California Dreamin’

In case you’ve been under a rock, trapped beneath a dresser, or in a coma, those of us on the east coast are in the midst of Blizzard Jonah, Blizzard 2016, Snowzilla—whatever you want to call it—it’s snowing out there.

IMG_1804

My Saturday morning spin class was canceled, as were my lunch plans with a friend, and so I am in a Mother-Nature-imposed but not unwelcome hibernation right now. I finished watching the first episode of Shades of Blue and am turning off the television to write this blog as I haven’t posted one since the day Novelista Girl was released a couple of weeks ago.

This time last week, I was in California with some of my favorite author friends/soul sisters for the third annual Beach Babes weekend. The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter. We go there for the comradery and break from real-life, not for the weather. (Although if I’m being honest, sitting on the back porch, walks along the beach, and jogs up the mountain do go better with a sunny, cool breeze than rain, wind, and fog.)

IMG_1780

That being said, I cherish this week away with my fellow beach babes: Eileen Goudge, Josie Brown, Francine LaSala, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, and Julie Valerie so much. We all write different genres, have very distinct voices, and are at varying levels of experience in our careers and yet we all manage to learn from each other.  We are so very distinct and believe it is our diversity that makes us work so well as a group. I can’t imagine most random groups of seven women thrown together in a house for five days would get along as well as we do. Seriously, have you watched The Bachelor? Granted, we are not all competing for the same guy, but the beauty is we’re not competing at all. I wish for their success with the same ferocity I wish for my own, and I know the feeling is mutual. And, gosh, I think I might cry right now because I miss them so much. We are already counting down the days until next year when we will meet for the fourth annual Beach Babes weekend, and one of them already pointed out that because it’s Leap Year, we’ll have to wait an extra day—darn you, Julie Valerie for actually being good at math!!

IMG_1788

Besides benefiting my writing skills (and I’m positive that the input, honesty, and talent of these ladies is an asset), better ways to promote, and the ups and downs of securing the dream agent and the big New York City publishing deal versus small-press publishing or self-publishing, these are some of the things I learned in California

Making poached eggs is not as difficult as I thought.

IMG_3627

Great things are in my future as I long as I stop thinking so much.

IMG_1789

My friends are quick to jump to my rescue and stop me from acting impulsively when an outsider stabs me in the back.

 

Eileen was right: throwing fancy clothes in my suit case “just in case” was not necessary.

IMG_1805

One very small person can pee A LOT in the course of a day.

Sitting in the back seat of a mini-van is very conducive to car sickness.

Two cups of coffee is all it takes to hang with folks who insist on waking up at an obscenely early hour in the morning despite downing several bottles of wine the night before.

Seth Rogan was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his role in Steve Jobs.

“Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher Cross with nice background vocals by Michael McDonald is a great distraction from fearing death by insane turbulence.

And my favorite of all:

My friends love me just the way I am and I love them right back.

12493824_10153920016963035_4268207539483440488_o

Advertisements

with a little help from my friends

Confession: Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been in a writing slump. I’ve always prided myself on my immunity to the dreaded “writer’s block.” Creating ideas and finding the words to express them has never been a problem until recently. I’m about half-way through writing the first draft of Novel Girl, a sequel to Blogger Girl, and while I have a concrete vision of where I want things to go, turning the images I see in my head into words on the page has been challenging over the past couple of weeks. I’ve spent numerous evenings after work, sitting at my favorite coffee shop, and after two hours, I’ve considered it a “productive” time if I managed to add a couple of paragraphs. Writing makes me happy; writer’s block makes me sad. In other words, when the writing doesn’t flow, Meri doesn’t glow.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to take part in the second annual “Beach Babes” weekend in California, near Santa Cruz, at the invitation of the lovely, generous and talented author, Eileen Goudge. Also in attendance were Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, Francine LaSala, and Julie Valerie. These ladies were also at the first annual “Beach Babes” weekend. This year, we added another author, Josie Brown, who fit in so well, I can practically remember her in last year’s memories too.

The mornings were cold, but I spent them drinking coffee either at the large kitchen table of the beach house, sprawled across the couch in the living room, or on the back porch with slippers on my feet, a sweatshirt over my pajamas, and a blanket across my lap. The afternoons got warm and I went for a run with the ocean breeze whipping across my face. (Once. I went running once, but it still counts.) The evenings got cool again, but I was kept warm by the wine, the advice and support of my fellow housemates, and the ever-present (and often inappropriate) humor.

Some of the women read from their works-in-progress—I was too shy as a result of my bout with writer’s block—and I was blown away by the talent in the room and how differently each of us crafted our words. I’m embarrassed to admit that while I listened to them, I was equal parts impressed, envious, and fearful that Novel Girl lacked that something something. But my writer friends who have read all of my novels coaxed me out of my inferiority complex and ultimately out of my writer’s slump. The enthusiasm these authors possessed for their books and for their fellow authors was contagious and I caught the bug. Finally. In fact, I used about two hours of the five hour flight home last night to work on Novel Girl and I’m thrilled to announce that my writing mojo is back. Even better, my talented Beach Babes have inspired me to take it to a whole new and improved level.

Sadly, we need to wait an entire year for the third annual Beach babes weekend, but I am so there. SO. THERE.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as well as some of the newsworthy events I’m sharing below:

Book signing/reading – Thursday, February 12th at the Manhasset location of Barnes and Noble. More information here: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/4829697

Giveaway: Enter for your chance to win up to 40 books in this amazing Valentine’s Day giveaway: http://www.feelingbeachie.com/valentines-day-massive-book-giveaway-2/

 

view from the back porch

view from the back porch

view from my run

view from my run

Eileen's famous "skinny" salad. SO good.

Eileen’s famous “skinny” salad. SO good.

The Beach Babes!

The Beach Babes!

beachbabes2

 

beachpic2

 

A Kind of Mad Courage

I have a very special relationship with my mother – anyone who has followed my blog knows this, as not only have I dedicated a post to her recently, she was once a guest blogger. The mother/child relationship is such a special one, which is why I am so pleased to share this special anthology written by so many wonderful authors, including some great friends of mine. Even more wonderful is that all of the proceeds from sales of this anthology go to Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation:

A KIND OF MAD COURAGE
Nineteen authors from around the world were given six weeks or less to produce “a story involving a mother somehow.” The result is a gorgeously eclectic collection of tales that will make you laugh, cry, and truly appreciate the “mad courage” of motherhood. Laura Chapman, Francine LaSala, Nikki Mahood, Heather McCoubrey, and Karen E. Martin each present unique takes on impending motherhood, while Sheryn MacMunn, kc wilder, and Julie Valerie portray the end of the journey. Samantha Stroh Bailey, Louise Wise, and Maria Schulz show the pride and peril of dealing with teenage daughters, while Elke Feuer, Diana Shafter Gliedman, and Donna Valenti demonstrate that a mother’s work is never done, even under the craziest of circumstances. Regina-Cash Clark, Wendy Janes, and Monique McDonell explore the impact on lives in which mothers go “missing,” while Carey Heywood and Jen Tucker warm your heart and tear it out, respectively.

