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.

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Five For Friday: Author Jackie Bouchard

Five For Friday: Author Jackie Bouchard

Jackie-Rita-ColorMy whole life, I have always been a cat person, but for the last several years, doggies have definitely started to win my heart–especially the doggie characters created by the delightful and talented Jackie Bouchard.

I loved her WHAT THE DOG ATE. Here’s what I had to say about it:

Most clever-ever “panties in a twist” scenario ever!

There are few ways as surreal of finding out that your partner has been cheating on you than that the panties the veterinarian had to surgically extract from your pooch were not yours… So begins Jackie Bouchard’s funny, intelligent, and entertaining novel about a woman, uber-successful career-maven Maggie, forced to find out who she really is at 40+–after the only guy she’s ever been with, her husband of 20 years, cheats on her with a second-grade teacher. There is no way not to love Maggie. From the way she tries to quiet her insomnia by doing shots of tequila at 5am to the wonderful relationship she has with her dog. The inner dialog she carries with her actions makes you realize that it doesn’t matter how tough and powerful anyone may seem on the outside–that being brokenhearted is a struggle for us all, and that the most satisfying comfort we can find is in unconditional love. Heartwarming and funny–and highly recommended!

You’ll read about Jackie’s latest, RESCUE ME, MAYBE, shortly–just after the interview. Here’s how to connect with her:

Her site: www.jackiebouchard.com

Her blog: http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JackieBouchardWriter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jackiebouchard

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5781094.Jackie_Bouchard

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JACKIE BOUCHARD writes Fido-friendly fiction. She used to be trapped in the hamster wheel of corporate America, but she was lucky enough to escape and now fully understands the term “struggling writer.” Jackie loves: reading, writing, and, yes, even ‘rithmetic (seriously, algebra rocks); professional cycling; margaritas; blogging (she never thought she’d say that, but she does); dogs in general, and her crazy rescue pup specifically; and her hubby. (Not in that order.) Jackie dislikes: rude people and writing about herself in the third person. After living in Southern California, then Bermuda, then Canada, then the East Coast, Jackie and her husband settled in San Diego. American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations. Jackie’s novels include WHAT THE DOG ATE and RESCUE ME, MAYBE.

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1. Did you always know you’d be a writer? If not, what did you think you were going to be?

Like the main character, Maggie, in my first novel, WHAT THE DOG ATE, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. As a kid, I used to love to put on plays and shows with my friends. I remember we wrote a parody of Romeo and Juliet when we were about 12. (Wish I still had that script!) In high school I had a deep secret dream to be a model (Ha! This was merely because I was tall and skinny – I’m not photogenic at all!), and then become the first female president. But… I was always a creative person trapped in a practical person’s body. I was good at math, so I studied accounting. Accounting is a great career (very stable, and I got to not only move to Bermuda thanks to accounting, I met my hubs there), but the higher up you go the more stressful it gets. I don’t do well with stress! Luckily my inner creative person finally got to come out and play.

2. How did you decide to write with dogs as central characters in your books?

I didn’t really decide to. It just happened. I started WHAT THE DOG ATE as a short story for a class I decided to take just for something fun to do while my husband was working tons of hours. I really had no idea where the story was going when I started it. As I worked on it, I wanted Maggie to learn to be freer, more willing to be ruled by her heart – and what better guru for that than a dog? I started another book after that that had a dog in it, but wasn’t a big part of the story. Then my dog died – our beagle that my husband and I got when we first got married. So, I started a new story about a woman who had just lost her dog, as a way to deal with my own grief. That story ended up becoming RESCUE ME, MAYBE. It’s about a woman whose life is changed by the dog she rescues, just as my last dog Abby (that’s her on the cover) had a big impact on my life.  As I wrote both those books I realized I might as well just go with this dog thing. I love dogs; they’re what I know. And I have some ideas that I hope will make fun books for dog lovers for my next two novels!

3. Do you have any rituals when it comes to writing?

Not really. I try not to get into the habit of having rituals or “best” times for when I write. For me, that ends up being an excuse not to write. “Oh, I don’t have my special pen/lucky necklace/bust of Dickens; I can’t write.” Or, “Oh, it’s too late at night. I’m a morning writer.” In general, though, I do usually write in the afternoons, on my PC at my desk in our den/office. I like to have silence. I usually just sit down, reread some of what I wrote previously, and dive in. Sometimes I stare out the big sliding glass door… Sometimes I try hard to resist popping over to Facebook for a few minutes… Sometimes I wander out to the kitchen, or rub my dog Rita’s belly… Sometimes I get some writing done.

4. What are you doing when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing or wandering out to my kitchen, I’m usually walking my dog, working on my blog or visiting other blogs, reading, watching cooking competition shows (even though I don’t really like to cook that much), cooking (even though I don’t really like to cook that much), or hanging out with the hubs watching movies or sports.

5. Can you give us some background about this excerpt you’re sharing?

When RESCUE ME, MAYBE opens, Jane has just lost both her husband, Ryan, and her dog, Barnum, to cancer within a few weeks of each other. But she’s sadder about the dog. (She had planned to ask for a divorce, but then Ryan got cancer and died. Jane is such a loner that no one knows she’d wanted a divorce.) This scene with her in-laws, Barbara and Jeffrey, takes place a few days after the funeral.

