Sunday, December 1, 2013

Obamacare, Not Enough Turkey, and Too Many Brussels Sprouts

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read about her Thanksgiving disaster, click here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review - Saving Grace and Leaving Analise by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

I recently became familiar with a fantastic writer, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, and an awesome series. Saving Grace is only 99 cents on Amazon today. If I were you I'd snatch it up, and settle in for an enjoyable read with more to come. I've already read the second in the series, Leaving Analise, and it's just as good as the first. To buy Saving Grace on Amazon for only 99 cents, click here.

Read on for my review!

Poor Katie. She's having a rough time getting over her parents' tragic deaths, and in addition to that, there's this guy at work that she can't get out of her mind. This leads to some self-destructive behavior, which in turns leads to a hopefully healing trip to The Virgin Islands. The only snag in that plan is that her parents died in the Virgin Islands, and Katie is not convinced that it was an accident. So of course she wants to investigate.
This is simply the beginning of the story, and it only gets more compelling from there. Soon Katie is fixing up a house that communicates with her (believe me, in this story, it works), and she's dealing with all sorts of demons. But Katie is a likable character who never loses her sense of humor, and I was rooting for her the entire time. The mystery of the story only adds to its appeal.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ghosts, Mirrors, and Ted Cruz

There's a new post by Lucy on November Surprises Political Blog. Learn why Lucy attended the Ronald Reagan dinner/ Republican fundraiser, and how Jack's bathroom is haunted, by clicking here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review - Until It's Over

I never would have picked this book if it wasn't for road construction. You see, due to closed freeway exits my daily commute to and from work has become much more complicated, and to make it more pleasant I decided to get some audio books from the library, and listen to them in my car. I chose Until It's Over because it sounded interesting, although I'm not usually into mysteries.  But the selection of audio books at the library isn't that great, and I thought, "why not?"

Well, I loved 90%  of it. The narration is excellent, and the suspense had me gripping the steering wheel most of the time. There were several afternoons when I considered taking an even longer way home because I wanted to find out more about Astrid, her housemates, and these mysterious murders that seem to be following Astrid around. She's worse than Jessica Fletcher.

It's also steamy. Astrid, a bike courier, is unknowingly the object of affection of all her male housemates. But which one is killing people, just to get her attention? You don't find out until two thirds of the way through the book, when it switches to the killer's point of view. I think the revelation was supposed to be shocking, but I saw it coming several miles away. And I don't read mysteries very often, so probably other people saw it coming too.

But it didn't ruin the story at all. The only part I didn't like was the end, which left me thinking, "what was the point?" However, I still strongly recommend this book, because now that it's over, my daily drives feel empty, without that British voice leaking juicy secrets about murder and intrigue.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

John Boehner, Ideals, and Really Bad Guacamole

There's a new post on November Surprises blog! To read about Lucy's struggle between loyalty and ideals, click here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and the "Opt-Out" Generation

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read more about working moms, political wives, and Lucy's move to Iowa, click here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blue State

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. Will Lucy and Monty's marriage survive if she moves home to Iowa? To read part one, click here.

Or, to download the whole thing off of Amazon for 99 cents, click here.


Love. Family. Growing Older. They’re all part of the state we live in.

Lucy has left her home in Seattle and possibly her marriage too, because her father’s stroke has turned things upside down. When she’s not at her dad’s bedside, she’s at her mother-in-law’s house, caring for her children while avoiding her husband’s calls. Re-examining her professional goals and staving off heartbreak is only part of it; Lucy has to decide where it is that she belongs. But when Monty returns early from his month-long trip to Botswana, she’ll also have to decide which is more important – the life she has made for herself, or the life she left behind.

