Creaking Open That Old Shed Door…

Creaking Open That Old Shed Door…

Why – hello everyone. Are you still here? Are you all really STILL here? Wow! Thank you for sticking around. It’s so wonderful to be able to engage with you again!

If you’ve forgotten, it’s me, Francine LaSala. You may remember me / my words from such quirky novels as Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything and as the publisher and co-editor of the anthology A Kind of Mad Courage. (You may also remember me as the author whose book somehow had the same cover as one by Margaret Atwood – my biggest post to date.)

Margaret Atwood's "ripoff" cover.
Margaret Atwood’s “ripoff” cover. (Click on image to read post.)

Actually, you may not remember me at all – or that you even subscribed to this blog – as it’s been so long since I published anything. Since I’ve written anything of my own. Somehow in the madness of the past two years, I have abandoned my poor “Shed” and somehow managed to lose track of my identity as a writer. Very Mina-esque for anyone who gets the reference.

Before…?

Well, no more or that. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been working to whack away the weeds that have grown over the “Shed” (otherwise known as my creativity). I’ve WD-40’d the hinges of the rickety old door and finally pushed it open. It’s a little musty in here, and there are some cobwebs and spiders hanging around, but give me a few weeks and I’ll have it all spic-and-span again.

I’ve already started to redecorate aesthetically – giving the blog a new look. (What do you think?) Now I’m working on “redecorating” content. I don’t think I’ll be able to commit to regular features, like Wassup Wednesday and Five for Friday anymore, but I will try and post regularly.

I still want to hear from you guys as well. While I haven’t been around all that much, I’ve really missed the sense of community having a regular blog gives a gal.

In the time that I’ve been away, I lost my mother. I became estranged from my father, and made my peace with him.

I became a dog person.

The three "musketeers" (or "stooges" - depending on the day/hour).)
The three “musketeers” (or “stooges” – depending on the day/hour).)

I took a couple of winter trips to a California beach house with writer pals Eileen Goudge, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Julie Valerie, Jen Tucker, Meredith Schorr, and Josie Brown and enriched my soul.

I went to France with my ten-year-old daughter and left here there with her grandparents – to fly home on her own. The most terrifying experience of my life, but she was awesome!

Yep, I’ve done a lot of growing these past months. How about you? Please leave me a comment about the biggest thing that’s happened to you in the past two years. (And if you’re not subscribed, do it now – it’s so easy!)

I look forward to welcoming you all back into the Shed again – maybe when it looks like more this…?

The Goal!
The Goal!

Till next time,

Francine

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

Having A Three-Way… Indie Style!

Having A Three-Way… Indie Style!

And no, it’s not dirty. But it’s fun!

I was thrilled to virtually sit down with two of my author besties, Samantha Stroh Bailey (Finding Lucas) and Meredith Schorr (Blogger Girl) recently to talk about marketing books, indie style. So, today I’ll share a snippet of that conversation. (You know, the part that doesn’t trail off into girly gossip and shoe talk.)

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Francine: So you guys know about this big book birthday blog tour bash going on this week, right?

Meredith (smirks): Birthday bash? Whatever do you mean?

Sam (cocks head, playfully): Uh, no. Please tell us more.

Francine (winks): Well, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is turning 1 this week, so it’s going on sale for 99 cents for one week only. While it’s on sale, I’ll be visiting different blogs for interviews, guest posts, that kind of thing. But I’m not the only one with something going on this week. Am I, Meri?

BG_front_cover_medMeredith: Well, now that you mention it, I am doing a blog tour the next couple of weeks to promote Blogger Girl which is about, you guessed it, a book blogger. During the three week tour, reviews of Blogger Girl will be posted on some awesome blogs, along with  guest posts and interviews. Insert shameless self-promotion here: Blogger Girl will be on tour with CLP Blog Tours from 11/4-25.