BONUS: If you were a dog, what breed would you be–and why?

This question is so perfect, because in my new book Jane’s aunt loves to ask people questions like this! (She thinks it gives you good insight into how they see themselves, versus how you see them.)

I think I would be a beagle. Beagles are stubborn, funny, determined, and philosophical. They are extremely food-driven (I’m usually eating one meal and thinking about my next) and they have a very good sense of smell (so do I – sometimes that’s unfortunate). Beagles are good at making people smile and laugh, and that’s my main objective in life.

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Cover-Rescue-Me-Maybe-Final-SmlAbout RESCUE ME, MAYBE
If you lost both your spouse and your dog to cancer within weeks of each other, but you were sadder about the dog, would you tell anyone? Maybe your closest friends. Unfortunately, Jane Bailey’s closest friends are on the other side of the country. That’s where Jane plans to go now that she’s free to leave Philadelphia, the too cold, beachless, street taco-deficient city her husband dragged her to six years ago. But with no job prospects in her hometown of San Diego, Jane is roped into helping out temporarily at her uncle’s southwestern small-town.

En route to her new role as innkeeper and breakfast chef, she finds a stray at a rest stop. With her heart in pieces from the loss of her dog, she’s determined not to let this mutt worm its way into her affections. She’s also determined to have next-to-no interaction with the B&B’s irritating guests, and the even more annoying handyman who lives next door. Can Jane keep her sanity–and her secret that she’s not really a grieving widow–while trying to achieve her dream of getting back to the place she thinks is home?

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Buy RESCUE ME, MAYBE:

Amazon (both print and e-book):

http://www.amazon.com/Rescue-Me-Maybe-ebook/dp/B00F54KYG6

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rescue-me-maybe-jackie-bouchard/1116892136?ean=2940148566045

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Praise for RESCUE ME, MAYBE

“…a must-read for dog lovers, fans of Women’s Fiction, and anyone who likes a funny, well-written story about overcoming life’s obstacles.”
– Tracie Banister, author of In Need of Therapy and Blame It On the Fame

“… brilliant in its subtle humor, intelligent prose and seamless writing. Jackie Bouchard is an excellent storyteller who captures her characters’ innermost thoughts and feelings and draws her readers in from the first line.”
– Samantha Stroh Bailey, author of Finding Lucas

“This book, like Jackie’s first, has me sad to have read the last page, and eagerly anticipating when her next book will be out.”
– Barbara Techel, author of Through Frankie’s Eyes

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Start reading RESCUE ME, MAYBE now

“We want Ryan’s ashes back.” Barbara’s green eyes, so like Ryan’s, stare into mine, unblinking. I look away first, concentrate on my pancakes and think, so this is why they invited me out. When Barbara called early this morning, I’d thought they were worried about me, wanted to make sure I wasn’t wallowing in bed, was eating a decent breakfast. I didn’t want to come. I wanted to stay home and wallow in bed; I wanted to drink stale coffee and pick at four-day-old muffins when I finally got up. I tried telling Barbara I had a lot to do today, what with getting ready to move, but she insisted.

I should have seen this coming. After all, they hadn’t honored any of Ryan’s wishes for the funeral; why did I think they were going to go along with his final dying wish?

“So, you’re going to take him to Maui yourselves?” I know this is not what she means. I look at her, then Jeffrey. Now it’s his turn to look at his plate. I’m sure this is her idea.

“We’re going to bury him,” she says. “We already have the plot. It’s next to ours in the Huntingdon Valley Peaceful Hills Cemetery.”

Never mind that Ryan didn’t want to be buried. Never mind that even if he did, why would he want to be buried next to his parents? Did they consider that maybe he’d want to spend eternity next to his wife? Of course, they don’t know about our fights, but still, they should assume that if the man wanted to be in the ground he’d want to be next to his wife, not his mama. Barbara’s got some long-ass apron strings—they extend right on through to the afterworld. “You know that he made me promise to take him to Maui some day; you were there.”

“I—we—can’t let you simply toss him into the sea.” Barbara widens her eyes in a move I would not have thought possible, since her bun is pulled so tight.

The waitress, dressed like a clown (I’d forgotten today was Halloween until I walked into the café), tries to pour more coffee, but Barbara waves her away. Thanks, Barbara. I hold up my cup, but it’s too late; the clown’s gone. I hate clowns.

I set my half-empty cup back down. “You say that like I’d be tossing him out like . . . like the trash. I’m not trying to be difficult; I know you guys are grieving, and of course you want him near you, but Ryan didn’t want to be buried. He wanted to be in his favorite place in the whole world.” I’m under-caffeinated and this conversation is starting to make me angry.
Or am I trying to be difficult? I’m sure as hell sick of Barbara dictating how everything’s going to be. She already nixed Ryan’s “fun” funeral ideas, and I gave in, because I felt terrible for them, and because Barnum had just died and I didn’t have the energy to fight about it.

