Make Me a Memoir

When I’m deep in my writing cave, I usually quit reading deep introspective things and read Harlequin romance novels and other quick fiction. It’s a relaxation for my  brain from all the work I’m doing. This time around, I was devouring research for my book instead. My brain became overloaded with ideas. I lost sight of what my book was supposed to be about and what I was trying to do. I hit stop on all my “research” and decided to return to a much beloved genre for one last non-fiction hurrah before I ceased all communications: memoir.

When I was reviewing the romantic fiction I read, I gave a simple rubric for what a story had to have to be for me. I also have one for memoirs. It’s a short set of criteria of what I believe a memoir should do. As I am adding elements of memoir into my current work, I won’t be reading anymore for a while, but I want to tell you why the last one I read was excellent and convince you to read it if you haven’t. I also want to recommend others in the genre I’ve read and loved over the years.

Memoirs are books based on the lived experiences of the author. They usually cover specific events, periods of time, or struggles/experiences with a certain disease, etc. They can be funny, heartbreaking, introspective, poetic or prosaic. The style is as varied as the authors who work in the genre. This criteria applies to all kinds of memoir for me. I haven’t included specifics on funny memoirs, childhood memoirs, memoirs about medical conditions, etc. This list isn’t an exhaustive list of what makes a memoir great, but a rubric for how I judge if a memoir was a good one.

So let’s dig into what a great memoir has to do (in my humble opinion):

  • Be honest with the ugly. Every memoir I’ve read and loved shares the characteristic of not shying away from sharing the hard stuff. Whether detailing a painful moment where addiction has made them do something awful to someone they love or sharing an unflattering truth they learned about themselves while recovering from a traumatic injury, memoirs need to honestly portray their subjects. Not everything is good or bad in life; some things are a dull, lifeless gray. Others are downright ugly. The sign a memoir is going flat for me is when I feel as if the author is holding back and not being truthful with me.
  • Be so specific it can’t help but to be universal. The best memoirs I’ve read have been written by people with wildly different experiences than I’ve had in my life. On the surface, I have nothing in common with their story. But within the pages of the book, against all odds, I see myself. Somehow, by sharing the specifics of their unique situations, they manage to tap into a universal experience. I’ll give you an example. Many women the world over connected with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I’m sure most of them have never gotten divorced then lived in three different countries over the next year on a journey to find themselves. But more than one woman reading could identify with that late night crying on the bathroom floor moment Liz had wondering why she was so unhappy, or with the simultaneous relief and grief of ending a relationship that isn’t working. Maybe they didn’t eat their way through Italy or pray in an ashram in India after their breakup, but they did go on a journey of self-discovery. By sharing her specific experience, Elizabeth Gilbert tapped into a universal feeling, and readers were so inspired by it, ten years later Gilbert’s publisher released, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, a book of stories about what Gilbert’s book inspired others to do.
  • Drop truth bombs. A classic memoir has to do more than get me to raise my hand and shout “me too!” I need more than the gory details of your life. Every great memoir I’ve read has given me at least one moment where I’ve had to close my finger in its pages to hold my place while I sag back against my seat slack jawed at the enormous truth the author just dropped as casually as a comment on the weather. This is one of the things that makes memoir so good. The author gets to share not just a universal experience, but a truth found in the trenches. The statement itself can be simple, but the effect is a nuclear cloud mushroom in your brain, an explosion that move inexorably outward.
  • Perform surgery, not suicide. The best memoirs are akin to self-surgery. The author cuts him/herself open not merely to marvel at the mess of their innards, but to heal themselves. A great work is written in blood, yes, but it’s not a dying declaration; it’s a wounding for the healing of the reader AND the writer. If you aren’t over whatever the subject of your memoir is, if you can’t look back curiously with an eye toward finding the truth, it’s not time to pen a memoir. All memoirist are engaged in excavating the valuable from a lived experience, the thing that’s been bombed or buried but is still intact. I’m not interested in those who want to make a spectacle for sympathy.
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NaNoWriMo and Fiction Re-Ignition

I’ve been focusing more on creative non-fiction than I have on fiction in both my reading and writing for quite some time. However, being fired has given me time to miss reading fiction and writing it. I’ve been immersing myself in fictional worlds, escaping from my own monotonous and sometimes anxiety ridden reality.

I’ve decided on a novel to work on for NaNoWriMo, an inspirational romance featuring characters who have appeared in other works in my fictional town in Northwest Georgia. I think I have a good feel for the characters and the conflict, but I’m still working out the kinks. Hopefully I can write consistently for the month on the project. I’ll consider that a win even if I don’t get to write the words The End.