Francine: Oh, did I forget the dates (and the shameless self-promotion) for mine? Sorry! My sale started 11/1 and goes through Thursday 11/7… Which reminds me… Sam? Don’t you have something to share?

buukbuzz graphicSam (laughs): Well, as you both know, I love promoting with other authors, and I’ve done quite a few group promotions. Along with the two of you, co-founding BookBuzz has probably been the most exciting. Creating an interactive author/reader event where everyone can meet and mingle, have a drink and chat about writing and books is such a fantastic way to both market and reach out to readers. And timing is everything, right? Because there will be a BookBuzz in Toronto on Thursday night, November 7, at The Crest at 794 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, from 7pm to 9pm. Here’s the website for all of the info! http://bookbuzz2013.wordpress.com/ I had the great pleasure of organizing this one with author Lydia Laceby and blogger Kaley Stewart.

[Here are some photos from BookBuzzNYC! See? So fun!]

Francine: Ooooh, sounds like fun! I’d love to be there!

Meredith (rolls eyes and smiles): You are going to be there. And me, too.

Francine (grins stupidly): Right.

Sam (beams): It’s going to be great! I hope we get to do more of these. Such a fun way to get “out there” with our books and touch readers.

Meredith: I know, Sam. It’s so fun! So what are some of the other ways you guys have been able to get “out there” with your books – and what are the challenges you’re facing? For me, with so many quality and affordable books available, I find getting people to click on my books to be extremely challenging. I make a lot of effort to get my books in the spotlight, but I do find that a large population of chick lit readers are still more likely to pay for a big name than to give indie authors, meaning both authors who self-publish as well as those who are published by small, independent presses, a chance, even at a lower price.

FLNov22BigpaperbackSam: You’re right, Meri. I think marketing is challenging for any author, be they traditionally or indie published. For me, the hardest part was navigating social media. I didn’t even have a Facebook page until I published Finding Lucas! Learning how to use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, well, Pinterest is still a mystery to me, has been both incredible and scary. But, now that I’m using them, I find that I’m quite addicted. I also think it’s hard to gain exposure, but the reader/blogger/author community is so supportive, and I’m grateful to them.

Meredith: You can say that again. During the pre-release of Blogger Girl , I celebrated all things “blogging” by inviting guest bloggers to post on my website for a month long celebration.  As a result, there was already a lot of buzz about the book by the time it was officially launched. Additionally, while I always offer free copies of my books to bloggers in exchange for reviews, as well as participate in an organized blog tour, the blogging angle also helped get my foot in the door with popular beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers, who also agreed to promote Blogger Girl on their websites. Regardless of what avenue of publishing an author takes, marketing is pivotal.

All at once: Thank God for bloggers!

Francine: I’m not sure being “indie” is the big challenge for me. Even if I had a huge marketing budget and push behind me, I do find getting the word out about my books to be an awkward, embarrassing situation. Silly, I know, but I have a tendency to be shy. To be a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person. Which is why I enjoy writing. Marketing puts you right in the spotlight. And I’m old. Bright light is not as flattering as it may have once been. 🙂

Sam: Old? You’re only two years older than me! 🙂 There are definitely so many more options for marketing now than ever before.

Meredith: Creativity is key.

539286_10200439346445319_1446602713_nFrancine: Absolutely. As you guys know, I am a book publishing veteran, and I can tell you it’s amazing how formulaic print book marketing can be. This is because in traditional print publishing, if a book doesn’t take off right out of the gate, the remainder table is the fate! With ebooks, a book takes off when it does. There isn’t the same pressure to move those units quickly to make room in the warehouse for next season’s titles. The great thing is that an ebook can take time to grow. To that effect, I can “re-launch” The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything with this big birthday bash. I’m hoping this push will bring me more readers, more reviews, and also start building momentum for the books I plan to publish next year. I still feel like such a babe in the woods over all of this, though.

Meredith: We learn as we go. If I can give any new author starting out advice on how to launch an indie book, I’d say start getting reviews of your book as early as possible. With my first two novels, I didn’t start reaching out to bloggers for reviews until right before the book was being released. With Blogger Girl , I sent out ARCs over a month before the official launch and so by the time the book was published, I already had several reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It really made a difference as far as sales right out of the gate. I also urge you not to be stingy with offering free books. In addition to book bloggers, offer free copies of your book to readers in your target audience in exchange for a review. From my experience, readers are honored to be asked and if they like your book, they are extremely vocal about recommending it to their friends.