Blue State is a short(ish) story written for fans of November Surprises blog (, November Surprise the novel, and the novella Campaign Promises.  As a special bonus the first two chapters of The Hold Out are previewed in the back, which continues the saga of the Bricker family, this time with Jack and Monty’s younger cousin, Robin.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review - Widow Woman by Julia Tagliere

Widow Woman, by Julia Tagliere, takes place in the early 60s, and it’s the story of Audrey, a woman whose mother has just died. Plus, she recently found out her husband was cheating on her. Reeling from both events, Audrey must make sense of the world around her and decide what she wants. But that’s only the beginning of the story. As she learns more about her mother’s life and the secrets she kept, Audrey comes to question all her firmly held beliefs and her life begins to spiral out of control.


Julia Tagliere’s writing is engrossing and well-done. This is an author who obviously knows what she’s doing as she weaves character and plot into a moving story about love, loss, and hope. Fans of Mad Men might also connect with some of the issues women faced back then, and how far we’ve come in the meantime. I highly recommend this book.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Week of Secrets and Scandals

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read  about the week of secrets and scandals (including more on Brad) click here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Review - After The Ending

Co-authors and friends Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Fairleigh have written an apocalyptic tale of what happens to two buddies, Zoe and Dani, when they survive a plague. Zoe and Dani live on different coasts of the U.S., but once the plague hits, the survivors (about 10% of the population) travel to Colorado to reside in what’s assumed to be a safe place. Dani makes this journey with Zoe’s brother, Jason, who is a military guy that Dani had a crush on while growing up. Zoe is teamed with her ex-boyfriend and a fairly new friend, Sarah. Everybody encounters a whole host of problems while on their journey, and for the most part they don’t know what’s become of their friends and family. But Zoe and Dani send regular emails as they travel to reach each other. Every other chapter is told from one of their perspectives, and the emails they send are also included.

This is a clever idea for a novel, and I was intrigued from the beginning. Twenty years ago I read Stephen King’s The Stand, and ever since then I’ve enjoyed a good mass-plague tale. This is definitely very different from The Stand however, although both works include super-natural elements. After the Ending is quite obviously written for a female audience. Zoe and Dani are as worried about their crushes and their relationships as they are about survival, and they’re both very introspective. They focus on figuring out their feelings even as the world is falling apart. That’s not a criticism – I’d probably do the same thing.

This is a lively book with lots of dialogue and description, and it’s the first in the series.

This review is part of a blog tour put on by Orangeberry. To read an Orangeberry interview with authors Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Fairleigh, click here.

Amazon link - click here

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Love, Fear, and the NRA

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read it click here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cover Reveal - Shudder

Shudder, by Samantha Durante, is out June 15th. For a sneak peak at the cover and synopsis, read on! To read my review of the first book in the series, Stitch,  and an interview with Samantha Durante, click here.

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.
Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.
And then there are the visions.
The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…
The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Review - The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door by Annable Costa, is about two good friends who grow up and fall in love. Of course, one friend realizes his feelings (in this case it's the guy) before the other one does, and there are all sorts of issues that trip them up, like other relationships, family drama, and career choices. Does this sound like a familiar story?

Well, it is. But here's the unique part. The romantic lead, Jason, is a smart, loving, charismatic, good looking guy who also happens to be in a wheel chair. An accident in his childhood has left him unable to feel anything from the chest down. And Tasha, the main character and narrartor of the story, is funny and compelling, but she's also superficial (at times) so it takes her a while to see Jason as anything more than a friend.

I think the reader has a pretty good idea of how the book will end from the very first page. If you want a story with a lot twists and turns, don't read this one. But if you want a fun, witty, warm tale about how love can be at once imperfect and awesome, then this is the book for you. This story is more about the journey than the destination, and I'm glad I got on board. It's well written and the perfect feel-good beach read. Bravo to Annabelle Costa for writing a romance that challenges the boundaries of what we're used to.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Orangeberry Blog Tour - Perception and Volition, by Elle Strauss

Perception, by Elle Strauss, is a dystopian romance that confronts issues like faith versus science, immortality, classism, and the dangers of technology. The main character, Zoe, is a “GAP” – a genetically altered person. GAPs live to be around 200 years old, and they’re all very good looking and very healthy. The only catch? You have to have a lot of money to be a GAP, because it’s an expensive procedure. This creates a major divide in society between the haves and the have-nots, so it’s almost unheard of for a GAP to associate with, much less fall in love with, a non-GAP.