Samantha Stroh Bailey – “Hide and Seek” * Regina Cash-Clark – “Autumn’s Eyes” * Laura Chapman – “Oh Baby” * Elke Feuer – “The Sacrifice” * Diana Gliedman – “Love in the Time of Cannibals” * Carey Heywood – “A Poem for Mommy” * Wendy Janes – “Verity” * Francine LaSala – “Monkey Bread” * Sheryn MacMunn – “Last Words” * Nikki Mahood – “This Year’s Love” * Karen E. Martin – “Two Thousand Steps” * Heather McCoubrey – “Emily’s Promise” * Monique McDonell – “A Tale of Two Mothers” * Maria Schulz – “Like a Boomerang” * Jen Tucker – “Heartstrings” * Donna Valenti – “In the Nick of Time” * Julie Valerie – “LLL” * k.c. wilder – “Lady in Red” * Louise Wise – “Becky’s Mum”

CourageJacketWeb

ABOUT THE EDITORS
Francine LaSala and Samantha Stroh Bailey have more than 40 years of editorial experience between them. Francine is a novelist, ghostwriter, and book publishing veteran who’s edited New York Times bestselling fiction and nonfiction. Samantha is a former grammar and writing instructor, including at the University of Toronto, and a prolific journalist. She has a Master of Education and has edited countless manuscripts for clients all over the world. They have also “team-edited” numerous works of fiction, each lending their singular editorial strengths to create perfect and polished prose for their clients. The author of Finding Lucas, Samantha (http://perfectpencommunications.com/) is based in Toronto, while Francine (francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com), author of Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, the Gold Tooth and Everything, is based in New York.

THE STORIES

Hide and Seek – Samantha Stroh Bailey
Claire’s teenage daughter, Emily, goes missing on a birthday cruise, and Claire can only fear the worst from the lately rebellious teen…

Autumn’s Eyes – Regina Cash-Clark
June’s abandonment of three of four of her children, told in alternating points of view between June, and her oldest daughter, Edwina.

Oh Baby – Laura Chapman
Rocker Tuck and new wife Autumn return from Chapman’s “Ten Drummers Drumming” (Merry & Bright), now with a baby on the way.

The Sacrifice – Elke Feuer
Melissa learns there isn’t anything she won’t do to protect her children from the abuse and neglect of her alcoholic husband Roger…

Love in the Time of Cannibals – Diana Shafter Gliedman
Could a zombie apocalypse finally give rudderless Jessica the direction she needs–and the connection she craves? It will if her mother has anything to say about it.

A Poem for Mommy – Carey Heywood
In helping his young daughter craft a poem for Mother’s Day, a father beautifully recounts the story of the romance with her mother that led to them becoming a family.

Verity – Wendy Janes
After an accident means she’ll no longer be able to live on her own, septuagenarian Susan may need to divulge a secret she’s been keeping from Verity all her life.

Monkey Bread – Francine LaSala
Amy and Deck (Rita Hayworth’s Shoes) learn more about having babies than they ever wanted to know at a madcap family dinner celebrating President’s Day.

Last Words – Sheryn MacMunn
The bond shared between Ruth (Finding Out) and her mother, Eliza, is revealed, from the time of Ruth’s childhood before the War to the death of Eliza.

This Year’s Love – Nikki Mahood
Fallon and Abner are married, mortgaged, and expecting a baby any minute in this fun, heartfelt mini-sequel to Fallen.

Two Thousand Steps – Karen E. Martin
With the unsolicited help of a fairy friend from their childhood, two grown sisters – one with kids, one without – each get to walk a mile in the other’s shoes…

Emily’s Promise – Heather McCoubrey
Even though pregnant Emily’s life is shattered by Jason’s infidelity the night before her wedding, she’s determined to give her baby the best life possible.

A Tale of Two Mothers – Monique McDonell
How do you deal with the mother who abandoned you when she shows up out of the blue – and what does it mean for the woman who raised you? Chloe’s about to find out.

Like a Boomerang – Maria Schulz
Tess has been stressing out her mother, Charlotte, since the day she was born. But when disaster strikes during a campus Halloween party, it could prove the worst stress yet…

Heartstrings – Jen Tucker
Young widow Vicki’s no stranger to loss–and guilt, as another mother’s loss helped her daughter live. Will meeting up help them the two mothers heal? Or make matters worse?

In the Nick of Time – Donna Valenti
Iris may be dead but her insistence on looking after her children is far from buried. Will her husband Nick get it together? Or will Iris have to move Heaven and Earth to make him?

LLL – Julie Valerie
In this hilarious yet heartwarming story, words of wisdom from the game of Scrabble unite a daughter with her aging mother, a former Scrabble champion whose mental faculties are quickly fading.

Lady in Red – k.c. wilder
Her dying “Gran” is the only mother she’s ever known. But only when Gran is gone does a woman discover the woman her grandmother really was, and the secrets she hid.

Becky’s Mum – Louise Wise
Straight-A student Becky’s being pulled off the straight-and-narrow by her derelict boyfriend Darren. Will her mother’s wisdom sink in before it’s too late?

Buy links:

 

This is NOT California

It’s cold out there!

We are in the crux of Polar Vortex 2 and it is difficult to believe that I was in sunny California only three days ago.

Vanilla Kiss Latte from Cosi

Vanilla Kiss Latte from Cosi

Yes, I was lucky enough to be invited to join five other authors (Eileen Goudge, Julie Valerie, Jen Tucker, Samantha Stroh Bailey and Francine LaSala) on a beach vacation in Watsonville, California over MLK Junior weekend. To think I almost declined the invitation. Yeah, when the subject first came up last June, I was completely stressed out, and the idea of planning a vacation for seven months down the road was too overwhelming. Leave it to me to get stressed out over planning a vacation where the sole purpose is to de-stress! When the topic was revisited later in the year, I welcomed the opportunity to escape New York City and my own troubles for a few days and now, as I sit in Cosi drinking my Vanilla Kiss Latte (see above photo), I am visualizing myself on the back porch of the beach house looking at the Pacific Ocean right across the street.

Is that gorgeous or what?

Is that gorgeous or what?

