How I get into my character’s heads

As part of my blog tour for A State of Jane with Chick Lit Plus, I stopped by the lovely Kaley’s Book Etc. blog. Kaley asked me to share my thoughts on how I get into my character’s heads. Read here for my secret. Although it’s not a secret anymore now, is it?

Downton Abbey – Recap of Episode 3

Confession: I’ve never recapped a television show before. I’ve written almost 3 novels, hundreds of blogs, a wealth of book and restaurant reviews, maid of honor toasts, and of course book reports back in school but never a recap of a television show. I’m actually a bit nervous about it! Along with seven other authors/bloggers (Tracie Banister, Laura Chapman, Elizabeth Marx, Cat Lavoie, Jen Tucker, Tracey Livesay and Jenn Coffeen), I agreed to watch Downton Abbey every week and recap one of the episodes.  Watching the show was a no-brainer.  I would have done that anyway.  But I would never have written a blog about the happenings had I not committed to my writer friends.  It is one thing to enjoy a television show and gab about it at the water cooler the following morning but it is another thing entirely to summarize the episode in writing.  Unfortunately, some of the details were lost on me, although I understood the basic gist of what was happening.  That’s always enough for me but hopefully it will be enough for you as well 🙂

Tonight was the 3rd episode of season three and a lot of stuff went down!

In the tragic love story between Anna and Mr. Bates, at the beginning of the episode, Anna is torn up because she hasn’t received any letters from Mr. Bates in a long time.  She puts on a strong face but admits to Mrs. Hughs (who thankfully does not have cancer) that she’s afraid Mr. Bates is being gallant and wanting to set her free.  Back in prison, Mr. Bates is afraid Anna has given up on him because he hasn’t received any letters either.  Although both are heartbroken, it turns out somehow that Mr. Bates had fallen “out of favor” with the powers that be and they had withheld all of the mail in both directions. Somehow he got “back in favor” and at the end of the episode both Anna and Mr. Bates received a batch of mail from the other and are happy once more.  (I’ll be completely honest and admit that I’m not quite sure what went down in the prison scenes because the inmates in the prison all have accents, mumble their words or talk with their mouths full of food and I cannot understand a word they say.  Like I said above, I miss the small details sometimes… Feel free to fill in what I missed in a comment!)

Poor Daisy is in desperate need of another kitchen maid to help out downstairs.  She’s pretty vocal about her frustration, but Mrs. Patmore insists that she’s working on it.  Daisy is also crushing on Alfred and asks William’s dad if he would be okay if she liked another man.  William’s dad (who I adore) promises Daisy that he would never want her to be alone for the rest of her life.  Daisy is about to confide her feelings to Alfred when Mrs. Patmore interrupts to introduce them to the new kitchen maid, pretty Ivy Stewart, who immediately catches Albert’s eye.  Oh poor Daisy, be careful what you wish for!

There’s a new footman in town! His name is Jimmy “James” Kent and he’s kind of a cutey pie, if not a little cocky. I immediately guessed that Thomas would be attracted to him and, sure enough, that fact became very clear when Thomas checked out his bare chest and offered to assist him in “any way.” There was some competition for the footman position but when Mr. Carson told Mary that the girls (and Thomas…) preferred Jimmy to the other candidate, Mary urged Mr. Carson to hire him to cheer up the maids since “Alfred looks like a puppy who’s been rescued from a puddle.”  Since Mr. Carson always listens to Mary, Jimmy got the job and even Violet gave him the appreciative once-over when he was introduced to the family!


Sybil mysteriously disappeared and hung up the telephone on Edith after talking about being “out of the flat” and “no one had stopped her.”  Tom showed up at Downton drenched and when Mary asked him about Sybil, he said he could only tell the family after the guests had gone home, adding to the mystery.  Later he confessed that he and Sybil were involved in the burning of a castle (similar to Downton) and he ran away to escape the police. While most of the family was (rightfully) up in arms that he would a) burn down someone else’s house) and b) leave his pregnant wife behind in a place that was not her home to save his own ass, Violet commented that the castle was hideous anyway.  Robert agreed to go to London to try to straighten things out and while he was away, Sybil returned safely.  Later, Robert sent a telegram that neither Sybil nor Tom were to leave Downton and when he returned home, he advised that the two of them would be safe as long as they did not step foot in Ireland ever again.  Tom was not happy as he wanted his child to be born in Dublin.  In bed, Sybil told Tom that she wanted to stay in Downton where they would be safe from harm.  Tom kissed her and didn’t argue, but it was obvious he wasn’t convinced.  If the past is in any indication of the future, Tom will get them into more serious trouble before this storyline is put to rest.  (Like the prison storyline, I confess to not really understanding all of the political details here.  I tend to see the forest and lose some of the trees.  I suppose I could research it more carefully, but I just don’t want to. Sorry!)