But that’s exactly what happens when Zoe’s brother goes missing. The only person she can trust to help her is Noah, the son of the family maid, and the descendent of the leader of the non-GAP movement. When Noah and Zoe investigate her brother’s disappearance, along the way they uncover family secrets and they’re forced to question themselves, each other, and the world in which they live.

Perception is a thrilling read that never slows down. Every page is suspenseful and well-plotted, and the love story is both believable and compelling. As the daughter of a scientist I did give pause to the sections that seemed to imply that we must choose faith over science, or vice versa, that it has to be the choice and we can’t have both. Still, that is simply implied, not stated, and it’s a subtle message if it’s even one at all. I would still recommend the series to a friend, and right now Perception is free on Amazon! The next book, Volition is available April 16th, and it picks up exactly where Perception left off.  The second book in the series promises to be every bit as suspenseful as the first, as Zoe and Noah must learn to trust each other and work together if they ever want to be free. Filled with stellar dialogue and attention to detail, this is a series you won’t want to miss.

Click here to download Perception for free on Amazon.

Read on for an interview with author Elle (Lee) Strauss!

1.) I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words?  Forbidden Love, mystery, family affairs, class division futuristic, faith, science, danger, deception, and of course, perception


2.) It seems there are a lot of themes at play in Perception, including faith versus science, the dangers of technology, youth versus wisdom, and immortality. Was there a particular message you were trying to communicate, or were you simply trying to represent all sides? And, how did those messages carry over into Volition? I am trying to represent all sides and I think this becomes more obvious in Volition, however I do have a personal opinion.


3.) There has been a lot of excellent YA dystopian lit written in the last few years. Is there one book or author who influenced you more than others?
Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox.



4.) I’m curious about the titles of your books. What was the thought process behind them?
 I chose Perception because one of the main themes is how people on both sides of an issue perceive the others in a certain way. Often they get it wrong as is the case with Zoe and Noah. Their perception of each other and their personal situations change sharply as the story unfolds. I chose Volition because one of the main themes in book 2 is free will and how easy it can be to lose it.


5.) There are some great descriptions of meals in Perception. What would be the perfect meal to enjoy while reading your book? (Include dessert and beverage choice.) This is a surprising question! I have to think. I always revert to eating chocolate and drinking soy latte (or a glass of red if it’s evening.)


6.) At the center of the Perception is the star-crossed lover romance between Noah and Zoe. Without giving away the ending, can you tell us if you see a possible happy ending for them, despite their inevitable differences? Ultimately Noah and Zoe will have a happy ending. Or happy-ish ending. It’s not going to come easy, though J.



7.) What do you do when you’re not writing? Can you name any ways that “real life” has influenced your writing? When I’m not writing I’m reading, watching episodic TV (I find I learn a lot about writing series from TV.). I like to hike, cycle and do hot yoga. I live in Germany part-time, so travel is up high on the list.


Ways that real life has influenced my writing: Surviving high school and a dramatic relationship through those years helps me tap into writing for teens. Raising teens helps me keep it current. My own beliefs and personal wrestle with faith and science and how to live it out in this world. And who knows what else. Does any writer really know? J

 To promote her books, Elle Strauss is hosting giveaway for a $200 Amazon gift card. It's easy to enter, so be sure to check it out!





Friday, March 22, 2013

Rand Paul, Puke, and Desperation

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read about Rand Paul's filibuster, gun control, and Lucy's doubts over her new grad student, click here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CLP Blog Tours - Nothing Come Close - Review and Author Interview

Today, as part of CLP blog tours, I am happy to host Tolulope Popoola as she promotes her new novel, Nothing Comes Close.