The trip started out in typical “Meri” fashion—I was in such a hurry to meet my friend and fellow “beach babe” Francine LaSala at the airport bar that after purchasing a water bottle and a bag of pistachio nuts for the flight, I ran out and left my phone in the store. (I blame my friend Dee for texting me about a possible trip to Las Vegas while I was paying for my items, but it is my fault alone for responding immediately rather than waiting until I could focus properly. I don’t multitask well.) By some stroke of good luck, a man found me in the bar and advised that the clerk was holding my phone. I chugged my beer and ran back to get it. (Okay, I didn’t really chug the beer first.) After getting sufficiently buzzed off of my bottle of Sam Adams Seasonal (yes, I’ve turned into a serious lightweight), I really had to use the bathroom but the flight was boarding and I feared it would leave without me. Francine assured me I had plenty of time and so I ran to the bathroom and back to the gate as fast as I could (I probably looked like a huge dork in the process) and she was right; I had plenty of time. As I made my way to my aisle seat in row 15, a man called out, “Did someone lose her lady hat?” I turned around knowing it was my “lady” hat to which he was referring. In my tipsy state, I yelled, “It’s mine!” and the hat was subsequently passed through the line of people behind me until it was safely back in my hands. I have no idea how I lost it in the first place but I’m so used to losing things or leaving items behind that it doesn’t faze me. I’m just glad I got it back because it is a super cute hat and while I didn’t need to wear it in California, I cannot leave the house without a winter hat this week in New York!

Anyway, that is how my vacation began. From that moment on, it was smooth sailing. The flight there was comfortable and turbulence-free, and there was no one in the middle seat of my row which is always a good thing. I even managed to write a couple of pages of my fourth novel, although I only did it because when I got up to go to the bathroom, I saw that Francine had her laptop turned on and assumed she was writing. I felt guilty for not taking advantage of the free time to write and so I put away my Kindle (was reading Sophie’s Turn by Nicky Wells –awesome book) and got to work. My only issue during the flight was how badly my ears hurt during our descent to San Jose airport. I’ve been having sinus/congestion issues since Thanksgiving and correctly predicted that flying would put unwelcome pressure on my ears. They were still popping the next morning!

What is there to say about the weekend itself? Are you curious what writers talk about when we get together? In no particular order, it is this 1) writing, 2) sex, 3) marketing, 4) sex, 5) food, 6) sex, 7) reviews, 8) sex, 9) children and 10) sex.

I would like to say that we woke up at a leisurely hour, but this is not true for me as I was woken up at the ass crack of dawn by the voices and laughter of my fellow housemates. Fortunately, it came as no shock as I already knew these ladies were early risers based on the number of tweets I wake to every morning before 7 a.m. I got used to it eventually and it wasn’t as if I needed a good night’s sleep to participate in the weekends lazy festivities. We spent mornings talking over coffee or tea on the back porch or sitting around the large kitchen table. I managed to go for a run on the last morning as well.  Some of us got writing done (not me…) and Julie Valerie gave some lessons in social networking. She’s a master!  She even shot a trailer for the box set I am releasing of all three of my books next month. (More information regarding the set as well as the trailer will follow in a separate post.) Afternoons were spent taking walks on the beach or more laziness on the back porch. During the evenings we drove into Santa Cruz and Capitola-by-the-Sea where we walked around and ate dinner. (There were six of us in one car and so poor Sam had to sit between Julie Valerie’s legs and duck whenever we drove past a police officer. That’s what she gets for being so adorably petite.) And nights were spent drinking wine, laughing, sharing writing/marketing advice and swapping stories until one by one, we all said “goodnight”. I shared a room with Sam and we spent our last waking minutes talking about the books we loved and venting about bad reviews.

Beach babes at dinner at Laili Restaurant in Santa Cruz

Beach babes at dinner at Laili Restaurant in Santa Cruz

Tears were shed when we all said goodbye. Jen was the first to leave early Sunday morning and I was glad I gave her a big hug on Saturday night because while she promised to wake us up the next morning, I had a feeling she would let us sleep instead. On Sunday evening, Francine, Julie and I shared a cab to the airport. Julie’s flight left first, but Francine and I had several hours to waste (or get wasted) in the airport. We were so early that there was no representative from Jet Blue available to check my bag and we had to wait an hour and a half. Once that was taken care of, we made our way to a bar at the airport. Funny how things come full circle like that, although this time, I didn’t lose my phone or my “lady hat.” Once again, there was no one sitting next to me on the flight home and I spent most of it with my head on the tray table trying to get some sleep as it was a redeye flight and I was still tired from the three hour time difference and waking up so darn early! The first thing I did when I got home was crawl under my covers and sleep for five hours.

And that, in a long summation, was my trip to California! What fun it was re-living that wonderful beach vacation while looking at the snow in frigid New York City (see photo below)! Before I get back to the real world, I would like to extend gratitude to each of the beach babes as follows:

photo (2)

Eileen – thank you for inviting me to join you on this mini-holiday and for your generosity and hospitality. Thank you for your humor. You are the only New York Times bestselling author I have ever spent significant time with and I am so happy to experience first-hand how genuine and laid back you are. And thank you for your dating advice and sharing your experiences with me. I won’t settle – I promise!

Julie Valerie – Thank you for sharing such helpful information regarding marketing and social media. Thank you for being so uniquely funny and creative and slickly finding out which scarf Eileen preferred! Thanks for volunteering to have Sam sit on your lap whenever we got in the car! Finally, I promise I won’t share “the picture.”

Jen – thanks for allowing me to vent my concerns/fears about my best friend’s illness and for listening to me talk about my love life. Thanks for making me giggle when you involuntarily raised your eyebrows during your “exercises.” You are adorable and I love you so very much!

Francine – Thank you for being hilarious and never failing to make me laugh. Thanks for the company of your coolness, for not getting angry when I bought the same jacket (“We never hang out!”), for assuring me that people hating Jane is actually a good thing and for being the best airport drinking buddy a girl could ask for. You and your books are NEVER a waste of time!

Sam – Thank you for always “getting” me and therefore making me feel that I am not alone in my neurosis. Thank you for your hugs. Thanks for making me laugh always but making it safe for me to cry as well and thanks for not thinking I am a bitch for some of the things that come out of my mouth. Thanks for letting me have the full sized bed and for being just as sloppy as me.

silly back seat selfie!

silly back seat selfie!

Merry Chicklit!