Francine: I agree. I also think that quality is key. It’s so important not to cheap out on your cover design or blurb. People can spot “homemade” a mile away. While that kind of thing can be charming for Pinterest, you want your book to be full-on-pro if you want readers to take you seriously. Also: Have your book edited. It’s heart-breaking to read bad reviews of books that are criticized not for plot points or characters, but for being sloppy. If you want to market your product as a quality product, produce a quality product!

Sam: Absolutely! Publishing a book is expensive, no doubt. But if being a professional author is what you really want to do, it is crucial to have the best book you can on the market. Hiring a professional editor, cover designer and formatter, if you need one, are some ways to create the most professional product. Here’s where I can do a bit of a shameless promo plug…

Francine: Thanks for taking one for the team, Sam!

Sam: By doing team edits on clients’ manuscripts, Francine and I have found it’s been fantastic to have more than one set of eyes on a story. I love working with you…

Francine: And I, you!

Sam: And it gives me great pleasure when we hand over the final product and our authors are so happy with our work.

Francine: Don’t forget that Meredith also does manuscript evaluations that are incredibly spot on.

Sam: So true. Her thorough and eagle-eyed beta read on my new novel really helped so much.

Meredith: Aw, thanks.

Francine: Seriously. Not blowing sunshine up your butt, Meri. When I read your reviews, I’m amazed at how much insight you have into the books you read–how much you care.

[Virtual group hug.]

Sam: Speaking of caring, I have to say the writer support groups I’ve found in the virtual world have changed my life. My friends and family are very proud of me, but it can be boring to listen to me prattle on about plot lines, sales, and promotions. Talking to and working with other authors who know exactly what my day is like has meant the world to me.

Meredith: Like right now!

Francine: True, dat. While we are all doing this to promote our various efforts, I have learned so much just speaking with you guys today.

Sam: I’ve learned I want to use “True, dat” in a sentence. But seriously, I hope we’ve been able to share more with readers than just the details of our various promotions.

Francine: Do you think the readers remember? Let’s remind them again!

For information on the Birthday Bash for The Girl the Gold Tooth & Everything, please click here.

For more information about the blog tour for Blogger Girl click here.

For more information about BookBuzz Toronto, click here.

Meredith: See you guys next week at BookBuzz!

Francine: Looking forward to it!

Sam: I can’t wait to welcome you both to my city!

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Connect with Samantha, Meredith, and me by clicking on the links below. Have a great day, everyone!

162762_2662032389151_5076510_nFind Francine online:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/francinelasala
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Francine-LaSala-Author/223109337705912
Blog: https://clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com/
Creative Services website: https://francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com/
Author website: http://www.francinelasala.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4679863.Francine_LaSala
The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/
Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything JUST 99 CENTS THIS WEEK!: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2
Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFind Meredith Online:
Twitter: @meredithschorr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/MeredithSchorrAuthor
Website/Blog: meredithschorr.com
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4355520.Meredith_Schorr
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/meredithgschorr
Buy Blogger Girl:
http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994653&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=blogger+girl+meredith+schorr
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1376945948&sr=1-1&keywords=blogger+girl
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blogger-girl-meredith-schorr/1116358028?ean=2940148503125
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blogger-girl/id686654939?mt=11

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samheadshotauthorcentralFind Sam Online:
Blog http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca/
Twitter https://twitter.com/perfectpen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Stroh-Bailey/420736011289684
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832614.Samantha_Stroh_Bailey
Business website: http://perfectpencommunications.com/
BUY FINDING LUCAS
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Lucas-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383158769&sr=1-1&keywords=finding+lucas

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Lucas-Samantha-Stroh-Bailey-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383158822&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+lucas

KOBO http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Finding-Lucas/-wfpLcDV6keHZR-T80qCUg

The Little Book That Could!

The Little Book That Could!

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******Get the book for JUST 99 CENTS this week only!********

If you told me at this time last year what would be going on in my life this week, I would never have believed you. Very, very bad news, and then very excellent news. It’s a lot to process. Today I focus on the good!

Yesterday I was featured in a BookBub eblast, and by this morning, this is where The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything landed:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

#16 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Women’s Fiction

#17 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Contemporary Women

To say I’m shaking is an understatement! I wrote this book because it wanted to be written. Those characters just wouldn’t stop nagging me. And now that book’s in so many more hands than I ever imagined could be possible — and I’m hoping will land in so many more while this special Birthday Celebration continues!

