Bad Love Triangles

I was reading a book recently and found myself irked by the “so-called” love triangle. I’m not comfortable mentioning the name of the book and don’t try to figure it out by looking on my Goodreads “currently reading” list because I did not add it!! While the novel itself was generally entertaining, the love triangle bothered me because one man was written to be the obvious “winner” and the other the clear “loser.” One man was the safe, corporate type and the other was the dangerous, rugged type but the “safe” guy was also “boring”, “controlling” and “selfish” while the dangerous guy was not only sexy but also fiercely protective and a big teddy bear on the inside. Had the safe guy also been drawn as funny, loving and great in bed (and “safe” and “good in bed” are not mutually exclusive), there might have been a real competition, but because the safe guy was not written with any redeeming qualities, I felt gypped of tension. Even if the heroine did not fall in love with the dangerous guy, it was in her best interest to dump the safe guy anyway because he was a jerk. This was not the first novel I had read where one man was written as cold and dispassionate or a liar, making the protagonist’s ultimate choice either obvious from page one or too convenient, and it is sort of pet peeve of mine.

 I’ve often thought about writing a book about a woman who is torn between two men but, if I do, I aim to create two equally attractive contenders (both on the inside and out) for my character’s heart such that readers might actually have opposing views on who is right for her. I want my character to do some heavy lifting to figure out, not who is the better man, but who is the better man for her. I know this will be difficult which might explain why none of the books I’ve written so far (and I’m on my third) feature true love triangles! In my opinion, Emily Giffin did it really well in Love The One Your With between Leo and Andy. While I knew Andy was ultimately the right guy for Ellen, part of me yearned for her to choose Leo. Good ‘ole Boy Andy was not fatally flawed in any way and Leo, while more brooding, was not painted the villain – they were just two very different men vying for the affection of one woman who ultimately followed her heart and made the right choice for her. Movies that did it well, in my opinion, were Sweet Home Alabama and Maid of Honor. While Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama ultimately picked her first love from high school, it wasn’t because her NYC boyfriend played by Patrick Dempsey was phony, selfish or really in love with someone else. Reese’s character chose the man played by Josh Lucas because, in her heart, she knew she’d never stopped loving him. In Maid of Honor, Patrick’s Dempsey’s character ultimately won the heart of the leading lady, but it wasn’t because her betrothed Colin was a jerk, it was because she had loved Tom all along. Fans of The Hunger Games created “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” for a reason – because there was no obvious right or wrong choice; it was a matter of who Catniss deemed to be the better man for her. You know a love triangle is good when there are opposing views – Pacey vs. Dawson (Team Pacey), Peyton vs. Brooke (Team Brooke), Kelly vs. Brenda (team Brenda).

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed novels with predictable or convenient love triangles, but I much prefer riding shotgun on the heroine’s journey as she figures out what she wants rather than being three steps ahead of her because the author has spoon-fed me the answer.

What are your feelings on love triangles? What have been your favorite or least favorite love triangles?

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And the winners are…

In the past two weeks, I have hosted two giveaways for a free e-copy of Just Friends With Benefits.

The first giveaway was in honor of reaching 300 fans on my book’s Facebook page. I’m pleased to announce that the winners of that giveaway are Michele W and Jane Cook.

The second giveaway was part of the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop. The winner of that giveaway is Kassandra.

I will be in touch with the winners by email shortly. Congratulations!  I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.  To everyone else, thank you for participating. I hope you will consider buying my book anyway 🙂 Otherwise stay tuned as I will probably host another giveaway to honor the release of my 2nd book, Planet of the Flakes, later this year.

 

Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012

I have changed a lot in the past 15 or so years. For instance, I’ve switched jobs a few times, added highlights to my naturally jet black hair, had a couple of boyfriends, amended my taste in men (partly because of said boyfriends), become aware of my strengths and weaknesses and more appreciative and forgiving of both respectively and, shockingly, I didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer 15 years ago! One thing that has not changed, however, is my love of books, specifically my addiction to reading “chick-lit”. Since the first books labeled chick-lit hit the stands in the mid-90s, I was hooked and swapped my earlier preference for legal suspense novels and thrillers to the lighthearted, fun books with, at least back then, pastel colored covers. I’ve been a goner ever since the scene in Marian Keye’s hilarious “Watermelon” when Claire Webster exercised on the stairmaster while three sheets to the wind. It doesn’t really matter to me if the plot is centered around a love story, friendship, career etc. as long as I can get lost in the pages and laugh out loud on occasion. What I love most about chick-lit is that for the most part, it is rooted in reality. Sure, it is an exaggerated reality but the conflict and added drama are what make it so much fun to read. I know some women who are in debt due to a shopping addiction but none of them have gotten themselves into the pickles of quite the magnitude of Becky Bloomwood in the “Shopaholic Series.” I also know some women who might have described themselves as “about average” on online dating profiles when “a few extra pounds” was probably more accurate, but as far as I know, none of them created an entirely fake online persona to impress a guy only to be invited to another continent to meet him in person and forced to become that “fake” person like Jemima in Jane Green’s classic novel “Jemima J.” I especially enjoy reading about relatable and sympathetic main characters but, honestly, even if the protagonist is in no way similar to me or my friends and I would likely not be friends with her in a million lifetimes, if she is written with humor and is carefully drawn to exude some vulnerability such that I care about her story and root for her happy ending, for example, Mattie Johns in Tallie Roland’s “The Hating Game”, I will probably enjoy it.

Throughout the years, some aspects of chick-lit have stood the test of time. There are trends in chick-lit that have not been broken, for instance, humor, fast paced and witty dialogue, occasional (or frequent) references to pop culture and, while it is often not the main focus, there is almost always some sort of romantic element. Additionally, in most cases, the heroine is a woman and while there have been a few distractions from that norm, for example, the recently published “The Wedding Beat” by Devan Sipher, “Beginner’s Greek” by James Collins and “Cancelled” by Elizabeth Anne West, it is the exception rather than the rule. Despite certain themes remaining static in the chick-lit genre, with the world constantly evolving, it is natural that the changes extend to what we see in books. I’ve leafed through my voluminous collection of chick-lit novels and noticed many interesting changes in chick-lit over the last 15 or so years:

1. Industry of heroine – In the past, you’d see a lot of main characters climbing the ladder in the world of public relations or publishing, for instance Andrea Sachs in Lauren Weisberger’s “The Devil Wear’s Prada”, Vig Morgan in Lynn Messina’s “Fashionistas”, Jane Rosenal in Melissa Bank’s “Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing” and Jane Greg in Melissa Senate’s “See Jane Date.” In the past few years, I’ve noticed much more variety in our protag’s career choices, for instance, Ellen Dempsey in Emily Giffin’s “Love the One You’re With” is a photographer, Jennifer Hunter in Jessica Brody’s “The Fidelity Files” is an undercover “fidelity” investigator, Cassandra Hanley in Wendy Chen’s “Liar’s Guide to True Love” is a wedding planner and Emily Haxby in Julie Buxbaum’s “The Opposite of Love” is a lawyer.

2. References and themes about reality television – The first wave of chick-lit books hit the market somewhat before reality television exploded. Chick lit books such as “Unscripted” by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz and the aforementioned “The Hating Game” are a testament to the country’s fascination with reality tv.

3. Age of heroine – Years ago, it seemed almost every heroine was in the realm of her 30th year. For example, all three main characters in Lauren Weisberger’s “Chasing Harry Winston” and Marian Keye’s “Last Chance Saloon” , Charlize Edwards in Kim Gruenenfelder’s “A Total Waste of Makeup” and Bridget Jone’s in Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jone’s Diary.” Although there is still no shortage of main characters flirting with 30, over the last five years, we’ve also seen older, although not necessarily more mature heroines, for example, Zoe Tisdale in Erik Atwell’s “Thank you for Flying Air Zoe” is 41, Julia in Sarah Pekkanan’s “Skipping a Beat” is 35, Genie Michaels in Sarah Strohmeyer’s “Sleeping Beauty Proposal” is 36, Pat Keegan in Kathleen Kole’s “Favorable Conditions” is 45 and June Parker in Jill Smolinksi’s “The Next Thing on My List” is 34.

