*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Interview with Lisa Becker, author of "Clutch"

General Interview Q&A with Lisa Becker

Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money – on margaritas and books. In addition to my romantic comedy novels, which reviewers call clever, hilarious, sexy and smart, I’ve written bylined articles and participated in interviews about relationships, online dating and romance for a range of media including Reader’s DigestMind Body Green, Cupid’s Pulse, The Perfect Soulmate and TV Grapevine. My grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” I’m now happily married to a wonderful man I met online and live in Manhattan Beach, California with him and our two daughters. So, if it happened for me, there’s hope for anyone!

Tell us about your most recent release.
A light-hearted, second chance romance, Links explores what happens when nerdy girl Charlotte reconnects with her unrequited schoolgirl crush, star athlete Garrett, 15 years after high school.  

Did you have an unrequited crush in high school?
I'm not too ashamed to admit I had such a fierce crush on a boy, I willingly sat with him in the bathroom at parties while he puked up wine coolers, just so I could spend time with him. Thankfully, that soul-crushing time in my life is over, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I came upon that secret crush today as a confident, successful woman.

One of your books is based on how you met your husband. Can you tell us more about that?
I'm most known for the Click trilogy comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click, which is loosely inspired by how I met my husband.  The series follows a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles with the entire series unfolding in emails between our heroine, her friends and her hilarious dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

What is next for you?
This spring, I will re-release a novel I published several years ago called Clutch. The re-release includes five new chapters, a new cover and audiobook.  It is a laugh-out-loud romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags (the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.) as she searches for the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.

Is Clutch also inspired by your real life?
When I was writing the Click trilogy I was obsessed with NCIS re-runs and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode where a character refers to a man as a “handbag husband,” or something useless you carry on your arm.  I started thinking about that, and the idea for Clutch grew from there. I believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after
and would like to think there’s a “clutch,” or someone worth holding onto, out there for everyone.

If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
I think Eloise Mumford, who played Kate in Fifty Shades of Grey, would make an outstanding Caroline. She has the right mixture of warmth, gumption, vulnerability, and beauty to bring this character to life. I still can’t decide who would play Mike, although I know I’d love to sit in on those casting sessions.  ;)

At the end of your life, when it is all said and done, what would you want your tombstone to read?
Here lies Lisa Willet Becker – a great wife, mother, friend and citizen who wrote books and movies people loved.

by Lisa Becker
Genre: Chick-Lit, Romantic Comedy

**Winner of the best romantic comedy for the 2018 American Fiction Awards! **

* Now with five new bonus chapters *

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.  

What Reviewers Are Saying:

LOVED. The perfect blend of sassy, smart and stylish!”
Amazon Bestsellers Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

This book is absolutely hilarious!”
Pretty Little Book Reviews

I thought the comparison to men and handbags was so genius! Becker really knows how to write to her audience, and this clever novel had me giggling throughout.”
Chick Lit Plus

Lisa Becker is a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money - on books and margaritas.  In addition to Clutch: a novel, she is the author of the Click trilogy, a contemporary romance series about online dating and Links, a standalone, second chance romance readers.  As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone! You can share your love stories with her at www.lisawbecker.com.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Interview with Mark M. McMillin, author of "The Butcher's Daughter"

Q: What do you think about the current publishing market? 
A: It’s hard, nearly impossible, for and unknown new writer to break into. I know that much.

Q: What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? 
A: Just write, ignore the rules and processes and just write. Then polish, polish and polish your story and when you think you’re done, go back and polish it some more.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book? 
A: Six months or so – but then it takes me eighteen months or more on the rewrites. I bet I wrote well over 600,000 words to get the 100,000 + words for The Butcher’s Daughter.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block? 
A: Of course, no question. When it happens, just walk away from your work - but keep a notebook handy or voice recorder nearby if that’s your thing. At some point an inspiration will hit you square in the face out of the blue and then you’ll know you are ready to write again.
Q: What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? 
A: I do some preliminary research about the era I intend to write about and then I just write. I fill-in the historical details later to add an element of authenticity. I know, I know, my process is backwards. For example, this book takes place in the late 1550’s. When I wrote some scene with Mary (who wears men’s clothing as most of her time is spent at sea) and a refined lady, I just write the scene and research the types and colors of dresses the lady might have worn later. I’ve tried hard to strike a balance between adding enough detail to create realism but not too much detail that can bog a story down.

The Butcher's Daughter
by Mark M. McMillin
Genre: Historical Nautical Romantic Adventure 

In an age ruled by iron men, in a world of new discovery and Spanish gold, a young Irishwoman named Mary rises from the ashes of her broken childhood with ships and men-at-arms under her command. She and her loyal crew prowl the Caribbean and prosper in the New World for a time until the ugly past Mary has fled from in the old one finds her.

Across the great ocean to the east, war is coming. The King of Spain is assembling the most powerful armada the world has ever seen - an enormous beast - to invade England and depose the Protestant “heretic queen.” To have any chance against the wealth and might of Spain, England will need every warship, she will need every able captain. To this purpose, Queen Elizabeth spares Mary from the headman’s axe for past sins in exchange for her loyalty, her ships and men.