As far as fiction reading goes, it’s mostly been Harlequin romances, but I’m expanding. I am reading Stephen King’s The Shining right now. I am more than halfway through. I plan to get back to Lullaby by Chuck  Palahniuk soon. I want to get Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. Then I’ll need a break from dark fiction and find something less scary but just as deep.

I’m going back to reviewing books, and boy do I have a lot to review. I read a few from my 2016 reading list (a very few) that need to be reviewed, and I can’t wait to share them. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer are two which stand out to me. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst is also on the list.

What have you all been reading?

What (Really) Happens to a Dream Deferred?

It gets you sacked, that’s what.

Well, no, not really. It’s been a while since I’ve written, and a lot has changed, let me tell you. The biggest changes have been mostly good:

I was a vendor at the Beyond the Masquerade conference in Brunswick, GA in February 2016. There I debuted a prayer journal I developed based on The Lord’s Prayer recorded in Matt. 6. I was also a vendor at the National Ladies Lectureship in Birmingham, AL in April 2016. I finally published my second non-fiction book, The Season for Getting Serious, in July 2016, and sold it for the first time at my church’s ladies day, where I was a speaker. I was a vendor at a ladies day in Cocoa in August and at the National Christian Singles’ Seminar this past Labor Day weekend. I am in the midst of writing my first study and have started organizing book coaching, editing, and publishing packages to help other aspiring authors on their road to publication.

I created my first covers for The Season for Getting Serious and the Prayer Journal, took classes on formatting manuscripts, and have worked to sharpen my book marketing skills. I started an online store and sold a few books through it. Things are creatively looking up.

But it hasn’t all been peaches and cream. I lost my job in July. It’s always been funny to me that we say we lost a job, as if it’s been somehow misplaced, when what’s really happened is we’ve been terminated. As I was being shown the door by a regretful and sorry to see me go co-worker, she said that now I would go off and be a famous writer. I’m glad one of us saw this as an opportunity for me to go after a long held dream. I saw it as an opportunity to get acquainted with soup kitchens and finding interesting places to park my car/new home.

Thanks to a little foresight, a successful ladies day sale, and the fortitude to list out exactly what was needed, I have bought myself a pretty comfortable glide to the end of this year in which to find new employment and see if I can’t just make a go of this writing thing.

I’ve made great progress on my selling technique and managed to sell out at my last event. The future still remains to be seen, but I’ve a firm grasp on the general gist of it. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m hoping that I can make a happier life for myself than I’ve had career wise in quite some time.

As this will be my home base for my future writing and freelance editing/publishing endeavors, I will be around more and updating much more frequently. More later.

XOXO,

Erica

Book Review: The Tycoon’s Stowaway

The Tycoon's StowawayConfession: This is the third book I’ve read by Stefanie London. I met this fabulous writer on the Harlequin boards not long before she sold her first book to them. Stefanie sent this book to me because I begged her on Facebook. I’d read about her two ballerinas and was curious to see her take on a tycoon. So, to recap, I (online) know Ms. London and I received a copy of this book free for my review. Also, this book won’t be released in North America until May 1st and will have a different cover here (Here it will be a Harlequin Presents).

Dancer Chantal Turner and yachting tycoon Brodie Mitchell have shared a strong attraction since they met over eight years ago working at Weeping Reef Resort. At the time, they weren’t able to act on their attraction because they belonged to other people. The one time they ventured perilously close to crossing that boundary, their friendship circle imploded.

Eight years later, Chantal is divorced and experiencing soul crushing rejection in her pursuit of joining a dance company in Sydney. The only dancing gig she does manage to land turns out to be in a seedy bar. She’s barely holding on to the ends, let alone making them meet. On the other hand, the seemingly laid back beach bum Brodie has managed to build a successful business leasing luxury yachts to the rich. When a friend invites Chantal to Brodie’s boat to get the gang back together, Chantal and Brodie discover the spark is still white hot between them. But Chantal’s determined to focus on salvaging her career, not getting into a relationship with another man who will try to control her every move, and Brodie has too many responsibilities and people counting on him for a relationship to be attractive. The solution? One night of no-strings fun.

Only one night isn’t enough, and soon both Chantal and Brodie are in deeper than they planned. But with Brodie’s family depending on him and Chantal’s fierce insistence on being independent and pursuing her dream, happily ever after seems a long boat ride away. Can these two get over their pasts and sail into the future together?

Some romance readers judge a romance by how much they connect with a heroine, but in order for me to really get invested in a book, I have to fall in love with the hero. I fell head over heels for non-traditional tycoon Brodie Mitchell. It was easy to see how much he loved his family and felt compelled to be the father his sisters so desperately needed. He wasn’t the typical playboy turned hero; he was a real guy who managed to make a lot of money doing something he loved to support his family. And he was hot! That always helps.