Today marks the release of Merry Chicklit, an anthology of holiday-inspired short stories. This collection of seasonal short stories is extra special since it was created to benefit the charity Rocking the Road for A Cure, a NY based breast cancer charity that sends out volunteers to help women with breast cancer with their everyday actives such as shopping, errands, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. All proceeds for the book will go to this charity. Cancer in all its forms is a disease very close to my heart right now and if helping to raise money towards a cure is as easy as reading a collection of stories written by these amazingly talented authors, I’m all for it. I’ve already downloaded my copy and I hope that you will too!  See below for more information!

merrychicklit

Merry Chick Lit: Celebrate the Season with Six Sassy Shorts

In the spirit of giving, six chick-lit authors “present” a charming collection of seasonal shorts sure to inspire holiday cheer-plus love and hope throughout the year, with all proceeds donated to Rocking the Road for a Cure! Featured authors & stories include:

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

In “Santa’s Gift,” journalist Jessica thinks Santa’s just a silly myth for children, so when he asks what she most wants for Christmas she tells him the one thing she knows he can’t deliver–true love. Or can he…?

Sarah Hitchcock

In “The Christmas Lights,” one competition pits two families against each other…who will win this war?

Francine LaSala

Pretty Izzy knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: hunky sales manager Jake Harrington wrapped up with a shiny silver bow–and nothing else. Except Santa may have other plans in “Carol of the Belles.”

Nikki Mahood

In “Spinster Christmas,” Cara’s looking forward to spending Christmas alone until she learns her old–and she believes very gay–crush needs a place to stay. Though it soon becomes clear that while still hot, Ronan isn’t gay after all…

Holly Martin

Ella’s dreams of making a better life for her and her daughter seem further away than ever in “Iced Dreams.” But as Christmas approaches, and she wishes for a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand to fix her life, things begin to change in ways she never imagined!

K.C. Wilder

In “The Mermaid,” Allie’s content to spend Christmas by herself at a vacant beach house to make good on a promise made to her true love lost, Jeff. Until Jeff’s gorgeous college roommate Tim crashes in on her with his own promise to keep…

Purchase on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Merry-Chick-Celebrate-Season-Shorts-ebook/dp/B00GPUXAEM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384886583&sr=8-1&keywords=merry+chick+lit

Purchase on bn.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/merry-chick-lit-sarah-hitchcock/1117443434?ean=2940148840138

More information on the charity: Rocking the Road for a Cure

Rocking The Road For A Cure is tickled PINK to be selected as the recipient of proceeds from your purchase of Merry Chick Lit.

We are a growing 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the New York City/Long Island area, dedicated to improving the quality of life of people undergoing the often energy-depleting and emotionally draining treatments for breast cancer.

Our name came from our founder and President, Dawn Frey, a musician, who learned through personal experience that “it takes a village” to get through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and not every individual has the support network they need. Rocking The Road For A Cure provides free, in-home housekeeping, health and wellness services to restore strength and confidence, and to rebuild spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

So, when you settle back and relax to enjoy reading Merry Chick Lit, please know that you have helped us help a breast cancer patient to also settle back and relax…and heal.

Rocking The Road For A Cure http://www.rockingtheroadforacure.org

Having A Three-Way…Indie Style!

I have some amazing friends and when we get together, we can talk Ad Nauseam about everything from men to annoying family members to sports to current events (not that often, admittedly) to pop culture and more. But since most of my friends are not writers, I try to keep my “author talk” to a minimum to avoid observing their eyes roll to the back of their heads. That’s one of the many reasons I adore having writing buddies. Recently, I had a virtual sit-down with two of my author besties, Francine LaSala (The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything) and Samantha Stroh Bailey (Finding Lucas) to talk about marketing books, indie style. So, today I’ll share a snippet of that conversation. As always, it was peppered with spunk since we’re such spunky chicks!

Francine: So you guys know about this big book birthday blog tour bash going on this week, right?

Meredith (smirks): Birthday bash? Whatever do you mean?

Sam (cocks head, playfully): Uh, no. Please tell us more.

Francine (winks): Well, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is turning 1 this week, so it’s going on sale for 99 cents for one week only. While it’s on sale, I’ll be visiting different blogs for interviews, guest posts, that kind of thing. But I’m not the only one with something going on this week. Am I, Meri?

Meredith: Well, now that you mention it, I am doing a blog tour the next couple of weeks to promote Blogger Girl which is about, you guessed it, a book blogger. During the three week tour, reviews of Blogger Girl will be posted on some awesome blogs, along with  guest posts and interviews. Insert shameless self-promotion here: Blogger Girl will be on tour with CLP Blog Tours from 11/4-25.

Francine: Oh, did I forget the dates (and the shameless self-promotion) for mine? Sorry! My sale started 11/1 and goes through Thursday 11/7… Which reminds me… Sam? Don’t you have something to share?

Sam (laughs): Well, as you both know, I love promoting with other authors, and I’ve done quite a few group promotions. Along with the two of you, co-founding BookBuzz has probably been the most exciting. Creating an interactive author/reader event where everyone can meet and mingle, have a drink and chat about writing and books is such a fantastic way to both market and reach out to readers. And timing is everything, right? Because there will be a BookBuzz in Toronto on Thursday night, November 7, at The Crest at 794 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, from 7pm to 9pm. Here’s the website for all of the info! http://bookbuzz2013.wordpress.com/. I had the great pleasure of organizing this one with author Lydia Laceby and blogger Kaley Stewart.

Francine: Ooooh, sounds like fun! I’d love to be there!

Meredith (rolls eyes and smiles): You are going to be there. And me, too.

Francine (grins stupidly): Right.

Sam (beams): It’s going to be great! I hope we get to do more of these. Such a fun way to get “out there” with our books and touch readers.

Meredith: I know, Sam. It’s so fun! So what are some of the other ways you guys have been able to get “out there” with your books – and what are the challenges you’re facing? For me, with so many quality and affordable books available, I find getting people to click on my books to be extremely challenging. I make a lot of effort to get my books in the spotlight, but I do find that a large population of chick lit readers are still more likely to pay for a big name than to give indie authors, meaning both authors who self-publish as well as those who are published by small, independent presses, a chance, even at a lower price.

Sam: You’re right, Meri. I think marketing is challenging for any author, be they traditionally or indie published. For me, the hardest part was navigating social media. I didn’t even have a Facebook page until I published Finding Lucas! Learning how to use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, well, Pinterest is still a mystery to me, has been both incredible and scary. But, now that I’m using them, I find that I’m quite addicted. I also think it’s hard to gain exposure, but the reader/blogger/author community is so supportive, and I’m grateful to them.

Meredith: You can say that again. During the pre-release of Blogger Girl, I celebrated all things “blogging” by inviting guest bloggers to post on my website for a month long celebration.  As a result, there was already a lot of buzz about the book by the time it was officially launched. Additionally, while I always offer free copies of my books to bloggers in exchange for reviews, as well as participate in an organized blog tour, the blogging angle also helped get my foot in the door with popular beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers, who also agreed to promote Blogger Girl on their websites. Regardless of what avenue of publishing an author takes, marketing is pivotal.

All at once: Thank God for bloggers!