But now I feel terrible. I’m letting Ryan down. And it wasn’t like those discussions with Ryan were easy to have in the first place. It was unbearably hard to talk to him about what I’d be doing after he was gone—even to acknowledge that I’d keep going. I felt sad, angry at the universe, guilty knowing that I’d still be around, a functioning person. I’d be able to get on a plane and fly to Maui after he was gone. (Well, technically, he’d be getting on the plane with me—but he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view or the macadamia nuts.)

After having to endure those painful conversations, and promising Ryan everything would happen exactly as he wanted, and then caving about the funeral because I was distracted dealing with Barnum’s death . . . No, this time I’m not backing down.

“I know that’s what he said he wanted, but Jane, I’m begging you to reconsider. Those ashes are still Ryan. You wouldn’t throw Ryan’s body over the side of a boat, now would you?”

“Of course I wouldn’t but—” I look at Jeffrey, hoping he’ll be the reasonable one and help me out; hoping he’ll stick up for what his son wanted.

“The thing is,” Jeffrey begins softly, “Barbara and I talked to Father Llewellyn, and he said we need to bury the ashes in one place, in consecrated ground.”

“We want his body to be ready, on the final Judgment Day.” Barbara squeezes Jeffrey’s hand which still holds his fork, suspended over the egg white and spinach omelet Barbara ordered for him, although he’d said, “Belgian waffles sound good!” while perusing his menu. She squeezes his hand so hard a small bit of egg clinging to his fork falls back onto his plate.

The poor man can’t order his own breakfast; I should have known better than to think he would come to my aid on something as big as this.

I lean back against the red Naugahyde. “But Ryan didn’t—” I stop. I’m angry that they’d suggest I should go back on my promise—a promise made right in front of Barbara (why didn’t she bring up her objections then?)—but even though I’m pissed, I can’t bring myself to say that Ryan didn’t believe in the things they hold dear, the things they cling to like little neon-colored life jackets of hope in the face of their son’s death. They already know anyway, but I’m not going to be the one to verbalize it. Ryan believed in being a good person, in treating others with respect, but he didn’t share their faith.

I look at their anguished faces—Jeffery a weathered version of Ryan; Barbara with Ryan’s sea green eyes. I don’t want to let Ryan down—but they look so miserable. They wait for me to finish what I started to say. I take a deep breath and hope Ryan won’t mind. “Ryan didn’t want to be buried. But, what if we compromise? I’ll take part of his ashes to Maui. You can bury the rest. Then you’ll have your visitation spot, and he’ll . . . mostly be in consecrated ground.”

They look at each other, then back at me. “We can’t do that,” Barbara says. “Father Llewellyn was adamant that we shouldn’t scatter the ashes—not even part of them. He says Ryan should be interred in whole.”

For a second I think she said “hole,” and think, of course there’ll be a hole, but then I realize what she said. I’m tempted to suggest they think outside the box, so to speak. I can’t help it. Bad jokes pop into my head when things get serious. I chew my lip and say nothing.

“Someday he’ll be resurrected,” Barbara says. “He’s going to need his body.”

I’m not sure at what age I stopped believing in a vision of heaven that involved angels and harps and fluffy clouds, but I did stop. I don’t believe we’re going to be resurrected, that we’ll each float up to our own pre-designated La-Z-Angel cloud-recliner. (I’m willing to admit there’s a small chance I could be wrong, but I doubt it.) I think if there is going to be some sort of resurrecting going on, God, or whoever’s in charge, wouldn’t be cruel enough to saddle us with these same old bodies. Won’t we be . . . I dunno, some sort of asexual things? All beautiful and ethereal and floaty. Are people going to still need their funky feet and their double chins and their . . . scrotums? Will scrotums (or is it scroti?) be necessary in the afterlife? Whatever the word is, I’m pretty sure they’ll be useless there. Not to mention the fact that they are really unattractive.

Wouldn’t we be better off without that . . . baggage? I think any sort of loving God has got to have a better plan than that.

On the other hand, I must admit I have imagined Barnum being there to greet me when I die. And I always picture him as his usual fuzzy self. So, how will that work? He’ll be his regular dog self, but I’ll be some sort of shape-shifting mist? Will he recognize me? Will I smell the same?

The whole thing is very confusing and makes my brain tired. I want to go home and go back to sleep.

“I’ll have to think about it.” I want to end this conversation and buy myself some time. Jeffrey and I finish our breakfasts; Barbara taps her wedding ring against her coffee mug.

As I stab the last bite of pancake I think, there is no way I’m breaking my final promise to Ryan. The funeral stuff was minor. I can let that go. But this is a big deal. My last stand.

So . . . I’ll just keep some of him. They’ll never know! I’ll keep a scoop, maybe two, and let them have the rest. It’s a perfect solution.

I lick syrup off the backside of my fork, satisfied with my plan.

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.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

Five For Friday: Patti Callahan Henry

Five For Friday: Patti Callahan Henry

pattichat***I am re-running this fun interview with Patti Callahan Henry this week to let you know about a LIVE CHAT with Patti on Tuesday, June 25, at 3:30 p.m. EST on BookTribChat! During the chat you can:

  • Ask Patti questions directly
  • WIN a free copy of the book
  • See Patti’s fabulous, creative writing space where all the magic happens

I will be there, and I hope to see you guys there too! 