Based on true historical events, this is a tale about war, adventure, love and betrayal. This is a story about vengeance, this is a tale of heartbreak…

“… a pleasurable and action-packed read … a delicious spin to the otherwise tired clich├ęs of male captains … the joy of the open seas - as well as the danger churning below - pulses throughout this rip-roaring, hearty tale of the high seas.” - Kirkus Reviews

Born in 1954 in Indiana, Mark McMillin has lived in a number of states throughout the U.S. as well as overseas. He attended Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, focusing his studies mostly on military history, and served as a cadet in Canisius's nationally recognized ROTC program. After graduating in 1976, Mark was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and was stationed in Bad Kissingen, Germany where he served with the elite 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

In 1986, Mark received his J.D. degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois and began his legal career with a law firm in White Plains, New York focusing his attention on general corporate law. In 1994, Mark moved to Virginia and ventured out into hazardous world of litigation where, in 1999, he won what was reported to be at the time one of the largest and longest federal criminal trials in Virginia's history. Mark thereafter moved to Georgia where he resumed his general corporate practice and served as general counsel for several companies, including a $1B publicly-traded airline.

Mark has been a life-long student of military history. And he has always had a passion for reading and love for writing and wanted to someday write his own book. But write a book about what? Mark had no desire to write about some subject that 100 authors before him had already delved into. And then, almost by accident, this fascinating, little known story of Captain Luke Ryan fell into his lap. It was an opportunity was too good to pass on and so Mark began the long and tedious journey of researching, writing and rewriting. The twelve year project ended in 2011 with Gather the Shadowmen (The Lords of the Ocean), Prince of the Atlantic and Napoleon's Gold.

Mark currently lives in the Southeastern part of the United States.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"The Berenstain Bears' Mad, Mad, Mad Toy Craze" by Stan and Jan Berenstain

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/A19C2qJl2FL.jpgAs a parent, I'm not sure if there is anything more confusing than toy fads that involve toys you can't play with. Even as a child, I didn't 'get it.' I remember when Beanie Babies were a craze and I collected them, but I also played with them. I even *gasp* cut the tags off. However, there are those toys that pop-up that I just don't get the appeal of. So when I first saw The Berenstain Bears' Mad, Mad, Mad Toy Craze, I chuckled because of subject manner. However, I am not able to recommend this book.

Like the rest of the cubs in Bear Country, Brother and Sister become obsessed with collecting Bearie Bubbies. They have to have them, they just have to. When the stores run out, their friends start selling them (at a ridiculous price of course). They start popping up everywhere and soon the Bear's tree house is filled to the brim with these stuffed critters. It seems like there is not end in sight for the madness that is Bearie Bubbies.

This book left me with a "what just happened?" feel when I finished it. I am so used to The Berenstain Bears leaving me with a life lesson of some sort- don't talk to strangers, eat junk food in moderation, do your homework, that sort of thing. This book just ends. There is no moral, no lesson, nothing. I even checked to make sure that there weren't pages stuck together or missing because there literally was no ending to the story. After looking at it's Goodreads page, I saw that I wasn't the only person left confused upon completion. It felt like Stan and Jan had a deadline they didn't meet, so they just sent the book off without the last few pages. Or maybe, like me, the Berenstains didn't 'get it' either so they just didn't put their normal amount of effort into this book. Either way, if you're looking for book to read with the kiddos, feel free to pass on this one.

Happy Reading!


Monday, March 26, 2018

"Because I Had To" by David Bulitt Book Tour

Because I Had To
by David Bulitt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Jess Porter spent her childhood bouncing from therapist to therapist and prescription to prescription. An outcast at school and a misfit at home, the only solace she ever found was in her relationship with her dad, Tom. Now he's dead. Feeling rejected by her adopted mom and her biological twin sister, Jess runs off to South Florida. But she can't outrun her old life. Watching the blood drip down her arm after her latest round of self-inflicted cutting, she decides her only choice is to find and face what frightens her most. Because I Had To takes the reader inside the worlds of adoption, teen therapy, family law, and the search for a biological family. With a cast of finely drawn, complicated characters, it asks us to consider: can the present ever heal the past?

Family law specialist David Bulitt has been praised as the lawyer who “epitomizes stability and old fashioned common sense” by Bethesda Magazine and routinely makes every top Washington DC Metro lawyer list. His clients say that he is “the best non-shaving, motorcycle-riding, bourbon-drinking, non-lawyer, lawyer” they know. 

The grandson of a New Jersey bartender, Bulitt was the first member of his family to get a professional degree. After years of raising kids and focusing on family responsibilities, Bulitt Bulitt now spends much of his spare time discussing world issues with his dogs and working on his novels. His first book, CARD GAME, was published in 2015 to a bevy of five star reviews. His new novel, BECAUSE I HAD TO, is available now on Roundfire Books.