Francine: I’m not sure being “indie” is the big challenge for me. Even if I had a huge marketing budget and push behind me, I do find getting the word out about my books to be an awkward, embarrassing situation. Silly, I know, but I have a tendency to be shy. To be a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person. Which is why I enjoy writing. Marketing puts you right in the spotlight. And I’m old. Bright light is not as flattering as it may have once been. 🙂

Sam: Old? You’re only two years older than me! There are definitely so many more options for marketing now than ever before.

Meredith: Creativity is key.

Francine: Absolutely. As you guys know, I am a book publishing veteran, and I can tell you it’s amazing how formulaic print book marketing can be. This is because in traditional print publishing, if a book doesn’t take off right out of the gate, the remainder table is the fate! With ebooks, a book takes off when it does. There isn’t the same pressure to move those units quickly to make room in the warehouse for next season’s titles. The great thing is that an ebook can take time to grow. To that effect, I can “re-launch” The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything with this big birthday bash. I’m hoping this push will bring me more readers, more reviews, and also start building momentum for the books I plan to publish next year. I still feel like such a babe in the woods over all of this, though.

Meredith: We learn as we go. If I can give any new author starting out advice on how to launch an indie book, I’d say start getting reviews of your book as early as possible. With my first two novels, I didn’t start reaching out to bloggers for reviews until right before the book was being released. With Blogger Girl, I sent out ARCs over a month before the official launch and so by the time the book was published, I already had several reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It really made a difference as far as sales right out of the gate. I also urge you not to be stingy with offering free books. In addition to book bloggers, offer free copies of your book to readers in your target audience in exchange for a review. From my experience, readers are honored to be asked and if they like your book, they are extremely vocal about recommending it to their friends.

Francine: I agree. I also think that quality is key. It’s so important not to cheap out on your cover design or blurb. People can spot “homemade” a mile away. While that kind of thing can be charming for Pinterest, you want your book to be full-on-pro if you want readers to take you seriously. Also: Have your book edited. It’s heart-breaking to read bad reviews of books that are criticized not for plot points or characters, but for being sloppy. If you want to market your product as a quality product, produce a quality product!

Sam: Absolutely! Publishing a book is expensive, no doubt. But if being a professional author is what you really want to do, it is crucial to have the best book you can on the market. Hiring a professional editor, cover designer and formatter, if you need one, are some ways to create the most professional product. Here’s where I can do a bit of a shameless promo plug…

Francine: Thanks for taking one for the team, Sam!

Sam: By doing team edits on clients’ manuscripts, Francine and I have found it’s been fantastic to have more than one set of eyes on a story. I love working with you…

Francine: And I, you!

Sam: And it gives me great pleasure when we hand over the final product and our authors are so happy with our work.

Francine: Don’t forget that Meredith also does manuscript evaluations that are incredibly spot on.

Sam: So true. Her thorough and eagle-eyed beta read on my new novel really helped so much.

Meredith: Aw, thanks.

Francine: Seriously. Not blowing sunshine up your butt, Meri. When I read your reviews, I’m amazed at how much insight you have into the books you read–how much you care.

[Virtual group hug.]

Sam: Speaking of caring, I have to say the writer support groups I’ve found in the virtual world have changed my life. My friends and family are very proud of me, but it can be boring to listen to me prattle on about plot lines, sales, and promotions. Talking to and working with other authors who know exactly what my day is like has meant the world to me.

Meredith: Like right now!

Francine: True, dat. While we are all doing this to promote our various efforts, I have learned so much just speaking with you guys today.

Sam: I’ve learned I want to use “True, dat” in a sentence. But seriously, I hope we’ve been able to share more with readers than just the details of our various promotions.

Francine: Do you think the readers remember? Let’s remind them again!

For information on the Birthday Bash for The Girl the Gold Tooth & Everything, please click here.

For more information about the blog tour for Blogger Girl, click here.

For more information about BookBuzz Toronto, click here.

Meredith: See you guys next week at BookBuzz!

Francine: Looking forward to it!

