Friday, November 7, 2014

New Release: Early Bird by Tracy Krimmer

Hey, everyone! Ready for a holiday-themed short story? The lovely and talented Tracy Krimmer has just released a Thanksgiving tale told Chick Lit style. Feast your eyes on this!

Francie excels at her job as a party planner, but can't say the same about love. When an obnoxious, but handsome, man approaches her in line at a Thanksgiving sale, she pushes him away like she always does. Can Francie put her fears aside and nab an early bird special, or is she destined to plan every wedding but her own? 

Sound good? I know I'm intrigued. Just on my way to Amazon to buy it. Feel free to join me! 

Interested in finding out more about Tracy? 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Down on Love Blog Tour Stop: The Fabulous Jayne Denker

Greetings, y'all! I have a real treat for you today. My good friend, Jayne Denker, has stopped by for a chat about her fabulous book, Down on Love. It is the first book in her Marsden series, a collection of books based in a delightful town in the Catskills which is full of, well, busybodies. (Please reference the above signage.)

I thoroughly enjoyed Down on Love and am now addicted to the series. Ms. Denker's books are bursting with charm, wit and sincerity, just like Ms. Denker herself. Are you ready to meet her?

Tour of Marsden, Day 6
There’s More to the Catskills Than Dirty Dancing

Hey there! Happy Monday! ...What, no love for the beginning of the week? But we’re not toiling away in the workplace—we’re on a tour bus in the Catskill Mountains, heading for the fictional town of Marsden, NY, where my small-town rom com series takes place!

Don’t know much about the Catskills? Well, I can help you out there. I’m a native (western) New Yorker and have spent most of my life north of New York City and west of the Hudson. I was born in Rochester, I’ve lived in the Finger Lakes and downstate near the Pennsylvania border, and I went to college in the Catskills.

And I can tell you that there’s nothing more beautiful than an autumn afternoon in that weathered mountain range in the middle of New York State.

How about some Catskills trivia? 


·         The Catskills Mountains are 100 miles north of New York City and the region extends from Albany in the east, down the Hudson River, and westward into what’s known as the Leatherstocking Region. It’s made up of 6,000 square miles, six counties, nearly 100 mountain peaks, and 700,000 acres of parkland (nearly half of which is designated as forever wild).

·         The area was once an inland sea.

·         The name has nothing to do with killing cats. In Dutch, “kill” means creek, so it was known as Cat Creek, possibly because of the mountain lions in the area at the time the Dutch explored it (1600s).

·         Howe Caverns is located in the Catskills.

·         The classic novel My Side of the Mountain is set there (Delhi, NY).

·         The Woodstock music festival took place in the Catskill town of Bethel (no, not Woodstock, NY, but that’s a famous artists’ colony).

·         The first Christmas trees sold in New York City came from the Catskills in 1851.

·         The Baseball Hall of Fame is located there (Cooperstown, NY).

·         Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle is set in the Catskills.

·         New York City gets nearly half its water supply from the region.

·         In the mid-20th century, part of the Catskills was famously known as the Borscht Belt, an area filled with resorts and “summer camps” that hosted families from New York City all season.

·         Movies set in the Catskills: Dirty Dancing (of course!), A Walk on the Moon (mmm...Viggo Mortenson...), Woodstock (double of course!), Manny & Lo, and the documentary Stagedoor, just to name a few. Scenes from Tootsie were shot there, and several movies like You Can Count on Me were set there but not filmed there.

Most important of all (koff): my Marsden series is set in the Catskills! Although you won’t find Marsden on any map, there’s a little bit of other towns in it...and a whole lot of the Catskill vibe.

Here’s an excerpt that’ll give you a feel for the place; it’s when our heroine, Georgiana (George) Down, comes back to town after being away for years:


They crossed a side street, and George did a double take at the sight of a picture of a garden spray-painted on a brick wall. She glanced at Casey with a smile. “Banksy crossed the Atlantic when nobody was looking?”

“What, the street art? Local version. We call him Marsdy.”

“Who is it?”

“Nobody knows—haven’t caught anybody in the act yet. And that’s some feat.”

“Keeping a secret around here? You’re not kidding.” They hurried past a mime on the corner, avoiding catching the person’s eye so they didn’t have to stop and watch the invisible box thing. “When did you move back? Sera didn’t tell me—well, why would she, you know? But I didn’t—I mean . . .”

“It’ll be two years in October.”

“She hasn’t mentioned you in two years? Not that we talk very often, but . . .”

“I’ve been keeping a low profile.”

“‘Working hard on the farm?’” It seemed like everything came back to that.

“Yeah.” Before she could ask for details, he went on, “And speaking of working, what was that Mrs. P said, about a blog . . . ?”

“Girl’s gotta make a living.”

“Well, aren’t you wired—” Casey paused as a cell phone chirped. “Yours?”

