International Chick Lit Month Author Blog Hop

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Welcome to my stop on the Second Annual International Chick Lit Month Author Blog Hop!

As you probably know by now, one lucky hopper will win the GRAND PRIZE: A FREE Kindle Keyboard 3G, with Free 3G + Wi-Fi, and a 6″ E Ink Display. That lucky grand prize winner will also receive a “chick lit starter library” filled with great chick lit books written by the indie authors participating in the blog hop. Please see bottom of post for instructions.  For More Information Click Here:

The topic of this Blog Hop is “What’s on Page 25” and today, I am sharing the contents of page 25 of my chick lit novel, A State of Jane.

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On page 25 of A State of Jane, my main character, Jane Frank, is assuring her doting father that she is studying hard for the LSAT exam. There’s one problem though: Jane is lying.

Jane’s father is definitely her favorite of her two parents as she considers her mother to be a bit on the critical side. Whereas her mother often encourages Jane to wear dark clothes to disguise her curvier lower half, Jane can do no wrong in her daddy’s eyes and she’s a daddy’s girl to the Nth degree. Since she was a little girl, Jane and her father talked about working side-by-side on multi-million dollar deals as legal partners. Jane’s life plan includes kicking butt on her LSAT exam so that she can get into a top tier law school like the Ivy League Columbia.

Unfortunately, Jane’s life plan also includes finding a serious boyfriend. She waited the requisite year after breaking up with her first and only boyfriend of nine years and is ready (and eager) to fall in love again. Jane is afraid that if she waits too long to commence the boyfriend search, she will start law school single and have no time to date. After a few “false-starts” on eHarmony, Jane is getting ready for a first date with a guy she randomly met at an ATM machine and her daydreams about their future together are getting in the way of her studies. (Win the grand prize! The 7th secret word in the 25-word sentence is: Blog) Jane is positive that she can juggle preparations for the exam with her romantic aspirations and she does not see the need to concern her father with minor details like how much she has strayed from her studying schedule ( a lot).

Does Jane really have it all under control or is she about to encounter a rocky road on both the academic and romantic fronts? You must read the book to find out and I hope you will 🙂

Learn “How to Hop & Win!” New to blog hops? Want to learn how to win the grand prize? Find complete information here.

Keep hopping! Click here to return to the list of blogs.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. Speaking of buzzing over books and summer parties… If you happen to be in NYC on Thursday, May 30th, please come on down to Stone Creek Bar and Lounge on East 27th (between Lex and 3rd) from 7pm to 9pm for a mix-and-mingle event a few of us in this Hop are hosting. Should be a hoot! Book Buzz 2013–click here for details!

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Stay Tuned – Second Annual International Chick Lit Blog Hop – May 20th-27th

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WHO: fabulous chick lit authors of the world

WHAT: The Second Annual International Chick Lit Month Blog Hop – this one is being hosted by the fabulous blogger, Julie Valerie.

WHERE: Chick Lit Author Blogs everywhere

WHY: Because we’re fabulous, that’s why!!

WHEN: May 20-May 27th

EXTRAS:

TOPIC: The topic of this year’s Blog Hop is “What’s on Page 25?” and each participating author will be writing a post on the contents of page 25 of their novel.

PRIZES: A grand prize will be awarded in the nature of a FREE Kindle Keyboard 3G, with Free 3G + Wi-Fi, and a 6″ E Ink Display. That lucky grand prize winner will also receive a “chick lit starter library” filled with great chick lit books written by the indie authors participating in the blog hop.

Individual smaller prizes will be awarded by participating authors. I have not yet decided what I will be giving away, so please feel free to leave a comment with suggestions. Please be reasonable, i.e “gift certificate to Barneys New York” or “helicopter ride around NYC” are not viable options until I become a major best selling author, sorry!

For more information, click here:

http://www.julievalerie.com/2013/05/12/chick-lit-author-blog-hop-starts-may-20/

 

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.”

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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:

http://libby-mercer.blogspot.com/2013/01/enter-to-win-girly-books-blog-hop-grand.html

and the winner is…

I am pleased to announce that the winner of The Girly Book Blog Hop and a free ecopy of A State of Jane is Brandi Franklin!

Thanks to all for participating 🙂

Girly Book Blog Hop

Thank you Author Libby Mercer for letting me participate in The Girly Book Blog Hop! I am so happy to be here discussing secondary characters!

All of the books I write feature one main character. As I write the book, I focus on her goals and the obstacles that stand in the way of her achieving them and I try to flesh her out as much as possible. What does she look like? Is she single or in a relationship? Is she reserved and cautious or is she impulsive and rebellious? What is her relationship with her family? Most of the book is written to tell her story and how she gets from her status on page one to “the end.”

But how boring would a book be if there was only one character? Not everyone can write a story like Cast Away or 127 hours, both of which featured only one character for the majority of the film and yet managed to capture my attention for approximately 2 hours. With very few exceptions, I want to see the main character interact with other people. If the book includes a romantic element, the main character needs a love interest (or 2 or 3). If the book features a career goal, we might need someone the main character competes with or a boss to either support or stand in the way of her goals. Unless we want all of our main character’s feelings to be written in narrative or inner dialogue, we need friends and/or family for her to vent to. In a nutshell, it is extremely difficult to write a story with ups and downs, twists and turns, conflict and resolution if the main character has no interactions with other people. And that is where the secondary characters come in.

In almost every review of my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, people commented about Stephanie’s group of friends and how they added a comedic element to the book. People said that Stephanie’s friends reminded them of their own. She had the friend who refused to sugar coat when Stephanie did something stupid. She had the best guy friend who acted as her big brother, both teasing and protective. She had the younger friend who turned Stephanie from advice seeker to advice giver. And she had the platonic friend on whom she secretly crushed. She also had a Jewish mother who constantly badgered her about her single status. All of these characters (and more) added spice to Stephanie’s life and to the novel.

In my newly released novel, A State of Jane, Jane is the main character but sharing some of the spotlight is her well-meaning and sometimes promiscuous roommate Lainie; her loyal, yet unlucky-in-love best friend Marissa; her older sister Claire; her easy going dad and sometimes domineering mother; her mentor in all-things-men, colleague Andrew and her ex boyfriend of nine years, Bob (among others).

 

Admittedly, I tend to focus mainly on the protagonist in my first draft and it is not until later revisions (and sometimes prodding by my beta readers or editor) to flesh out my secondary characters so that they are not only there to support my main character but also have lives of their own. My friends are always there to listen to and support me but it goes both ways and our conversations do not always revolve around me. To make my novels more realistic, I give my secondary characters their own problems and I think it is an important feature in books in my genre. First of all, a character would not be very likeable if all she did was talk about herself. Secondly, secondary characters can add a lot of humor and depth to a story.

Notwithstanding the paragraph above, it is important not to create such a strong storyline for a secondary character that it overpowers the main plot line nor would I recommend creating a character who is considerably more interesting than the main character. Secondary characters should add to the book but not take it over. If a secondary character is on the verge of stealing the spotlight, it might be a sign that the novel should be rewritten to focus on that character instead!

And there you have it, my thoughts on secondary characters!

In order to win an ebook of A State of Jane (Kindle or Nook download), please leave a comment below with a) your email address and b) your favorite secondary character from a chick lit novel. And don’t forget to check out the posts of all of the other great participating authors!

“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 City 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 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.”

 

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!