Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Welcome Martha Reynolds!

Martha Reynold's first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, effortlessly transports the reader to Switzerland,  and she creates a main character you just have to know more about. The story is heart-wrenching, fascinating and delicious, and I'm so excited to read the sequel, Chocolate Fondue. Martha as a person is kind, warm and funny, and I'm thrilled to have her here today. Welcome, Martha!

Write what you don’t know about what you know 

Elan Barnehama is a straight male who wrote a book (Finding Bluefield) about two lesbians in 1960s Virginia. How did he write about a situation so different from what he knew? We’ve all heard the mantra: “write what you know.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? But the story can be so much better by writing what could happen, perhaps what should happen, instead of what did happen. And it doesn’t mean you can’t use what you do know. Ann Hood’s first novel, Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, involves a teenage girl, Rebekah, who believes her tortured high-school life would be so much better if she could just get a nose job.

Readers thought Hood must have gone through the same trauma. She didn’t, but her memory of wearing too-thick eyeglasses, and having to constantly repair them in class, evoked the same kind of feeling that Rebekah knew. For me to write about my character Bernadette’s experience of an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent decision to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption was sometimes challenging. I don’t have children, and writing about a young woman who makes the decisions Bernadette made provided opportunity for me to dig deep for emotions that would help me to write these passages. Yes, online research is available, but it’s tapping into the inner emotion that will help you write your story.

Elan Barnehama says that all his writing is autobiographical – in that it comes from him – but it’s not biographical, because it’s not about him. Connecting with the essence of the characters’ humanity is what the reader wants, and it’s what propels me as I write about what I don’t know.

Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg, Switzerland. Ripe for love and adventure, she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker, but is horrified when she discovers she's pregnant. Protected and befriended by those who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar dilemma. Yet after an unexpected death and the discovery of her pregnancy by a classmate, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that will take decades to resolve.

Martha Reynolds’s second novel, Chocolate Fondue, is a continuation of the story told in Chocolate for Breakfast, her award-winning debut novel.

Twenty-three years ago, Bernie Maguire, a young student in Switzerland, delivered a son. Giving him up for adoption was the right decision, she knew, but Bernie always wondered about the boy who was now a young man.

Back in Fribourg, Switzerland for vacation, Bernie is stunned when she sees the man she knows is her son. Now she must decide whether to identify herself to him and hope for a connection, or say nothing and leave the young man to live his life. The matter is complicated by a hotel employee who discovers the truth, and who intends to get in the way of Bernie’s plans.

Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. Martha Reynolds published her debut novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, in 2012. It follows a young woman into adulthood during a year abroad in Switzerland. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was voted the 2012 Book of the Year in the category of Women's Fiction by Turning the Pages Books. She and her husband live in New England, never far from the ocean.

Connect with Martha!

Read and follow the writings of Martha
Follow her on Twitter @TheOtherMartha1

Buy the books in both paperback and digital versions!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's The Chick Lit Author Blog Hop!

Welcome! From May 20-27, 2013, the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop will include some incredible writers who are posting What's on Page 25? from one of their chick lit novels. Be sure to scroll down to the end of this post for the list of authors participating in the hop and head back to Chick Lit Chit Chat to enter to win the unbelievable GRAND PRIZE. What can you win? One lucky blog hop winner* will receive a FREE Kindle Keyboard 3G, with Free 3G + Wi-Fi, and a 6″ E Ink Display. That lucky grand prize winner will also receive a “chick lit starter library” filled with great chick lit books written by the indie authors participating in the blog hop.

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?

Here's what's on page 25 (ish) of my debut novel!

Sometimes I fantasize about what my life would be like without Derek. Packing my bags and just leaving a note on the $1000.00 coffee table. But even though I know Hanna would let me live with her, I need my own space, and I certainly can't afford to live alone because the associate producer's salary is nothing next to the paycheque that Derek gets from his Ken Dream job.

