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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