Sam: I can’t wait to welcome you both to my city!

~~~~~~~

Connect with Francine, Samantha, and me by clicking on the links below. Have a great day, everyone!

 Author Photo_Francine LaSala

Find Francine LaSala online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/francinelasala

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Francine-LaSala-Author/223109337705912

Blog: http://clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com/

Creative Services website: https://francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com/

Author website: www.francinelasala.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4679863.Francine_LaSala

The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/

Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything JUST 99 CENTS THIS WEEK!: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2

Girl_Cover (1)

Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Find Meredith Schorr online:

 Twitter: @meredithschorr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/MeredithSchorrAuthor

Website/Blog: meredithschorr.com

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4355520.Meredith_Schorr

 

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/meredithgschorr

Buy Blogger Girl:

BG_front_cover_large

http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994653&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=blogger+girl+meredith+schorr

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1376945948&sr=1-1&keywords=blogger+girl

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blogger-girl-meredith-schorr/1116358028?ean=2940148503125

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blogger-girl/id686654939?mt=11

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Find Samantha Stroh Bailey online:

samheadshotauthorcentral 

Blog http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca/

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/perfectpen

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Stroh-Bailey/420736011289684

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832614.Samantha_Stroh_Bailey

 

Business website: http://perfectpencommunications.com/

 

Buy Finding Lucas

FLNov22Bigpaperback

 

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Lucas-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383158769&sr=1-1&keywords=finding+lucas

 

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Lucas-Samantha-Stroh-Bailey-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383158822&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+lucas

 

KOBO http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Finding-Lucas/-wfpLcDV6keHZR-T80qCUg

The Celebration of Bloggers Tour welcomes Francine LaSala

I’m so pleased to have Francine LaSala as part of my Celebration of Bloggers Tour today.  Francine wears many hats, including but certainly not limited to, published author, ghost writer, editor, blogger, copywriter, mother, wife, friend, and she recently added “party planner” to her resume when she co-organized the first annual Author Book Buzz event in New York City, along with me and Samantha Stroh Bailey. Today she is joining the Celebration of Bloggers Tour to talk about her role as a Blogger Girl and her blog Clippings in the Shed. See below for additional information on how to find Francine to discuss her many other talents because, let me tell you, she is one extraordinary chick. Take it away, Francine!

 

I’m a Blogger Girl!

I’m so delighted to be a part of the lead-up to the launch of BLOGGER GIRL. Am I a blogger girl? You bet!

I started blogging at the urging of publishing pros who told me it would be a great way to get people to get to know about my books–and me. I planned to write about writing and the writing process, and I called my blog Clippings in the Shed. Why?

There’s a pretty powerful scene in A Beautiful Mind in which Jennifer Connolly walks into Russell Crowe’s outdoor shed, where he’s been doing what he believes is very impressive and important work. But what she sees are hundreds of scattered, senseless news clippings, taped up at random, all marked up in a madman’s furious scrawl… Clippings in the shed. Well, this is kind of what happens in writing. You can tap away for hours on your keyboard thinking you are composing a literary symphony with every stroke… And when you return to the “greatness,” what you find is more an insane cacophony of crap.

As I continued blogging, I realized that while sometimes I could be interesting, other times, not so much. I wanted to blog regularly, but I was getting tired of the “me-ness” of it all. That’s when I decided to start doing my “Five for Friday” segment. Each week, I do an interview with a person I find interesting, and not always other writers. I’ve had a great time with it, and as soon as I get over being so lazy about blogging this summer, I plan to bring it back. There are so many people doing so many awesome things. I can’t wait to meet and greet some more. I also really enjoy hosting others for guest posts, cover reveals, you name it. I like my blog better when it’s not a “one-woman show.”

My experience with blogging has definitely been positive (I’m proud of the 7,000+ hits I’ve gotten so far), and it’s gotten me itching to start another. In a few weeks, I’ll be launching a Joy Jar blog. Quickly, for those who don’t know about it, The “Joy Jar” Project is a Facebook group I started at the beginning of 2013 to give people a place to go and post good news. We’re at about 400 members now, and growing all the time. For the blog, I envision essays from people telling their own stories about finding, experiencing, and savoring joy. I think it’s going to be awesome! (I think you should join the group. Come on over!)

So am I a blogger girl? And then some! I’ve also had the pleasure of reading BLOGGER GIRL and had this to say about it:

“Meredith Schorr’s delightfully flawed heroines have never failed to charm me, and Blogger Girl’s Kimberly Long joins Jane (A State of Jane) and Stephanie (Just Friends With Benefits) in a special place in my heart. I really connected with her, especially, I hate to admit, over the frustration of seeing her high school nemesis thrive while she floundered. A great character. So very human and full of dimension. A satisfying and enjoyable read!”

I loved it, you will, too!

Hey, if anyone reading is interested in taking part in either of these blogs, please email me directly: francine@francinelasala.com. It’ll be fun!

Thanks, again, Meri! And best of luck!!

FRANCINE LASALA has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres. She is now actively taking on clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers, blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing kickass social media campaigns. The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and the creator of The “Joy Jar” Project, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.

 

Find Francine online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/francinelasala

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Francine-LaSala-Author/223109337705912

Blog: http://clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com/

Creative Services website: https://francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com/

Author website: www.francinelasala.com

The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/

Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2

Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I

 

Coming August 28th: 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.

A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. 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–across 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.

Celebration of Bloggers/Blurb of Blogger Girl

Before writing books was even a blip on my radar, I was a blogger.  I blogged about everything from my friendships, to my family, to my BFF from high school who turned out to be a pretty horrible friend, to the effects of PMS on my personality, to unrequited crushes, to romantic relationships – especially romantic relationships.  I often surprised myself by how honest and open I was, even when it left me feeling very vulnerable or didn’t paint me in the best light.  I loved it.  There is something about putting all of your deepest thoughts in writing that is extremely cathartic.  While I was blogging, I became friendly with other bloggers across the globe, from Virginia, to Florida, to Kentucky to Belfast to Pittsburgh, to North Carolina to Australia and everywhere in between.  These “virtual” friends became as important to me as my off-line friends and I felt a stake in their lives just as they felt one in mine.  In many cases, these people knew more about me than the people I saw on a weekly basis.  After my first novel came out, I became less comfortable putting myself out there to such an intimate degree but I still keep in touch with some of these bloggers.  In fact, one has become a best “off line” friend and I’ve planned a vacation to visit her later this summer. 

Back when I was blogging personal experiences, I thought that was what “blogging” was – publishing an online personal diary.  At the time, I was not aware of book bloggers, beauty bloggers, mommy bloggers, fashion bloggers, food bloggers etc.  After Just Friends with Benefits came out and with my introduction to social media, I became very familiar with other types of bloggers, especially book bloggers.  Book bloggers have become a very important part of my publishing experience and some of them have become good friends of mine as well.  To take the influence of book bloggers on my life to a whole new level, they inspired the plot of my third soon-to-be-released novel, Blogger Girl.  Keep reading for the blurb of Blogger Girl, to be released in August, 2013.