George stopped walking and pulled her phone out of her pocket. “Nope. You?”

Casey was checking his. “Not me.”

They stowed their phones and started walking again, but their path seemed to be blocked more frequently, and by individuals who were looking at them rather intently.

George whispered, “Do I have spinach in my teeth?”

“When was the last time you ate spinach?”

“Two thousand eleven?”

“When was the last time you brushed your teeth? And please don’t say two thousand ten.”

“This morning.”

“All right, then.”

“Are you getting the feeling we’re missing something?”

Casey looked grim, but he said, “It’s nothing. Come on, we’re here.”

The hardware store looked exactly the same as it always had—clapboard front, two plate-glass windows, swinging sign overhead reading “Smithson’s Hardware” even though Tony Smithson, the previous owner and proprietor, had died twenty-five years ago. Because it was June, the window display featured a wheelbarrow, a Garden Weasel, bags of fertilizer, a small stretch of picket fence, and a carpet of fake grass. Just like every year. If you’d just woken up from a coma and didn’t have a calendar handy, you could tell what month it was by checking the hardware store’s window display.

Inside, it was as though time had stood still. The dark wooden shelves were still twenty feet tall (it seemed), the lights high and dim, the farthest recesses dark and dusty, the bins of odds and ends and bits of metal parts, screws, nails, washers, and clamps organized in such a way that only the employees could find anything. Probably, George thought, to ensure job security. You couldn’t fire any of the old fossils who’d manned the counter for decades; if you did, nobody would be able to locate anything they needed.

And sure enough, there were the three of them right now, in various states of apronage, two older gents with eyeglasses flashing, reflecting the lights overhead, the third a bit younger, with more hair and less stomach—the next generation, a future fossil. They all watched Casey and George walk in and raised their hands in greeting.

“Welcome home, George,” the senior fossil said, as George, still refusing Casey’s help with the stroller, worked hard to navigate it around cardboard displays and bins of stuff on sale. “Heard you were coming in.”

She stopped short, stunned. “Thanks . . . ? Henry, how did you—”

He waggled a cell phone at her. “Missy called.”

“Of course she did.”

“Help you with the plumbing fixtures?”

Apparently Mrs. Preston had been listening to their excuses—and had filled in the hardware store crew so they’d be prepared. But Casey didn’t break his stride, just waved over his shoulder. “We’re good, Henry. But thanks.”

George followed, pushing the stroller between the tall shelves, the aged floorboards creaking under her feet, to a far corner where a few faucet sets were on display.

She wrinkled her nose as she examined their options. “Home Depot has, like, fifty different kitchen faucets to choose from. Maybe we should—”

Casey shushed her. “Do you want to get run out of town on a rail? Do not speak a big box name within the town limits! Now get over here and pick one, city girl.”

“They all look the same.”

“Then it’ll be easier to choose.”

George made a face at him and pointed at the middle set. “That one, I guess.”

“If your sister doesn’t approve, it’ll be on your head.”

“Isn’t it always?”

As they approached the counter with the faucet and some other plumbing-related items Casey had grabbed along the way, he ventured, “So how did you end up offering to be Amelia’s nanny, anyway?”

“Didn’t, did she?” senior fossil Henry said as he rang up their purchase. “Sera called and begged.”

“No, she didn’t,” argued the junior fossil—Pete, if George remembered correctly—as he bagged each item after Henry rang it up. “I heard she blackmailed George, threatened to reveal some ancient family secret. She couldn’t refuse after that.”

“Guys. I’m right here.”

“So you know what I’m saying,” junior fossil Pete said with a pointed look at her, as though he shared her secret.

“Why don’t you set these geezers straight, George?” Mike, the future fossil, suggested, resting his elbows on the counter and giving her a wink. “Otherwise they’ll be arguing about it for days.”

“Well, that’ll give them something to talk about besides the weather, won’t it, Mike?”

And George smiled politely before turning her attention to getting Amelia’s stroller back out the door.

“What’re you grinning at?” she snapped at Casey as he held the door open for her, although she couldn’t hide her amusement either.

He grasped the front of the stroller to help ease it over the threshold. “You.”

“Well, that’s quite . . . blunt of you.”

“You seem . . . different.”

“Everybody keeps saying that.” She stopped short as Casey studied her. “What?”

“Just trying to figure out what the recent version of Goose is like, that’s all.”


If this bus isn’t traveling to the Catskills fast enough for you, grab Down on Love, on sale for only 99 cents, all e-formats, all month long, and dive right in! You might just fall in love with the place.

Next stop, tomorrow (Tuesday, October 21): I’ll share some Marsden secrets over at 1 Rad Reader (!

Now that you have experienced her charm first hand, here is the lowdown on the fabulous Ms. Denker's first Marsden novel, Down on Love. 