I was first introduced to New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry. I was introduced to Patti when I was assigned to work on her novella, The Perfect Love Song. Telling a complete story in that condensed format is no easy feat, but Patti pulled it off–so much so that I immediately read her other books once I’d finalized the edits.

High Res_Author Photo CREDIT Shawn Heifert Photography_PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY

Patti has such a strong presence on the page, editing her is almost too easy. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again, no one puts emotion on paper as gracefully and seemingly effortlessly as she does. I know for me as a writer, sometimes trying to convey my soul in words feels like a dopey kitten that’s gotten all tangled up in a ball of yarn. Patti takes that “yarn” and weaves it seamless into a beautiful shawl you can’t help but wrap yourself in. Don’t believe me? Read the excerpt at the end of this interview from And Then I Found You, about the main character, Kate, and her experience placing for adoption the baby she just brought into the world. (Have tissues or at the very least, a dry sleeve, handy. You’ll need it)

Before we get to know Patti and what fuels her as a writer, here’s how to find her out in the world:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

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1. I am a big fan of your books and And Then I Found You, did not disappoint! I laughed and I cried. I couldn’t put it down; actually read it in two sittings, the second sitting in the middle of the night. I know this story is particularly special, for you and your family. Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the story?

Can I say that I’m glad I made you cry? Hopefully in the good kind of way. The background of the story is that twenty-three years ago, my sister, Barbi, bravely placed her baby daughter for adoption. And then three years ago, that beautiful girl found us on Facebook. The real story is full of magical synchronicity and reunion. I wrote a fictional version using this backdrop.

2. We all put bits and pieces of people we know into our books, but your characters and at least “the big event” that grounds the story are very real. Did you have any issues with family members and friends when they learned you were doing this?

My family wanted me to write this book. The only issue we had was when I tried to write the “True Story” – I couldn’t do it. I sat down with my sister and told her that it was her story to tell; I couldn’t “become” her. So we agreed that she’d work on a memoir while I wrote a fictional version. What I did was ask myself this question: What is the heart of the story FOR me? And then I took it from there.

3. You have a such a gift for describing emotion. It seems to glide through the story without any awkwardness whatsoever. Do you find it easy to write emotion or do you struggle with it? And can you give some advice on how to craft it as you do?

This is the nicest compliment. It means so much to me because this is an important part of the writing for me—to convey emotion while moving the story forward. I don’t know if it comes easily; I don’t think anything about writing comes easily if it is any good. Advice? For the first draft: Pour it out there on the paper. Dump it without editing. Dig deep. Tell the truth. THEN edit it to smooth. I think maybe it’s like making something out of wood and then smoothing it with sandpaper when the shape of it is done. But you can’t smooth it if you aren’t pouring the truth (the emotion) out there.

4. Do you have any special rituals for writing? A time of day you like writing, a special drink to sip, or sweater to wear? Or maybe a special feather to have close by… (Read the book, guys!)

I believe I do my best writing when I get up to my attic (my office) first thing in the morning. Light a candle. Wiggle some words around in a journal and then dive into the story. This might be a myth I’ve created for my own use, but it works. My office is full of all my favorite things: feathers, books, photos of my children, poems, artwork, etc… and I believe this helps.

5. It was such a great idea to release Friend Request as a lead up to And Then I Found You. Do you see yourself doing more of that kind of thing with your books going forward? How do you see yourself evolving as an author in this ever-expanding publishing environment?

Thanks again for the kind words! I do see doing this again. Because I always love to read “the story behind the story” I assume others do also. I don’t exactly know how I see myself in this expanding publishing environment—I think it has something to do with continuing to try to write a story well told while staying active in the social media community. A fine line to be sure.

BONUS QUESTION: Thanks to advances in technology and communication, you could literally “be” at a book club meetings anywhere in the world, just by sitting in front of your computer. Is this something you’re doing now or may consider doing going forward?

Absolutely. I’ve done it before and I love talking to my readers.

Great to know, Patti. Maybe sometime we can do a Google Hangout book event together. 🙂

Thanks for sharing with us today!

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Excerpt from And Then I Found You

There was, she found, a tunnel of darkness that she willingly entered as she pushed Luna from her body and into the world. Only the two of them existed—the crush of body cooperating outside time and space, allowing life to endure. The doctor, the nurse, and her mom were all in the room, yet they seemed somehow outside the world, another dimension.

Bearing down one final time, Katie was silent and resolute as Luna was born. For the briefest moment, the baby was simultaneously attached to Katie and in the world. The doctor cut the umbilical cord, releasing Luna from Katie’s body. It would be Katie who would have to release Luna from her life.

The nurse walked around the bed and placed a wide-eyed Luna into Katie’s arms. Katie looked down into her daughter’s face. “Oh, she’s the most perfect. Most perfect.” Luna’s hair was dark and thick, poking out in wet clumps after her journey. Her eyes were green, clear: Jack’s eyes. If grief had a sound, it was the silence of that birthing room.