And if I lose Derek, what else do I have? My family, friends, job. No love. I might never be with anyone again. At thirty-two, it would be too hard to find someone else now, and I just can't trust that another man will fall in love with me because before Derek, it had never happened.

I know most women analyze every nuance and sentence spoken in relationships so when something just doesn't feel right, they tell all of their friends and break it down word by word. I love being the listener for these conversations, but I'm not so good at talking about the things that bother me. So, for me to talk to Derek about our problems, or try to, is a pretty huge deal. And obviously neither of us is happy.

This weight of discontent seems to fill the air around us. But every time I bring up our problems, he acts as if nothing's wrong. He won't even talk about it. Lately it seems like he's not thinking about me at all. I'd probably have to text him to break up with him.

Sighing audibly, I pad to the bathroom to wash up. My little bottle of no-name soap looks depressingly inconsequential next to Derek's wide array of cleansers. Hmmm, maybe I should try some of his apricot scrub. What does a scrub do? I try to tie my hair back, but the stupid ponytail holder keeps falling out. I twist my hair in a bun and open the bottle. Squeezing out a healthy amount (Wow, it's pink. Should it be pink?), I slather it all over my face. Ow, ow, ow! It's making my skin tight and itchy, and it hurts like a bitch. This cannot be good for me.

I read the back of the tube, which tells me I should leave this crap on my face for twenty minutes. After three, I'm impatient so I scrub it off and look in the mirror, and all I see is a blotchy mess of mottled pink skin. Gorgeous I am. And I finished the tube. Derek has so many products, I'm sure he won't even notice.

I shut the light, tiptoe into the bedroom, and change into my favorite over-sized red t-shirt from a consignment shop in Wicker Park. It's downy soft and comes to my knees. The sheets (Egyptian cotton, three hundred thread count, of course) are cool, and I slide under them, wiggling my fingers and toes. The room is pitch black, with only the moon illuminating the handmade bureau, giant black leather armchair and Tiffany lamps on each of our bedside tables. I throw my hands above my head and turn my face toward Derek. It's amazing how peaceful people look when they're sleeping. Derek's long, thick lashes are fluttering against his smooth skin, his strong jaw is relaxed, and a faint smattering of stubble gives him that sexy, mussed look I'd once loved so much.

I reach over to stroke his cheek, and Derek twitches in his sleep. Shockingly (because we just had sex the other day), his hand rests on my thigh and starts creeping upwards. I grimace slightly, wishing the next eight minutes (I've got it down to a science now) wouldn't be so predictable. Here it comes: left breast, right breast, quick stroke of my back, a spit of saliva around the clitoris, insert. Bang, bang, bang. Done.

Well, that was refreshing. Passion dies, friendship remains. Isn't that what they always say? And now I can't sleep because I'm annoyed. Annoyed that Derek didn't notice that I didn't come. Again. So while he's washing off, I go to the couch to finish what he started. (Win the grand prize! The 6th secret word in the 25-word sentence is: Author) Maybe I should call that hotel in Montreal and get the make and model of the shower head.

Speaking of buzzing over books and summer parties… If you happen to be in NYC on Thursday, May 30th, please come on down to Stone Creek Bar and Lounge on East 27th (between Lex and 3rd) from 7pm to 9pm for a mix-and-mingle event a few of us in this Hop are hosting. Check out Book Buzz 2013 for details and please RSVP to bookbuzz2013@gmail.com.

Now, here's the list of fabulous authors on the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Welcome Zanna Mackenzie!

I'm so happy to have the lovely Zanna Mackenzie here! We met through The Chick Lit Goddesses, the best writing support group an author can have, and I was instantly drawn to the gorgeous cover of her novel How Do You Spell Love? 

Stunning! Published by Crooked Cat Publishing, How Do You Spell Love? is a chick lit/romantic comedy with a magical theme. I'm sold!