When it comes to love, she's a professional skeptic. Is it too late for a career change?

If there's one thing Georgiana Down is an expert in, it's bad relationships. That's what inspired her blog, Down on Love, where she gives snarky advice--usually along the lines of "dump him." In fact, George is abstaining from men all together. At least that's the plan--until she makes a trip back to her tiny hometown in the Catskills, where meddling is an art form. . .

George loves helping out with her new baby niece, but she's counting the days until she returns to Boston. Then she runs into Casey Bowen, her high school crush. The boy she once loved is now a handsome grown man--and suddenly George needs a little advice of her own. She's in the right place, because when she drunk posts on her blog, everyone in Marsden has something to say about George and Casey. It's like high school all over again--but maybe this time she'll get things right. . .

Ready to buy it? I know you are! Here are your options:

      Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   iTunes   GooglePlay


About the Author

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love and Picture This. When she's not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author) and Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor). She’d like to say she updates her Web site,, quite often, but most of the time when it crosses her mind, she shouts “Can’t you see I’m writing?!” and puts it off till another day.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Have Become My Mother

I’m really not sure when the transition happened. I don’t think it took place from the moment my first child was born. I believe it gradually took hold of me since I didn’t notice until it was already over. The relatively relaxed person I used to be was replaced by a stringent, rule enforcing dynamo filled with pithy instructional phrases. I’m still taken by surprise by the speed at which these sayings fly out of my mouth (I swear I don’t even think about it anymore; it just happens) and have resigned myself to the fact that it will take multiple repetitions to achieve the desired result.

You know exactly what I mean. “Brush your teeth.” “Put on clean underwear.” “Wash your hands after using the bathroom.” “Put your toys, shoes, coat, dishes, penis (It happens!), etc. away.” And let’s not forget the omnipresent, “Remember to say ‘please and thank you.’” I sound like a broken record because I have to say each of these things at least twenty times a day (I have two sons and each action takes four to five requests to ensure completion. This is an excellent math problem in the making...)

As I child, I was convinced these phrases were meant to stifle any type of fun I was having. Mothers have a wonderful ability to break the flow of fun, don’t you think? You run home from school, throw the front door of your house open (you may or may not remember to close it) deposit your belongings on the floor just inside the door and high tail it to whatever activity you had your heart set on doing once you got out of the prison everyone else called “school.” You got about halfway up the stairs by the time your mother called out to you, listing each action to be completed before your eager little patootie could go anywhere it actually wanted to go. With a deep sigh, you would flounce down the stairs, whine about how unfair life was and then sulk your way through each instruction. And you probably threw in a few sighs and eye rolls too. Just for fun.

I am now the lucky recipient of the eye roll/sigh combo. My nine-year-old son has achieved master status with this particular skill. Some days, it’s all I can do not to channel Bill Cosby and say, “Son, I brought you into this world; I’ll take you out.” I’m not proud of this thought, but I do manage to restrain myself, which should count for something. As parents, we spend all day every day juggling the mundane tasks necessary to keep our families safe and happy. Of course, our kids have neither the understanding nor the inclination to help us with any of it. They prefer to kick and scream their way through their young lives, shouting, “It’s not fair!” at the top of their lungs. And so it should be. We know one day they will understand.

And so I have come to the conclusion that my mother, with all of her nagging, was right. I’m dealing with my comeuppance like a big girl (I drink wine and eat chocolate), but it makes me sad she is not here to see it. I can only hope she is out there in the universe somewhere, taking comfort in the knowledge her youngest daughter FINALLY gets it. So when I tell you I have become my mother, it is not with the chagrin you may be expecting. Becoming your mother is actually not such a troubling thing. Sure you may end up with some of her less than stellar habits – ridiculous dance moves, singing off key, misusing current slang, etc. – but you will also gain her wisdom. In the end, you take the good, you take the bad, you take ‘em both and…you know where this is going. (Don’t you miss the wisdom of the 80s?) It is simply a fact of life that many of your mother’s qualities will become a part of you one day – when you need it the most. 

80s Movie Wisdom

There are certain moments in our lives that we remember with absolute clarity. One of mine occurred when I discovered that many important lessons could be gleaned from the stellar collection of movies that I watched in the 1980s. I was writing my first book, French Twist, and I found my mind continually wandering to my favorite John Hughes and Cameron Crowe movies from my childhood.  I giggled as my fingers flew over the keyboard, peppering the dialogue of my characters with indelible quotes from these cinematic gems. Suddenly, I realized that these movies were jam packed with critical life lessons for future generations to come.