Nicole walked over and took Luna from Katie’s arms, and the room filled with the deepest and most awful knowing: They would hold Luna this once and then she would be gone. Somewhere in the same hospital, a family waited to hold their new daughter.

Nicole held Luna and stroked her face, staring into her eyes. “We love you, baby Luna. We will, from this day forward, pray for you every day.” Nicole handed Luna to Katie.

Pictures were taken as if it was a normal birth—a day of celebration even—and then it was time to say good-bye.

“How do I do this?” Katie looked to her mom.

“I don’t know.”

Katie held her daughter, her heart yielded to the good-bye she hadn’t yet spoken. “I can’t go through this pain if there isn’t peace at the end. I can’t. Please promise me there is peace at the end of this.”

Nicole placed her hand on Katie’s forehead, but didn’t promise anything at all. The nurse entered the room with her own tears. The social worker stood at her side with papers and a sad smile. “Are you ready?”

Katie pulled back the blanket, memorizing every bend and curve and sinew of Luna’s body. Touching her. Kissing her.

Jack was there, at the hospital, waiting in a separate room to both meet and then say good-bye to his daughter. If a last living piece of Katie’s heart existed (which she wasn’t sure about) seeing Jack would have killed it.

“You, Luna, are beautiful and special and you are going to have a wonderful mother and dad. I want you to grow up to know your God, and be surrounded in and by love. Be a good girl. I love you with every piece of me.” Katie kissed her daughter’s forehead as a tear dropped on Luna’s wild hair.

In a motion she would have thought impossible, Katie handed her child to the social worker and then reached into her bag. “I have something I want to send with her,” Katie said in a voice suffused with sorrow. She handed the social worker a small feather.

“It will be up to the parents whether they will take this,” the social worker said softly.

“I found it the first day I thought I might be pregnant. It’s my only gift.”

Nicole laid her head on the pillow next to her daughter. “Life is your gift, Katie.”

“Kate,” Katie said to her mom. “Now, from now on, call me Kate.”

Kate handed Luna to the nurse, and something felt torn away, a hollow feeling like her insides had been scooped out. A great wind could blow through her without hitting resistance.

Kate’s words echoed across the empty hospital room. “What will fill the place where you were?”

The question was meant for her daughter, who was now someone else’s child.

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Order it now!

High Res_Front Cover Art_AND THEN I FOUND YOU

Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.

Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life.  Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.

It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?

When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.

Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?

And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By traveling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.

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Advance praise for And Then I Found You:

“Patti Callahan Henry … writes this story with eloquence and beauty. This is her most personal and her most powerful story to date.”
Huffington Post
“The smart path to a delicious read featuring all of the elements of love, loss, and familial tension without the schmaltzy tones and wistful cries for help a la Nicholas Sparks.”
The Atlantan
“The fact that it was based on a true life story made me love it even more. This love story is timeless…”
“It’s an emotional, heartwarming story…can’t wait to read more by this author.”
“AND THEN I FOUND YOU will capture your heart.”
“Passionate, stirring, and full of sentiment…”
Meet the Indies!

Meet the Indies!

Excited to do a “meet and greet” with two awesome indie authors who will be doing the Stamford Author Event with me on August 10! Keep reading!

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Amy's Author PhotoAMY MILES
Amy Miles has been a carbaholic since birth and is hopelessly addicted to Dr. Pepper. When she’s not chatting with fans on Facebook she can be found goofing off with family, traveling or stomping her husband at Scrabble. She is an obsessive writer and an avid reader and loves to chat about all things books. Her teen paranormal romance books, Forbidden and Reckoning, have been on several of Amazon’s Top 100 lists as well as best seller lists in both America and the UK. Her highly anticipated final book in the Arotas Trilogy, Redemption, is due out 2013. She is currently hard at work on a two new series, The Rising Trilogy and The Remnant Trilogy.

Find Amy on Facebook: Amy Miles, Author

Twitter: @AmyMilesBooks

Want to check out Amy’s Books on Amazon?

Defiance Rising

Forbidden

Reckoning

 

Pulled Back Author PhotoDANIELLE BANNISTER
Danielle lives in Mid-Coast Maine with her two children and husband. She holds a BA in Theatre and a Masters in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. She has two novels currently out, Pulled and Pulled Back and is working on several others, including Pulled Back Again, releasing soon, and Netherworld, which she is co-writing with author Amy Miles, which is due out in December, 2014.  She also has a collection of short stories, brilliantly entitled, Short Shorts, and her work is also featured in several anthologies: GooseRiver Press 2012 Anthology and the Maine Writing Project’s anthology, Writious. Both titles are available on Amazon.  When not writing, she can be found pouring her heart out on the stage.

Follow Danielle on Facebook: Bannister Books

Blog: Danielle Bannister

Twitter: @getPulled

Pulled

Pulled Back

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Do you recall the first thing you wrote?

Amy:  I sure do. I began writing in grade school and had dragons attacking a fair maiden, who of course was later swept off her feet by a dashing knight.  Kissing always ensued.

Even at a young age, I was obsessed with danger, adventure and torturing my main characters.  My writing did eventually progress into writing my own version Nancy Drew Mysteries and then into the fantasy realms when I was in high school, but my passion for make-believe began long ago.