Nothing Comes Close, by Tolulope Popoola, is a tale of love, loss, and suspense. The story centers around Lola and Wole. At the beginning of the story Lola is alone, but then she describes everything that happens that has brought her to this point. The chapters switch perspective; every other chapter is told by Wole, and we learn the ins and outs of his story too. There is a lot of drama, including infidelity, betrayal, and even death, as the story focusses not just on them but also on their circle of friends. It’s an interesting read, although at times the dialogue and characterization was at times a little superficial for my taste. However, the suspense is riveting, and if you enjoy a passionate romance, then this book is for you.

 Read on for an interview with Tolulope Popoola!

 I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words?
Nothing Comes Close is about love, hope and happy endings.
 What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you incorporate it into your writing?
The main themes in the book are love, friendship, secrets, loyalty and regrets. The characters are mostly single people in their twenties dealing with making choices in their relationships, so it wasn't difficult to incorporate these ideas.
Is there a book, song, television show or movie you can compare your novel to? If not, can you name some sort of influence or inspiration for this book?
There are not many books I can compare Nothing Comes Close to. I was influenced by the people I observed around me. I saw people struggling to make certain decisions when it came to their relationships, and I tried to capture that in my fiction.
What would be the perfect meal to enjoy while reading your book? (Include dessert and beverage choice.)
Fried rice with grilled chicken and a glass of red wine and for dessert, a strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake
There are a lot of heavy subjects in your novel, including death, infidelity, and betrayal. In addition, the main characters are tested repeatedly in issues of morality. How did you manage to incorporate all of these things into your novel while still maintaining a relatively light tone?
I don't think I did it deliberately when I was writing. I wanted the main focus to be on the relationship developing between the main protagonists. All the other things that happened twists and turns in that story that revealed more about who the characters were and the choices they had to make.
How does your culture and heritage influence Nothing Come Close? Is there anything you’d like your readers to understand in advance of reading it?
Most of the characters in Nothing Comes Close are Nigerians living in the UK, and I am one too. So there are some cultural aspects to the book in terms of some language, food and ceremonies.
  What do you do when you’re not writing? Can you name any ways that “real life” has influenced your writing?
When I'm not writing, I can be found reading, sleeping, looking after my family, or hanging out with my friends. I can get ideas for my work from anywhere, such as a song, an overhead conversation in a bus. I observe people and try to imagine different scenarios with different outcomes.

To visit Tolulope Popoola's page at CLP Blog Tours, click here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review - A Friend of the Family

A Friend of the Family, by Lauren Grodstein, is a suspensful novel about the tragedy of aging in the suburbs. There's a lot more to it than that, but to me that seemed to be the essence of it. Pete, a doctor and the narrator of the story, has had a good life. It's by no means over, he's in his mid-fifties as he tells his story, but he has suffered some MAJOR setbacks. His only son hates him. His wife is suing for divorce, and he's been kicked out of his house. He's also being sued for malpractice. Oh, and his best friend is no longer his friend at all. So basically, he's lost everything.

And yet, as he says in the first page or so, life goes on. Then he takes us through his story, breaking down the events that brought him to this point. Secrets,mistakes, and betrayals are revealed. At the story's core is the relationship between his son, Alec, and his best friend's dauther, Laura, who may or may not have murdered her baby when she was a teenager. Pete is convinced that Laura is bad news and he absolutley doesn't want Alec to be involved with her. Eventually he'll stop at nothing to end their relationship, even if it means losing his son.

This book is very well written, suspensful and packed with emotion. I wasn't quite sure WHY I was so involved, but I was really involved. I mean, I sort of knew he was headed for disaster. And he wasn't always a character I could like or even identify with. But the writing was efficient and compelling, and there was a ton of deeper meaning to the story though I'm not always sure I got what the deeper meaning was. If you read it, you'll see what I mean - all the stuff about the deer. Anyway, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I'd definitely reccomend it to a friend.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Marco Rubio, Dry Mouth, and the Invisible Primary

There is a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read more about Marco Rubio, the invisible primary and campus politics, click here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Clause Drama

I try to make grammar as interesting as possible for my 10th grade students. I made this video today, and I'm pretty proud of my efffort! (Of course, when I show it to them I will back it up with examples and practice exercises, but hopefully this will help them get down the concept of what a clause is.)

