the good, the bad, and the “I’m not ugly.”

With two months of 2018 behind us, I thought it would be an appropriate time to update you on my year so far. I’ve dealt with a lot of changes lately, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them bittersweet.

The good. In the beginning of January, I flew to California to spend a week with my writing tribe: Josie Brown, Eileen Goudge, Francine LaSala, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, and Julie Valerie (see pics below). I call them my writing tribe because we are a group of seven authors (“the Beach Babes”), but the friendships we share are about way more than our professional successes. We are friends, almost sisters, in the truest sense of the word. I feel so comfortable around these women, just being me, because they truly “get” me and, not only do they accept me for who I am, they adore me. I don’t have to try to be their friend. I don’t have to worry about saying the right things and when I say the wrong ones, they always know the sentiment came from a good place. I’m simply myself and it’s amazing—the way it should be. The trip came at the perfect time as I’d just said goodbye to another friendship (the “bittersweet”) and even though I knew it was for the best, I was struggling with self-doubt. This person lashed out at me for being unsupportive and selfish. I’d never been in a position before where my friendship skills had been questioned, and even though my version of the facts didn’t match hers (and she ignored my suggestion to talk about it), I was stung by the accusation. The Beach Babes reminded me of the value I add to all their lives and reassured me of the kind of friend/person I am and have always been. As hard as it is for me to let go of the past, I wasn’t happy in the present for a very long time. I spent way more time stressing, walking on egg shells, and trying to say the right things than I did having fun, feeling supported, being kind to, and simply put, “being liked.” At the very least, friends should like and be kind to each other, right? I consider myself lucky to have plenty of people in my life who truly enjoy and seek out my company, who take interest in my life as well as appreciate the attention I give to theirs, who don’t let the opinions of others sway their feelings for me, and who see the good in me while accepting my imperfections. Those are the relationships I should nurture and so I am. I’ve been spending time with some old friends I didn’t see nearly as much as I should have over the last few years and I’ve made a lot of new friends as well. I’ve signed up for two writer’s conferences this year, attended several really fun events for book nerds like myself (see pics below of R.L. Stine and Judy Blume), and I’m more comfortable, authentic, and content in my personal life than I’ve been in a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “I’m not ugly” – With a small part of my social calendar now open, I’d really like to fill it with a healthy, happy, mutually satisfying committed romantic relationship. My luck with men has been so bad lately, it’s getting kind of ridiculous, but I keep trying. I met someone in early January and I thought we hit it off. We texted while I was in California, and when I got home, made a date to go out again. He got sick and we rescheduled. He said he was still sick. I told him to let me know when he was feeling better, he said he would (and assured me he was not giving me the gentle blow-off—yes, I asked! I’ve been at this too long to play games) and then…radio silence. Since I’d already initiated contact several times, I cut my losses and moved on. I’d only met the guy once, but I was hopeful—not for our future nuptials, obviously—but for a second date. I’ve been on two other dates where we laughed, talked, seemed to share a physical attraction, and then crickets. I had nothing vested in either of them, but can’t help but wonder why they didn’t want to go out again. They obviously liked my profile and pictures (yes, both were online) enough to meet in person, my photos are current and I was my charming and engaging (and humble…) self when we met so…what? Is it me or is it them and what they’re looking for? I remember the days when my second date ratio was pretty much 100%, so to find myself a one-date-wonder now is disheartening and giving me a complex. I actually had to ask a third party if I looked like my pictures because I was afraid I was uglier in person. I’m not ugly!! Ugh. The struggle out there is real, people, but I’m not giving up. I will write my own happily-ever-after eventually.

