Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hey--I'm Still Here! (and I have some news)

I don't want you all to think I've forgotten about you. I haven't. I've been away, enjoying a family vacation. I don't like to post that I'm going away, so I just sometimes go AWOL for a while.

Things have been crazy hectic here all week. My uncle passed away last week, and I had the services this past weekend. It has been heartbreaking and devastating. The family has suffered a profound loss.

Trying to keep moving forward, I am busy at work, as it is annual review time. Which, for those of you lucky enough not to be in the school special education world, it means twice the meetings and four times the paperwork in the same amount of time. I am also receiving PT myself currently (about which I hope to blog soon).

I'm trying to beta read for a fellow author. Heather, I'm almost done. I promise.

Oh, and I'm working on a small little side project ... publishing my second novel.

The digital versions will be available on 3/1/2014. It is currently available for pre-order on Kobo. The print version will be about another week, as the paperback requires more editing. As my brother likes to tell me, I make a lot of typos, so I really need to comb through the paperback proof.

Now that I (kind of) know what I'm doing (ok, I know slightly more than 9 months ago when I published Good Intentions), I hope my finished product this time is more polished. I had a local photographer shoot my cover image. He took this fantastic picture of my dance girls and me last year:

 If you are half in love with his work as I am, go check out his website.

The lovely and talented author/photographer/woman-extraordinaire Becky Monson designed my cover. She is also responsible for the make-over that  Good Intentions received just before the new year. Becky has helped me out tremendously, including working on marketing ideas and strategies. Plus, she totally makes me laugh and even laughs at my sophomoric humor.

So, to re-cap, I've been busy, cried a lot, work sucks, new book, great people make it look good.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#ChickLitLove: Galentine's Day

Ok, I had no idea what Galentine's Day was, until I was given this assignment. Here is a good explanation:

To sum up, "It's like Lilith Fair, but without the angst. Plus frittatas."

So, for this Galentine's Day post, I'm supposed to describe how Maggie and her best friend, Michele, would celebrate Galentine's Day.

[But before I go into that, you all need to know a secret about Michele. Michele, you see, is real. Sure, she's in the book and her name is Michele Suarez, but there is really a real Michele. When I originally wrote GOOD INTENTIONS, the best friend character's name was Lucy Suarez. Then, my best friend Michele, convinced me I needed to change it to Michele. So I did. So the Maggie-Michele relationship is pretty much like the Kate-Michele relationship. So while I'm writing about fictional Maggie and Michele, it is pretty much what Michele and I would really do, if we were not running a thousand places with the kids and trying to help the husbands battle man-colds and fill out 800 Valentines for school while cooking dinner and packing for vacation.]

Ok, Maggie here. I got nothing. While Galentine's day is a great idea, and I love that we should be out celebrating our friendship, the kids are still crafting their Valentine's boxes. We're still writing out the stupid things. Of course, I had to try and make these cutesy ones I saw on Pinterest and they are taking about six times longer than the cheap store ones would have. Michele is sitting here, drinking wine, and laughing at me trying to do it all. Again. Since her kids are older, she only has one set to do, and she got them done earlier in the week. Bitch. Of course, maybe I would be more productive if I wasn't drinking so much wine. And we ordered pizza so no one had to cook, and are eating off paper plates so there are no dishes. All in all, a good time.

Oh, and she's pulling up pictures of hot guys on her iPhone so we can drool over them. I hope none of them get accidentally texted anywhere...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#ChickLitLove: The Bachelors Tell All!

Today, it's time for the Bachelors to reveal some interesting details about their lives. With us today, we have Ryan Milan and Matt Slavin from GOOD INTENTIONS. Again, please go easy on them, since it is their first official interviews.

Celebrity you've been told you look like:
  • Ryan: I've been told that I look like a taller, older version of Taylor Lautner.