That said, I did really connect with Chantal. Anyone can identify with going after a dream, only to experience rejection, especially those in the creative community. Chantal’s independent, I don’t need help attitude was at times frustrating, but also felt authentic. I know that bullheadedness; I’ve suffered from it plenty of times myself. She was so determined to succeed that you couldn’t help but root for her.

The romance between Chantal and Brodie was scorching hot, but it also struck an emotional cord. It wasn’t all late night body shots and kitchen shenanigans–Ms. London does a lot of emotional heavy lifting in true M&B Modern/Harlequin Presents style. She doesn’t pull any cheap tricks to pull off her happily ever after; Brodie and Chantal have to work for it without any fairy godmothers or pixie dust, which makes it all the more satisfying to see them get their stuff together and make this work.

Overall, I think The Tycoon’s Stowaway is an interesting twist on the tycoon, friends to lovers, and reunion tropes. Ms. London does a fabulous job of blending passion and emotion into a heady mix that will leave readers ready to drop anchor in one of her books anytime.

* * * */ * * * * * (4/5 stars): for romance, emotional tension, and interesting twists on favorite tropes

Playing Catch-Up: Book Release Party!!

for adI’m sorry I left everyone hanging, but time flies when you PUBLISH A BOOK!! Yes, I hit publish on my book, Altered before the Altar, slightly after my Labor Day release goal. A lot of things have changed since that moment, and I wanted to update you all on what has been happening since I last wrote about the book.

  • After I hit publish, no one bought a book for about two weeks. I tried everything to get someone to buy it, but it wasn’t moving. I thought of lowering the price or something, but I didn’t. I knew that part of the battle is a lot of people don’t like to buy things online, and since it wasn’t in stores and I didn’t have any copies for purchase, I wasn’t selling. That statement may sound odd, given how technically savvy people are now, but I’ve found with Christian books, at least in this area, having them on hand to sell is much more effective than online. I’ve sold maybe 10 copies online total–all the rest have been face to face.
  • At the end of September, two friends bought the book online. One in particular helped talk me off the ledge. She celebrated my book’s release with cupcakes and helped me start thinking about a book release party. She mentioned it on Facebook, which led to me being linked with a woman in Miami who can help me network, get speaking engagements, and find opportunities for me to sell the book in that area. I went down to Miami to meet with her at the end of September and hope to work with her more in the new year to create some fabulous connections.
  • Also at the end of September, because I believed in this book so much and really felt if I could just get a few people to read it, it would begin to sell itself, I decided to take some advice I received and run with it: every day, do at least 5 things for the book/success of the book. Whether it was sending an email to a possible venue or ordering books for my book release party, I did something each day and wrote it down on my desk calender. I think that has made a tremendous difference in helping me cross some intimidating things off the list.
  • The first week of October, I received my first shipment of books for my release party, which I scheduled for October 25th. As soon as people knew I had the books on hand, well, they started to sell. It was slow at first, but then people began to read. One day, I posted on my Facebook page about the book, and my minister’s wife responded, saying she had finished the book and two days and thought it was one of the best on the subject she’s read. She left a glowing review on Amazon and offered me the opportunity to sell my book at an event where several congregations come together to fellowship the week before my event. After the smoke cleared that Sunday, I was down to 17 of my 51 books and needed to order more books for my event!
  • A couple days later, a sister who had been at that event texted me and asked if I could move my event as she had an event and wanted me to sell books there. It was an opportunity to expand my reach into another city, and everyone felt it was a good opportunity, so I moved my event and went to Daytona Beach to her event. I sold some books and made some connections. I met people I hadn’t met before and had a great time.
  • Backing up…I had wanted to do something exclusive or available for the first time for the book release party, so I started working on a study guide and devotional to go along with the book. I took devotions I scrapped from the book because of length, created discussion questions, created activities, and wrote more devotions to create that book.
  • I got with my co-planner for the book release and finalized the program. I created some door prizes, giveaways, and a menu of hors d’oeuvres. The ladies at church came up with the them and decor. A co-worker bought my dress. Other ladies have stepped in and helped to buy some of the food. I’m working like crazy to get it all done in time for the book release this weekend, but I believe the event will go off without a hitch.

So, the book release party details. It is a wedding reception-themed event. I am planning for fifty people and simultaneously hoping and dreading for a few more. I have book and study guide copies for half of those people to purchase, along with some small totes with phrases related to the book. I created swag bags for the guests with book themed items and a few fun games to spice things up. I also have a surprise or two in store.

If you all are interested, I will be sure to post how I planned the event and how it went, with plenty of pictures, of course.

