really felt like a pro.

But once again, it took me a couple of months to finish that first draft. And while I was happy just like the first time, I wasn’t as excited. This time, I understood a little bit better just how much work was going to be involved if I wanted to publish this book. Even then, I still didn’t have a full clue of just what the next few years would entail.

While writing the first draft of my second book was a faster experience than the first time around, and I better understood had to build tension and tell a story, I still had a lot to learn. Like with book one, book two went through round after round of edits and drafts before becoming the book it is today.

Perhaps the greatest lesson book two taught me was that no matter how many times you set out to write a novel, it is always going to take a lot of work. It isn’t going to be as easy as you might imagine. You’re almost always going to have to part with a scene or character you liked to make your story stronger. And no matter how hard you try, you will always have to go back and fix typos or change plot elements.

The ups and downs of writing my first two novels ultimately paid off. While they took more time than I’d ever imagined, I was able to produce two novelettes with relative ease after going through this experience. And though I struggled to write the first draft of my third novel, the experiences of books one and two taught me that it was okay to basically scrap everything and start over. Which is what I ended up doing, and my last attempt at the first draft took record time. I’m currently editing that book, and I’m happy to say that it is in much better shape than my first two books at this stage in the game. It’s not perfect, but I can see my growth as a writer, which is a great reward.

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**About author, Laura Chapman:

Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.

**Contact Laura:

Website   Blog   Facebook   Goodreads   Instagram   Twitter

BOOK BLITZ: Jessica Gordon

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JessicaGordon2About author, Jessica Gordon: Jessica Gordon is a Johns Hopkins University alumna for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She received her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the Writing Seminars program and her master’s degree in communications.

After working in the corporate world for several years, Jessica decided to return to her first love: creative writing. Jessica takes her readers to the prominent Washington, D.C. area where her characters navigate through the complex world of family, in-laws, and love.

INTERVIEW

Describe your writing style in five sentences: Characters that are relatable. Stories that move at a fast pace. Clear, concise writing to convey a story. Dialogue that is engaging. Intriguing plots with vivid scenes and characters.

How did you come up with the idea for writing “Becoming Mrs. Walsh”? At the heart of Becoming Mrs. Walsh is a tale about love, life, and family. I am fascinated by how these topics are related and I love looking at the dynamics within family and extended family. Seeing the story through Shoshana, a young, newly engaged girl, was intriguing to me. When you are engaged and enter into a new family you are introduced and exposed to a whole new world. This notion was in the back of my mind. My husband is the youngest of three boys so I have older brothers and sisters-in-law. When I first met them I was really taken with what it meant to join a family and have older siblings. To be introduced to so many people at once and to enter a family where they have already been together for many years is kind of like starting a movie halfway through. That learning curve combined with my love of exploring relationship dynamics led me to start thinking about a few things. Where do your loyalties lie when there is conflict: to your soon-to-be new family, or to your current family? I also think people have different takes on in-laws. I know some people that are closer with their in-laws than with their own family and I hear stories of extended family not getting along. You get to see all different dynamics play out in Becoming Mrs. Walsh. I wanted to take relatable, everyday feelings but put my characters in the most extraordinary of situations.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Yes, definitely! I love to write, all of the time. Many scenes from Becoming Mrs. Walsh were originally written on napkins when I was sitting in a coffeeshop. It is cheesy but when you love something enough and are passionate about it, you never want to do anything else. I’ve gone back and reread very detailed diary entries from my past and they read like small stories. I went to school specifically for the writing program. I was very fortunate to graduate from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. I will always be writing simply because I love it. 🙂

What is your writing/editing/publishing process like? My writing process can be unpredictable, but I generally know where I want to go with a story. From there I am constantly thinking of ideas and writing out scenes as soon as I can get my hands on a piece of paper or laptop. I take a general pass at editing and then I leave it in the hands of my trusted editor. The e-book publishing process is one that can be relatively easy once you’ve gone through it. Since I published Becoming Mrs. Walsh, I’ve enjoyed watching its growth and progression. Once your e-book is online and available for the world to see it is both a very exciting and overwhelming feeling. Overall, while my writing process is very creative and can take many twists and turns,  the publishing part is much more straight forward and process driven.