Come visit with me to read reviews, excerpts, guests posts, and more this week, and discover–and rediscover–some amazing Book Blogs:

11/1: http://chrissireads.wordpress.com

11/1: http://authorsyouwanttoread.wordpress.com

11/2: http://www.krittersramblings.com

11/2: http://forgetthehouseworkimreading.blogspot.com/

11/3: http://girlseeksplace.wordpress.com

11/3: http://readingrenee.com/

11/3: http://chicklitgoddess.com/

11/4: http://www.imshelfish.com

11/4: http://mybookmusings.blogspot.com

11/4: http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.com/

11/4: http://meredithschorr.com/

11/4: http://www.louisewise.com/

11/5: house-of-books.com

11/5: http://change-the-word.blogspot.com/

11/5: http://www.novelescapes.com/

11/6: http://arraabella.blogspot.com

11/6: http://www.julievalerie.com/

11/6: http://chicklitplus.com/

11/7: http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com

11/7: http://www.jamideise.blogspot.com/

11/7: http://karenemartin.com/

There will also be a Goodreads giveaway for the paperback copy running through November 8! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/70037-the-girl-the-gold-tooth-and-everything-a-novel

Thanks, everyone, for all your support! Hollywood, here we come? Well, a GIRL can dream!

xox

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539286_10200439346445319_1446602713_nBUY THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH & EVERYTHING NOW BY CLICKING HERE!

Why? Because it’s awesome!

******And it’s JUST 99 CENTS this week only!********

Mina Clark is losing her mind—or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake—a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. A routine trip to the dentist changes everything for Mina, and suddenly she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she thought she could trust is the one she fears the most.

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

Wassup Wednesday: Meredith Schorr

Wassup Wednesday: Meredith Schorr

***TODAY’S THE DAY! CONGRATS TO MEREDITH SCHORR ON
THE LAUNCH OF HER 3RD BOOK,
BLOGGER GIRL***

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m going to let you in on a secret: I am addicted to reading. Seriously, I read every free moment I have. When I’m blow drying my hair, my Kindle is on my lap so that I can read at the same time. If there is even one person ahead of me in line at the ATM machine, I open my Kindle and read. Since I walk to and from work, I’m actually giddy for an excuse to ride the subway so I can, you guessed it, read on my Kindle. Since I’m supposed to use my free time to write, I even make deals with myself that I can finish a chapter of the book I am reading as long as I promise to do some writing afterwards. That’s not to say I enjoy reading more than writing but the competition is pretty fierce.

Another secret:  I’ve always wanted to be a book blogger. As a book blogger, I would actually be obligated to read! And how much fun would it be to discuss the books I review with other readers? Not to mention how cool it would be to get so many books for free. Finally, I would be able to voice my honest opinion about books I really did not enjoy. It’s not that I would ever want to write a negative review. It’s just, as a writer, I won’t write a negative review. Because I know much bad reviews sting, I only review books I sincerely enjoyed and leave the bad reviews for someone else to write. If a book is bad, someone will do it. It just won’t be me.

I know that being a book blogger is not all rainbows, butterflies and free books though. It’s a lot of hard work. I’m sure some authors (not me…) can be very pushy. Considering how buried I am by own TBR pile, I imagine that it is very difficult for a book blogger to keep up with the reviews she obligates herself to give. I also assume that a book blogger needs to juggle her blogging duties with other responsibilities, such as a full time job, family, social life, exercise, and general life obligations. I also wonder if it is awkward for a book blogger to read and review a book from someone she knows, for instance, her nemesis from high school!

For me, becoming a book blogger is not something I could add to my already full plate without cloning myself or having a nervous breakdown. Not to mention that, as stated above, I would not feel comfortable posting negative reviews which would make me sort of a half-assed book blogger and I don’t do anything half-assed!  By writing Blogger Girl, I got to live the life of a fabulous book blogger for almost 300 pages. I loved every minute of my fake book blogging life.

Well, not every minute of it. Reading the chick lit book of my high school nemesis kind of sucked…

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A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women.  When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal.  Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner.  Blogger Girl is her third novel.