At first, it may seem like a bit of a stretch, but if you really think about it, you will see that there is much knowledge to be acquired from your favorite movies from the decade of excess…

Lesson #1: Don’t Lie

This may seem rather obvious and is definitely one that our parents told us over and over again, but with his script for Pretty in Pink, John Hughes was able to convey this idea in a way that seemed decidedly less lame. Just cast your mind back to the wonderfully idealistic and honest Andie, played by Molly Ringwald. She is not naïve enough to miss the socioeconomic differences enforced en masse by the students at her high school, but she will not allow herself to be treated poorly by any of the “in-crowd” and values telling the truth above all else. In the end, Blaine, played by the gorgeous Andrew McCarthy, realizes what an idiot he has been, sticks it to his heinous best friend Steph, played with such delightful creepiness by James Spader, and begs Andie’s forgiveness. Even as a teenager I could see that the massive amount of lies told by the popular kids were bringing them nothing but pain. I was totally ahead of my time!

Lesson #2: Money Isn’t Everything

This is a lesson that takes YEARS to learn and some people will never truly take it to heart. Admittedly, it is exceedingly hard to grasp - especially when you are a kid and money appears to be a very simple solution to every problem. But again, our man John Hughes comes through with some serious brilliance in Some Kind of Wonderful. Here we meet Keith, played by the dreamy Eric Stoltz and Amanda, played by Leah Thompson, both high school students from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  While Amanda essentially sells herself to “run with the rich and the beautiful” (Thank you, Mary Stuart Masterson!), Keith is content to hang with his other economically challenged friends, stumbling through the usual teenage insecurities and big dreams for the future. Amanda picks up the scraps of her rich friends, but it is only after she sees the true nature of her revolting ex-boyfriend, played so effectively by Craig Sheffer, that she understands that money cannot buy happiness, only a very small approximation of it.

Lesson #3: Crazy Things Can Happen

Crazy things certainly happen far more often in the movies, but real life has its moments.  (French Twist is the true story of how I met my husband and it is full of crazy happenings!) Enter once again, the amazing Mr. John Hughes, with the Sixteen Candles. Here we find Samantha, played by Molly Ringwald, torn between being angry with her family for forgetting her SIXTEENTH birthday and mooning over THE Jake Ryan. Every girl had a Jake Ryan in high school.  You know, the incredibly hot guy, who was also sweet, charming AND athletic? Fictional Jake is also wealthy and interested in a moderately dorky girl rather than his smokin’ hot girlfriend; why wouldn’t we be enamored with the idea of such a thing?  OK, OK, so there is a degree of suspension of disbelief at work here, but Sixteen Candles reminds kids of the very important lesson that these crazy things CAN happen. Let’s not shatter their dreams with the fact that the odds are not ever in their favor. (Points for cross generational reference!)

Lesson #4: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

I find this lesson a bit funny considering that at this point in time, I spend a lot of time thinking about cover design, since people most definitely judge them before buying my books, but we are going with the metaphorical sense on this one. In another of his cinematic triumphs, The Breakfast Club, John Hughes warns us about the dangers of stereotyping. We are presented with John – the criminal played by Judd Nelson, Andrew - the athlete played by Emilio Estevez, Claire – the princess played by Molly Ringwald, Allison - the basket case played by Ally Sheedy and Brian - the brain played by Anthony Michael Hall. Each character comes with a corresponding image and background and it would be easy enough to pigeon hole these kids based on their roles. However, as the movie progresses, we see why this is such a colossal mistake. We quickly learn that no one’s life is ever really what it seems – good or bad – and we all have a lot more in common than we thought. And though the future of John and Claire’s relationship is absolutely doomed, at least their short stint together removed the deep rooted animosity that was based on good old fashioned assumptions.

Lesson #5: Never Underestimate the Impact of a Grand Gesture

Now it is time for us to hand the reins over to Mr. Cameron Crowe and his extraordinary film, Say Anything. Simply hearing the title of this movie instantly evokes the image of Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusak, holding a boom box over his head that is blasting the unforgettable Peter Gabriel song “In Your Eyes.” I can easily picture him standing in front of his blue Chevy Malibu in that borderline skeevy trench coat, with a look on his face that was part determination and part anguish. Whether you are a teenager, or perhaps a little, um, older you can easily appreciate the bravery it takes to put yourself on the line like that. And really, would we all swoon over magnificent scenes like this in both movies and books, if we did not desperately want them to happen in real life? I think not.

I hope that you enjoyed my musings on the wisdom of my favorite 1980s movies. I could have droned on and on for pages, but I know that you have a busy life to lead! If you have any interest in reading about a few real life grand gestures executed by my incredibly romantic husband of twelve years, please check out my French Twist series!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Tyrannical Threes

There are many things I fear in this world – old age, natural disasters, my husband asking to try a new jiu-jitsu move on me and the worst of all, harm coming to one of my loved ones. Another item at the top of the list is a developmental stage which every youngster must pass through. If you’re a parent, there is an excellent chance that you have either experienced first-hand or have at least read about one the scariest rites of passage there is; a challenge I like to call “The Tyrannical Threes.” At this time, I would like to thank my sister for warning me of this horrifying reality. I hope to do the same for you.