At what time of day do you find the most productive to write? This is a good question. It is hard to say. Sometimes I am most productive simply when inspiration strikes. There is a scene early in the book that takes place on the Metro (readers that have read the book, will know exactly which one I mean). The entire scene came to me in the middle of the night. I completely jumped out of bed at three in the morning grabbed the nearest pad and wrote out the entire scene. In general, I usually keep a small pad in my bag because you never know when you will be waiting in line and have a minute to write down a thought. I would say overall throughout the day I am generally jotting down ideas and thoughts, but most of the sitting and really working tends to be in the evenings.

How did you celebrate your first book being published? I was very happy to have it published, but I think the first official celebration was when I received my first fan letter. It was the most amazing feeling to know that I wrote something that really touched someone enough to compel them to reach out to me. I read the fan letter out loud to myself and then smiled really big, the smile pretty much continued hours after the fact. A simple celebration, but a very meaningful one. Of course, anyone who reads the book and reviews it or writes to me directly, I always celebrate. I also love the very intimate experience authors have with their readers. Even though there are many readers that I’ve never had contact with, we all know the story of Becoming Mrs. Walsh, and we are bonded through our enjoyment of the book. Knowing someone may have been up late reading my book somewhere in the world is an extraordinary feeling and one I am grateful for each day.

At the end of “Becoming Mrs. Walsh,” you left us with quite a bit of a cliffhanger, was that planned? I’ve been asked about the ending a lot. For me the ending organically made sense. I didn’t want anything to feel forced; it had to be something that felt authentic to each character. Often times when I write I basically know where I am going, but sometimes I take a different path than I had originally planned. I strived to make the characters in Becoming Mrs. Walsh well drawn because creating interesting characters is so important to me. I think an ending needs to feel right for the characters more than the story sequence if that makes sense. In Becoming Mrs. Walsh the actions each character takes feels like what the character would have done in that moment based on what you glean from them throughout the book. I love hearing from readers and I have received a lot of feedback about the end. If you are reading this now and want to talk more about it, please e-mail me. I’m happy to discuss more! Just don’t want to give anything away. 🙂

If “Becoming Mrs. Walsh” were turned into a movie, who would you like to play the leading roles? This is a great question and one I’ve gotten before. I generally don’t like to assign actors because I love when readers have their own vision of who each character is. I think certain actors and actresses evoke specific emotions and reactions from people. But, it is a good question and I love hearing readers’ thoughts on that. I’ve had lots of readers tell me who they saw in a movie version, and let’s just say there has not been one suggestion yet that I’ve disagreed with! People really seem to get exactly where I was going with these characters.

What is your favorite word? Belly because it conveys so many different emotions. It could mean a warm, full belly after a delicious meal. Laughing a real belly laugh, you are so hysterical and tickled with glee. Belly dancing is very sexy and interesting. A pregnant belly makes one thinks of life and the beauty of the belly.

Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I am working on a sequel to Becoming Mrs.Walsh. 🙂 I haven’t officially announced a date yet or anything like that because I really want to make sure the sequel is the best course of action for the characters. Whenever people ask about the sequel I have been saying TBD, but I would like to publish one. And when I know more, my readers and favorite bloggers like yourself will certainly know!

GUEST POST

Five Tips on Writing Chick Lit

1) Chick lit by definition can be light, breezy, and fun. However, in order to be light, breezy, and fun you need to make sure you don’t bog readers down in overly ornate prose and uninteresting details. If you are going to write Chick Lit you must deliver on a premise that it will read quickly and entertain. You can not be boring when you write Chick Lit!

2) Tell a great story. At the heart of every good book is an even better story. Be an amazing story teller. Is this a tale you would want to chat about with friends over drinks or coffee? You want readers to fall in love with your story because it is captivating. It is the type of  story that is at the tip of your tongue. You want to tell anyone and everyone how juicy this plot is and what happens. You want readers to still be thinking about the characters long after they have put the book down. I had a reader tell me that it was almost painful to stop reading Becoming Mrs. Walsh. That meant so much to me because I knew the book meant as much to her as it did to me. Entertain readers and be passionate about your story, the point of chick lit is to entertain. So make sure you set out to entertain and deliver on it.