Contact Meredith:

web: meredithschorr.com

Twitter: @meredithschorr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/MeredithSchorrAuthor

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BG_front_cover_medAbout BLOGGER GIRL

What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.

A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.

While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads–and pages–across the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox–for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

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Start Reading BLOGGER GIRL Now!

“What blog?”

I felt a flush creep across my cheeks as I turned around to face the source of the question. I wasn’t surprised, since I blushed whenever I talked to Nicholas, even when the phone rang at work and I saw his name on my caller ID.

“You didn’t know about Kim’s blog?” Rob asked, his blue eyes reflecting amusement.

Nicholas shook his head, not removing his eyes from mine.

All I could think about was running my fingers along the dark stubble on his jawline. Never completely clean shaven, he currently looked like he hadn’t touched a razor in several days. I held his gaze willing my voice not to give away my crush, but the heat on my face suggested a crimson complexion that probably already had. “I have a blog where I write book reviews.” I figured Nicholas didn’t know about my blog since our opportunities to socialize outside of work had been few and far between in the four months we’d worked together. It was that unfamiliarity which I blamed for my chronic bashfulness in his presence. Well, that and his overwhelming sex appeal. Unable to maintain eye contact a second longer, I glanced back at Rob hoping he’d pick up the dialogue.

“It’s incredibly popular. Publishers actually beg my secretary to read and review their client’s novels on a daily basis.” Rob beamed at me like a proud uncle as if he was somehow responsible for my blog’s immense popularity.

I turned back to Nicholas and smiled shyly. “Every other day basis is probably more accurate but yes, it’s a widely read blog. I have several thousand followers and get requests from authors, publicists and agents pretty often.”

Nicholas looked at me with admiration. “Awesome. What types of books do you review?”

I hated this part of telling people from work about my blog. I never knew if the attorneys would raise their noses in the air and judge my taste in “literature.” Here goes nothing. “Chick lit,” I admitted.

Nicholas tilted his head to the side. “Like the gum?”

I giggled as if I’d never heard that one before. “Yes, it’s called chick lit, like the gum. But it’s also a book genre. Like Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Devil Wears Prada. You know?”

Nicholas looked thoughtful as he rubbed his thumb along his chin. “My ex-girlfriend had a bunch of books with pink covers. Were those chick lit?”

Forcing myself to stay focused instead of wondering what his ex-girlfriend was like, how long ago they broke up and why, I smiled and said, “Probably.” Although chick lit had certainly evolved beyond stereotypical pink covers, it wasn’t the time to go into defense-mode.

Nicholas smiled wide. “Very cool, Kim!” Glancing at his empty glass, he said, “Time for a refill. Be right back” and walked towards the bar.

I tore my eyes away from the back of Nicholas’ light blue business shirt and back to Rob. But Rob was now talking to Lucy about some guy she had deposed the previous day. Boring work talk. I downed the rest of my prosecco and walked over to the bar. After quickly getting the bartender’s attention, I ordered another glass, on Rob’s tab of course, and observed Nicholas finish sending a text. As he smiled into his phone, I felt my Hanky Panky thong practically melting off. At only about 5”7’, his stature might have kept him off of some women’s top five lists but since I was vertically challenged too, he was currently number one on mine. I couldn’t even think of who would follow him in second and third place.

“Penny for your thoughts, Blogger Girl.”

I snapped out of my list making and faced Nicholas, silently praying he was not a mind reader.

He looked at me expectantly.

I swung my free hand in dismissal and lifted my drink towards him. “Nothing important. Cheers!”

Nicholas clinked his glass against mine, said, “Cheers” and took a sip of his drink.

Following his lead, I took a sip of mine.

Nicholas inched closer to me. Speaking in almost a whisper, he said, “Having fun yet?”

Very aware that we’d never stood this close to each other and that these were practically the most words we’d ever exchanged one on one, I replied with faux nonchalance, “Can’t really complain about free drinks. You?” The cuffs of his shirt sleeves had been pushed up to his elbows and I pondered whether the dark hair on his arms was coarse or soft. I wondered what it would feel like to run my fingers up and down his arm. I also wondered if he could hear my heart beating through my chest.