How many times have you heard the expression, “The Terrible Twos?” It seems as though the moment people in your life find out you're pregnant, they will regale you with stories of how your toddler will become sooooo terrible. Oh, the things you will endure! You will be lucky to get out alive! Uh huh. If you are not yet a parent, let me share something very important with you - the twos have NOTHING on the threes. The threes will make you yearn for the sleepless nights, exploding diapers and breast infections of yesteryear. There will be endless screaming, high pitched crying and every type of tantrum throwing under the sun. And yes, there will be times you will wish you had never been born. It IS that bad.

Think I’m exaggerating? Let me paint a picture for you. The other day I took my two sons out to lunch at our local diner. On the way in we passed one of those cursed games with huge window of inviting toys and the claw which purports the ability to capture a coveted prize. In other words, “the sucker’s bet.” My three-year-old son immediately latched on the joystick and insisted, rather loudly, on playing. His nine-year-old brother seconded this notion, thankfully at a lower volume. After a promise of a game for each of them following lunch, my younger son reluctantly allowed himself to be led to a booth.

Upon arrival at the booth, my little darling proceeded to fold his arms and pout. When I sat down, he promptly lay prostrate and repeatedly shoved his feet into my behind. Nice. I maintained my calm demeanor and was finally able to get him to sit up. While trying to ascertain what he would like to eat (because his acceptable food list changes daily) I was told repeatedly in his best OUTSIDE voice that he wanted to play the game. A few deep breaths later, I decided to order him what he was eating as of yesterday and hope he would deign to eat it today as well.

My nine-year-old was such a champ! He did his best to distract his brother from the pull of the claw with crayons, Angry Birds and stories. When none of his tactics worked, he tried to rationalize with his brother that it would be unlikely he would win a prize anyway. Though he had the best of intentions, my son caused ear piercing screams to emanate from his traumatized little brother. The tears were profuse, the body flailing was expertly executed to cause maximum bodily harm to his mother AND the kicking was enough to rattle the couple in the next booth into moving to a new table. You know, as far away as possible from the horror of Tyrannical Three zone.

Once I tamed the demon my tiny one had become, we quickly ate our meal. Well, my older son and I ate while he chanted “I want to play the claw game” over and over and OVER again. With the bill paid, my younger son happily skipped over to the machine and demanded a coin. His older brother was deluded enough to think they could take turns and was severely put out when he realized he didn’t stand a chance. A few turns and five, cough, dollars later, we had won….wait for it….a pair of plastic clip-on earrings. Hmm. As neither one of my sons have ever had an interest in girly costumes, this was not well received.

After announcing our imminent departure, the torrent of yelling and limb flailing commenced once more. I closed my eyes, braced myself for the beating I was about to take and reached for my indignant son. Then I hoisted him over my shoulder (to minimize the chance of facial injuries), waved to the owner and motioned for my older son to follow. While looking back to verify that he was indeed following me, I caught the owner in mid cackle. I like to think he was laughing with me (as in maybe he had been through the same kind of ordeal himself), but I really can’t be sure.

And there you have it. A typical outing with a three-year-old. As I only have boys, I cannot say if the behavior is better with girls, but for those of you who have daughters, I hope that this is the case for the sake of your sanity. If you are the parent of a child under the age of three, gird your loins! (Thank you, Stanley Tucci, for delivering that memorable line in The Devil Wears Prada.) The Tyrannical Threes will be a thrill ride you will not soon forget.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spotlight: From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge

OK, the good news is that my writer's block appears to have gone away. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And the even better news is that From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge is out today! Woohoo! I absolutely devoured Doubting Abbey and have been anticipating the sequel for weeks! (Basically as soon as I finished Doubting Abbey.)

Release Date:  July 24, 2014

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade - there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…


We are lucky enough to have an excerp, y'all! Check it out!

      Okay, let’s see…  On a big road, south, heading further away, was a Métro station called Abbesses. Ooh I liked the sound of that, like the English word “abyss”. Hopefully that meant it was nice and deep. Despite his appearance, chauffeured mystery man was clearly no fitness fanatic, so the idea of following me down flights of stairs might put him off.
I duly headed in a southerly direction and… Yay! There it was, on a main road. Aw, the outside of it looked mega pretty with “Métropolitan” written above it in a fancy font, beneath a little glass roof. Without hesitating, I ran down the vintage entrance and started my descent, ogling the awesome murals on the walls.

      Around and around I ran, dodging people, forgetting I was in France and should stick to the right. In fact, blimey! Talk about busy. And as for that musty smell…I screwed up my nose at the aroma of overcooked cabbage and stinky socks. A boyfriend of mine once smelt like that after playing football. Whereas I was still waiting for any annoying habits of Edward’s to come to the fore… He still seemed pretty perfect – especially since he’d chilled a bit, during recent months. I’d taught him that pants didn’t need ironing and that if we were, um, otherwise engaged (that is snogging!) it wasn’t bad manners to let a phone call go to voicemail.