  • Matt: Gee, hard to compete with that one. I'm proud to say that a girl in a bar on Lansdowne Street once told me I looked like J.D. Drew from the World Champion Boston Red Sox.
Naughty food you like to indulge in:
  • Ryan: I eat whatever food is in front of me. I have a naturally high metabolism, so I don't think about it too much.
  • Matt: Pizza, wings, beer. Oh, and I usually eat one (or two) Egg McMuffins when I am bringing them to Maggie to cure her hangover.
What you wear to bed:
  • Ryan: Classy pajama bottoms from Brooks Brothers. You'd never catch me in ugly pajamas.
  • Matt: Red Sox t-shirt and gym shorts.
Favorite body part of the opposite sex:
  • Ryan: Her brain
  • Matt: Gotta admit, I appreciate a nice rack.
How many people you've said "I love you" to:
  • Ryan: Does my mom count?
  • Matt: Just one. Unfortunately.
Relationship deal-breaker:
  • Ryan: Wanting a serious relationship
  • Matt: After years of treating me like crap, I think I could say the deal breaker for me was lying and purposefully sabotaging my best friend.
Your first kiss - How old were you? Did you instigate it?:
  • Ryan: I was 10, and a girl in the class below me kissed me. I was not happy about it. 
  • Matt: I was 13, and I think I mauled the poor girl who went to see Ghost with me. If memory serves correctly, there was a whole lot of slobber.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? If so, describe:
  • Ryan: No. I don't think they are professional.
  • Matt: I have a Red Sox "B" on my right calf and a celtic tribal band around my left bicep.
Favorite alcoholic drink:
  • Ryan: Dewars and soda.
  • Matt: Beer. As long as it is not crap beer. But even crap beer tastes good at Fenway Park.
Describe your dream girl:
  • Ryan: Um, didn't I already answer this question? Petite, cute and funny. I like brunettes, am partial to freckles and a Buckeye fan is a must.
  • Matt: Gotta be a Red Sox fan. Anything else, I can deal with. Hell, I was with Irene for how long?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#ChickLitLove: Valentine's Romantic Excerpt

So, while I love to read romance, I really had no idea how to write it. My favorite part is the witty banter and the palpable tension that my favorite authors create with their words. I wanted so much to be able to create that in my own works. I hope I was able. For those of you who haven't read it, here is a romantic scene, at the end of the first date between Maggie and Ryan from GOOD INTENTIONS:

The conversation was easy and fun.  I laughed a lot, and I was pretty sure he was enjoying himself too.  Before I knew it, the bartender was announcing last call, yelling out, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”  In disbelief, I looked at my watch.  1:45 a.m.  I wasn’t even tired.  Wow. 

Ryan stood up to leave.  He really was stunning looking in his dark slacks and cream shirt that showed off his olive complexion.  I sighed and stood up.  “You okay?” he asked, concerned.  I forced a smile and lied, “Just tired.”  I really didn’t want this evening to end and it made me sad.  Even though he was beautiful, it was more than that.  I liked him, his personality.  He was funny and easy to be around.  He intrigued me, which is more that I can say for most of the guys I meet.  I wanted to talk to him for days on end.  Oh well.  Maybe I’d see him in a few weeks at Matt’s.  It was football season.  Maybe we could watch a game together. 

He put his arm around my waist again, and guided me out of the bar.  It was a sweet gesture, more protective than romantic.  He had already seen my impressive balance.  He probably didn’t want to be embarrassed by having to watch me fall again.  I took advantage of the situation by leaning in slightly.  Got to make lemonade where you can.  We walked in silence back to my apartment.  When we got to my stoop, I fished my keys out of my purse.  Suddenly, his grip around my waist tightened and he pulled me into him.  I looked up at him with a surprised look on my face.  “I promised Matt I’d take care of you, didn’t I?  Let’s get you home and into bed,” he murmured, as his free hand tipped my chin up.  I closed my eyes and let him kiss me.  Wow.  That was all I could think was wow.  How was this happening?  His lips were firm against mine, and his breath was hot.  I couldn’t feel my feet again.  I was afraid I was going to faint. 

I pulled my head back and looked up at him.  He was probably about six-foot-two, so that gave him almost a foot on me.  A little less tonight with the killer heels.  I smiled tentatively.  He returned the smile.  “I’ve been waiting to do that all night.  Are you going to invite me up?” he asked hopefully.  “Um, okay, I guess” I stammered, as I fumbled with my keys and opened the outside door.  I wanted to take his hand as I led him up the stairs, but I wasn’t sure.  What kind of message would that send?  What kind of message did I want to send?  I was pretty sure I could have him spend the night.  Did I want that?  HELL YES.  No, wait, that would be bad.  No, it would probably be really good.  No, I could not let this happen.  Oh crap.

I led him up to my second-floor apartment and unlocked the door.  As I was pushing it open, he grabbed me again and started kissing me.  We staggered through the door and shut it behind us.  I held onto a shred of rational thought (how?) and directed us towards the living room, going right past my bedroom door.  That at least gave me a fighting chance of saving some dignity.  A very slim chance.  I pushed him down to sit on the couch and straddled his legs, sitting on his lap.  We continued the make-out session with our arms around each other, bodies pressed close together.  Eventually, and I’m still not sure how, I stopped and pulled away slightly.  “I’m not being a very good host.  Can I get you something?” I managed to croak out. 

He had his head buried in my neck and was kissing along my collar bone.  One of his hands was caressing my thigh, underneath my dress.  “Um, I’m good.  Really good.”  He stopped and smiled up at me.  I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing.  Ryan smiled, but didn’t get the joke.  “Not the reaction I was hoping for.  Is this not good?”