XOXO,

Erica

Book Review: Reverie by Christina Yother

Reverie Cover  The Disclaimer: Throughout the past year, I have been given many opportunities to read many ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), review copies and giveaway books of varying qualities. However, this was one of the first books I got to read as a critique partner. When we were first paired and set to exchange chapters in December, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this story. I don’t usually read historical romances. In my mind, historical romances were all set in Victorian England among petticoats and women being introduced into society during the Season. I like my romance a bit more real. So I stayed away from the genre. When Christina sent me what would become this book, she had to redeem a whole genre in my eyes, not an easy task to fulfill. Plus, I’m a nit-picky critique partner who sometimes forgets to mention the good in favor of pointing out mistakes. 😉

The Set Up: In Hollow, Montana in 1883, Hetty Grace’s world is turned upside down when Alma Calhoun, the woman she is a companion for, leaves for Philadelphia to be with her ailing sister. She secures a job working for the Wheeler family on a nearby farm. Isaac Wheeler is a furniture maker and a bachelor living with his mother, widowed brother Elias, and Elias’ daughter, Lottie. Both consider themselves unworthy of love–Hetty because she is an orphan and Isaac because of mistakes in his past. But with divine intervention, family meddling, and a lot of faith, these two can overcome every obstacle separating them from the love they crave. 

The short of it: Read this book! I loved Hetty and Isaac together. This has all the important ingredients in a romance: characters you want to root for, believable impediments to them being together,unique ways of putting them together, a sweet reveal of their feelings for each other, and I didn’t feel like I missed out on the best parts of their journey. The faith element was strong throughout without feeling overdone or overemphasized. And I’m not just saying that because Christina is my critique buddy; this girl can WRITE!

The long version: This book made me rethink my aversion to historical romances. There wasn’t a petticoat to be found! The writing didn’t feel dated but flowed off the page. The romance was the central focus of the story, not the setting, and Christina’s writing allowed me to get lost in Hetty and Isaac, not the lack of central heating or air conditioning. She captured the time period beautifully while crafting a story that is timeless. 

I loved the interaction between Hetty and Isaac and Isaac’s family. The secondary issues and themes that they brought to the story fleshed out the conflict and added texture to the story. The relationships that Hetty built with Isaac’s family both pulled them together and caused her to step back. It was an interesting dynamic to watch unfold on the page. The conflicting feelings that exist between Isaac and his brother Elias were another great aspect of the story. The fact that most of the tension and guilt is all one-sided makes it even more compelling. 

I won’t spoil all of the surprises by mentioning all of the other characters that you will meet, but just know that the town of Hollow, Montana is full of interesting characters that you will love just as much as the Wheeler family. I thought that the minor characters in Reverie were used to good advantage, but were also more than plot devices. Each character felt fully fleshed out.

Reverie is a character driven romance that pulls you in and keeps you interested until the very last page. I was so thrilled to see Hetty and Isaac again in the follow up to Reverie, Reliance, which will be released October 7th. I hope you will fall in love with Hetty and Isaac as much as I did, and that you also be waiting with bated breath for the next story. 

The Weather Girl Grand Finale

A themed tour with Prism Book Tours

It’s the GRAND FINALE for the April Showers Book Tour for
The Weather Girl by Amy Vastine

Did you enjoy getting to know more about Summer and Travis and their story?
If you missed any of the tour stops, you can go back and check them out now…

4/21 – Tour Launch – Interview
What do you hope readers will take with them when they read your book?
I hope people walk away with the idea that love doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice who you are for someone else. When you follow your heart and your dreams, everything else will fall into place.

4/22
Copywrite1985 – Weather Research
Summer tends to rattle off some pretty obscure weather facts when she’s nervous, so finding interesting tidbits took some time but made me a fan of Mother Nature. The photographs I saw while researching this story blew me away! From Texas hail the size of baseballs to lightning storms in Venezuela, there are some amazing stories out there.

Rhiannon Paille – YA Fantasy Author – Excerpt
“Summer Raines.” She left off her usual “pleasure to meet you.” She was madder than a wet hen but was determined to maintain her composure.

“Summer Raines, the weather girl,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s a good one. Who came up with that name?”

“My parents,” she replied flatly, turning her attention back to the suffering butterfly population. “And my title is meteorologist. Not weather girl.”

Angels With Attitude Book Reviews – Interview
What would you have done differently if you were the main character of your book?
Well, I have to say I love football, so I probably would have been one of those people who were fawning all over Travis in the beginning. In the book, Summer is also into lots of extreme sports. She bungee jumps out of a hot-air balloon. I can tell you I would never in a million years jump out of a perfectly good hot-air balloon if I didn’t have to. I hate the feeling that comes with free falling!