      A clock caught my eye – it was almost half past four and the beginning of the rush hour. I took out a carnet (booklet to you – ooh, my vocabulary was already widening) of ten Métro tickets that me and Edward had bought. I was just about to push one into the machine when someone tapped my shoulder.

      ‘Tiring are we?’ said a familiar, clipped male voice.
My mouth went dry and I turned around to face those sunglasses. He took them off. Wow. What warm maple-syrup eyes.

      I shook myself. Yeah, just like a stalking lion’s. Dodging sideways, I shoved the Métro tickets into my jacket pocket and headed up the steps, blurting out “pardon,” as I pushed my way up. Thanks to last year’s “how to be a lady” training, I always remembered to be polite, however dire the situation.

      By the time I reached the top, I’d managed to retrieve my phone from the rucksack. My legs ached, my chest burnt and I had no idea where to run next. In other words, there was no alternative but to ring Edward. Shrieking for help, I could have approached a train guard but, well, that wasn’t my style – especially after the last few months of weird things happening. I’d toughened up.

      Don’t get me wrong, nausea hit the back of my throat when I thought who this guy could be or what he might want. However, since being on the telly, I’d been sent men’s underwear through the post, my phone had been hacked, a troll had stolen my identity on Facebook and a fan of Edward’s had stalked me in the swimming pool showers… Currently I had two restraining orders out on people who had grudges against the person they thought I was. It would take more than a smartly dressed dude, in a swanky car, to make me lose my cool.
Blowing out chilly air, I lifted a finger to press dial when a hand curled firmly around my arm and led me out onto the pavement. I stared the black BMW, parked to the side, with its sinister black-tinted windows.

      ‘There’s no need to ring Edward,’ said the man.
      I turned around to meet stern maple-syrup eyes.

      ‘We’ve taken care of him.’ he continued.

      Huh? My chin wobbled. How did he know my boyfriend’s name? What if my sexy, kind-hearted, loyal, dreamy Edward would – or had – come to some harm?

      ‘All will be explained,’ said the weirdo, his voice a titch softer. ‘Now, please. Trust me. You’ll be safe. Just get in the car.’

      For Edward’s sake, I did what I was told.

      (Excerpt from From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge, Copyright 2014.)


Right about now, I am pretty excited that I already have From Paris with Love on my Kindle! Gemma's adventures kept me in stitches in Doubting Abbey and I'm sure that this next installment will be just as enjoyable.

Now it is time to meet our illustrious author!

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.


Ready for some fun? Here are your options for purchasing From Paris with Love.

And if you want to catch up with Doubting Abbey...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spotlight: Picture This by Jayne Denker

Are you ready for another book recommendation? OK, OK, I know what you're thinking...stop sticking your nose in a book and get back to writing French Fry already! Once my massive case of writer's block ends, I will get right on that.

In the meantime, I have an awesome book for you! The *fabulous* Jayne Denker has just released the second book in her Marsden series! Picture This just came out today! I am happy to report that is in my hot little hands on my Kindle Paperwhite right now! 

Release date: July 17, 2014

It’s where everyone knows your business—and remembers everything you’d rather forget. But somehow the little Catskills town of Marsden draws the most unlikely people back home, turns their lives every which way, and helps them finally figure out what—and who—they want most…

As a celebrity photographer’s assistant, Celia Marshall is used to seeing all kinds of weird antics. But subbing as the model in irrepressible movie star Niall Crenshaw’s latest endorsement ad—while wearing his silk boxers, no less—is definitely not in her job description. Neither is falling for him, especially since he’s dating his latest co-star. To complicate things further, Celia is returning to Marsden to keep an eye on her eccentric grandmother—and Niall is driving her there, then staying to judge a talent contest…

Soon Celia is pulled in a dozen different directions, trying to get her grandmother to act her age, placating her frantic former boss who’s organizing the contest—and attempting to stay away from funny, sexy Niall. Celia’s always been level headed, but suddenly she’s wishing she could get reckless right along with him. Has the time come for sensible Celia to cut loose?...


Want a sneak peek? I thought you might! Poor Celia has just received her grandmother from policy custody following her decision to perform a series of donuts in a farmer's field. What a great time to introduce her to Niall!

After a few general pleasantries, Officer Billy made his way back to his cruiser, and Celia exchanged a look with Niall. She shook her head, disbelieving. “What is wrong with her?”

Niall climbed the porch steps and put his hands on her shoulders. “Hey, go easy on her, all right? Maybe nothing’s wrong. You said she does this sort of thing all the time.”

“I think she’s getting worse.”