Danielle: The first real thing I wrote, honestly, was the first chapter of Pulled. I went to school to act, not write. Once I caught the writing bug though, I was hooked. It does mean, however, that I’m behind the curve in terms of learning about the craft so I’m trying to play catch up!

At what point did you start feeling it was okay to call yourself a ‘writer’?

Amy:  Calling myself a writer was never hard.  Thinking of myself as an author was a different story.  At what point are you considered an author?  When you write “The End” on your first rough draft, trudge through countless edits, and finally hit publish on Amazon Kindle?  Or is it when you complete your second book?  Third?  A series?

I think this question is answered differently for every writer.  For me, I didn’t feel like an established author until after my third book recently came out.  Probably had a lot to do with the fact that I take great pride in Defiance Rising, because it was technically my first book.  Now, I feel proud to tell people that I am a full time indie author.

Danielle: It took me awhile, actually. I was enrolled in the Maine branch of the National Writing Project, and I still couldn’t call myself an author. It wasn’t until I got in the mail a little white cup that said ‘Writer’ on it that I actually felt like I had the right to call myself a writer. So lame, I know!

Can you bring us back to the first book you published on Amazon. What was it and what was that experience like?

Amy: Oh my, it was a nightmare!  Probably not what you expected to hear, huh?  Seriously though, it was pure torture to figure out how to properly format a book, upload a book cover and do everything in-between.

People sometimes get the idea that being an author is glamorous, and trust me it has it’s great moments, but learning how to publish a book for the first time is not one of them.  I distinctly remember wanting to bash my head against a brick wall for days on end as I tried to wade through the complicated jargon.  I’m not exactly your most computer savvy person!

My first book I released was Defiance Rising.  It had a different cover and a completely different storyline.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I thought was a good book was far from marketable, so I pulled it off, did some more research and began writing Forbidden. It was a great lesson to learn and I’m thankful I learned early on.

Danielle:  Mine was Pulled. I didn’t know Amy at the time. I actually met her by asking her to review my book on her blog page. We became friends on Facebook after that and started chatting everyday.  But I digress; publishing for the first time on my own was terrifying! I really had NO clue what I was doing, to be honest and it took several months of tweaking Pulled before I was happy with the final product. I have learned a ton since that first publishing and will continue to learn with every book I write! There is a great support among Indie Authors who are, for the most part, eager to help new comer so that they don’t need to feel as lost as they did. At least, that’s how I’m seeing things.

With several novels between the two of you, what is some advice you might give those just starting out as an Indie Author?

Amy: The best advice I can give is to write what you love.  Yes, it’s important to know your market, but you don’t have to follow the money train to stand out.  Be yourself.  Do your thing and people will notice.

I learned a hard lesson with Forbidden on the importance of hiring an editor.  In the beginning, I didn’t have the money to pay for an editor so I figured I’d do it on my own.  Big mistake!  Editors don’t just look for typos, they look for character development, holes in your plot and inconsistencies that you are too close to see for yourself.  Find an editor that gets you and gets what you’re trying to accomplish and you will be thankful you did.

Another crucial point is your book cover. Pick something that captures the feeling of your book’s theme or character.  I have met my fair share of “book whores” and they will be the first to tell you they only buy a book if the cover appeals to them.

Danielle: The best advice I ever got was summed up by writer Ron Carlson, who said that want-to-be-writers are often ‘distracted by things they put in their own way, all day, all the time: leaving the room to get coffee, checking the mail, get coffee, walk the dogs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, look something up, get coffee. The writer is the one who stays in the room.’  I never knew how hard just being at the computer and actively writing actually was until I had to do it!

Okay, now to the good stuff.  You are currently working on a couple of projects. Can you tell us a little bit about them—spoiler free of course.

Amy: Oh my, I am always working on something.  Usually more than one thing at a time.
I’m currently diving into the final draft of a new novella, Faceless, that will jump start readers into my Cherished Hearts inspirational romance books.  I’ve always had a passion for inspirational romance, but up until this point have always remained in the fantasy realm.  It’s great to break out of that every once in a while. I’m also obsessing over the completion of my Arotas Trilogy. Redemption has a lot going on, with several POV shifts and tons of action so it’s kicking my butt right now!  As soon as I finish with Redemption, I will be jumping straight into the prequel, Immortal Rose. I hadn’t actually planned on writing this book but so many of my fans wanted to know Fane and Roseline’s tale, so I caved.

I’m also currently working with Danielle on Netherworld. This joint venture has been a lot of fun, melding romance with fantasy and of course banshees ROCK!  I’ve having a blast designing the underworld and playing around with some mythology.  It’s a good thing Danielle loves writing about human’s cause there is no way I would give up working on the hot and steamy, Aed, god of the Netherworld!