independent clause vs dependent clauses by osterkal on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review For Matched Trilogy

I just finished the third book in the Matched Trilogy - Reached - by Allie Condie, and all I can think is that at some point, perhaps this summer, I will have to read the whole thing all over again. I felt so torn throughout... on the one hand, I wanted to read fast because I was anxious to find out what was going to happen. Then I'd get to one of the many, many truly profound and poetic passages in these books, and I'd think, "Wait. That was some beautiful writing. I need to stop and reread that." Now that I know what happens, I want to read it again so I can go slowly, and try and appreciate all the wisdom and beauty in the writing.

Condie has written a story that's not completley original. It's a lot like The Giver, from what I hear. It's in the same league as The Hunger Games and Divergent. But the theme of this trilogy is about creation versus capture, possession versus loss, and finding the strength to both love and let go. I was very impressed with how seamlessly all the plot points tied in together to form a complete, almost effortless whole (although I doubt it was effortless at all) and I had true writer's envy as I read these books. Condie is a real talent, and while I am a huge advocate for the lit part of young adult lit, I worry that she will get less credit than she deserves for her writing chops because her books are obstensibly meant for young people.

Anyway, this is my highest reccomendation for a trilogy I can give. While the plot, at times, gets a little weighted down, everything else about these books soars. Read them. You won't regret it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Incomplete Journey

There is a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read about her honeymoon trip with Monty to D.C, and Obama's inaguration, click here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

CLP Blog Tour - In Search of a Love Story - by Rachel Schurig

I happy to host Rachel Schurig today as she is on her blog tour for her latest novel, In Search of a Love Story. This is the first book I have read by Rachel Schurig, but it definitely won't be the last! Her writing is fun, concise, and multi-layered.
The story is about, Emily is a twenty-something single woman with good friends and a career as a physical therapist. But her life is far from perfect. When she was only twelve years old, Emily's mother died. Now she has a close yet not-so-close relationship with her dad, and Emily also can't seem to find lasting romantic love. When Emily's latest boyfriend cheats on her, Emily's good friends decide to take her under their wing and teach her about romance. Emily watches tons of chick-flicks and reads Pride and Predjudice, but she still has trouble connecting with the traditional notions of how love is "supposed to be."
This is simply the beginning of the story. Ultimately, Emily will come to a place where she must decide between finding and keeping what seems to be the perfect guy, or finding herself. Along the way she must examine her priorities, come to terms with her relationship with her dad, and rediscover her own vulnerabilities and strengths. While ultimately this story affirms the power of love, even more so, it affirms the power of friendship.  If at times it's slightly predictable, the tight writing and deeper themes make up for that. I strongly reccomend this novel. It's well worth the read!
Please continue on for an interview with Rachel!
Me: Your characters often appear in more than one of your books. For example, I see that Brooke is the focus of the follow-up to In Search of a Love Story, in An Unexpected Love Story. What are the challenges of continuing your characters’ stories on in this way?
RS: I really like revisiting characters in future books. My first novels, the Three Girls series, featured the same three girls in every book, with each story focusing on a different girl. I felt that revisiting the characters and carrying them through the series allowed me to deepen my connection with them; I really got to know each of the girls. I hope my readers would feel the same. I didn’t originally plan for In Search of a Love Story to be the start of a new series. Once I had started to write about Emily and her friends, I knew I wanted to know more about each of them. It was a natural fit for me to continue Brooke and Ashley’s stories in their own books. As far as challenges, the biggest issue is making sure the characters remain consistent throughout the series. You also run the risk of people picking up one of the sequels first, and thus being “spoiled” about the outcome of the earlier book. I try to minimize the chances of that by clearly labeling each book.

Me: On the one hand, In Search of a Love Story is a romance, but it also seems to be saying that love stories are only so relevant in real-life. How did you balance the romantic elements of your book with the self-actualization themes?

