Administrative Professionals Day excerpt and giveaway!

Happy Administrative Professionals Day to all the lovely Administrative Professionals! I hope your bosses buy you flowers, take you out to lunch, or both because you deserve it! (Unless you do nothing all day except read at your desk, write blog posts, and peruse Facebook and Twitter.)

Kim, the main character in my novel, Blogger Girl, is a legal secretary. Her relationship with her boss, Rob, is quite *interesting* – they constantly bicker but they share a fondness for each other and a mutual respect. To honor Administrative Professionals Day, I thought I’d share a scene from Blogger Girl focused on Kim’s relationship with Rob. At the end of the excerpt are instructions for entering a contest to win your choice of Just Friends with Benefits, A State of Jane, or Blogger Girl in either (1) signed paperback (limited to the U.S.) or (2) electronic format, for you or a friend:

     At both firms where I had worked with Rob, whenever our group took someone in the department out for his or her birthday, one of us (usually me) had to slickly tell the waiter. And then the birthday boy or girl had to pretend to be surprised when the waiter brought over a piece of birthday cake and we all started singing “Happy Birthday.”  After I tracked down our waiter, I went to the bathroom, ran a brush through my hair and reapplied my lip gloss. When I returned to the table, all of the plates had been removed.
      Rob cleared his throat. “Now that my right hand is back, I’d like to make an announcement.”
     Another one of Rob’s famous announcements. I chuckled and glanced at David. He gave me a knowing look and flashed me a wide grin. I covered my mouth with my hand in an effort not to laugh.
     “What’s so funny, Long?” Rob asked accusingly.
     I bit my lip and looked at Rob with wide eyes. “Absolutely nothing. Unless you’re gonna tell us about the time the electricity went out during your trial and even the backup generators didn’t work. And how the lights went back on just as someone from the other side was about to abscond with your exhibits, and your junior associate was held in contempt of court for wrestling him to the ground. That’s a funny story.” I paused dramatically. “No matter how many times you tell it.”
      Rob calmly nodded at me with his lips pursed. “Okay then. Well, I was going to thank my lovely assistant for organizing a wonderful 29th birthday lunch for me. But since my assistant isn’t lovely and it’s my 54th birthday, I think I’ll skip the thank you and announce that I’ve hired a lateral associate who will be starting next week.”
      I jerked my head back in surprise. I was generally kept in the loop on these things, especially since I was usually responsible for scheduling interviews, yet this was the first I’d heard of a new hire. “What’s his name?”
     “Her name is Daneen. She’s a third year coming to us from Cravath. Solid background in trademark litigation. She’ll be working closely with Nicholas on the Soap case.”
      I looked over at Nicholas to see his reaction to this new information but he was nodding at Rob and didn’t look at all surprised. Then he looked my way and winked.
     When our eyes locked, I felt my body flood with warmth and forced myself to look away. I still had no idea what the previous weekend had meant to him and I was trying to pretend I didn’t care either way. Even though I did. Of course. I turned to David. “How are the wedding plans coming along?”
      His cheeks glowing, David said, “Amy is already looking into venues. I wanted us to enjoy being engaged for a while before getting too caught up in wedding plans, but she’s so excited that I’m just letting her run with it.”
      “That’s so cool! We should get drinks or something to celebrate one night.” Although I was genuinely happy for David and his upcoming nuptials, I couldn’t shake off a feeling of discomfort about Rob hiring Daneen without even telling me. In all of the years we’d worked together, Rob had made me feel like an important member of his team, telling me all the big news before almost anyone else, but suddenly I felt like an outsider, a measly secretary.

To win a signed paperback or e-copy of any one of my novels, please share your favorite AND least favorite thing about your boss. If  you are the boss, share your favorite and least favorite thing about your assistant or “right hand.”  If you are self-employed, what is your favorite and least favorite aspect of that. I promise not to divulge any secrets 🙂 You do not have to be an administrative professional to participate! Please also leave the email address where I can contact you about the prize, which will be randomly selected. Giveaway will end on May 4th. Paperback option limited to the U.S. 