In the storyline no one really cares about, Ethel Parks, i.e. single mother prostitute, has decided to hand over her son Charlie to his grandparents despite Isobel’s multiple offers to help her get her life back on track.  It turns out Mr. Briant already knew that Ethel has become a hooker (and yes, he’s judging her) but he loves Charlie and is happy to raise him. Although I didn’t really care for this storyline, I choked up when Ethel watched the car drive away with the Briants and her adorable son. 

Poor Edith is still heartbroken after being left at the altar.  The family thinks she needs to keep busy and Violet insists that she “stop whining and find something to do” (although nothing as desperate as gardening.)  Following in Sybil’s feminist footsteps, Edith decided to write an article on women’s rights and send it to the newspaper.  This did not go over very well with the family except for Matthew who expressed his support.

Speaking of Matthew, it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to hear what he has to say.  He wants to have a baby but Mary doesn’t seem too keen.  He was also asked to look through the financial books of Downton since he is responsible for saving it, but when he finally gets around to it, no one wants his opinion on how it is being mismanaged – not Robert who quickly changes the subject whenever it comes up and not Mary who doesn’t want there to be conflict between Matthew and her father.  The only one who will listen to him is Violet but in a rare turn of events, she has no real advice to offer.

I think that about covers it!  Don’t forget to tune in next Monday when Tracie Banister recaps episode 4.  Knowing Tracie the way I do, I promise she will not miss any of the small details like I did!

Girly Books Blog Hop – location!

girly book promo with prize info FINAL

Congratulations to Kimberly Holgate – winner of the gift card for $5!  The winner has been informed and the prize has been delivered.  Thanks to everyone for participating and see you next time!

I am so excited to be participating in the 2nd ever Girly Books Blog Hop!Thank you to Libby Mercer for organizing yet another fabulous blog hop, this time on location, location, location.  Please read for your chance to win a $5.00 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  And don’t forget to read the posts of the other authors and bloggers for chances to win even more prizes and a fabulous grand prize!

What inspired me to write A State of Jane was my experience dating in New York City.  I have a boyfriend now but at the time, I was single and one after another, guys who seemed to be completely smitten with me would simply disappear.  Sometimes it was easy to figure out what happened, for instance, when the guy came on super strong, was oozing with charm and then never called me again when I refused to go home with him.  Other times, I was completely thrown.  Like the time a guy disappeared in the middle of an email exchange.  We had gone out several times and I thought we got along famously but once I confessed that I preferred Mr. Furley to Mr. Roper as the landlord on the television show Three’s Company, he ceased our email exchange and never asked me out again.  I didn’t hear from him until years later when he asked to connect with me on Linkedin of all places!  Another guy pulled a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on me in the middle of New Year’s Eve.  Yes, he was all touchy-feely and excited about ringing in the New Year with me at 11:59pm on December 31, 2007 but by 2:00am on January 1, 2008, he was more interested in his buddy at the sports bar he took me to after dinner.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the guy I was dating for a couple of months who made me breakfast at his place after a sleepover, showed me the home movies of his students practicing for crew, took a nice leisurely walk around the lake and waited with me for an hour after I missed my train, only to never call me again as well as ignore my phone call and email to him.  Not only did he lack the decency to initiate a “break-up”, he couldn’t even locate the balls to respond to an email I sent asking him if everything was ok.  If he didn’t want to see me anymore, he could have lied and written an email saying he was too busy with school to date.  That would have at least been an attempt to spare my feelings, but no, it was like I ceased to exist and it hurt.  I wasn’t in love with the guy but I felt so violated and, well, stupid!  I cried for days.