RS: I adore romances. Love songs, romantic movies, romance novels—I love them all. I do think that it’s important to remember that real life doesn’t always turn out quite like the movies. That’s a discovery that Emily makes over the course of her story. In all of my books I try to express my belief that love—even if it’s not Hollywood perfect—is very much worth searching for and fighting for.
Me: Is there a book, song, television show or movie you can compare your novel to? If not, can you name some sort of influence or inspiration for this book?

RS: After spending so much time with these characters they’ve become very real to me. They are like my imaginary children now, and I have a hard time comparing them to anyone else! I would say that this book was influenced by the chick lit genre. Some classic examples of authors in this genre include Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Harriet Evans, and Helen Fielding. To me, chick lit is any novel that focuses on a female protagonist, has a romantic element (while still exploring issues of her life outside of the romance), and has a light and humorous tone. Those are the books I best like to read, and I hope I succeeded in creating that feel with In Search of a Love Story.

Me: What would be the perfect meal to enjoy while reading In Search of a Love Story? (Include dessert and beverage choice.)

RS: Several people have told me they consider In Search of a Love Story to be a comfort novel. I agree! I suggest curling up in your most comfortable pair of yoga pants with a nice bowl of pasta and a glass of red wine. Finish up with the chocolate of your choice. I recommend Hershey’s Bliss squares, which I totally OD’d on while writing this book.

Me: What do you do when you’re not writing? Can you name any ways that “real life” has influenced your writing?

RS: My real life is always slipping into my novels. For instance, I love the outdoors and spend quite a bit of time in northern Michigan. It felt very natural for me to set part of Emily’s story there. I am also very close with my friends, much like Emily. All of the books and movies that Ashley and Ryan recommend in the book are personal favorites of mine. On that note, you can expect traveling and cake decorating to make an appearance in my books down the line, as those are two favorite non-writing activities that I have yet to write about.

Me: Okay, here’s a selfish question: You seem to be very successful at marketing and establishing “your brand.” Any tips for other indie-authors?

RS: My best tip is to just keep writing! I actually do very little marketing; I’m constantly berating myself for not blogging enough and not connecting on facebook or twitter more often. I think I got very lucky when one of my first books, Three Girls and a Baby, was featured on a few book sites. You can’t always control things like that but what you can control is the amount of work you have available for readers to find. When Baby started to sell well I already had two additional books out for readers to read next. I work very hard to produce new content as often as possible. As far as branding, I maximize my efforts by writing in the same genre and ensuring that my covers all “fit” together. Developing a distinct voice as an author is also important. Anything you can do to make it easier for readers to associate your books with you will help!

Me: Thanks so much for letting me pick your brain! Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

RS: Thanks for having me today! I love to hear from readers and I promise to always respond to blog comments, facebook comments, and emails. I can be reached at my website (, on facebook (, and on twitter (@rems330). I also have a newsletter (on my website) where readers can sign up for updates and exclusive content. I hope to connect with everyone soon!

Click here to buy In Search of a Love Story on Amazon

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Subtle and Extraordinary aren't Mutually Exclusive

I sometimes wonder how truly remarkable authors come up with their ideas. The perfect example is J.K. Rowling. How did she create this entire universe and mythology in Harry Potter? A mind like hers is so enviable; authors like her don’t come along every day.

The stories I write are always based in reality, which makes them easier to write. I think fantasy writers have more of a challenge, because they have to create their own rules for how the world works. My rules are already set, and they’re the ones I live by.

That creates its own set of challenges, however. My books need to be entertaining and realistic at the same time. I have to create drama while still being plausible. So I tend to draw on situations from my own life.

I’m a teacher, and I have several teacher characters in my novels. I’m from Minneapolis, so three of my books are set there. I love movies and politics, so I use them as a backdrop for my plots.

