About author, Addison Westlake: Addison Westlake made her debut as an author at age 13 by rewriting the “Sweet Valley High” series. Despite copyright violations, she maintains that her rendition of Elisabeth and Jessica Wakefield as preteens in a British orphanage is a classic. Between then and now she went to some fancy schools, swapped out the East Coast for the West Coast, and had oodles of kids. Some of her favorite things in life include coffee, Aretha Franklin’s inauguration hat and the sleepwalking scene in “Step Brothers.”
Welcome back! What have you been up to since your first appearance on Chick Lit Goddess? I’ve been enjoying some success with my first self-published chick lit book “Christmas in Wine Country,” out in November 2012. With 25 copies downloaded, it spent six weeks as a best seller on Amazon in women’s fiction, contemporary romance, humorous fiction and humor.
My new chick lit book “Facebook Jeanie” came out 10/1 and is ready to join the party.
Tell us about your new book, “Facebook Jeanie”: It’s Bridget Jones meets “Groundhog Day” as 31-year-old Clara uses a new Facebook app to go back in time for a ‘do over’ with her college boyfriend, The One That Got Away. Ever wonder if you made the right choice? What if you could find out? Back in the world of frat parties, BFFs, and long-suffering, overlooked lab partners, join Clara as she discovers what it really means to hit the reset button on life. What could possibly go wrong? And, this time, can she get it right?
Where did you get the concept for this book? I think we all have those moments when we wonder… what if? What if our lives hadn’t followed the path we chose? What if we did take that job offer in another city or if we did decide to marry that ex-boyfriend? “Facebook Jeanie” came out of that universal experience. I imagined what if there were some way for a character to have a ‘do over’ with the one that got away.
Who or what inspires you? My mom inspires me because of how much she enjoys life, my husband because of how hard he works for the family, and my kids because of how much they’re learning every day.
Describe what the writing/editing/publishing process was like for you? Writing is lovely, like eating chocolates or spending time with loved ones. I can’t get enough of it. Publishing is much more complicated. The technical aspects of formatting and cover design can confusing, and marketing can feel scary and daunting. But when I remember that getting the word out about my book is essentially about connecting with like-minded authors and readers and sharing our love of chick lit, it feels fun again.
What are you reading right now? “The Next Best Thing” by Kristan Higgins.
How did you come up with “Facebook Jeanie”? I started with that ‘what if’ question, then I added in a dash of the magic of social media. I find Facebook fascinating—it both connects and disconnects you. You can keep in touch with friends and family, and you can spend two hours on it not paying any attention to the friends and family in the room with you. I created a character stuck in a Facebook rut, engaging more with photos of someone in her past than anyone in her present. And then I imagined a new Facebook app that lets her travel back in time, making her past her present. The rest is in the book!
If this book were turned into a movie, who would you want to play the parts? I could see Alek being played by Jake Gyllenhaal or James Franco. Clara could be Hayden Panettiere or Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies). I could see Anna Faris being pretty funny as Jeanie; she’d bring a “House Bunny” element to the role. And Brad? Any good-lucking but vacant & bland guy would do!!!
What is your favorite line from the book? “This is just like Bella and Edward!” Jeanie declared. “Only Brad’s not a vampire, so it’s even better!”
How has social media helped you with your career? As an indie author, I don’t think any of us would be able to publish without social media. In some ways, Amazon is one big social media site—a place to share and interact with content. Without social media, we’d all be waiting to be asked to the dance by an agent. Instead, we’re all rocking out on the dance floor.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? Relax. My husband says it a lot.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? I’m excited to start work on “The Never Been Kissed Club” series. Four friends band together at 13 years old. In the midst of all the braces and glasses and gawkiness, they take an oath to stay friends forever and remind each other that—just like Josie from their favorite movie “Never Been Kissed”—no matter how bad things get they have to keep believing in true love and have faith in happy endings.