4/23
Mel’s Shelves – Review
“This is a fun, clean read!…I haven’t read a Harlequin in years, but this is now the second book I’ve read in the Harlequin Heartwarming line in the last couple of months and it won’t be the last. I love this clean line of romances and look forward to reading more!”

The Bookish Fairy – Character Description: Summer
What I love about Summer is the amazing way her brain works. She has so much information in her head related to the weather, she can spout of facts at any given time. Of course, she sometimes sees it more as a curse than a blessing. Until Travis Lockwood comes to town. Travis is the first person to show some interest in what she has to say. No wonder she falls for him – who doesn’t love a guy who actually listens to you?

4/24
Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
What are you working on right now?
I just submitted my second manuscript and am working on my third. These are two of three books I have been contracted to write for Harlequin Heartwarming . They’re part of series set in Chicago about three sisters, who each find love in the most unexpected places. THE BETTER MAN is set for release in September. THE BETTER PLAN is scheduled for February 2015 and THE BETTER FIGHT is due sometime in fall of 2015.

Getting Your Read On – Review
“There sure are plenty of bumps along the way. Like I said before, I love Travis. He is the one that made this book great for me. This was a fun, romantic read. A kick back and relax sort of book.”

Cherry Mischievous – Excerpt
“I don’t control the weather, I just predict it.” She turned her attention back to her monitor. Her soft-looking curls fell down like a curtain, shielding her face from him. He wanted to reach out and push them behind her ear so he could see those cheeks, those eyes. Her eyes really were amazing. They were big and blue like the Texas sky…

4/25
Brooke Blogs – Character Description: Travis
What I love about Travis is his pure heart. There isn’t a mean bone in this guy’s body. He’s been fortunate and lived a charmed life up until now but still has a wonderful humbleness about him. In fact, sometimes he can be darn right self-deprecating. But he’s strong physically and emotionally. Strong enough to make the tough choices when he needs to.

4/27
Tressa’s Wishful Endings – Review
“Overall, this was pretty much a perfect romance. It’s light and heavy in all the right places. There’s tension and some sweet kisses and some difficult choices that these characters had to make. It all comes together in the end and left me with that happy-ever-after feeling that I love. I would definitely recommend it to romance lovers everywhere!”

Seasons of Humility – Review
“With clever characterization, relevant conflicts, and an ending that is adorable and absolutely perfect for the story, The Weather Girl is a sunny read for a rainy day. Harlequin Heartwarming at its finest!”

4/28
Kindle and Me – Excerpt
Summer sat up on her elbows. Just then, water shot out of the in-ground sprinkler, hitting her with a force she couldn’t have expected.

They both jumped up as the entire field came to life, showering the dried-up grass and the two friends with shockingly cold water. Travis protected his camera and ran for the track. The old groundskeeper shouted at the younger man, who must have accidentally turned the system on. He was now oblivious because of the music being pumped into his ears.

Instead of running, Summer stood in the middle of the field and laughed. Once she got used to it, the cool water felt nice. She lifted her arms and tilted her face up to the sky. She closed her eyes and spun around as if dancing in the rain like when she was little…

Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – The Book Cover
Since this is an April showers book blog tour and rain makes me think of umbrellas, I thought it would be fun to talk about the cover of the book. First, you should know that Harlequin authors don’t have too much say in what their cover will look like. We provide information to the art department regarding characters, setting, and some key scenes. However, it is the talented group over there then takes that info and creates the cover art.

JRRichardson Fics – Review
“She’s perky and driven. He’s broken and sexy. And there are not many writers that can pull off giving me heart fail and swelly hearts and steamy scenes without one ounce of sex in their story. Amy is one of those who can. She doesn’t need it either. The banter between these two is just one of the things I love about it. Their tender moments as they get to know each other are another.”

4/29
Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Review
“Naturally, this was the perfect story for me. I love a clean romance that tells the tale of how two people meet and their course to falling in love. It isn’t easy; it isn’t always pleasant; there can be a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions that stand in the way. Take this sweet romance and add weather and it’s the perfect combination.”

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Excerpt
When they were alone and she had no menu to hide behind, Travis continued, with his dimples in full effect. “I think you’ve finally stopped hating me.”

“I never hated you. I tried to hate you, but you’re too likable.” He liked that answer. He liked that answer a lot. “I am, am I?” “Less and less by the minute.”

He wasn’t buying it. “Admit it. You like me.”

“I don’t know. You never return the things you borrow, you drive a pretentious car. The list of reasons not to like you goes on and on.”

“Your umbrella is sitting right by my front door. I never remember it because it hasn’t rained in weeks.”

“Don’t make me come get it,” she warned.