“What are you saying about me?” Holly demanded from inside the house.

“Gran! We’ve got to talk.”

The old woman peered out through the screen door. “Who’s that? The movie star? Well, bring him in here with you. I want witnesses.”

She ambled away from the door, expecting Niall and Celia to follow.

“You don’t have to,” Celia murmured to him.

“And miss this? Are you kidding?” Niall held open the screen door for her. “After you.”

They found Holly in the living room. “Come here, movie star. Let me get a look at you.” She peered up at Niall, squinting, appraising.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs....Marshall?” he tried.

“Leigh. Holland Leigh. I’m Celia’s mother’s mother.”

“I apologize. Mrs. Leigh.”

She shook the hand he offered. “You’re a tall drink of water, aren’t you?”

“Guess so.” The fact that she was remarkably short just emphasized his height.

“Ah, you were in that movie with the...the...what was it...the snake, right? On your shoulder all the time?”

“The iguana, Gran,” Celia supplied quietly.

Niall rounded on Celia. “Ah-hah! You said you didn’t watch my movies!”

“No, I said I didn’t go out of my way to see your movies. I caught that one on basic cable. At two in the morning. Edited for language and to make room for a thousand commercials.”

He clutched his shirt over his heart. “You wound me.”

“I doubt it.”

“The lizard was a better costar than the one in your last movie, I’ll say that much,” Holly snorted as she eased herself into her favorite chair.


“I didn’t care for her—what was her name? The one with the peroxide hair. Girl couldn’t act. Lizard had better skin, too.”

Celia rubbed her eyes, mortified. “That’s Tiffany Sola. Niall’s girlfriend, Gran.”

“Really?” The old woman shrugged, unapologetic. “Meh. And if she’s his girlfriend, why is he here with you?”

“He’s not here with me. He’s hosting Ray’s singing contest.”

“Ah. You have my deepest sympathy, young man.” Then she looked up at her granddaughter. “All right. Go ahead. Let me have it.”

Celia sighed, disapproving and disappointed. “Will said he has to write this up. It’s going on record.”

“In my permanent file, along with the D minus I got in shorthand in high school? Color me terrified.”

“Don’t make jokes, Gran. This is serious.”

“At my age, who cares?”

You should. Even if Shane didn’t press charges, Mom and Dad are going to find out about this—it’s inevitable. And they won’t like it.”

Holly said nothing for a moment, then took a gulp of scotch and said into the glass, “I know.”

“And you really shouldn’t be drinking so much.”

“Don’t care. By the time you get to my age, what the hell’s the difference? I’m eighty-five, by the way,” she informed Niall.


“Darn right it is.”

“You don’t look a day over seventy. And I mean that.”

Other senior citizens would have been offended. Holly just cackled with glee. “I like this one,” she said to Celia. “He’s a lot funnier in person than in his movies.”

“Oh my God.”

“Oh, I don’t mean anything by it,” the older woman said, waving her hand dismissively. “I just think you can do better than the dreck they put you in, young man.”

A corner of Niall’s mouth lifted grimly. “I agree.”

“See?” she said to her granddaughter. “He agrees with me.”

“Well, you could have put it a nicer way.”

“Okay.” To Niall, she said, “Get a better agent.”

“It’s not my agent’s fault; it’s mine. Sometimes I make bad choices.”

He didn’t want to go into his motivations for his poor choices; luckily, Holly didn’t ask.

“All I can say is, my granddaughter is one of the best choices you’ll ever make in your life.”

Mortified, Celia covered her face as Niall said politely, “I realize that, ma’am.”

“Of course, you also realize that if you hurt her, I’ll kill you. Well, first I’ll castrate you, then I’ll kill you.”

“Of course.”

 (Excerpt from Picture This by Jayne Denker, Copyright 2014.)


That was priceless! Excellent choice of excerpt, Jayne. 
Here's the lowdown on this very talented author. 

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love and Picture This. When she's not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads


And because Jayne is the Queen of Graphics, I have one more goody for you before I go!

Ready to buy this book? You sure have a lot of options!

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     iBooks     Google Play

Happy Launch Day, Jayne! Much love!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spotlight: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley

I have another book to recommend, y'all! The very talented Marissa Stapley has just released her first novel, Mating for Life, which I am most definitely adding to my TBR pile. :)

Release Date: July 1, 2014

Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.

Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.

Interweaving the alternating perspectives of Helen, her daughters, and the women surrounding them, “each new chapter brings a wise and tender look at single life, dating rituals, and marital unease” (New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Close). In this “absolute feat of storytelling” (bestselling author Grace O'Connell), Marissa Stapley celebrates the many roles modern women play, and shows that even though happy endings aren’t one-size-fits-all, some loves really can last for life.


Marissa has crafted an amazing story. Let's take a quick peek...


Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Unlike other turtles, the common snapping turtle cannot hide in its shell because its body is too big. These turtles snap as a defense mechanism, but aren't actually vicious. However, perhaps because of the misconception of aggression, snapping turtles are often targeted, and are endangered in North America. When mating, snapping turtles sometimes engage in an elaborate dancelike ritual in the water that involves eye contact but no touching. Snapping turtles have no defined mating season: they court and mate only when conditions are exactly right.

When Liane swam into the snapping turtle, she screamed. He didn't bite her, but clearly he wanted to. Then he was gone, dipping first his head and then his shell underwater. (She didn't know he was a he, but she assumed; there was something placidly male in his glare.) 

She sensed the turtle was still there, somewhere below. She turned to float on her back, hearing her mother's voice in her memory as she did. "If you ever feel scared, don't panic. You'll drown," Helen had instructed from the edge of the floating dock while Liane paddled below. Liane's eldest sister, Fiona, had already been front-crawling to the middle of the lake, where Helen had placed a DIVER DOWN sign. Ilsa had been lying on the floating dock, too, but then she rolled off and swam, dolphinlike, toward Liane, grabbing her sister's ankle from beneath the waves. Liane had shouted and flailed. "Exactly! Thank you, Ilsa. That's a perfect example of what you don't do. Back float instead." Liane remembered her mother's red suit, brown skin, blond hair, and the way she talked to them as though they were already grown-ups. The swimming lessons were the one thing Helen insisted on during summers that spiraled out slowly, like the pucks of Bubble Tape gum they would buy at the marina for $1.25. The girls didn't even have to unpack their bags if they didn't want to. They were never asked to make their beds.

Now Liane looked up at the clouds and tried to fill her belly with air. But her breath was too shallow and she had to kick. Panic soon forced her to flip to her front and start to swim, fast, for the floating dock. 

She wanted to go home, and it had only been one day. Her plan: to swim and eat salads (mostly because she hated to cook, or couldn't cook; it was a chicken/egg situation she didn't care to analyze) and work on the final pages of her thesis. By the end of the week, when Liane's mother and sisters arrived for their annual early summer cottage weekend, she would have finished it. Then Adam would stop asking her when she was going to finish it and she would stop feeling guilty for not responding in a more appropriately proactive way to his father's offer of a job on the faculty at the university, as a teaching assistant, pending her thesis defense. 

The other part of her plan, and one she hadn't told any- one about, involved the hope that by coming here alone, by treating this as a regular cottage and normal lake-and not the site of one of her life's greatest tragedies-she could erase the past and turn herself into a normal person. The kind of person Adam wanted her to be. The kind of person she didn't think she could be but knew she should at least try to be. 

Liane ducked her head underwater-eyes closed, testing herself-and resurfaced with a gasp. In addition to the big fears, her week-alone-at-the-cottage plan hadn't accounted for her many small fears. (Turtles. Seaweed. Algae. Other things too embarrassing to mention. Like ants. Beetles. Walking into cobwebs.) All of these things seemed more frightening without company. (Currently: she could still sense the turtle near, perhaps now waiting at the base of the ladder to bite one of her toes.) 

She went down again, and this time kept her eyes open. Then she surfaced, blinked the water from her eyes, and saw movement to her left. The turn of a page. There was a man sitting at the end of the dock at the cottage next door-it had been the Castersen place, but the Castersens had sold it, or were renting it out, or something. Liane couldn't remember but knew Helen had explained it last year when the new dock had appeared and, next, a pair of kayaks had replaced the motorized pontoon boat Mr. Castersen had once called his "Party Boat." 

The unfamiliar man sitting on the dock reading looked up and Liane looked down, focusing again on her path through the water. But she should have waved. She was in cottage country. In cottage country, you were supposed to wave (even if you were swimming) and mouth, Hello, to people (regardless of whether you knew them). But she was too embarrassed. He had probably heard her screaming about the turtle. He had probably seen the awkward way she'd jumped off the dock, plugging her nose and splaying her legs. And either way, it was now too late because the man-who had copper-blond hair and a matching shadow of a beard-was reading his book again. She kept swimming and looked away from him, but looking away meant she had to look at the shed, so she closed her eyes and ducked under again. 

 (Excerpt from Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley, Copyright 2014.) 


And now for a bit about Marissa from the woman herself!

I'm a National Magazine Award nominated writer and former magazine editor whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle Canada, and many others. Mating for Life (Atria Books; Simon & Schuster Canada) is my first novel. When I'm not writing, I'm reading. (In fact, I never go anywhere without a book. Except maybe swimming.) Some of my favourite authors are Meg Wolitzer, Julia Glass, Alice Munro, John Irving, Lauren Groff, Margaret Atwood and James Salter. I live in Toronto with my husband and two children, where I teach writing, and am working on another novel.

Interested in checking out this awesome book? I thought you might be. :)