The first book, “Just Between Us,” is about one of these four friends. Molly Bridget Anderson has become a 28-year-old accountant who likes to keep things orderly. Which is why chaos—in the form a 2-year-old nephew she suddenly has to look after and a tattooed rock star writing songs for her—is just what she needs to get her life on track. Look for “Just Between Us” in 2014!
FUN WITH FLAWS
For ChickLit Goddess
I love flawed characters. I think it’s a big reason why I love chick lit. I like romances, too, but sometimes everything in a typical romance is just a little too neat. It can get boring.
After all, they say “write what you know.” I write chick lit perhaps because I, myself, am nothing if not flawed. I make mistakes all day long. I forget names even when I’ve met the person a thousand times. I arrive late despite my best efforts. Lately, I’m trying to drink a lot of healthy shakes (shout out to my Nutribullet!). Even though I don’t know what chia seeds actually are and I still remember the jingle for Chia Pets “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” I put them in my shakes because someone told me that they’re healthy. The problem is that the seeds get caught in my teeth. I don’t realize it and then I go around talking to people with insane brown spots all over my mouth. It’s an excellent look.
Which brings me back to my main point: flaws. When I’m cooking up a new book, I like my heroines a bit nuts and my heros with a nice side helping of imperfect. It makes everything so much more satisfying, a story you can actually feel and relate to as it unfolds. I like my happy endings, I just like mine with some “we’ve all been there” laughs along the way.
Classic romances are fun, too. I can get swept away by the Edward types with their out-of-this-world good looks and superhuman ability to protect. I can enjoy a typical regency romance with the 18-year-old in pale blue chiffon making her first debut to the ton where she meets Rake McRakerton, Duke of Rakenhurst. I like my cowboys workin’ hard on the homestead with a hankerin’ for a ‘lil slip of a thing in calico. Christian Grey has some appeal, too, especially now that that Sons of Anarchy guy is going to play him. Even all those 50 Shades knock-offs on the bestseller list can be entertaining with their 27-year-old self-made billionaires who also have enough time away from running their global conglomerate to train their bodies into pro-fighter caliber shape, perfect cooking techniques, and shop for their ladies picking out the perfect designer gowns, lingerie and, of course, bling.
But while I enjoy my airbrushed realities where nothing embarrassing happens, my favorite books to read and write all have scenes that make you blush or tear up or clasp your hand over your mouth—no, she didn’t just do that! I like to make myself laugh out loud while I’m writing. And a book that can make me both laugh and swoon? Those are the best. It’s why Kristan Higgins is one of my favorite writers; she always manages to tie everything up in a bow with a dreamy guy even when she starts out with a scene in which the heroine’s sweater gets sucked down a power flush toilet.
The best characters are a bit rumpled. Sometimes grumpy. They get distracted and trip. They make ridiculous mistakes. After all, the best stories are built around conflict, and what better conflict arises than from characters who need to grow? A character with flaws has somewhere to go, a destination, and guess who they meet along the way?
Like so many things, it all brings me back to Darcy. Fitzwilliam Darcy, what a name. Stuffy, stiff, a bit full of himself. It’s so satisfying when Elizabeth Bennet takes him down a peg. And then all the more perfect that she’s clueless, too. They can both learn from each other. Of course, it is nice that Darcy happens to be darkly handsome and impossibly wealthy as well. But there’s no way I would have read Pride and Prejudice over and over again if Darcy hadn’t been an ass at the beginning. I guess we can all take comfort from that: it’s the flaws in ourselves and in our characters that make things the most enjoyable.
Blurb for “Facebook Jeanie” by Addison Westlake
It’s Bridget Jones meets “Groundhog Day”…
Ever wonder if you made the right choice? What if you could go back and find out?
31-year-old Clara is in a steady relationship—with Facebook. Every night after her depressing bureaucratic job (so much for saving the world), Clara comes home to her empty apartment (yes, she was dumped) and settles down with a pint of ice cream for some good, old-fashioned Facebook stalking. It’s her college boyfriend, The One Who Got Away. With the bod of a God and a net worth of umpteen bamillion, he now has the perfect life—everything she could have had if she hadn’t been so, so stupid.