Danielle: Amy and I came up with the idea to co-write Netherworld almost as a joke. A sort of ‘We should totally write a book together!’ But the more we chatted about it, the more it makes sense. We write in completely different genres, I do romance she does fantasy. So we thought what if we had a fantasy sort of character fall in love with a human character?  We tossed out some ideas and soon the Netherworld was born. We’ve just started drafting the early scenes and I’m really excited about what we’re coming up with! Netherworld puts us into the world of the Banshees, the mythical creatures sent to carry the dead to the other side. The Banshee’s are supposed to be unseen by the living, but one mortal sees a banshee. What happens when they fall in love?  It’s soooooo cool!  She writes the fantasy parts, I write the human parts! It’s perfect!

Between the two of you, you have a pretty large fan base. What would you say is the ONE question they want answered most, and are you willing to answer it here?

Amy: There are several burning questions that I hear quite often.  Will Gabriel and Roseline end up together? Does Sadie live?  Will Bastien return in the sequel to Defiance Rising?  Am I Team Bastien of Team Eamon!

If you have read my books, you know that I don’t make romance easy for my characters.  Life happens, people get hurt, hearts get broken.  I love a happy ending just like the next gal, but I also like realism.  If my characters are going to be happy in the end, they are going to go through some tribulation along the way.  Also…I hate to be predictable.

Danielle: I think most people want to know if Pulled Back Again will finally deliver the happily ever after ending they are looking for. All I can say is…maybe? Ha!

You are both going to an event in Tennessee in January called UtopYA. Can you give the readers a little info about what this is and why it’s so cool?

Danielle: I’ll let Amy handle this one!

Amy: UtopYa is one of many conventions that are being held this year to enable readers to meet up with some of their fave authors.  For those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets before it sold out, you will get to attend panels, chat with authors, buy books and attend a fabulous award’s ceremony.  I, for one, can’t wait to go dress shopping for this event!

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Thanks for coming by, ladies! Please check out their books:

Pulle Cover AprilBUY NOW!

Pulled Back AprilBUY NOW!

Forbidden CoverBUY NOW!

ReckoningBUY NOW!

RedemptionCOMING SOON!

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

“Mother, May I?” by Brea Brown

“Mother, May I?” by Brea Brown

“Please, don’t press those buttons.”
“Please, don’t try to sit on my lap when I’m working on my laptop.”
“Please, don’t sit next to me and fart.”
“Please, don’t do anything to make your brother screech.”
“Please, don’t climb on my shoulders.”
“Please, don’t put that balloon in my face.”
“Please, don’t yell at the TV while sitting three inches from my ear.”

These are typical utterances from me when I’m trying to write at home. Tonight is a perfect example. Someone didn’t take a nap or a crap today (my three-year-old, not my husband, although I haven’t asked my husband about his bathroom activities), so he’s extra-whiny, clingy, and—let’s be honest—obnoxious. Sure, you could say he wants attention. I say he has a death wish.

But this is life. I’m a mom, wife, and a full-time employee. Then I come home and write. I write in the evenings. I write on the weekends. I write whenever I have a spare minute. Lunch breaks, waiting in the car for my teenage son to finish up at softball… it’s all fair game. Pun intended.

I envy the writers who have the luxury of letting inspiration strike them. I have to nab inspiration by the scruff of the neck, lick my thumb, and give it a spit-bath whenever I can. “Get over here, you dirty manuscript!”

And often times, I have to devote a lot of energy to tuning out my surroundings. Do I get strange looks in the dark movie theater parking lot, where I sit behind the wheel of my car with my laptop screen casting a glow onto my face as I wait to give my son and his friends a ride home? Yes. Is it difficult to write with the smell of farts wafting around me? Sure. But nobody said this whole writer thing was easy or glamorous. And if they did, they were big, fat, stupid, poo-poo head liars.

The point is (did I really have a point?), I love to write. And now, thanks to the encouragement of friends, family, and a few role models along the way who saw something in me that I wasn’t truly sure I had, I now have readers who love to read what I write. Not a million readers. But enough readers. So it’s more than just a hobby now. And I make it a priority. I find time for it. Every single day.

And I’m a better mom for it. I’m happier and more fulfilled than I ever was with my original career choice. I’ve given myself permission to do what I love to do.

What do you love to do? What do you give yourself permission to do? How does it make you a better person to the other people in your life?

Mother, may I? Yes, you may!

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breaglassesABOUT BREA BROWN

I live in Springfield, Missouri, where nothing ever happens, so I make things up in my head. My published books are Daydreamer, Quiet, Please!, Plain Jayne, and the Secret Keeper series (The Secret Keeper, The Secret Keeper Confined, The Secret Keeper Up All Night, and The Secret Keeper Holds On.) I’m currently writing The Secret Keeper Lets Go. Stop by my website for links to my books, a peek at my blog, and a glimpse of my Tweets (that’s right… hubba hubba). I’d also love it if you stopped by my Facebook page and said hi. I’m on there. All. The. Time. I have three boys, a very understanding husband, and a crush on several celebrities, including Colin Firth and The Man in the Yellow Hat.


Connect with Brea!

Facebook

Website

Twitter (She loves Twitter dearly; she’ll be delighted!)