But where does the interesting part come in? Here’s what I do: I think of something that happened to me in real life, and then I ask myself how it could have been more dramatic or compelling. Usually our day to day lives are fairly predictable; at least mine is. But there is all sorts of potential for more. I get my inspiration by examining that potential. In November Surprise Lucy is definitely a girl-next-door type. Like Lucy, I didn’t date much in high school. Lots of people don’t. But how many of us go on to fall in love with the seemingly wonderful and perfect guy who was so popular and out of reach? And what would happen if we did? That’s the question I try to answer in this book.

Nothing in Lucy’s world is too out of the ordinary, and she herself is the type of person who could be your neighbor. But her conflicts are a little more vivid, and her passions are a little stronger than what most of us experience every day. The extraordinary in her world lies in subtleties rather than the obvious. I only hope readers will find that as interesting as I do.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Hastert Rule

There is a new post on November Surprises Political Blog. To read Lucy's comparisons of politics to her personal dramas, click here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review and Author Interview - Click, by Lisa Becker

Lisa Becker contacted me, asking me to review her book Click, which is written entirely in emails. I was intrigued because that's a similar format to a novella I wrote called Looking For Ward, and I wanted to see how she did it. The main character, Renee, goes on a lot of dates, and it hearing about it makes for an enjoyable story. And Becker really provided some great details. Some of the dates made me squirm, and some were lovely, but they always seemed real.

Writing a book in email format is a challenge, especially when it comes to exposition. I thought overall the character development and background information was brought about naturally and believeably. I understand there is a sequel to Click coming out soon, so there will be further development as well.

Overall I liked the characters. Shelly especially made me laugh, and Renee really held the story together. My one criticism is that some of her friend seemed to fit stereotypes like you would find on Sex and the City or other chick lit or chick flick types of material. That's a minor point though, especially in this type of book. It's meant to be fun, not ground breaking, and fun is what it is. If you're looking for a well-written, breezy novel that's a perfect fit for the new year, then look no further. Click will be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Keep reading for an interview with Lisa Becker, the author of Click.

1.) I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words?

 Funny, modern epistolary story of dating and love via emails.

2.) What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you incorporate it into your writing?

 I’ve said many times before, if love happened for me, there’s hope for anyone.  And as my grandmother used to say, for every chair, there’s a tush.  My goal with Click was to create a fun read for anyone who has ever had a bad date, been in love, been dumped, or is searching for "the one." 

3.) Is there a book, song, television show or movie you can compare your novel to? If not, can you name some sort of influence or inspiration for this book?

Many years ago, I read a book called e by Matthew Beaumont which tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails.  I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell about the online dating world.  It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times. 

Some readers and reviewers have also compared the book to Sex and the City, which I find to be an enormous compliment.  I was a fan of the show and loved the relationship between the four main characters.  I looked to convey that kind of bond among the characters in Click, as there’s nothing like having a group of close friends who can support you when things get tough, laugh with you when things get ridiculous, console you when you’re down, and cajole you into doing things that they can see are good for you, but you are reluctant to embrace. 

4.) What would be the perfect meal to enjoy while reading your book? (Include dessert and beverage choice.)


I think this breezy story of love and friendship requires something healthy and light followed by something comforting and satisfying.  That being said, it would be best enjoyed with a fresh, organic green salad, followed by a bowl of gourmet macaroni and cheese and culminating with a chocolate cake with creamy, fudgy frosting.  A nice crisp white wine would suit it well too. 

5.) What do you do when you’re not writing? Can you name any ways that “real life” has influenced your writing?


While being a writer, I’ve simultaneously worn many different hats including: full time mom and wife to the best family ever; part time public relations professional for an international PR firm; part time professor of public relations courses at a state university in California; Girl Scout troop leader to a group of giggling girls; and school and community volunteer.  Needless to say, there’s never a dull moment around here.   

As far as real life influencing my writing, that’s a resounding yes!  My husband and I met online on a popular dating website.  After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating.  I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, Click: An Online Love Story emerged.   The story is loosely based on my dating (mis)adventures.  While a true lady never kisses and tells, I can say the happy ending is real.  Steve and I have been happily married for nearly 10 years and have two amazing daughters - ages 7 and 5. 


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