But, wait. Jeanie from Facebook shows up at Clara’s job. There’s a new app they’re beta-testing and Clara’s perfect for it. That night she clicks on it and… nothing happens. But the next morning when Clara wakes up at noon, hung over, listening to her roommate blow-drying her hair and singing “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, she realizes she’s back in college. With the chance to do it all over again.
Back in the world of frat parties, BFFs, and long-suffering, overlooked lab partners, join Clara as she discovers what it really means to hit the reset button on life. What could possibly go wrong? And, this time, can she get it right?
EXCERPT of “FACEBOOK JEANIE” by ADDISON WESTLAKE
Chapter 1 Excerpt
Once Upon a Time
Clara clicked on the lower-case f icon along the base of her laptop. Laser-like focus, plowing past Facebook status updates, notifications and sponsored ads, she clicked over to friends, then selected him. Mr. Right. The One Who Got Away: Brad Wilkins.
Beach photos first. Because she’d had a long, hard day. She clicked on the album titled Summer.
Blond hair kissed by the sun and tousled by the wind, he stood like a Norse god on the beach. He flashed a rugged, knowing smile. The bright aquamarine of his eyes matched the ocean, the sky and the color of dreams. Move over Chris Hemsworth, there was a new Thor in town. And he’d hit the beach, tanned, rested and ready for the ladies.
An entire paragraph needed to be devoted to his chest. He had the shoulders of a lumberjack accustomed to hauling telephone poles. Pecs so hard and defined a girl could eat dinner off of them, or simply make them the meal. A six pack that mocked other men’s six packs. Put it all together and it made you want to petition NBC to bring back Baywatch, this time starring Brad Wilkins. Millions would tune in each week for the new episode, holding their collective breaths for the moment he took off in a run, shirtless, on the beach. In slow-motion he’d rescue… no one could ever tell you who because every ounce of attention would be riveted to those ripped muscles in action, the way his bicep bulged when he cradled the victim, the way the sunlight almost seemed to magnify the flexing. The man could not possibly ooze more sex appeal. She could practically hear Robin Thicke singing into her ear, “You know you want it.”
But wait, there was more. Clara clicked onto some new photos. Brad in a tux, debonair and polished yet still with the hint of the rake. Brad holding a beer and looking like a long, tall, cool drink himself in a crisp, dark blue pinstripe suit. The designer should pay him for wearing it, showing other men how it should be done, filling it out with sheer male prowess. You could put a suit on the man, but you’d never tame him.
Brad wore suits because he didn’t just play around at the beach all day. The man earned six maybe seven figures a year as an investment banker in New York City. Net worth, including the trust fund? Somewhere near upteenbamillion. The man pulled it down, brought home the bacon and the pan to fry it in. Then made you forget about dinner, anyway, because, there, he just took off his shirt.
Not for the first time, Clara reflected on the sad lack of a soundtrack to accompany clicking through Facebook photos. Because if anyone deserved the romantic, symphonic swells that enhanced the viewing pleasure of a Nicholas Sparks film, it was Brad.
Click. Those pearly whites never failed. Clara put a hand to her chest to still her beating heart.
Should have been. Click. Could have been. Click. Would have been. Click.
What she wouldn’t give for just one wish. She didn’t need three like Aladdin, no flying carpet and rich, elaborate entourage. Just one.
If she only had one wish, just one, she’d go back to college and set things right. She closed her eyes, seeing nothing but Brad, almost convincing herself that if she cleared everything else from her mind, focused intently enough, maybe somehow she could be transported back in time. Back to college. Because this time, she’d do everything different. And this time, she knew she’d get it right.
Prize: One (1) eBook copy of “Facebook Jeanie”, two (2) winners!
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**Click HERE to purchase a copy of Addison’s first book, “Christmas in Wine Country” — it’s only $0.99!