4.Common themes – It used to be that all chick-lit novels incorporated certain themes for example, evil bosses, losing weight, designer shoes and gay male best friends. These days, not so much. The genre of chick-lit has evolved beyond these themes such that the humor and lightheartedness are still there but the motivations of the characters have changed. You tend to see more “laid-back heroines” – for instance there are few designer names dropped by Abby Edwards in the aforementioned “Unscripted”, Savannah Leone in Allie Larkin’s “Stay”, Sydney Shephard in Dina Silver’s “One Pink Line” or Stephanie Cohen, the heroine in my novel, “Just Friends With Benefits.” And there is more focus on the bonds of friendships than over-extended credit cards, for instance “Second Time Around” by Beth Kendrick, “Best Friends Forever” by Jennifer Weiner, “Hope in a Jar” by Beth Harbison and “These Girls” by Sarah Pekkanan.”

5 Technology – Years ago, chick-lit books might have made mention of “the worldwide web” or the “internet” but without major developments in technology, books such as “Save as Draft” by Cavanaugh Lee, “Click-an Online Love Story” by Lisa Becker, “I’ve Got Your Number” by Sophie Kinsella and “Goodnight Tweetheart” by Teresa Medeiros would likely never have been published.

6. Paranormal – Society’s fascination with all things “paranormal” has had an influence on the chick-lit genre with such as novels as Sophie Kinsella’s “Twenties Girls”, Adena Halpern’s “Pinch Me” and “29” and Susan McBride’s, “Little Black Dress.”

As you can see, the past decade and a half has brought with it many changes in the way authors write chick-lit. As a new writer of chick-lit, I am pleased that the road has been paved for fresh material and as an avid reader, I love the variety in the books available to me within the genre. The changes have not swayed me one bit from my favorite genre and I am anxious to see what the next 15 years will bring (with the exception of pesky wrinkles on my face and sprouting grey hairs on my head, of course)!

DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE E-COPY OF JUST FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS!

 Welcome to the inaugural Chick Lit Author Blog Hop! The blog hop will run between May 14th-20th and features 34 amazing writers who have donated their time, talent, and some very special prizes to make this inaugural event a huge success!

Here’s how the blog hop works . . .

Each of the 34 participating authors has written a special Chick Lit-centric piece.  At each blog hop stop, you will have the opportunity to enter to win a FREE Chick Lit e-book from that particular blog’s owner/author. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog post, including your name and e-mail address, and you’re automatically entered to win. If you visit each blog hop stop, that means you have the chance to win 34 different e-books! Please see the list of all of the stops below.

In each of the author’s blog posts, there will be a “secret word.” This word will be italicized, so it will be easy to find. All you have to do is make note of this secret word at each blog hop stop. Collect all 34 secret words and submit your list to CLABlogHop@aol.com before midnight on Sunday, May 20th and you will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing! The winner of this drawing will receive a $150 Sephora gift card! $150 to spend on make-up, fragrance, bath and body goodies, skin care, and hair products! This gift card can be redeemed online, or at any Sephora store in the US.

Winners of each of the participating author’s e-books, as well as the Grand Prize winner of the $150 Sephora gift card will be announced on Monday, May 21st.

Contests are open to citizens of the United States only.

Click here to see the list of other authors participating in the blog hop!

the “I’ve reached 300 fans on Facebook” e-book giveaway!

Back when the Just Friends With Benefits Facebook page had under 250 fans, I made a promise to give away an e-copy of the book when I reached 300 fans. Many months later, I have finally reached my goal and it is time to make good on my promise. But I am going to do it one better – I am going to give away not one, but TWO e-copies of Just Friends With Benefits. To win your copy, I need you to leave a comment below with 1) your email address and 2) a line from your favorite television show theme song, for example, “What might be right for you, might not be right for some” – Different Strokes!

It’s that easy. Oh, and if you could either follow me on Twitter and/or like the Just Friends With Benefits page on Facebook, that would be super.

Unfortunately, this contest is limited to entrants in the United States.

Good luck! And, if you do not win this contest, I am happy to report that I am participating in the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop next week and will be giving away another e-book then.

Please tell your friends!!

My gig as a guest author

I’m waiting for the Bolt Bus to arrive at 34th and 8th to take me to Philadelphia. I am guest author this evening for a chicklit book club and need to commute from NYC. It’s raining and I’m afraid my hair will frizz even though I got a Kerotine treatment that’s supposed to take care of that. It shouldn’t matter what I look like – it’s not a date or anything – but I assume all eyes will be on me and don’t want anyone to say “great book but the author has really bad hair!” Better, I suppose than “lousy book and the author has really bad hair!”