“Oh no, it’s very good.  Too good.  I almost don’t want you to leave.”  Damn straight I did not want him to leave.  It had been a really long time since I had had even this much action.  Let alone with a guy as hot as Ryan.  But I didn’t want to seem too easy either.  Would it be wrong if I imprisoned him here in my apartment forever?  Get a grip.  I used the pause in the action to remove myself from his lap and sit down next to him.  I snuggled into his side, keeping his arm around me.  “Music,” I finally said.

“What about it?”

“I should put some on.  It’s too quiet.”  I was afraid that he could hear my heart racing.

And because I said I'd give a little glimpse, here is a small excerpt from my upcoming novel, HOLD HER DOWN. Warning, this novel is not a romance. This scene is about as romantic as you get for the entire book. Enjoy the sneak peak!

"You always were a little on the stubborn side."
"Sometimes I still am—" she trailed off, swatting at a mosquito who was buzzing her hair. Her hand knocked the hair clip, loosening it a bit. Elizabeth hated the feeling of a loose hair clip, and with a fluid motion, pulled it out, her chestnut hair falling on her shoulders and down her back like a silk curtain.
Jack shifted suddenly, leaning forwards. "Your hair—"
Elizabeth immediately started gathering it up behind her head, preparing to put it up again.
"No, leave it down."
His words were strong, almost with a sense of urgency. She couldn't help but let her hair fall down. The ends of her hair brushing her bare skin made her feel sultry and sexy. She could almost feel it radiating from her. She put her hands on the table, now fidgeting with her hair clip. He put his hand on hers to still it. Slowly, she met his gaze.
"I'm glad you listened to me."
With a wrinkled brow, she asked, "What do you mean?"
"Your hair. You let it grow out. And you're closer to the color you used to have in high school. It looks better this way."
She didn't want to let on, but she really didn't know what he was talking about. She stared at his face for a moment, searching her brain. His blue eyes were intense and probing. She felt bared before him, but was unsure of why.
"I mean, not that it looked bad before, well, but frankly, it did."
"Gee, thanks. You certainly have a way with words."
He smiled, his eyes going all crinkly. "You know what I mean. You look good. Healthy. And really ho— I mean, you look very beautiful tonight."

Monday, February 10, 2014

#ChickLitLove: Valentine's Q & A

Today, we will be having a Q & A session with Maggie Miller, the main character in GOOD INTENTIONS. Please be gentle on her ... this is her first interview.

1) What three qualities do you find most attractive in a partner?
  • Maggie: If you had asked me this when I was right out of college, I would have immediately replied, "Tall, dark, and handsome." Since my college days, I've grown a bit, and while a handsome face is a bonus, I'd rather have a man who will stand by me no matter what, who will not judge my past mistakes, and who has a sense of humor to match my own.
2) What’s your idea of romance?
  • Maggie: Being with someone who will take the kids so I can go get my hair cut. But I do love the idea of the Lifetime Movie story book ending where the hunky man comes in and sweeps me off my feet.

3) Who's your favorite on-screen couple (Film or TV)?
  • Maggie: Rhett and Scarlett
4) What's been your most embarrassing moment in regards to the opposite sex?
  • Maggie: How long do you have? I can start with falling down the stairs at the beginning of my first date with Ryan. Then there was running into him after the gym while he was out on a date with someone else. Then there was the whole misunderstanding at the bar where I got all drunk, pissed off and ended up throwing up outside the bar. Yeah, the list could go on and on.
5) What was your first impression of your partner or crush? How accurate was it?
  • Maggie: Ryan is hot, no doubt about it. He has depth, which surprised me. But his drive and motivations were not where I thought they would be. Have to say, I was disappointed in him. Which led me to be disappointed in myself.
6) How have you coped with break-ups in the past?
  • Maggie: Drinking heavily and consuming copious amounts of peanut M&M's.
7) Which hot actor would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with and why? 
  • Maggie: Henry Cavill (sigh). Although, you'd be interested to know that Ryan bears a striking resemblance to a taller and older Taylor Lautner.

8) What is the craziest thing you've ever done for love?
  • Maggie: I would tell you, but it would spoil the book.
9) PDA: How much is acceptable?  
  • Maggie: If I like you, as much as you'd like to share. If you are smarmy and your name is Chad the pool boy, no thank you.
10) What is the best relationship advice you've ever gotten?
  • Maggie: I've not gotten a whole lot, which is one reason why I think I've made a mess of things. I did like when my BFF, Michele, told me it was time to "put my big girl pants on" so someone could take them off.