He laughed. “You aren’t as scary as you used to be, Weather Girl.”

The Written Adventure – Interview
1) What is your favorite thing about writing?
What I love most about writing is seeing an idea come to life. Sometimes the original idea is just this one scene or this one character that I love. To be able to take that one piece of the puzzle and put it all together into something rich and full is very satisfying.

4/30
Paulette’s Papers – Spring
The only thing I don’t like, that my heroine in The Weather Girl had the ability to predict thanks to a sort of sixth sense, is rain. I don’t really enjoy grey skies or wet, soggy grass. We have a dog who always finds the mud, no matter how hard we try to keep her away from it. And my weather girl may find tornados thrilling, but I only fear the damage they can do. I will admit that there are some very impressive pictures of tornados out there that I will happily look at from the safety of my computer.

Library of a Book Witch – Excerpt
“I should go inside,” Summer said for the twentieth time. She kept saying it, but never actually got out of the car. Not that he minded. He was waiting for the perfect moment to kiss her goodbye. He’d have to initiate this time, but he couldn’t help being smug that she had kissed him first, as he had predicted.

“Thanks for driving,” she said.

“You’re welcome.” He reached out and squeezed her hand, afraid they were getting close to really saying goodbye. His thumbs brushed the soft skin on the back of her hand as he tried to remind himself it would be wrong to kidnap her from her grandparents’ driveway.

“I should go,” she said again. He didn’t want her to go. He wanted to keep her forever…

5/1
The Wonderings of One Person – Top Ten Weather/Football Movies
I thought since the book is about a weather girl and a former football quarterback, it would be fun to share my list of the top ten weather-related/football movies with everyone. Maybe you’ll find something you can rent for next Friday night!

My Love for Reading Keeps Growing – Review
“This is such a sweet story of finding friendship that can turn to true love. Those are my favorite kinds of love stories. I enjoy when there is more to the relationship than the “insta” love. Travis and Summer connected as friends before they truly allowed themselves to be connected in a real relationship.”

I Am A Reader – How Amy Became an Author
I have been dabbling in writing as a hobby for about nine years. It started as a way for me to organize my thoughts and daydreams. I am a dreamer. I can entertain myself for hours by telling myself stories in my head. Music inspires me and drives a lot of the plots in there.

5/2
Lola’s Reviews – Review
“The Weather Girl is a sweet story and I really enjoyed it. Once I picked it up I didn’t want to stop reading, it was addictive and I just wanted to read more about the two awesome characters. Ir’s a sweet and heartwarming story about finding love and finding your dream.”

Deal Sharing Aunt – Excerpt
“Summer, we love you,” Mimi said, taking hold of her hands. “We want you to be happy. Tell me this job with Ryan won’t make you happy.”

“It will and it won’t.” She couldn’t ignore the way her heart ached when she imagined telling Travis about the other job. It would have been hard enough to leave her grandparents, but Summer had to go and fall in love with a man who had broken down all of her walls so effortlessly.

“Any of this indecision have to do with that mighty fine looking man who’s walking your dog with Big D right now?”

Summer shrugged, unable to speak around the lump in her throat. Maybe it had more to do with Travis than she wanted to admit.

The Weather Girl
by Amy Vastine
Clean Adult Contemporary Romance
January 1st 2014 by Harlequin

Turbulence is in their forecast.

Summer Raines knows when it’s going to rain. She can feel it. That’s why the local weather girl’s so good at her job. Too bad she couldn’t have foreseen the tumultuous arrival of Travis Lockwood, everybody’s favorite star NFL quarterback. Make that former star NFL quarterback. Sidelined back to Texas after an injury, the golden boy is trying to steal her precious on-air time. Summer is reduced to reporting from…football games. It’s enough to make her quit and become a storm-chaser like her parents. She’s stuck with a career that’s going nowhere and a man who delights in her refusal to be charmed. Falling in love isn’t nearly as easy as predicting the weather.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Harlequin

 

Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read.In September of 2012, she saw a tweet about Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. She entered, hoping for nothing more than a little feedback from some people in the business. Amazingly, The Weather Girl made it into the semi-finals, thanks to the many wonderful voters out there! The manuscript didn’t make it to the finals, but the editors over Harlequin were still interested. A few revisions later and The Weather Girl was contacted for publication with Harlequin Heartwarming – a dream come true!Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter

Tour-Wide Giveaway

– Grand Prize: $25 Amazon gift card, red umbrella, signed copy of THE WEATHER GIRL, umbrella bookmark, and decorative box (US Only)
– 5 ebooks of The Weather Girl (INT)
– April 21 – May 11

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Are you a blogger and want to receive information about new tours? Go HERE.
Are you an author or publisher and would like to have us organize a tour event? Go HERE.