And then there’s the bad. I’ve never had a very sensitive stomach. Sure, I got a belly ache if I ate too much. I’ve been hungover to the point of major puke-fests, and I’ve experienced food poisoning two or three times. But basically, I’ve eaten whatever I wanted without issue. This all changed last July. I know it was after Independence Day because I had gone away with some friends and ate and drank like it was a religious experience. But shortly after, I became bloated to the point of acute discomfort. I couldn’t sit at work for more than a few minutes before needing to get up and walk around. During lunch, I’d find an empty office and sit cross-legged on the floor while eating because it was the only position remotely comfortable. The bloat led to back pain and I did yoga poses, but there was no relief. In the shower, I would bend over and feel like I needed to push a brick out of my stomach. I was in pain literally every waking minute of my day aside from when I was exercising or sleeping. I got full after only a few bites and found myself losing weight, something I didn’t consider a positive since I wasn’t trying and my clothes were falling off. I was so afraid. What if I had stomach or pancreatic cancer? People thought I was overreacting, but who wouldn’t under the circumstances? I went to a few doctors and had tests done—CT scan of stomach and pelvis, stool sample (just…gross!), and cervical/PAP exam. Everything was fine. After discussing my symptoms and eating habits with my GI doctor, she suggested I try the Low Fodmap Diet because it seemed like I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (“IBS”). I’d always thought IBS was about constipation or diarrhea, which I experienced occasionally, but I had no idea that acute bloat, cramping, and even lower back pain were common even with normal bowel movements. (Sorry for the TMI…) Still, I was grateful it wasn’t life threatening, thanked my doctor, and told her I would try the diet. I won’t bore you with too many details, but it’s a diet that eliminates certain categories of foods that trigger the pain and discomfort of IBS (lactose, fructose, and wheat flour are some of them). The idea is to remove these triggers, reset your body until you have significant relief, and then reintroduce each category one at a time to see what sets off your pain. It is a long and lonely process, and one I’m still working my way through. I’ve failed several of the tests so far, which does not bode well for my future eating options. I joined a Facebook support group with a coach who walks us through the testing and provides us a forum to commiserate. The good news is that when I follow the diet, I feel so much better. I haven’t felt 100% since I’ve been afflicted by this condition, but on a good day, I’m 85%. Today is a good day!

But although this condition isn’t life threatening, it’s been life changing for me. I’ve always considered myself a foodie. I live to eat. My social life has always revolved around going out to restaurants, which since I’ve been on this diet, has caused me so much stress. What used to be a no-brainer fun night out can often be depressing, and I worry about annoying my dining mates with my dietary restrictions. I’m often hesitant to instigate plans out of fear that wherever we go will require me to go off the diet. I can’t share small plates and appetizers with the ease I used to, and I need to first check a menu has something on it that I can eat before I confirm plans. My friends have been great about it. They say they are with me for the company and so wherever we eat is fine, but it makes me feel very high maintenance (something I’ve never been, at least with respect to going out) and sad to know that I will probably never be able to enjoy food the same way unless I want to suffer for days afterward. The condition appeared so suddenly and I hoped someday it would disappear just as fast. Sadly, I was informed there is no real cure for IBS and it’s a chronic condition that doesn’t go away. I try to be thankful it wasn’t worse, but I feel as if I’m mourning a life that no longer exists.

To end on a bright note, I’m scheduled to do a reading/signing in Connecticut on March 23rd and the lineup is amazing. I seriously do not feel worthy to be in the same event as Jamie Brenner, Lynne Constantine (half of the duo who wrote the bestselling The Last Mrs. Parrish), Fiona Davis and more, but am thrilled with the opportunity. The release of The Boyfriend Swap was probably my most successful to date and with it has come increased sales of my other books—finally. I’m not even close to being able to quit the day job, but a dreamer can dream.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief insight into the private world of Meredith Schorr, but I must get back to writing my next masterpiece!

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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.

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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.)

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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!!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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!