“Definitely can’t complain about that,” Nicholas agreed. “And a break from work is always welcome, especially these days.” He smiled. “Doing anything good this weekend?”

I had practically forgotten it was Thursday night, which was odd for me since I lived for the weekends when my secretarial duties did not get in the way of my reading. “Not sure yet. Probably drinks with friends. And I need to catch up on some reading. For the blog. What about you?” Please don’t mention a girlfriend.

“Oh, this and that.” His eyes glowed, almost like he was holding back a secret.

I bit down on my lip and without thinking, blurted out, “Do This and That have last names?”

Nicholas gave me a once over before shaking his head laughing. “I’ll probably spend most of it at work actually. So, tell me more about this blog.”

I tipped my head to the side. “What do you want to know?”

“I don’t know. Like, what made you start it?”

“The condensed version or the truth?”

Nicholas cocked an eyebrow. “How long of a story is the truth?”

“Why? Do you have a date to rush off to?” I swallowed hard. Nice, Kim.

Laughing, he said, “It’s just that your answer was rather mysterious, you know?”

I shuffled my feet. “Well, I usually tell people I started the blog because I’ve always loved to read, blah, blah, blah.”

“Blah blah blah. Gotcha.”

After he said that, he winked at me and when my knees wobbled in response, I grabbed the bar with my free hand. “The truth is that one day I was bored at home surfing the internet and I found all of these blogs dedicated to romance books, like Harlequin stuff, and then I found some more devoted to science fiction, thrillers and so on. But I could barely find anything dedicated to chick lit and it pissed me off because I love it. I figured if I love it, there must be other girls who love it too and maybe if I started this blog, I’d find them and we’d bond.” I paused. “Aren’t you glad you asked?”

As his phone rang, Nicholas distractedly responded, “Yeah, that’s cool,” before bringing it to his ear. He whispered, “Sorry” before answering it.

I wondered if it was from “This” or “That.”

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Buy BLOGGER GIRL!

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994653&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=blogger+girl+meredith+schorr

http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994653&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=blogger+girl+meredith+schorr

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1376945948&sr=1-1&keywords=blogger+girl

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blogger-girl-meredith-schorr/1116358028?ean=2940148503125

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blogger-girl/id686654939?mt=11

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

COVER REVEAL! Blogger Girl, by Meredith Schorr!

COVER REVEAL! Blogger Girl, by Meredith Schorr!

Okay, I’m late to the party. I am FAR from the first to be revealing this fun and fab cover from my author bud, Meredith Schorr. But I may be the proudest… Okay, I guess that’s not fair. I’m sure Meri’s mom would take exception to that. But I am super proud all the same! I also read Blogger Girl–and had this to say:

“Meredith Schorr’s delightfully flawed heroines have never failed to charm me, and
Blogger Girl’s Kimberly Long joins Jane (A State of Jane) and Stephanie (Just Friends With Benefits)
in a special place in my heart. I really connected with her, especially, I hate to admit,
over the frustration of seeing her high school nemesis thrive while she floundered.
A great character. So very human and full of dimension. A satisfying and enjoyable read!”

Yeah, I dug it. So will you. So without further ado… How awesome is this??

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So here’s what it’s about…
What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.

A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.

While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads–and pages–across the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox–for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

And here’s what Meredith’s about…
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A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women.  When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal.  Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. Blogger Girl is her third novel.

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***RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 28th! PLEASE COME BACK TO THE SHED, BECAUSE MEREDITH WILL BE DOING A GUEST POST THEN!!!***

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

Five For Friday: With A Twist!

Five For Friday: With A Twist!

I have a fun twist on Five for Friday today. I think you’ll like it. Today, it’s not just about 1 remarkable person, but 5 (5+, actually) fantastic female writers whose books I’ve read this year. It’s only February: a true testament to the good fast fun their books are. (Seriously–how did I ever live without a Kindle?)

What a great cover!

1. I started the year with A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr. This one was, admittedly, my “safety.” I haven’t been that good about reading, probably since I’ve had kids, but I did read and love Just Friends With Benefits. I knew the hilarity Meredith was capable of, and having experienced the NYC dating scene first-hand, I couldn’t wait to re-experience it through Jane Frank. A State of Jane did not disappoint. Jane’s a great character, and the book will definitely keep you reading! (I interviewed Meredith last year–check it out.)