Like to party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.

 

The books:

Blogger Girl: What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out. With her blog “Pastel is the New Black” Kim works tirelessly to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead.” Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm. While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads—and pages—a cross the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox—for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

A State of Jane: Jane Frank is ready to fall in love.

It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm.

There’s just one problem: All the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation.

Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who’ve scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.

Just Friends with Benefits: When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie’s college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened thirteen years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70’s and 80’s television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie’s pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters.

my hair through the ages

I spent three and a half hours at the beauty salon today getting my hair cut and highlighted. I have a lot of difficulty sitting still for more than an hour at a time (or perhaps it’s a slight case of ADD) but thanks to wine and The Rosie Project, I managed to get through the day without losing my sanity and, more importantly, a stylist. Saki has been doing my hair for over a decade and it’s been about a decade since my hair started looking good. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

While I was sitting in the chair, I reflected on my hair styles of years gone by and I thought it might be fun (and a little bit humiliating) to share some of them with you.  At the outset, I confess that with a few exceptions, I have not been all that adventurous with my hair. Once I was old enough to demand that my mother stop whispering, “cut it short” in the stylist’s ear without my knowledge, I always kept my hair long. The most common variant was “bangs” or “no bangs.”

Classic "Pebbles" - cute, right?

Classic “Pebbles” – cute, right?

Long and tangled...

Long and tangled…

"The little boy" cut Short hair cut after my mom lost patience combing through my knots

“The little boy” Short hair cut after my mom lost patience combing through my knots

Dorothy Hamill

Dorothy Hamill

Farah Fawcett feathers (attempted but did not quite succeed)

Farah Fawcett feathers (attempted but did not quite succeed)

High School – I became a teenager in the mid 1980s, but unlike most of my peers, I never had big hair

High School – I became a teenager in the mid 1980s, but unlike most of my peers, I never had big hair

 

college: bangs

college: bangs

college: no bangs

college: no bangs

early twenties

early twenties

Mid twenties - the "blonde" year... I didn't have more fun,

Mid twenties – the “blonde” year… I didn’t have more fun,

late twenties. Between the tiny bangs and the blonde thing, the twenties were my worst hair decade (so far).

late twenties. Between the tiny bangs and the blonde thing, the twenties were my worst hair decade (so far).

 

my 30th birthday party - still with the tiny bangs...

my 30th birthday party – still with the tiny bangs…

 

Enter good hair (thanks to Saki)...

Enter good hair (thanks to Saki)…

Blow-out for first BookBuzz.

Blow-out for first BookBuzz.

Selfie taken today after hair cut. A bit short but healthy.

Selfie taken today after hair cut. A bit short but healthy.

 

Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with me. I think I’m proof that the twenties are not necessarily the best decade – at least in terms of appearance :).

For Better or Worse

A common characteristic supposedly shared by those born under the Capricorn astrological sign is that they do not like change. While I do not necessarily believe that everyone born within the same horoscope has the same general personality traits, I am a Capricorn and I abide by the cliche, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

For example, I don’t like when a colleague I like and am used to working with resigns from my company to be employed elsewhere, leaving me to forge a fresh relationship with someone else. I don’t like when a close friend moves across the country, thereby changing the dynamic of our relationship. I don’t like when my law firm changes health insurance, when a favorite author changes her writing style, when a television show breaks up my favorite couple to hook them up with other people, when my publisher makes me change the title of my book, when an appliance breaks and I need to get used to a new one. In a nutshell, if I’m in my groove, I do not see the need to shake things up.

That’s not to say that I do not like spontaneity. If a friend asks me for last-minute drinks, I’m cool with it. I’ve swiftly booked vacations based on a friend’s recommendation with little or no research of my own. I can (and do) make impulse purchases of expensive handbags and shoes. It’s not the introduction of new things that I shy away from; it’s the fear that the new won’t be as good as the old. Each time I finish a novel and it gets positive feedback, I worry that my readers won’t like my next book as much. I worry that a new man in my life won’t be as good to me as the one before. I worry that I won’t be able to figure out how to use my new laptop to do the things it took me ages to figure out on the old one.