As mostly anyone who has been single for a significant period of time can tell you, dating in NYC is brutal.  I’m sure it is brutal elsewhere but NYC is a whole other type of brutal.  So, when I decided to write about a naïve woman who dives head first into the dating scene after a long term relationship, all optimistic and expecting to meet the love of her life, only to find an island full of men who are interested today and gone tomorrow, the location was a no-brainer – New York City – or as I like to call it “The planet of the flakes.”


In A State of Jane, there are many mentions of New York being a difficult place to find “the one.”  Without giving any spoilers, I thought I would share some of these lines with you:

“Yes, Manhattan is full of eligible bachelors.  Eligible bachelors who are looking to get laid, unemployed, not interested, or gay!”

“I’d like to know the reason God put all the asshole single guys on the island of Manhattan!  They are only good for one thing, some of them better than others.”

“I think normal has a different definition when it comes to guys in New York City. There are so many girls here that for guys it’s like eating at a Chinese buffet.  They want to sample everything.”

“I got him unjaded.  Unlike some of these others New York City guys.”

“I’d heard that New York City girls were a ruthless bunch but, blimey, I wasn’t expecting it from you.”  (Yes, sometimes we ladies are pretty messed up too….)

He just faded into oblivion – like every other guy I dated before him since my reentrance into the dating world. I didn’t think my mom would understand behavior like that was par for the course in New York City, especially since three guys flaked on me before I wised up.

“Not as difficult as finding a husband.”  I pointed out the window of the bus. “Especially in this Godforsaken city!”

“It’s because of the men in this city!  You dump us when we don’t sleep with you.  You dump us when we DO sleep with you.  And sometimes, you dump us for no reason at all!”

True that!

For a chance to win a $5.00 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, please leave a comment with your email address and the city you think is the best place to fall in love.  And don’t forget to check out all of the other participating blogs!

Click here to enter the grand prize and to continue hopping:

The Future of Chick Lit

As part of the A State of Jane blog tour with Chick Lit Plus, I was asked by the lovely Isabella “Chick Lit Goddess” Anderson to write my thoughts on the Future of Chick Lit. There have been whispers that “chick lit is dead”. Do you think I am in agreement? Here’s a hint, I have published two novels which clearly fall in the definition of “chick lit” within the past three years and am in the process of editing a third. Read more here:

Casting of A State of Jane

As part of the A State of Jane blog tour with Chick Lit Plus, I wrote a blog about who would I cast as the starring and secondary roles if Hollywood came a calling:

As I write a book, unlike many authors, I do not picture actors as my characters. I picture real people.

Read more here:

Jane Frank’s New Year’s Resolutions 2013

As part of the A State of Jane blog tour with CLP Blog Tours, I was asked to write a guest post on Jane Frank’s New Year’s Resolutions. From studying daily for the LSAT to being nicer to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, read on and decide for yourself if you think Jane will be able to keep up with these resolutions or if she will give up by Friday Happy Hour!

Downton Pre-Premiere Q&A and Giveaway


In honor of the third season of Downton Abbey, which I have been awaiting anxiously ever since the last episode of Season 2, I have gotten together with 8 other authors/bloggers to pay homage to one of our favorite shows!  The 8 of us have answered 10 questions relating to the show. 

Please see below for your chance to win a copy of To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace simply by sharing your own answers to our questions on our blog (giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only and runs until midnight Thursday, January 10th. Winner will be announced on January 11th.):

To Marry an English Lord:

From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles–just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details–plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette–To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.


Without further ado, our questions:

     1.         You’re planning a dinner party for the Downton crew – who would be No. 1 on your invite list?

I would choose Lady Sybil Crawley Branson.  I find her rebellious spirit to be admirable (and often humorous) and I would probably invite a more conservative guest or even a blatant male chauvinist just to facilitate a passionate debate at the table.  I loved the way Sybil fiercely supported Gwen’s desire to move on from her housemaid duties at Downton to become a secretary.  Perhaps that supportive nature would lend itself to telling her family and all of their friends about my books!  Finally, I must admit to having a slight girl crush – she’s beautiful. 

     2. Whose closet will you raid before the party?

Lady Mary for sure.  Her wardrobe includes some pretty sexy dresses and they show more skin than the dresses her sisters wear.   I wasn’t a fan of Sybil’s harem pants…

    3.  Once your guests have arrived who are you most likely to flirt with?

Matthew Crawley.  Hopefully I can get to him before he marries Mary or perhaps I can convince him that I am Mary since I also go by the name “Meri”. 