To celebrate the launch of Blogger Girl, I have decided to celebrate blogging and bloggers in general beginning, July 16th.  Each day, I will host a different blogger on my website.   I have asked each blogger to either write a post about anything related to “blogging” or take part in an interview.  I have been the guest on a countless number of blogs over the past three years as an author and I think it’s time to turn the tables and give these amazing bloggers the spotlight.  So, stay tuned for guest posts from amazing bloggers like the following:  (I plan to continue the blogger celebration well after the release of Blogger Girl and so if you’d like to be featured, please let know!) 

Samantha March, author and founder of Chick Lit Plus
Kelly Perotti, author and founder of mommy blog Crib Notes Kelly Isabella Louise Anderson, founder of Chick Lit Goddess
Marlene Roberts Engel, founder of Book Mama Blog
Francine LaSala – author and founder of Clippings in the Shed
Stephanie Territo, founder of Steph the Bookworm
Eleanor Parker, founder of The Writing Life
Melissa Amster, founder of Chick Lit Central and Merryland Girl Blog Laura Chapman, founder of Change the Word
Kaley Stewart, founder of Books Etc.
Ashley Williams, founder of The Book Fetish Blog
Samantha Stroh Bailey, author and blogger
Michelle Bell, founder of Michelle’s Book Nook
Julie Valerie, founder of Chick Lit Chit Chat

And now, without further ado, the blurb to 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.

A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. 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–across the land. And 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 all 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.

Updates

Hi everyone!  I’ve been falling a bit off of my weekly blog schedule due to time constraints but thankfully not by too much. 

The past week has been craaaazzy!!  First of all, do you remember when I told you that after my first mammogram, I was called back because the images were unclear?  I was understandably nervous, but was told that it was completely normal and that most women had to get additional images taken after their first mammogram.  Unfortunately, no one told me this until after I got the call back and by then it was too late because I was already freaked out!  Well, last Tuesday was my follow-up appointment.  My mom came into the city again to be with me and this time she made it on time!  Of course, it was not without issue.  She was taking the express commuter bus from her home in Rockland County and since she had never taken it before, she had no idea where the bus would drop her off.  She thought it was on 42nd and 5th and so I walked from my apartment in the 30s to 42nd and 5th to meet her even though the appointment was in Union Square (downtown for all of you non-New Yorkers).  Well, I get to 42nd and 5th and she calls and tells me to meet her on 40th and 5th. I walk to 40th and 5th only for her to call and tell me to meet her on 42nd and 5th.  Oy!  I was already anxious about the appointment and I was on the verge of losing my mind to boot!  Long story short, the bus dropped her off on 48th between 5th and 6th and she walked to 42nd and 5th where we proceeded to catch a cab to Union Square.  She was too tired to take the subway. I didn’t blame her one bit!  I have to say that I was really glad she was with me in the waiting room because we ended up chatting about other stuff and I barely had time to be nervous before I was called in.  The first thing the technician said to me is that I shouldn’t be nervous because it was completely normal to be called back after a first mammogram and that I was more than likely fine.  Terror was apparently written all over my face!  So she takes another mammogram of just my right breast (the original image taken of the left was fine) and tells me that they are pretty certain the spot they saw is just a lymph node but they want to be sure.  The spot they saw? I had no idea they saw a spot in the first place and was very glad I didn’t or else I would have been even more nervous.  After she finished, she dropped me off in another waiting room and said she’d come get me after she showed the new mammogram to the doctor.  This waiting room was pretty scary – a room full of women who were all there for the same reason.  Everyone smiled kindly to each other but no one said a word.  I wanted to keep my mom apprised of what was going on but she doesn’t text and I wasn’t going to disturb the other women by calling her.  While other women came and went, I continued to wait until the tech returned and told me that I needed yet another mammogram because the image was still not clear. For the love of God, I apparently have a very dense right breast and I’m surprised that no man has ever mentioned it to me.  Er, not insinuating that many men have seen my breasts.  Um, never mind!! By this time, I’m a pro and wasn’t even fazed by the procedure.  It doesn’t really hurt now that I know (full well) what to expect.  After looking at it, she says, “Yeah, this is surely a lymph node.  The good kind (?).  You’re most definitely good but I have to send you back to the waiting room because you might need a sonogram but you might not.”  Back to the waiting room I go and this time I wait. And wait. And wait.  I’m starting to think they forgot about me until a new technician comes in and tells me they’re ready for my sonogram.  Even though the original tech told me it was most certainly a “good” lymph node, I assumed they were still unsure since they wanted a sonogram too. So, I’m on the bed while the tech conducts the sonogram and my eyes are closed and I am silently praying that I am ok as I hold back tears.  I hear the tech say, “Are you tired or nervous?”  I respond, “I’m nervous” in a quiet, shaky voice and she says, “Oh, you’re fine!  It’s a lymph node!”  At that, I am mostly ecstatic and ready to kiss her but I’m also thinking a) Why didn’t you tell me that before? And b) why do I still need a sonogram?” but I decided it didn’t matter – I was fine.  A few minutes later, I was dressed and hugging my mom in the waiting room.  Best feeling ever!!  I assumed the “I’m healthy” feeling would last forever and make everything else seem inconsequential and it did for a while but a few days later, I managed to feel sorry for myself for one thing or another 🙂 

Last week was also the week I finished the blurb for my upcoming release, Blogger Girl!  I’m excited to share it with you but I have a tentative chat scheduled with my publisher regarding the launch and don’t want to share anything prematurely.  But, I would like to give props to my editor Gabrielle Roman for coming up with the first draft and then my amazing friend and fellow author Francine LaSala for tweaking it to almost perfection.  The only reason I say “almost” is that Francine hasn’t read the book yet and certain things needed to be changed for accuracy.  Let me tell you, writing a blurb is SO not fun but thankfully Francine seems to enjoy it because I will be requesting her assistance with every book I write for the rest of my life.  Consider yourself warned Francine!

Progress is also being made with respect to the book cover and I would like to give additional props to my fabulous cover artist Loretta Matson.  She designed the cover for A State of Jane which I loved and I am 100% confident that she will knock it out of the park with the Blogger Girl cover as well.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of what she’s working on but not the cover in its entirety.  I can’t wait!

I have some exciting news to share about my first book, Just Friends with Benefits, only I can’t share it yet.  Psych! 

That’s pretty much it for me.  I had a long but fun-filled weekend.  Saw Man of Steel on Friday night.  Damn Henry Cavill makes a hot Super Man.  He’d make a hot mailman and any other “man” too.  I could not believe the resemblance between Henry and Christopher Reeve.  Wow.  I watched the Yankees beat the Rays on Saturday afternoon and I came back with a killer farmer’s tan because silly me forgot to bring sunblock and our seats were out in the sun.  Did I mention it was over 90 degrees outside?  And have you ever been to a baseball game?  They’re long!  So, yeah, I look kind of stupid with my unbalanced tan but at least I had a good time and the Yankees won.  Yesterday, I went to a boozy brunch with my friends, if you consider 3pm “brunch” which apparently we do!  Brunch ended at 10pm thanks to my stupid suggestion to go get another drink afterwards.  I really didn’t need another drink.  You live and learn.  Or you don’t live and learn.  In some respects, I am definitely one who learns from her mistakes but not when it comes to overdoing it at boozy brunches. 

I need to get ready to watch The Bachelorette followed by Under The Dome and before that, I need to do my ab exercises and make dinner so I will end this now.  I hope everyone had a terrific Monday and has a wonderful week ahead.

 

Book Buzz 2013 – oh what a night!

I am exhausted! I am writing this during my lunch hour on Monday afternoon after a long, four-day weekend which, for once, actually felt long!  It started last Wednesday evening, the night before Book Buzz 2013, the author mix and mingle I organized along with seven other authors in New York City. 