3) Create well drawn characters. While Chick Lit is breezy as I mentioned in point 1, do not fall into the trap of overly light and fluffy. You can have a “beach read” with great characters and engaging plots. The “beach read” part is that it is entertaining and satisfying like candy. You can devour it and love the sweetness of it, but it is not meant to be a heavy meal. You need to have a book that does not take itself too seriously, but just seriously enough.

4)  Love what you are writing about. If you, as the author, are not compelled to write or think about the story every single day, go back to the drawing board. Chick lit needs to draw you in and encompass you, you want to crave more of it and have characters that keep you turning pages. They are meant to be super engaging quick reads. If you want to write heavier prose or topics that deal with very serious situations that may not be a mood lifter or take a reader out of his/her world, you may want to re-consider genre. Even women’s fiction can have more of a serious tone. Chick lit can have topics beyond high heels and martinis but it is not meant to be depressing or dark, just interesting and entertaining.

5) Love what you do. If you love writing chick lit do it, but really love it. Love creating characters in interesting situations with vivid scenes, love letting your imagination run wild, and really allow yourself to create something different. If you truly love reading it and writing it then it is the right genre for you. If you feel mediocre about it, it is going to be hard to do. Don’t write a chick lit book because you are a good writer and you think it will be ‘easy,’ that type of forced writing will be apparent.

BecomingMrsWalshCover**”Becoming Mrs. Walsh” by Jessica Gordon:

Shoshana Thompson is 26 years old, miles from home, and engaged to Andrew Walsh, the last single Walsh brother of one of Washington, D.C.’s wealthiest families. Throughout her engagement she becomes enamored with the Walsh lifestyle.

Life in the fast lane comes to a screeching halt when Shoshana develops feelings for another man. When she discovers the feelings may not be one-sided, things are about to get a lot more complicated. This man is not only part of her fancy new world, he is also completely off-limits.

**Contact Jessica: Website   Twitter

**Click HERE to buy “Becoming Mrs. Walsh” on Amazon!

**GIVEAWAY**

Click HERE to enter to win a $50.00 SpaFinder Gift Card!

Julie Shackman

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About author, Julie Shackman: I’m a writer of contemporary romance and harbour an obsession of books; pretty stationery and handbags. “Rock My World” is my first novel. I also write captions and verses for greetings card companies and am an avid reader. I’m married with two gorgeous sons and live in Scotland.

INTERVIEW

Describe yourself in five words: Grateful to my wonderful publishers!

Tell us about your book, “Rock My World”: It’s a contemporary romance but with a paranormal edge to it. I’m a huge music fan, so there’s a lot of rock anthem references in the story too. I hope it makes readers laugh, smile and cry – all at the same time!

How long have you been writing? I have been writing ever since I can remember. I fell in love with reading from an early age and always knew I wanted to write. I trained as a journalist and I think that has definitely helped with awareness of deadlines!

What was your writing/editing/publishing process like? Like so many other writers, it has been a long one! I had two children’s picture books published some years ago, as well as a few poems in anthologies. But I always wanted to write romance. Life sometimes gets in the way though, so the idea went on the backburner. After our two sons grew a bit older, I decided to try and write contemporary romance. Whenever I got the opportunity, I put pen to paper and then when I finished my novel and polished it, I started firing it off to literary agents and publishers. That is really when the fun starts!

This went on for a number of months. I received a few full MS requests and lots of positive comments generally, which was great – but nobody was biting.

Then just before Christmas, I read about Not So Noble Books, who were considering new authors. I submitted a query, synopsis and first three chapters and got a reply from them several days later. They said they enjoyed my writing and asked to read the full MS.

I sent it off straight away and tried not to get too excited. I even attempted to forget about it, which is easier said than done. But to my shock and delight, about two weeks before Christmas, I received an e-mail from NSNB, offering me a publishing contract.

I remember hyperventilating and then asking my eldest son to read out the e-mail to make sure it wasn’t just wishful thinking!

Coffee or tea? Coffee – usually.

What is the funniest line from “Rock My World”?

Molly regards me carefully from under her messy fringe. “Wouldn’t it be nice if just for once he put down his jay cloth and had you up against the radiator?”