   4. Who will you likely smack before the dessert course?

O’Brien – She’s such a malicious, conniving wench! When she tripped Bates in the first season, I wanted to smack her, but that would be a lot more fun to do while her mouth is full of food!  I prefer not to invite her at all but the opportunity to do a little physical harm is a small incentive. 

  5. Let’s adjourn to the drawing room for some not-so-polite conversation: What’s your theory on Patrick Gordon aka The Bandaged Man?  Impostor or legitimate Crawley?

I tend to be extremely trusting; overly trusting, in fact, until I am proven otherwise (and often hurt in the process).  As a result, my initial reaction to The Bandaged Man was that he was the real Patrick Gordon.  My instinct is to believe that he is Lady Edith’s one true love and that she will agree to marry Sir Anthony Strallan only for Patrick to return with proof of his identity mere seconds after “I dos” are exchanged.  That’s totally what would happen on General  Hospital!

In actuality, I’m pretty certain The Bandaged Man was a greedy imposter trying to get his hands on the Crawley fortune 🙂.

   6. How about Bates?  Did he do it?  Could he do it?  If not, who killed Vera?

Here goes my trusting nature again, but I do not believe that Bates murdered his ex-wife for one second!  I think he is more than capable of killing someone in order to defend  himself and the people he loves, but I do not believe he is capable of murder despite the wretched behavior of his ex-wife. 

My thoughts?  I believe that Thomas murdered Vera because he could not stand that Bates not only held his coveted position but was also happy and in love with Anna.  Unlike Bates, I absolutely believe that Thomas is capable of pre-meditated murder. I do not think that O’Brien was a part of or privy to his plan because, while I cannot stand her, I do not think she is capable of murder.  I do feel that Thomas will eventually confide in her and she will keep his secret.  Or perhaps in a rare display of good judgment and kindness, she will report what she knows and help free Bates.  Yeah, right. 

   7. Favorite quip from The Dowager Countess

Oh my, there are so many but this one made me laugh out loud:

Dowager Countess of Grantham: “You are quite wonderful, the way you see room for improvement wherever you look.  I never knew such reforming zeal.”

Isobel Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”

Dowager Countess:  “I must have said it wrong.”

  8.  Favorite Downton Spoof –

I love this one from Stephen Colbert.  The comedian’s parody, titled “Breaking Abbey,” shows the “Downton Abbey” characters cooking meth in their English estate and fighting drug lords in the desert.—breaking-abbey

   9. Now you’ve done it! You’ve landed a guest spot on the show.  What is your storyline?

Well, I would definitely want to be a socialite so that I could wear the pretty period clothes.  The staff has such a limited wardrobe.  How about the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Grantham from a romance he had before his arranged marriage to Cora?  After her mother’s early death, she comes to wreak havoc on her “dead beat dad” and try to get her hands on the Crawley fortune, perhaps through blackmail.  Either Mary and Sybil will find out and get her thrown out on her ass or she will develop a true relationship with her sisters, win the approval of father and even Cora and they will welcome her into their home.  I prefer the latter option as it allows for a permanent role on the show!   

  10. What would you like to see happen in series three.

Mary and Matthew will get married!  Bates will be freed and he and Anna will be allowed at least a brief reprieve from the constant misfortune that seems to follow them.  O’Brien and Thomas will continue their hijinks and cause problems for everyone on the staff but basically chase their own tails and get nowhere closer to reaching their goals of higher positions and respect in the household.  And I think a mysterious, gorgeous woman should show up at the mansion claiming to be the Earl’s first born daughter!

For your chance to win a copy of To Marry an English Lord, please comment with your answer to question 10 – WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAPPEN IN SEASON 3?  And for extra chances to win, please visit the other blogs below and share your answer to the specified question.

Tracie Banister:

Laura Chapman:

Jen Coffeen:

Jenny Gardiner:

Cat Lavoie:

Tracey Livesay:

Elizabeth Marx:

Jen Tucker:

Also, if you are planning on watching the premiere on Sunday, January 7th please join us for a fun, interactive Twitter chat (#DowntonGala).  Finally, please follow our blogs every Monday during Season 3, where one of the participating authors will be posting a recap of that week’s episode.  


Happy viewing!