Pre-Buzzing – After work on Wednesday, I was at Starbucks, writing my 4th novel (it’s already 20 pages!) when I received an email from my friend and fellow author, Francine LaSala.  She asked what I was up to as Jen Tucker, another friend and fellow author, had arrived from her hometown of Indiana and had checked into her hotel in NYC for Book Buzz and the Book Expo America Conference (BEA”) which had commenced that day at the Jacob Javits Center.  They were going to get a drink and asked if I wanted to join.  After years of tweeting, “Facebooking” and corresponding via email, I had met Francine face-to-face for the first time a few weeks earlier while we were planning Book Buzz.  I had never met Jen although we, too, were already “virtual” friends.  I headed over to Jen’s hotel both excited and a little nervous to meet in person.  The second I got there, I already felt like I had known these women for years which I basically had.  Francine made a joke about peeing in Jen’s hotel bathroom and jumping onto her bed within about five minutes of meeting her. I basically did the same thing because we were just that comfortable.  We decided to go out for a drink and I felt like such a “local” as I led the others to the closest strip of bars.  After entering and leaving one bar at once when it was just too loud, we found a sports bar more suitable for conversation and got a table in the back. We talked about everything – writing, reading, diet and exercise habits, sports, the upcoming event etc. and had lots of laughs over a drink, but Jen had been traveling, Francine had spent all afternoon at BEA and I had worked all day.  We were tired and decided to call it an early night since Book Buzz was the following evening.

The Wall of Balls

The Wall of Balls

Sam – I woke up on Thursday morning totally excited about the event but also completely stoked because author Samantha Stroh Bailey (“Sam”) would be arriving that morning from her hometown in Toronto and we had plans to meet up for brunch.  Francine was awesome enough to pick Sam up from the airport and then they were going to drop by my apartment.  I have been emailing Sam almost daily for almost a year and I couldn’t wait to actually meet her in person.  Like Francine and Jen, Sam did not disappoint.  She is as witty and down-to-Earth offline as she is online and within a few seconds, I once again forgot that we had just met.  After heading over to Stone Creek Bar & Lounge where the event was being held to drop off our books and swag, Francine had to run to the conference but Sam had time to have lunch with me. It was so great to chat with her without a computer between us but, alas she had an appointment at the Kobo table at the conference and so I put her in a cab and headed back to my apartment to get ready for the party.  I even got my hair blown out for the occasion!  A place called Dry Bar that specializes solely in blow outs opened across the street from my apartment and I had been dying for an excuse to get my hair done there.  I couldn’t think of a better occasion than Book Buzz 2013!   

Almost time – All dressed up, I waited for a cab to take me to Sam’s hotel for a pre-event drink.  No cabs came.  Correction, many cabs drove by, but they were either occupied or off duty.  After ten minutes of waiting on the street corner worrying that I was going to sweat through my dress (it was HOT), I met a couple also waiting for a cab.  When I told them I was headed to my author party, they offered to help me find a cab first.  After another ten minutes of waiting in vain for a yellow cab, we finally hailed down a gypsy cab and the three of us decided to take it together.  The couple would not accept my money and simply wished me congratulations on the party and to have a great time.  If you two are reading this, THANK YOU.  I finally made it to Sam’s hotel, got in the elevator and pressed the button for the Penthouse (Sam is fancy like that…), and nothing happened.  Oops, no one told me I needed a key for the elevator!  Take two, I finally made it up to Sam’s hotel room where we exchanged compliments “You look great!”, “No, YOU look great!”, “WE look great.”  And we did.  Time for the party.

The Event – After walking to the event (still couldn’t find a cab), we finally made it to Stone Creek Bar & Lounge where we were greeted by authors Lucie Simone and Eileen Goudge.  I had participated in several promotions with Lucie and read her books and was very excited to meet her.  And Eileen Goudge, well, who wouldn’t be excited to meet a New York Times best-selling author, especially one as kind and open as Eileen?  They were both beautiful and charming and I am happy to report that while I did not get to spend too much time with them during the event, we got to know each other better later in the weekend.  Cari Kamm arrived next, looking absolutely stunning.  I had met her once before when we were planning the event and since she’s local, I hope to hang out with her again.  Anyone who attended Book Buzz can thank Cari for the Pink Stiletto cocktail as she was responsible for getting us the liquor sponsor from Shpilka Vodka.  Jen Tucker had trouble getting a cab but made it shortly thereafter and then came Heather Thurmeier.  I had an opportunity to chat with Heather later in the evening and after getting to know her better cannot wait to start reading her Bachelor-inspired novel, Falling for You, which is newly downloaded on my Kindle!   Last but not least was blogger, Julie Valerie who worked her tail off during the event.  While the rest of us mixed and mingled, Julie stood watch by our books and handled all of our sales.  She also promoted the hell out of the event ahead of time.  I was very excited to meet Julie.  Not only does she crack me up with her tweets on a daily basis, but she is so supportive of the chick lit genre, writing book reviews and organizing blog hops, and I wanted to express my gratitude in person for everything she has done. 

With Heather Thurmeier

With Heather Thurmeier

bookbuzz946627_10201406022779616_2103221111_n

Now that everyone was in the house, it was time to party and we sure did!  The turnout surpassed my expectations and I had so much fun mingling with readers, bloggers, other authors and industry people alike.  I had several friends attend and I am so thankful for their support and hope they had a great time as well and maybe discovered a few more authors. Although I obviously hoped to sell books, I was more excited to simply connect with our guests.  Everyone was so friendly and engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed my role as one of the co-hosts as I made my rounds through the bar.  One of our co-sponsors, Diversion Books, was generous enough to buy several platters of appetizers but I was too busy chatting to eat anything.  I must confess that I was nervous about meeting so many people and concerned that I would be shy but for several reasons, that did not happen.  I can probably blame some of it on the Pink Stiletto cocktail that I drowned before the guests arrived.  Also, I felt very pretty in my new dress and high heeled shoes, especially with my hair professionally blown out with loose curls!  Additionally, it was just so easy to converse with our friendly and enthusiastic guests and my bubbly co-hosts.  Finally, although I have two published novels and one in contract, that night I truly felt like a “real” author for the first time.   Perhaps it was seeing paperback copies of my books on display and spying several people actually purchase them.  Maybe it was the continuously running slide show that Francine’s husband created with photos of all eight authors, our book covers and blurbs from reviews.  Whatever the reason, I felt like it was my night to shine and I wasn’t going to waste it feeling shy or bashful.  I savored every moment.  Before I knew it, people were saying their goodbyes, many of them with our books in their oversized handbags. After speaking to several guest authors, I also left with a list of books to download on Amazon.  After the event officially ended, a few of the authors went home with promises to keep in touch and do it again the following year but several of us stuck around for a bit – partially because we were too tired to motivate to leave!  With achy feet (and cuts on my toes from my new shoes), I collapsed on a couch in a corner of the bar, along with Sam, Francine, Jen and Julie and we exchanged stories about our evenings and continued getting to know each other.  I can’t remember what we talked about anymore but I definitely remember laughing – a lot!!  I was not, however, laughing as I walked home with swollen feet and a huge bag of books later but it was so worth it!

This awesome woman bought all of our books!

This awesome woman bought all of our books!

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

The best part – I got to see most of the authors the following night for dinner at Eileen Goudge’s apartment!  And after that further unforgettable bonding experience, I got to have brunch with Sam and Lucie on Saturday morning and attend BEA with Sam that afternoon.  (Thank you Francine for lending me your identity for the day!) And finally, I had one last dinner with Sam and my friend Hilda on Saturday night.  Over drinks at the bar, we became friendly with the bartender who promised to buy our books and even write reviews on Amazon – not bad for a night out!  As tired and anxious as I was for my head to hit the pillow on Saturday night, it was bitter sweet because the weekend had truly come to an end.  The weekend we had been planning tirelessly for months was really over. 

Then again, that was Book Buzz 2013.  Now we can look forward to Book Buzz 2014! Who’s in?