Zanna is here to talk about attraction and the influence of the zodiac, and I have to say, I love this post. Take it away, Zanna!

Attraction – It’s Written In The Stars

How many times have you thought you know what - or who - you want in your life but something has taken you down a completely different path, which actually ended being what you really wanted after all but you just didn’t realise it?

In my recently released novel How Do You Spell Love? Kat and Summer think they know what they want in their lives and the men they want to spend their lives with, but fate has other ideas.

Kat is trying to get over the end of her relationship with Nathan, even though part of her still believes they were meant to be together. Summer is trying to find ways to keep her relationship with Rob on track. Then Kat meets Alex, and Summer meets Tom, and for a whole tangle of reasons Kat shouldn’t be with Alex, and Summer shouldn’t be with Tom, but the attraction and chemistry is instant and causes everyone involved to start questioning their lives and their behaviour.

Which set me thinking, what is attraction? OK, there’s the obvious stuff – the physical side of things, a smile, a look. But what about that magical chemistry? Where does that come from? What makes the air sizzle between two people but not two others?

In the course of creating characters for my novels I’ve researched zodiac/star signs, their personality traits, what they look for in a partner and which zodiac signs they are attracted to. I have a document on my computer and when I see an actor/actress in a film/TV programme that I feel ‘drawn to’ and think would be good visual inspiration for a character in one of my books I add their details to the folder so I have info all ready for when I need to create a new character. I went to this document and researched all of the actor/actresses star signs and grouped them into categories. I was stunned to find a definite pattern emerge amongst the ones on my list. Then, purely in the interest of research (!), I looked at which of the male actors I quite liked the look of (OK, I admit, fancied them!) and was amazed to find they were mostly the same star sign.  According to zodiac sign compatibility, star signs within their own ‘group’  are attracted to each other and, taking it further, within each group there are some signs which are even more drawn to each other than the others.

Now, I’m a cancerian which is a water sign and the other 2 water signs are pisces and scorpio. According to zodiac ‘laws’ I should be most attracted to/drawn to scorpios within my ‘group of water signs’. Guess what? I’m married to a scorpio guy, and the star sign that most of the actors on my list where from? You’ve guessed it – they were all scorpios too! 

When I first met my husband -to-be we were introduced to each other at a small new years’ party by my best friend who was dating a colleague’s of my hubbie and they thought we’d ‘be good together’. They were right. There was an instant attraction and chemistry between us and we’ve been together for almost 19 years now, married for 16 of those years.

So, maybe attraction is actually written in the stars…

Book blurb:

Make A Wish…

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.
When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…

Buy How Do You Spell Love?

Book extract:

How Do You Spell Love?

Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.

Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. 

The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.

Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.

Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.

Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’
Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.

Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.

Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.

A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”

“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.

“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”

The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”

Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.

Author bio:

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were published in early 2013.

Connect with Zanna!

Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stay Tuned for The Chick Lit Author Blog Hop!

I am so excited to be a part of the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop from May 20-27, 2013! Incredible prizes, fabulous posts and a ton of amazing authors to check out. So, hop back and enter to win a FREE Kindle Keyboard 3G, with FREE 3G + Wi-Fi, and a 6" E Ink Display. The lucky grand prize winner will also receive a"chick lit starter library" filled with great chick lit books written by the indie authors participating in the blog hop.

For more information, visit Chick Lit Chit Chat!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Welcome ST Bende!

I am so happy to have ST Bende, the author of Elsker, here today. ST and I met on social media through blog hops, and I instantly loved her warmth, kindness and humor. Elsker, a New Adult paranormal romance, has been getting fabulous reviews, and I'm excited to read such an epic story. Welcome, ST!

Thank you so much for letting me visit your blog, Samantha.  I loved Finding Lucas so much.  I’m looking forward to reading Everything But.  And I’m excited to introduce you to my own imaginary friends -- the crew from Elsker!