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2. I guess that book got me on a vicarious dating jag, because next I hopped across the pond with Susan Buchanan’s The Dating Game to sample the singles scene in Scotland. I really related to workaholic Gill and her troubles with men, and laughter and cringe-worthy moments abounded. And then a bonus trip to Spain? I was sold; you will also be.

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3. Back to the US, this time the Left Coast, I picked up Libby Mercer’s Unmasking Maya next because I couldn’t resist the cover. Please take a moment to admire the fabulous-ness of it because it shows this wonderful writer is bursting with talent–Libby crafted that cover herself when her designer crapped out. Yes, it’s good, but the story of a disgraced NYC fashion designer starting over in San Fran, and finding herself deep in the throes of “nerd love,” is just great!

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4. You will notice that Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey also has a blue cover…but that’s not why I picked it up next. The premise of this one really charmed me. My whole life I’ve always been so big on the “one that got away”–though for me there was never just one. I guess my husband put to rest that part of me, but how fun to re-live that “what-if?” thrill again on Jamie’s quest! (Samantha was just here–learn more about her here!)

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5. In Need of Therapy was the first Tracie Banister book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. Tracie has somehow here beautifully managed to weave a tight-knit plot around a cast of totally loco characters–super-shrink Pilar’s clients and family alike. I literally laughed out loud (and went on an avocado kick for more than a week–true story). (Tracie’s been here, too. Read her interview!)

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BONUS: Jackie Bouchard may “bark” at me for admitting I’ve always kind of been a cat person… Except that What the Dog Ate has nearly converted me. You’ll love and relate to the leading lady, Maggie, but the leading man (without question, Kona, her chocolate lab, is the star) stole my heart like no other.

So that’s my 5 and 1 bonus (so far). Not yet reviewed but read and enjoyed: Picture Perfect by Lucy Simone, which was not at all what I expected, and Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie, which has one of the most incredibly crafted twists imaginable. I promise I will be getting to these reviews as soon as I can come up for air.

If these book sound like fun to you, here’s a reason to get excited… A bunch of them (unfortunately not all of the above, but a couple of others!) will be featured in a Valentine’s Day promotion some of the girls and I are doing next week. Please check back Thursday to see what we’re up to.

Until then, stay warm, and have a great week!

Five For Friday: Revist With Novelist Meredith Schorr!

Five For Friday: Revist With Novelist Meredith Schorr!

I first interviewed Meredith back in June when she’d finished writing her latest novel and had handed it off to her publisher. Something pretty big changed since then… Planet of the Flakes was renamed A State of Jane, and was released THIS WEEK! So now not only do you have a chance to get reacquainted with Meredith, you also get a LIVE LINK to discover her new treasure. I loved Just Friends With Benefits and I know I’m going to adore A State of Jane. So now…

5 Questions with Meredith Schorr!

Meredith Schorr is author of the fun and fabulous Just Friends With Benefits and A State of Jane!

Meredith Schorr

I was inspired to interview Meredith because years ago, a mutual friend had connected us–Meredith was looking for advice about how to publish her book; at the time I was in stalemate mode with Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and proved to be completely useless. She pressed ahead and published her first novel before me. I was really thrilled and excited for her–and inspired to finally get my act together!

Having a busy work schedule and small kids means limited spare time, and I hadn’t read a book for fun for years when I ordered Just Friends With Benefits. Because of the chaos, I was worried it would take me forever to read, but it sucked me right in and kept me reading. In fact, I devoured it over a weekend! Meredith has no formal training in writing, but she really holds her own on the page and then some. I’m looking forward to more from Meredith–and I hope you’ll check her out too because she’s great, and really into what she does! (I’ll even give this part of the interview away because it blows my mind: She wrote her second book on her freaking BlackBerry, during her own “Stolen Moments“. How’s that for finding time to do what you’re passionate about!?)

Here’s a good way to follow what she’s up to: www.meredithschorr.com.

Go on and LIKE Just Friends With Benefits on Facebook and FOLLOW Meredith on Twitter!

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1. When you were growing up, did you dream of becoming a writer, or is this something that snuck up on you later in life? And either way, how did Writing let you know you this is what you were going to be doing?