I’m on the bus now and out of the rain. Getting on the bus was not without issue though. In true Meri fashion, I fought with another girl. I thought she was cutting the line and have no tolerance for people with a sense of entitlement. That being said, she wasn’t cutting the line. My bad!

My friend Sharon, who I met years ago through my own chicklit book club in NYC, started her own club in Philly and asked if I would be a guest author tonight. Hello? Exposure? Probable sales? Not to mention that I am a huge fan of book clubs in general. No brainer! That’s not to say I’m not nervous. I am. I’m afraid the book will not be well received. I’m afraid the attendees will be thinking, “who the hell is Meredith Schorr and why are we reading her book? My sister’s best friend’s cousin knows a girl whose step father’s uncle is related to Nora Robert’s hair dresser. Why can’t she come instead?” I’m afraid they will be nice to my face but later confess to hating the book at the June meeting. I’m being paranoid which is not all uncommon for me. Most people have really liked my book and there is no reason to suspect that the members of the Philly group will be different, but they are valid, human concerns nonetheless, right? I didn’t write a speech or anything and hope it will be more of a Q&A. I can’t imagine anyone asking a question I haven’t heard before like, “Is the book autobiographical? How long did it take to write? Was it difficult to get published? But you never know.

I’m off to take a nap now but I’ll continue this after the book club. Wish me luck!

I am now on the Bolt Bus waiting to go back to NYC. This time there was no confrontation with another passenger! I also arrived early and the driver let me take an earlier bus. I am digging Philadelphia! I know what you’re all wondering though- how was the book club?

It was great!

Sharon and I met up early to catch up over dinner and a beer. I needed the latter to calm my nerves! At 7 we climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor of the Triumph Brewery where the book club met. There were tables strewn across the room but Sharon and I pushed two large tables together to make one that would accommodate about 11 of us. Although 20 or so people rsvped “yes”, Sharon said several bailed at the last minute. As the organizer of my own book club, I am used to last minute cancellations and did not take it personally. Besides, I am more comfortable in smaller groups anyway. In total I think there were 12 of us and with the exception of 2, I think everyone actually read the book. They all claimed to have really enjoyed it and since two of them gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, I am tucking away my paranoia that they are just being nice. They all said it was difficult to put down towards the end and I agree, I really hit my stride in the last 100 pages or so. There was some mixed answers as to whether they predicted a major twist – most didn’t but a few did. And then there were the questions. Do I work from an outline? Once I finished the book, what were my next steps? Was Stephanie loosely based on me which, after hearing my ‘”yes” answer lead to questions about how many of the other characters were inspired by my life. There was some serious blushing by me when we discussed the sex scenes and questions were asked about my soon-to-be published book Planet Of The Flakes. And much to my surprise, there were, indeed, questions I hadn’t heard before. For instance, how did I come up with the names of my characters? The answer was that, with a few exceptions, I didn’t put much thought into it at all and whatever name came to me while introducing a new character was the name I chose. Another question was whether I believed it was possible to make a living writing. The answer was that, for a select and lucky few, it was possible. For now and for the foreseeable future, I was not one of those people.

All of the women were so kind and seemed genuinely interested and they were all pretty funny too-like the women in my own book club in New York. As with most casual book clubs, the discussion segued to other topics like movies, other books, reality television and Zac Efron. I think I was the one to bring up Zac. I’m a wee bit infatuated…

 

I had brought customized JFWB bookmarks and as the evening drew to a close, the women asked me to autograph them which was super cool. They had all downloaded an e-version of the book so there were no physical books to sign. I know there is a way to autograph a Kindle download but I think that’s kind of lame and so I haven’t looked into it.

The girls all thanked me for coming and one asked if she could send me pages of a WIP if she decided to start writing and of course I said, “yes.” I love when people ask for advice or guidance. It’s a way to pay it forward.

Sharon’s friend Jen let us stay at her apartment that night and on the drive back, she teasingly referred to me as “the talent.” I could get used to that!

All in all – successful and fun night! Book clubs are such a great way to make new friends and I know if I ever left NYC to live somewhere else, joining or starting a book club would be one of the first things I did!