ELSKER, Book One in THE ELSKER SAGA, follows twenty-year-old Kristia Tostenson as she leaves her small town to find adventure at Cardiff University in Wales.  Kristia gets a lot more than she bargained for when she falls in love with Ull Myhr.  He’s not just a graduate student -- he’s an Asgardian Assassin, and the Norse God of Winter.  Kristia’s orderly life is about to get seriously complicated.

But before Kristia came along, Ull had to deal with Skadi.  In Norse mythology, Skadi was a jotun (a frost giant) who had a bone to pick with Asgard (the realm of the gods).  When the enraged giantess showed up to rip Asgard to pieces, the gods scrambled to pacify her.  Skadi agreed to put down her weapons if someone would just marry her already.  Apparently the pickin’s were slim in Jotunheim, and Skadi wasn’t getting any younger.

Since the jotun bride wasn’t exactly a looker, none of the gods jumped at her offer.  But the girl was about to wreak havoc, and clearly someone had to marry her.  The gods lined up behind a curtain -- with only their feet showing -- and told Skadi to choose a husband.  Skadi had a crush on the God of Peace, Balder.  She scoured the feet until she found the best-looking pair, and announced, “I choose that one; there can be little that is ugly about Balder.”  Apparently there wasn’t much ugly about the Sea God, Njord, either.  He was the owner of the lucky tootsies, and won the questionable honor of marrying the giantess.

Theirs was a short marriage.  Apparently Njord’s house was too close the sea, and Skadi took off for the mountains, where she could ski and hunt to her heart’s content.  Njord went on to have two children -- one of whom was the ultimate cat lady*, the Warrior Goddess of Love, Freya. 

*Freya rode into battles on a chariot pulled by cats.  Kind of awesome, right?

In ELSKER, Ull would never choose location over love.  But as an Asgardian Assassin, he’s not exactly in a position to have a family.  He’s spent an eternity avoiding any real emotion, and despite his tough exterior, he’s unbearably lonely.  But Ull’s carefully constructed walls come crashing down when he meets Kristia.  Can the small-town-girl warm the heart of the God of Winter?  And if she can, will she be able to handle the heat?  After all, you don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way.

ST Bende has also provided an enticing excerpt!

At eight o’clock, a firm knock interrupted my reading.  I picked my way through the flower shop that our living room had become and opened the door.
“Oh good, you kept my peace offerings.”  Ull treated me to a rakish grin.
“Just a few of them,” I muttered.  “Come on in.”
“Oh, no.  You must come with me.”
“Why?”  I challenged.  Ull sighed.
“Are you going to fight me at every turn?”
“Please come.”  He looked so adorable standing on my stoop, his scarf casually thrown across the grey sweater under his coat.  I gave in quicker than I meant to. 
“Fine.”  I grabbed my coat from the closet by the door and shoved my keys and wallet into the pocket.  “Where are we off to?”  I closed the door behind me and followed Ull into the brisk night, waiting for his promised explanation. 
But he didn’t say anything.  Instead, he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me away from campus.  I shivered and noticed that Ull wore his jacket open, at ease in the chill.  As we rounded the corner, Ull dropped his hand to clasp mine.  It was so warm, so strong, and for a moment I forgot to be mad at him.  We walked in silence as he led me down the main road.  After two right turns, I found myself standing in a quiet garden.  
Ull had brought me to a church.  

 THE ELSKER SAGA is available from Entranced Publishing. 

TUR, the prequel, can be downloaded for free HERE.

More about ST Bende:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats.  Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired The Elsker Saga.  She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

Connect with ST Bende!

Twitter (@stbende) 

And be sure to stop by http://stbende.blogspot.com/p/elsker-tour.html between April 11th and May 20th to enter to win fabulous prizes in Waffle Fest -- the ELSKER Release Month of Giveaways! 

To buy Elsker, visit the ELSKER page on the Entranced Publishing website, Amazon or Barnes and Noble!