I take another glug of wine and let the fruity taste envelop my mouth.

“He’d probably want to bleed it first.”

Which author would you love to meet? Ooh – Can I be a bit greedy here please? There are so many great writers I’d love to meet…. Wendy Holden; Jenny Colgan or Sophie Kinsella would be wonderful. I love their writing.

How did you come up with the title of your book? It just sprang into my mind when I was drafting ideas and characters. I wanted a play on words for the rock theme and that just seemed to fit.

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Any – as long as it’s a great story, I don’t think it matters.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published? I went out with my Husband and two sons and celebrated with a lovely dinner.

What are you 2014 writing goals? To finish polishing my second novel and start writing my third.

Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? My second novel deals with the funny and emotional when celebrity collides with the so-called “ordinary”. My third novel is still in its early stages, but is also a contemporary romance and features a well-known character from history…

**Additional notes from Julie: It is a cliché but it is true – Don’t Give Up! When I was ready to walk away after having received more rejections, there were some fantastic writers who told me to keep reading, keep writing and keep going. I’m so glad I did.

GUEST POST

Why You Should Fall In Love With Your Hero

I can remember the first time it happened.

I was walking with my Husband through the Men’s department of a well-known store.

Our two boys looked like they were about to revolt, muttering, “Are we finished?” and “When are we going home?”

Other shoppers were swarming in and around us and as I made soothing noises to my two grim-faced sons, I spotted a very attractive grey suit. It was teamed up with a lilac shirt and matching tie. Very debonair.

Before I knew what was happening, I thought idly, “Oh yes, Matt would look great in that.”

Whose Matt? No, Matt is not my Husband. Matt is the hero in my contemp romance novel, “Rock My World.”

Matt Jardine, the dangerously sexy journalist who has a look of the Bradley Cooper’s about him. He is also, as you will no doubt have guessed, a figment of my imagination.

The fact I was trying to visualise one of my characters wearing this suit (and practically had him rushing to try it on) gave me a jolt.

Had I been working too hard? Maybe I should take a breather from the PC?

Recovering quickly, I dashed past the mannequin – only to hear Matt clearly say to me, “Well Julie. You like it – but what about Ruby?”

Ruby Cameron is the heroine in my novel – and Matt’s object of desire.

There followed a scrambled conversation in my head between the three of us debating this suit, whilst my Husband wandered around, examining shoes and completely oblivious to his Wife’s erratic thoughts.

I got home and consoled myself with coffee and a muffin. Yes, any excuse.

Deciding to have a break from the writing, I trawled through some writers websites.

And the overriding advice that was leaping out at me was if you don’t fall in love with your characters, then the chances are, your readers won’t either.

There were writers saying they had conversations with their characters all the time. They knew them so well, they knew what their favourite song was. What their pet hates were. Who their teenage crush had been.

In short, the authors felt like they knew their characters even more than they knew themselves.

I sat back and immediately Matt’s lupine grey eyes popped into my mind.  That lazy, arrogant grin spreading across his face.

And I came swiftly to a conclusion.

Sometimes, having such a rampant imagination can only be a good thing…

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“Rock My World” by Julie Shakman

Blurb: The spirit of Rock n’ Roll does exist…..and he’s “living” in Ruby Cameron’s new home!

Stevie Vee, an enigmatic local rock singer on the brink of fame, died in 1989 in mysterious circumstances and he wants local reporter Ruby to find out what happened to him.

Apart from a troubled dead singer, Ruby has other things on her mind…

Her Mother is dating a new man but there is just something about Peter de Marlow which Ruby doesn’t like. It turns out her Mum possesses a secret of her own….

Whilst trying to put her disastrous relationship with selfish ex-boyfriend Luke firmly behind her, Matt Jardine, a handsome but irritating new journalist joins her newspaper.

Will Ruby still have a “ghost” of a chance of happiness and can she help Stevie rest in peace?

Chapter 1 tease

Imagine the big hair and big attitudes of the late 1980s. Combine that with a sexy local rock singer on the brink of fame, with the audience in the palm of his hand – then something terrible happens….

**Contact Julie: Twitter