The Weather Girl Blog Tour!!!

A themed tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to my stop for the April Showers Book Tour for

The Weather Girl

by Amy Vastine

The Weather Girl

The Weather Girl
by Amy Vastine
Clean Adult Contemporary Romance
January 1st 2014 by Harlequin

Turbulence is in their forecast.

Summer Raines knows when it’s going to rain. She can feel it. That’s why the local weather girl’s so good at her job. Too bad she couldn’t have foreseen the tumultuous arrival of Travis Lockwood, everybody’s favorite star NFL quarterback. Make that former star NFL quarterback. Sidelined back to Texas after an injury, the golden boy is trying to steal her precious on-air time. Summer is reduced to reporting from…football games. It’s enough to make her quit and become a storm-chaser like her parents. She’s stuck with a career that’s going nowhere and a man who delights in her refusal to be charmed. Falling in love isn’t nearly as easy as predicting the weather.

 

Amy VastineAmy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read.
In September of 2012, she saw a tweet about Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. She entered, hoping for nothing more than a little feedback from some people in the business. Amazingly, The Weather Girl made it into the semi-finals, thanks to the many wonderful voters out there! The manuscript didn’t make it to the finals, but the editors over Harlequin were still interested. A few revisions later and The Weather Girl was contacted for publication with Harlequin Heartwarming – a dream come true!
Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.
Tour-Wide Giveaway

– Grand Prize: $25 Amazon gift card, red umbrella, signed copy of THE WEATHER GIRL, umbrella bookmark, and decorative box (US Only)
– 5 ebooks of The Weather Girl (INT)
– April 21 – May 11

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prism Book Tours
Are you a blogger and want to receive information about new tours? Go HERE.
Are you an author or publisher and would like to have us organize a tour event? Go HERE.

Review & Interview: His Hometown Girl by Karen Rock

Today I’m participating in a book tour for His Hometown Girl by Karen Rock.

His Hometown GirlThe Summary: Jodi Lynn Chapman will do anything to get the best care possible for her autistic son. After her husband abandoned them, her son Tyler has become mute. She’s relieved when a spot opens at a prestigious school that can help Tyler, but is staggered by the astronomical fees. On her current salary, she can’t afford the tuition. Worse, her ex-husband is seeking to reduce his child support payments. When her boss offers her an opportunity for a large raise and bonus that will pay for her son’s schooling, she takes it–even though it means returning to her hometown, and the man she left behind, Daniel Gleason.

Daniel is the main opposition against Jodi’s company’s attempts to buy up the dairy farms in his hometown. He is convinced that the local farms can and together in a co-op and keep their farms in their families, not run by a big corporation. Neither Jodi nor Daniel is willing to back down, yet neither can deny there’s still an attraction between them. The longer Jodi stays in Cedar Bay, the less she wants to leave behind the people she grew up with and the man who is worming his way into her heart again. Will Jodi get the business she came for, or the love she and her son truly need?

The Review: I loved His Hometown Girl! Jodi and Daniel are both compelling characters with complex motivations. I understood both of their positions and reasons, which made it all the more difficult as a reader to choose a side. While I knew that Jodi needed to make sales to provide the best care for her son, I understood Daniel was fighting for the only way of life he’d known and for the community he loved. I kept thinking that their had to be a solution where they both could get what they wanted without thoroughly crushing the other, but Ms. Rock did a wonderful job of tossing me to and fro emotionally before getting me to the happily ever after.

The sense of community was also a big factor in my love for this book. The secondary characters that added complications and the ones that supported either Jodi or Daniel (and sometimes both) made this a great read as well. Karen Rock has a talent for wringing every drop of every emotion out of the reader by the time you close the book. You can’t help but fall in love with her characters and feel their plights as if they are your own. This was my first Karen Rock and my first Harlequin Heartwarming, but it won’t be my last for either.

The Interview: I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Rock about her new release, His Hometown Girl. Ms. Rock shares details about her publication journey, writing process, and future projects as well as details about where she got the idea for the book and details about Harlequin’s Heartwarming line.

Tell us about your publication journey.

Hi, Erica! Thank you so much for hosting me on Copywrite 1985 🙂 My publication journey began four years ago when my sister-in-law, Joanne Rock, began encouraging me to write. As she’s a Harlequin writer, I loved bouncing ideas around with her and talking about her career, though I never dared to imagine it was something I could do. Yet, with her encouragement, I wrote most of what I think was a first novel… it was tough to tell since it was such a hot mess! Joanne, however, was kind enough to read the parts that I sent her and encouraged me to keep going. I decided to start another book and finished it! What a thrill. It was an accomplishment that gave me so much confidence until the rejection letters started coming in *sigh*. Still, Joanne believed in me and suggested we write a Young Adult romance series together. Incredibly, we sold it that year, and I had to pinch myself to believe it was true.