I hope you all enjoyed this quick Valentine's Q & A with Maggie Miller. Now that you know some of her motivations, check out her full story in GOOD INTENTIONS.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chick Lit Chat Valentine's Day Promotional Week

After publishing GOOD INTENTIONS early last summer, I stumbled across a group on Facebook called Chick Lit Chat. This is a group of (mostly) women who are authors of chick lit and women's fiction. Some are self-published, as I am, and some have publishers. Some are newbies, like myself, while others are quite prolific. Some are American, while some are British and there are even a few Aussies in there as well.

And they are all awesome.

Not only do these ladies write good books (and the ones I've read so far have been highly entertaining), but they are kind and helpful and just all around awesome. I've learned so much from the group and never fail to smile after our Thursday night Twitter chats. Of course, the first rule of Chick Lit Chat is that you don't talk about Chick Lit Chat.

But we're coming out of our closed group for the week to do a series of blog posts on our Chick Lit novels. Since HOLD HER DOWN is not yet out, I will be blogging about Maggie in GOOD INTENTIONS. While I would love to answer these questions from Elizabeth's point of view, I'm afraid I would spoil the book. (Perhaps if I'm feeling generous, I will throw a little Elizabeth in for you all).

So, basically, if things go as planned, I will have a blog post each day this week, leading up to Valentine's Day, promoting GOOD INTENTIONS. If you are not interested, take the week off and check back here in a few weeks. Just remember, I'll be releasing HOLD HER DOWN on March 1, 2014, so there will be some information about that coming out soon.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Say Cheese!

As I've mentioned before, I am the memory keeper in the family. At least for my mom's side. Even from the time I was a young child, I spent hours looking at the stacks of photo albums at my grandmother's house. I know all the pictures and all the stories.
I am probably about 4 years old. This is at my grandmother's house.

 Sometimes, I am not sure if I remember the event because of the event, or because of the picture.

In my family, partly because technology was poor and partly because we're bad with pictures, we have a lot of bad pictures. This has become strikingly evident as I am compiling a life story in pictures (which is the third one I've done in the past two and a half years, which makes me very, very sad). My grandmother tried to take pictures. My dad took some, When pressed into service, my mom would even take a few. My aunt sent the doubles to my grandmother so she could see what was going on in their lives in New Jersey. And the majority of the pictures are terrible. You can tell my family is French because they liked to chop the heads off of people.

We have tons of what I like to call "the blur."
Now, I can't just toss this picture because it is one of the few I have of my brothers and me with both my grandparents. My grandfather passed away when I was 13, so there are not that many more years after this one. [By the way, I can tell this is New Year's Day, simply because we are all wearing the outfits that my grandmother gave us for Christmas. Just preceding this series of pictures in the album was the pictures of us opening the boxes with said outfits in them. And matching socks. My grandmother always gave us matching socks to any outfit.]

But this brings me to another point. Take pictures.

Take pictures of everyone.

Even if you don't like the way you look, get in the picture.

There are very few pictures of my mom with us as kids. There are tons of my brothers and me, but very few us the five of us, or even candids of my mom with us. She doesn't like to have her picture taken. I can show her a picture from the 1950's and know, without a doubt, her response will be, "I hate my hair in that picture." As such, she has avoided the lens. And, as a result, until the last few years, we don't have a lot of pictures of her. And certainly, even fewer good ones. There are very few of my mom holding us as babies, which I know she did. There are not ones of my mom with me at my dance recitals or my brothers' games, but you can bet your tail she was at every one of them. She still is.

My husband's family is even worse. They don't like to have their picture taken, so they just don't. For a while, if you made them, they looked like they were being tortured. Sure, they would be a great laugh on Awkward Family Photos, but it is sad when it is the last family portrait of my husband with his father.

At my great-aunt's wake a few years ago, I noticed that there was not one picture of her smiling. Now, she was not a happy woman, but she also didn't like to have her picture taken. Now, I'm sure she smiled at least occasionally. Wouldn't it be nice for her grandchildren to have a picture of her smiling?

Let the family grumble when you say "Ok, time for family pictures." Don't grumble when it is your turn to get in them. Smile. Pretend you like each other. Get everyone in them. Don't worry about how you look. Even if your clothes are the most stylish and your hair is in current fashion, it will be laughable in 30 years anyway.

The important thing is to get the picture. Capture that moment so you and your descendents can look back and know about the family. Know that you spent holidays together. Know that you had a goofy side.

Let them see the generations together.

This is the only picture I have of the 4 generations on my dad's side. My grandfather soon became too sick to sit up, but this is how I remember him, sitting at his table and reading.  For you local peeps, where I am sitting is about where the hostess stand is at what is now known as Scarborough's Restaurant.

I enlisted the help of a friend to capture family pictures. We got all the families with my grandmother and then the whole family together. She passed away just two months after we did this. I like to think the sunlight on her in this picture is God's light.
I've finally convinced my mother-in-law to let me take her picture and to even enjoy it. I love this 3 generation shot.

And for goodness sake, don't forget to smile.