The Celebration of Bloggers Tour concludes with Julie Valerie

Concluding my Celebration of Bloggers Tour is Julie Valerie, founder of Chick Lit Chit Chat on www.julievalerie.com. I introduced myself to Julie when I heard that she planned to read and review a chick lit book a week during 2013.  Being a chick lit author, I immediately reached out to Julie and asked if she wanted to review A State of Jane.  At the time, I had no idea that I would actually meet Julie just a few months later when she volunteered to help out at the Book Buzz author event I co-organized with several other authors in New York City.  Julie’s assistance that day was invaluable.  As you will see from her blog post below, Julie has such a great sense of humor. She’s a whole lot of fun and I truly cannot wait until her debut novel is released so that I can return some of the support she has generously bestowed onto me and so many other authors.  She’s really an amazing person and I like her so much, even more than…bacon! 

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Blogging vs. Bacon

By Julie Valerie

I love bacon. Almost as much as I love blogging. If I had to make a list of things I love, it would look like this:

1.Blogging

2.Bacon

Since this is a post about blogging, I’m going to stay on topic and talk about blogging. Not bacon.

Blogging rocks.

It’s cool because it’s both private and public at the same time. It’s something you do from the privacy of your home, but once done, instantly travels the globe.

And blogging offers some real benefits.

For one, blogging gives you an outlet to express your thoughts, opinions and/or feelings about something. Something … like bacon. I’m sure there’s a gazillion blogs about bacon. (See why blogging’s so great?)

Two, through blogging, you can share your talents and expertise with others and they can share their specialties with you. Bacon? Not so much. It can’t talk back.

Three, in my case, as a book blogger, blogging is the perfect platform for celebrating the arrival of a new book, or talking about an old book in a new way.

Now I ask you: What’s better than that?

Bacon?

Not even close.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love bacon. Almost as much as I love blogging. But bacon can’t help you market or promote things that are important to you. It just sits there. On your plate. Being bacon-y.

Bacon doesn’t let you demonstrate what you know about a topic. Bacon doesn’t help you establish yourself in a field. Bacon doesn’t network. It doesn’t make connections. It can’t link, like, tweet, post or comment.

Because it’s bacon.

And that’s why, on the list of things I love, blogging comes before bacon.

With one exception: Every morning, when I’m still half asleep and oh, so hungry?

My list looks like this:

1. Bacon

2. Blogging

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Julie Valerie

Book Blogger & Writer

Julie Valerie’s Book Blog

www.julievalerie.com

P.S. Meredith, thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of the Celebrating Bloggers Tour to help kick off your August 28 release of Blogger Girl. I can’t wait to read all about Kimberly Long and her “Pastel is the New Black” blog. I know she (like me) has loved chick lit since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary. And I know I’ll feel like Kimberly is a kindred spirit when I’m reading her because I have an entire category on my blog that’s dedicated a re-reading of Bridget Jones’s Diary, that watershed book that catapulted modern chick lit into the hearts and minds of readers.

Cheers to you and Kimberly! Yay for Blogger Girl!

* * * * *

Connect with Julie:

Blog: “Julie Valerie’s Book Blog” www.julievalerie.com

Facebook: Julie’s Author Page https://www.facebook.com/JulieValerieAuthor

Facebook: Julie’s Personal Page https://www.facebook.com/julie.valerie.165

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JBValerie

Google+: gplus.to/JulieValerie

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/15137376-julie-valerie

Blogger Girl (coming 8/28)

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

 

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

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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?

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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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!

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/

 

A Life Plan Similar to Swiss Cheese – guest post

In celebration of International Grilled Cheese Month*, I wrote a guest post for the lovely Julie Valerie over at Chick Lit Chick Chat. In addition to reading my very deep and thought provoking comparison of Jane Frank’s life plan to Swiss cheese, if you catch the blog by April 29th, you will have an opportunity to win a $5 gift card to Amazon. You can buy five 99 cent ebooks with that. Or two books for $2.99 (hint: A State of Jane is a good one 🙂 )

Check out the post here:

http://www.julievalerie.com/2013/04/24/meredith-schorr/

*How cool is it that there is an entire month devoted to one of my favorite sandwiches? I wonder if there is an International Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich month too…