Goodreads

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

“I’m A Mommy Author,” by Samantha Stroh Bailey

“I’m A Mommy Author,” by Samantha Stroh Bailey

samheadshotauthorcentralI used to have this kickass job where I worked from 12:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and had six weeks’ paid vacation. I spent my nights and mornings (though morning might be pushing it because I would get up at 10:00 a.m. after going to bed at 2:00 a.m.) and write. I knew I had it good, but didn’t realize how good until I had kids. And I had that incredible, leisurely schedule  for almost eight years until my son was born. The wee hours of the night no longer meant writing; now, they were about breastfeeding and watching Millionaire Matchmaker. I had to arrange my work schedule to suit my new life as a mom and suddenly had to be at work at 7:30 a.m. My writing took a backseat, but though I missed it, I was so happy being a mom.

I started writing again until I got pregnant with my daughter, and nausea, exhaustion and a toddler took precedence over my characters. In Canada, we get one year’s maternity leave (we’re so lucky, I know), and when my mat leave was almost up, I had to take a good look at the kind of life I envisioned for my family. The idea of being jolted awake by a screeching alarm, racing around the house like a crazy person and shuttling the kids to two different places before I’d even had my second cup of coffee didn’t sound like a recipe for happiness. And with the inevitable sicknesses my kids would pass back and forth because they’re always on top of each other, how was I going to take that much time off work? And join parents’ council and really be there for my kids the way I wanted to? Oh, and pay the bills?

Well, I was actually tired of teaching after over 15 years and had always wanted to start my own business so when my daughter was a year old, I opened Perfect Pen Communications, my freelance writing/editing company. Having my own business and being able to work from home and write and edit all day was something I had only dreamed about. And when clients started pouring in, I was quite stunned. I’d never been up on the latest technology and hadn’t realized that working virtually was going to be the success it is. I now had exactly what I wanted—my own business, I could stay home with my daughter for another year and a half and was able to pick my son up early and spend serious quality time with my kids. What I hadn’t realized was how hard it was going to be to juggle being a mom and a business owner.

And then there was my writing. I’ve been writing for thirty years, and the time had come for me to put myself out there again. I was terrified and excited and when I looked at my kids’ beautiful faces, I knew that I wanted to show them that you have to follow your dreams. So, in 2011, I wrote up an article about my unfortunate identify theft and sent it off to one of Toronto’s most read newspapers. Shockingly, they accepted it and so began my career as a journalist. I was writing for magazines, websites and newspapers and the editing jobs were coming fast and furious. All of which made me so happy, but I had to do it while being a stay-at-home mom. I worked during my daughter’s naps and at night, running around until the last bit of weight fell off my boobs, and I looked like a strangled chicken.

I loved having the time for my kids and doing my own thing, but if I kept up the pace I was working at, I would surely have tossed myself out of a window. So, we hired a caregiver to help us two days a week, and I took on more jobs. At the same time, I decided to finally publish Finding Lucas, a novel that I’d been working on for a long time and was very proud of.

Fast forward a couple of years, and now both of my kids are in school and daycare. I have my days to work and write, though I never quite seem to be able to get enough writing done. My time consists of answering emails and promoting Finding Lucas, connecting with my beloved Twitter and Facebook friends, working on my clients’ projects (many of which are manuscripts, which I love to edit) and writing blog posts, articles and revising Everything But, my second novel. I also clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, arrange doctor, dentist and eye appointments, schedule birthday parties and playdates, all with my phone at my side at all times lest the school call.

I love every bit of it. But, I am, of course, exhausted and you can hide snacks in the circles under my eyes. I’m a night owl so even though I wake up early to get the kids ready for school, make breakfasts and lunches and do some dishes, it is rare to find me in bed before midnight. I want my relaxation and reading time and to cuddle up with my husband, too. As more people read Finding Lucas, I’m invited to evening events and have a trip planned to New York City (where I will finally get to meet my amazing friend, Francine LaSala!), which will be the longest I have ever been away from my kids. As happy as I am to have my own thing, my kids will always come first. I am a mom, an author and a business owner, and it is all I ever wanted. More coffee, please!

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Keep Up With Samantha on the Web!

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Can you ever really go back to the past? After five long years of living with Derek, her former bad-boy-turned-metrosexual boyfriend, Jamie Ross finally reaches her breaking point. She’s had enough of his sneering disdain for her second hand wardrobe, unusual family and low-paying job as the associate producer of Chicago’s sleaziest daytime talk show. When her new boss plans a segment on reuniting lost loves, Jamie remembers Lucas, her first love and the boy she’d lost ten years earlier. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, Jamie goes on a hilarious, disastrous and life changing hunt to track Lucas down. But are some loves best left behind?

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Samantha Stroh Bailey has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen. In fact, she even sent her first manuscript, Freddy the Flame, to publishers when she was ten years old. After 15 years of teaching ESL to adults, including at the University of Toronto, she decided to live her dreams of being a ful-ltime writer and editor. Now the owner of Perfect Pen Communications, she not only gets to write novels, but also writes and edits for magazines, websites, businesses, students and other authors. Her work has appeared in Now Magazine, The Village Post, Oxford University Press, Abilities Magazine, on mommyish.com and many other publications. Samantha also has a Masters of Education in Applied Linguistics. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. Finding Lucas is her first novel.

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