The good news is that despite my stubborn fear and avoidance of change, I somehow always manage to assimilate, usually quickly. I often sell myself short in terms of what I can/cannot accomplish and I don’t always give others the credit they deserve for knowing when change is actually a good thing.

It was recently brought to my attention that a change had taken place with respect to my publisher— a shift in my team that will affect my individual writing/marketing/publishing process from what it has been for almost a year. Funny, because I had just been thanking my lucky stars that my team was so in sync and I predicted how smoothly the production of my fourth novel would be. Perhaps I should have knocked wood or something. I was upset about the change but before I had barely 24 hours to wallow, my publisher got in touch with me and made it clear that they want me to be happy and will be working with me to ensure that all of my needs are met. I was grateful for the swift reassurance and personal attention, and I am going to trust that they know what they are doing. I will also keep the faith that I can embrace these changes like the professional I am. Change can be scary and admittedly,  I still don’t like it very much when I’m happy with the status quo. But “change” doesn’t have to mean better or worse—it could just mean “different.”

Just between us, I’m hoping for better :).

 

Finishing

I’ve always had a bittersweet reaction to finishing something. On the one hand, I am proud of completing a project I started, but on the flip side, I am often sad at the prospect of moving on to something new.

I own a Roku device for my television set and with it, I am able to watch old television shows that are no longer on the air. Most recently, I started watching Lost. Within one episode, I was completely hooked. I would spend rainy Saturdays on my couch viewing back-to-back episodes. When first-run shows were airing repeats, I would watch an episode of Lost instead. Before I knew it, I was beginning the sixth (and final) season. When it hit me that I only had five episodes remaining, I was beside myself and made it a point to spread out my viewing over as long a period of time as possible. I refused to watch more than one episode in a single viewing, if another show I had even the tiniest desire to watch was airing, I would postpone watching another episode of Lost to watch that show instead. But, at last, I couldn’t put it off any longer and I watched the final episode of the series on Saturday—not before watching the pilot episode of the series one more time. Saying goodbye to Jack, Sawyer(especially Sawyer), Kate, Hugo, Sayed, Jin, Sun and even John Locke, was very emotional as was reuniting with some of the original characters like Boone and Shannon.

My mixed emotions towards finishing things do not only apply to television, but to completing my novels. Saturday was a big day for me, not only because I watched the last-ever episode of Lost, but because I wrote the final chapter of my fourth novel (title to be disclosed at a later date). Although I have to go back and fill in some holes in the manuscript before I can truly say that I am finished with the first draft, writing the final scene—the final sentence—had a tremendous physiological effect on my mood and I almost cried. In fact, I wanted to cry. I was choked up not only out of pride, but out of sadness that my character’s journey was over and I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to her or her friends, family, and romantic attachments yet. I suppose it’s a good thing that I have several rounds of edits to do before I even hand the manuscript over to my beta readers for their thoughts, make additional changes, submit to my publisher, and make more modifications based on my editor’s comments. Still, the book itself has been written and I’m sad. There are authors who write and publish three-four books a year but even if I was a full-time writer, I honestly do not think I would want to write more than one or two books a year because I get so incredibly vested in my characters and I enjoy getting to know them over a longer period of time. In fact, it takes me at least a month of writing a new book before I am “over” my previous novel and one hundred percent motivated to start over again. Interestingly, I am often like this with my love life as well—I do not move on quickly. Unless I am mistreated or disrespected and then all bets are off. I don’t expect my novels to mistreat me, although I can’t say the same for some readers/reviewers 🙂

Once I begin the editing stage of one book, I start thinking about what I will write next and that, too, can be very stressful. This time around, I am almost positive that I will be writing a sequel to Blogger Girl and so, while I will have to bid adieu to Maggie and her friends, I am very excited to say hello (again) to Kimmie, Nicholas, Bridget and the rest of the Blogger Girl family.