 Then, I received a mass email from Joanne’s agent, Barbara Rosenberg, about a new line for Harlequin called Heartwarming. These were to be contemporary love stories that were deeply romantic and tender. My imagination went haywire. I love the raw emotion of YA literature and here, at last, was a line from Harlequin that would allow me to go to the emotional places I love to write in. I wrote Barbara (now my agent as well) and asked her if an idea I’d had might work. She sent it to Senior Editor, Victoria Curran, who asked to see three chapters and, after submitting them, later contacted my agent with a contract offer for my first Harlequin, WISH ME TOMORROW. I now have another contract for four more Heartwarming romances and each story is so special. I can’t wait for them to be available to the public!

What is your writing process, and how is it different when you write adult contemporary versus YA?

I write a detailed synopsis that establishes the internal and external conflicts, the characters, scenes/events where the conflicts escalate, character turning points, the black moment and how it will resolve. That is my blueprint for both YA and adult contemporary romances. The only difference would be that with YA, narrative point of view is usually in the first person and I need to make sure that the character’s voice sounds young, is very engaging, distinct and filters the story completely through her lens rather than the broader view of third person. Adult romance is still usually told through third person narrative. Still, even in third person, I need to make sure the character’s personality and voice shines through J

 For those who aren’t familiar with Heartwarming, how would you characterize the line?

Heartwarming novels are deeply romantic, tender love stories that are considered ‘clean’ or ‘wholesome’ without a faith-based element. They are the kinds of romances you’d be excited to share with your daughter as they’re great examples of what real-life relationships should be. No one is kidnapped on a pirate ship or flown across the world on a millionaire’s jet. These are true-to-life journeys that include secondary conflicts that come from families. I love that Heartwarming novels are longer at 70 to 75,000 words so that we have room to create interesting and nuanced characters whose path to love is high-stakes with a wonderful happily-ever-after.  

 Where did the idea for His Hometown Girl come from?

I spend a lot of time with my amazing, autistic niece, Abbie. She is such a joy to me and I wanted to tell a love story about a single parent raising an autistic child. Sometimes, in certain situations, it’s hard to feel accepted by others when Abbie has trouble controlling herself in public. There is a pressure to make children with special needs fit in and be “normal”. However, I’ve learned that there really is no “normal” and the only people who need to accept Abbie are those that love her. That’s the message behind this love story. Jodi left her hometown, and teenage sweetheart, because she didn’t feel accepted after blaming herself for causing a serious farm accident. Later, when her job requires her to go back home, she must bring her autistic son, Tyler, as well. The more time she spends in Cedar Bay, the more she learns to accept her past, herself as a parent, and to understand that Tyler, who’s been rejected by her ex-husband, only needs her acceptance and the love her former community shows him. I think learning to love and accept yourself is an important step towards finding true love. Jodi thinks she’s going backwards by going home, but she’s actually moving forward, towards the love of her life and a better future for her and Tyler.

 Why did you choose to give the heroine’s son autism?

As the aunt of an autistic child, Abbie, I have a special place in my heart for kids with special needs. They might look or act differently than other children, but inside, they are the same. They want to be loved and accepted, yet so much stands in the way of that. It was important to me to have my heroine, Jodi, be the single parent of an autistic son. She loves her son, but she needs to learn to accept his imperfections instead of feeling like she’s failed him when he can’t do what other kids are able to achieve. Likewise, she needs to accept the mistakes she’s made in her past, rather than run from them as she did when she left her hometown years ago. Tyler teaches her that love is unconditional; it’s given freely without judgment and there is no better person to help her realize this than her autistic son.

What other projects do you have forthcoming?

I have three more books contracted with Harlequin Heartwarming and each is very unique. I can’t wait to share them! I just finished one about two very different people- one’s a dreamer, the other a pragmatist- who team up to create a start-up company designing a dating compatibility app. It’s been a lot of fun trying to answer the question: Can love come with a guarantee?

 What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

They might be surprised that I write Young Adult fiction as well. However, it’s really not such a stretch because, like Heartwarming, YA contemporary tackles some hard issues without sugar-coating anything. I love honesty in writing and YA and Heartwarming allow me to do that.

 Pepsi or Coke?

If it’s diet and cold- it’s all good 🙂

I would like to thank Ms. Rock for the wonderful interview, and Prism Tours for making Copywrite1985 one of their stops. If you enjoyed this feature and/or plan to read His Hometown Girl, feel free to leave a comment!