Bulitt is the Assistant Managing Director of Joseph, Greenwald and Laake, PA, one of Maryland's largest and most prominent law firms. His practice focuses on all areas of family law, including cases that involve complex financial and property matters and property distribution, divorce, and child custody disputes. He is often appointed by local courts to serve in one of the most difficult and demanding legal roles, as a Best Interests Attorney for children whose parents are embroiled in high conflict custody disputes. He also has extensive expertise working with families that have children with special needs.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

"Dawn and the Impossible Three" by Gale Galligan, and of course, Ann M. Martin

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51HmwfDtKJL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI have a confession. I want to do my Baby-Sitters Club reading challenge again. I don't have the time of course. My reading time has shrunk considerably since becoming a mom and I barely have the time to read new books, let alone the 200+ Ann M. Martin books I read when I did the challenge a few years ago. What can I say, I miss the BSC.

I have been trying to get my hands on the new Graphic Novel version of Dawn and the Impossible Three for awhile now. It's popular at my library (which makes me so happy) and whenever I'd think to check for it, it was always checked out. However, the library recently acquired the e-book version (*insert me babbling about how amazing the Libby app is here*). While I wasn't amazed by it, I did have a good time reading it.

Dawn is new to the BSC and new to Stoneybrook. She becomes the very regular sitter for Buddy, Suzy, and Marnie Barrett (some of my favorite of the BSC charges). They are awesome kids, but as their parents are going through a messy divorce, things in the Barrett household are crazy. The house and kids are often a mess, they have some behavioral issues stemming from the divorce, and it's usually a little more than thirteen year old Dawn can handle.  But if anyone can solve the problem, it's the Baby-Sitters Club!

First, to address the biggest change, the art isn't by Raina Telgemeier. As a Telgemeier fan, this made me sad, but Gale Galligan's style is very close. I suspect that children reading this book wouldn't be bothered that the style isn't identical and as an adult, I appreciate that someone new is continuing the series for new readers to discover. As for the adaptation of the original novel, I'm a little put off by the plot. When the graphic novels first came out, the books adapted were Kristy's Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day and Claudia and Mean Janine (books 1, 3, 4 and 7). Because it wasn't the first 4 books, I remember there being some adjustments to make up for the plot points that were from other books. Okay, works for me. However, Dawn and the Impossible Three is book 5 in the series. Meaning we have jumped back in time chronologically of the old series, but not for the new. If I was completely new to this universe, it would have been fine. But as an avid (okay, obsessed) fan, my head hurt. On top of that, this adaptation addresses plot points that weren't brought up until Hello, Mallory! (book 14) in the original series so now my head is really spinning. I read this knowing that the adaptation of Kristy's Big Day is in the works, so I'm already wondering how that plot will differ. This was really my only complaint about the book. It works just fine within the graphic novel universe, so new readers shouldn't have any problems. However, the parents who grew up on the original series may be confused- especially if they have only read the old books and not kept up with the new. But I am on board with these adaptation because I love that they are introducing my favorite baby-sitters to a whole new generation of readers.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"Caroline: Little House, Revisited" by Sarah Miller

My love for The Little House started at a young age. I believe I was in the first grade when I first read Little House in the Big Woods, and I was immediately hooked. While I am selective about which parts of the legacy I love, that love runs deep. I'm far more interested in the historical side of Laura Ingalls Wilder than the various spin-offs and the "extras" such as the television show. Unfortunately, I don't currently have the means to travel to the various sites where Laura and her family lived, it is a dream of mine to do so one day. I did get to visit some of the sites in DeSmet a few years ago, and it was AMAZING. I just wish that my trip had allowed for a more in depth visit. For all of this, I was very curious when I heard about Sarah Miller's Caroline: Little House, Revisited. I have read all of the Caroline Years and enjoyed them, but this was different and I am so glad that I managed to make this one of the books I read in 2017.

We all know Caroline Ingalls. She is one of the world's most famous mothers, whether it be in history or fiction. We know how she calmly raised the feisty Laura. We all know about her amazing cooking and how she seemed to be able to create wonders from absolutely nothing. But I don't think I had given a lot of thought to her perspective of the Ingalls' journeys and various living locations. Sarah Miller made me appreciate just how nice my life is and how thankful I am to live in this era. Caroline gives insight into the difficulties of being a pioneer woman and mother, the struggles of being pregnant while crossing the country and settling a new homestead, and just how tough things really were without today's modern conveniences. While the writing style was a little slower than I normally like, it worked for this particular novel. It was very interesting to see those famous moments from Little House on the Prairie through the eyes of an adult. Much of the emotion was the same as in Laura's novel. There was fear at the same moments, joy, sadness. But it was still different. This is very much tied to the fact that Caroline had a much better grasp of what was at stake each day. As an adult, there wasn't someone else to rely on to make things better. She and Charles didn't have someone to see that "all's well that ends well." It was up to them to make that ending well. Miller captures these emotions so beautifully, that I was sad when I finished this book, because I knew the story wasn't over, but that this perspective was.

Sadly, I don't have nearly as much time for reading in my life (that's okay, mommyhood is better), but out of the few books I actually got to sit and read in 2017, this was by far the best. It's the perfect read for those that enjoy historical fiction that really focuses on the way things were. It's great for mom's (trust me, I was so beyond thankful for my birthing experience after reading this book). And above all, it's great for fans of The Little House.

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