I never dreamed of being a writer when I was growing up. I had no idea I was skilled in that way until after I graduated from college and others commented that I was a natural writer.  The compliments were the initial driving force but then it became an addiction.  Writing, specifically fiction, is when I feel the most at peace. I live a pretty hectic life in the big city and I find the escape I get from writing to be essential to my sanity. And it’s so darn fun to create imaginary worlds!

Just Friends With Benefits–great beach read!

2. I loved Just Friends With Benefits. The characters were so real and the story unfolded so naturally. It was like I was living it! And, admittedly, I probably have lived it–or at least a version of it. How about you?

Thank you so much for saying that. I am glad you feel that way. Although I tried to deny it at first, my friends wouldn’t let me off the hook that easily.  Yes, I did live a “version” of it.  A very skewed version of it but much of the inspiration, at least for the characters, was taken from real life.

3. Your new book, Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane), is about a no-nonsense kind of gal, ready to settle down, who manages only to find a bunch of flakes out there–and then decides then to turn the tables. And that’s when the fun begins! Where did you come up with this idea, and how was the process of writing it different than JFWB?

I came up with the idea for Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane) when I was single, dating, and one after another, guys who seemed to be completely taken with me would just *poof* disappear without a word leaving me wondering what the heck I did / said wrong. Some of my friends were experiencing the same thing. It was beyond frustrating and disappointing and I often wished I could make these guys understand how they made me feel when they disappeared without an explanation. It wasn’t until after I was finished writing the book that I realized I hadn’t done anything wrong; that sometimes it has nothing to do with me and it just wasn’t meant to be. Now I thank these men for letting me dodge a bullet and giving me an idea for a book!

The writing process was different with the second book as I wrote almost all of Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane) on my BlackBerry. I would write little snippets while waiting on line at a doctor’s appointment, at the grocery store, et cetera, and then email them to myself and paste into my word document. I think the experience of having written and published Just Friend With Benefits also enabled me to trust my instincts more with my second book.

Great cover!

4. Aside from the books, you also maintain a pretty active blog, do guest blogs, work full time, and even manage to read and review other people’s books–on top of everything else (like staying on top of the Yankees and having a LIFE). How do you find the time?

I ask myself that all the time. I’m exhausted!! I carve out time to write whenever I can, including a few lunch hours a week, a standing writer’s group every Wednesday night, whenever I am home and there is nothing good on the television, when I’m commuting on the train. Though I’m not a big fan of writing in my own apartment because there are too many distractions. I usually write on my small, super lightweight netbook, which makes it easy to write on the road. I’m so inspired by my latest work-in-progress now, and I know I will soon need to set it aside to finalize Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane). I’m already worried about finding the time, I know I will make it happen.

5. What advice can you give others with a story to tell?

This might seem like strange advice but I urge writers to maintain objectivity. I tend to use my writing sometimes to get closure on events in my own life and so even though my novels are fiction, they touch on something personal to me.  Sometimes, the closer I get to it, the less objective I can be about how it comes across to readers who don’t know me and are unaware of my experiences.  It is those scenes where I find my beta readers are the most critical. It’s happened a few times over the course of three novels and I’ve needed to re-do things without putting so much of myself in them. Just because you are in on the joke doesn’t mean your readers will “get it” and so I urge writers to be honest with themselves about what they are writing and why.

BONUS QUESTION! Do you have a special ritual or thing you need to get you writing–and keep you writing. For me, it’s music (usually show tunes). What brings the words out of you?

Sometimes I am extremely prolific, creating 5+ pages in a single one hour sitting and other times, I’m lucky if I finish a paragraph in that same amount of time. I have yet to solve the mystery of why my creative juices flow better on some days than on others.

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A huge THANK YOU to Meredith for visiting the Shed, and a big THANKS to you for joining us. Please still around and browse through some of the other offerings here. And PLEASE leave a comment for Meredith. She will see it! Thanks again! Don’t forget where to find her:
www.meredithschorr.com
Facebook
Twitter

And here’s some more information about her books!

Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm. There’s just one problem: All the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who’ve scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.

When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie’s college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened 13 years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70’s and 80’s television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie’s pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters.