Please bear with me for what will be an exceptionally long post (but I promise it’s a fun one)! When I have the opportunity to get involved with blog tours through Chick Lit Plus, sometimes I’m a little over-zealous with wanting to participate. So today I will be sharing four things with you; 1) An excerpt of Sex, Lies, and Cruising 2) An Interview with the Author Cathryn Chapman 3) My review of her latest novel and 4) A guest post by the author herself! Whew… got through the list of what to expect in this post, now on to the fabulousness of it all! Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you… don’t forget to enter the $50 Amazon giveaway!!
Sex, Lies, and Cruising by Cathryn Chapman
Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties… Ellie has her dream job… or does she?
When Ellie’s fiancé cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she’s already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he’s leaving in a week, and his ex-girlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge.
Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It’s five, actually.) It’s a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.
Sex, Lies, and Cruising is a fun novel that had me laughing and entertained from page one! This one has a bit of mature content (if you couldn’t tell from the title!) so I caution those that don’t like anything above a 6/10 on the romantic blush meter. Filled with entertaining characters and real life situations and important themes, this novel was a fun read. I can’t wait to see what else the authors written!
In less than 24 hours, good girl Ellie has already managed to sleep with one of her coworkers. Up until now, Ellie had spent the last four years being engaged to a man that turned out not to love and respect her and left her for someone else. To say that she’s looking for a little fun to get over Dan is an understatement, but she didn’t expect it to happen so soon! Life working on the ship is fun and goes by quickly, but no one could have prepared Ellie for the drama that comes with hopping into bed with practical strangers, especially where the Brazilian Bitch is concerned.
Despite the drama that Ellie has seemed to gotten herself into, she makes some seriously awesome friends aboard the ship; Caitlin – the energetic, flirty roommate that’s saving up money to study fashion design at Parsons, Nick – the campy, over-the-top friend that has some serious dancing talent and rocks a feather boa like it’s no one’s business, and Jock – the Scottish bartender with a warm spirit that becomes an instant friend and shoulder to lean on when things don’t go the way Ellie wants.
Cruise life isn’t all fun and games and this novel was filled with unfortunate real life issues; betrayal, eating disorders, infidelity, dishonesty and being afraid to show other’s the real you in fear of rejection. One of the most important themes of the novel is the importance of listening to your gut instinct and learning to be true to yourself and not settling for anyone that doesn’t respect you for who you are. Just because someone desires you, doesn’t mean they value and respect you. It’s important to look past people that seem too good to be true – actions speak louder than words and this is proven throughout the novel. Sometimes people surprise you by disappointing you and sometimes they surprise you by being fully accepting and loving. This novel was surprisingly thoughtful and sweet and I recommend it to anyone that’s looking for a fun and flirty chick-lit read.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Guest Post written by Cathryn Chapman
What I wish I’d known at school… about writing, and about life.
I never imagined being a professional writer when I was at school. I went to a school where, if you got good grades, people encouraged you to be a lawyer or an engineer. Which is funny, because I would make the worst lawyer or engineer on the planet! My English teacher was the only person who spotted my writing ‘talent’.
We’d had a false start though. When I was twelve, she didn’t believe I’d written the sensual poem I’d shown her after scribbling it while waiting for everyone else to finish an English exam. She said I was too young to write something so mature, and she was probably right—I literally had no experience with boys—but it came from somewhere within I suppose. I was so angry at her disbelief, I threw it in the bin. Geez, I wish I’d kept that poem…
Anyway, two years later she declared I was the most talented writer she’d ever taught (she was possibly also prone to exaggeration, haha), and encouraged me to become an author. “You could write for Mills & Boon right now,” she said. That was funny – firstly, there was no internet in those days, so I didn’t even know how to contact them… plus at the age of 14, I had still never even so much as kissed a boy, let alone gained the knowledge and experience to write a romance novel!
My parents have always allowed me to pursue whatever made me happy, but my father still wanted me to be a lawyer and ideally marry one too. They used to drive me to dance lessons, performance school, swimming club, tennis lessons, running practice, and pretty much anything else I wanted to pursue, but in little ol’ Brisbane, Queensland (back then it was basically an oversized town), there were no writing clubs or writers centres, no writing programs, and of course, in the late 80’s, no internet!
When I left school, I went straight to university. I got accepted into a Bachelor of Business, and spent the first year majoring in Marketing, because the entrance score for what I really wanted to do – Film and Television Production – was much higher. After a year of good grades, I was allowed to transfer. Film & TV was a fantastic major. I was mostly a production manager and scriptwriter, and I loved it! My father rolled his eyes and said “You can do whatever you like, darling. It’s your life. But this really seems like a waste of time.” I know he meant well – and let’s be realistic, back in those internet-less days, the world was much smaller and less abundant with opportunity – so I don’t begrudge how he felt… but he and all my teachers basically had the same approach to careers. And yet, despite the lack of technology, I’ve now learned that there were adventurous people all over the world who bucked with tradition and the ‘sensible’ road, in order to follow crazy careers.
Though, it’s fair to say that over the ensuing years, I wasn’t exactly conservative in my choices. I finished my degree and started saving to live in London (like many Aussies my age), and ended up being gone for three years. I worked on cruise ships and backpacked around Europe. After coming home for seven years and working in an office job, I went back ‘on the road’… working back on ships, moving to Paris to study French, studying singing, acting and accents in London, doing a semester of full-time dance in NYC (okay, that wasn’t the best idea. My hips have never recovered), and then getting a job as a holiday park entertainer in Cornwall (UK), where I met my now husband.
So, I won’t say my life has been boring… and maybe it sometimes takes a lifetime of experience and lessons to get where you want to go… because now I feel like I’m finally getting there. I want to write books, and I also want to work on the writing team of a TV program (ideally one based on my book, which is hopefully down the track)… but then I see these young, confident, successful 25 year olds, who are already doing these amazing, creative jobs – just like those I wanted to do when I was young, but was too scared to. I just wish I’d known when I was at school that anything was possible – and it doesn’t matter what you want to do, you can probably make a living at it if you find the right approach.
It’s something I know now, and it’s something I want to instil in my son, who is currently three. I’m doing my positive visualisation regularly and even created a vision board (I’ve attached one of my vision board images – of me on Vanity Fair. I had time on my hands that day! lol)… and I’m hoping and praying every day that it happens soon! I’m a work in progress.
What do you wish you had known at school? What do you wish you knew now?
Interview with Cathryn Chapman
Author Bio: Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one country long enough to finally write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.
1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
My name is Cathryn, and I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’m 40 years old and this is my first novel. I’m a mum of a cheeky three year old boy, and I still work four days in a week in my marketing job in the non-profit industry. I’m working as hard as I can to move into full-time writing!
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
My novel, ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’ is the first in a series about a 20-something year old British woman named Ellie Green, who goes on an exciting and emotional journey after being cheated on by her fiancé. He also happened to let her know that she was frumpy and boring, and not attractive anymore… so this motivates her future choices when it comes to men! In this first book she lands a fabulously exciting job on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, and it isn’t long before she is swept up in this fast-moving, dramatic, salacious, and often moral-free world… I worked briefly on cruise ships in my 20s and again in my 30s (different cruise lines, different jobs), and saw a lot of really interesting, crazy things going on. When I was deciding on the first novel storyline, this seemed like an obvious choice. Since I am new to writing, I felt it would be easier to write about a world I had personally experienced – even though the story itself is fiction, I think having been on ships helped lend colour and realism to the book.
3. How long did it take you to write Sex, Lies, and Cruising? What is your writing process like?
It took me about two years to write and then another year to finish the editing process. That wasn’t all writing time though. I started writing the book when my son was six weeks old, and I used to write when he slept. In hindsight, that wasn’t the best idea, as I needed sleep too! I ended up taking about nine months off because I was completely exhausted… and when I got back into it, I was only eight chapters in. I ended up finishing the last thirteen chapters in just under three months – working in the evenings. I made a pact with myself to write seven days a week for at least fifteen minutes once my son had gone to bed – whether I felt like it or not. No matter how tired I was or if I didn’t feel like it, I gave it at least fifteen minutes. That was good, albeit still exhausting, because I got into the habit and just powered through every night.
In the beginning, I worked with a mentor to plan the book out. I wrote a full outline with bullet points of what would happen in all 21 chapters. I decided on four characters, and planned a plot arc for each of them, deciding on a goal and obstacles. I did character profiles, although in hindsight they weren’t thorough enough – I was keen to get writing and got a bit frustrated with setting up the characters. Looking back, this was a mistake, as later on, I ended up having to go back and do a lot more exploration of the characters, because my last editor said that some of their reactions weren’t believable – probably because I didn’t know them well enough.
As I wrote, I kept a separate document of items I needed to fix or research later on. My mentor advised me not to edit as I go, because I’d end up with a perfect chapter one and no chapter twenty. When I finished, I read it right through once (and it had been two years since I wrote chapter one, so that was interesting!), and edited anything which stood out. Then I read through again with my ‘fix later’ document, and researched or changed any of the items from the list. Next I had seven beta readers go through and give me feedback on the book – which varied from a few notes here and there to quite extensive feedback. I edited it again based on that… Then I sent it to a developmental editor in London, who is successful in the women’s fiction industry. She said she really enjoyed the book and it kept her turning the pages, but gave me about six pages of feedback about what was wrong with it! So after picking myself up off the floor and wiping away my tears, I went through and edited again, incorporating maybe half her feedback. My mentor said that much of what that editor said was correct – but the result would be a different book, rather than the book I’d actually wanted to write.
I tried to get an agent, but failed, and ended up putting the book to one side and just relaxing for six months! Then a really close friend I’ve known for 25 years, who is an older guy and not at all in my target market (but has experience in scriptwriting) read the book and said “the book is really good, but it has problems.” He suggested I go back and work on the structure – but I couldn’t bear it. I told him I couldn’t even LOOK at the book anymore! But he said “I really encourage you not to give up now. You have an opportunity to make a good book into a great book, and I really think it could be something.” So… I spent a few months studying fiction writing and character development – and I edited it again, quite significantly. Finally, I hired a new editor, who was the perfect mix of being my target market age, and an American living in London – so she had a bit of everything I needed! We worked together for three months, and ended up with the book you see now.
As you can see, it was a LONG journey!
4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Apart from spending lots of time promoting this book, I’ve started working on the sequel, ‘Love, Drugs, and New York’. It follows Ellie on the next leg of her journey. I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that she feels she has finally found her perfect situation – with a great man and a great job – but as time goes on, she suddenly wonders if that’s what she actually wants. I’ve written the outline and the first few chapters, but I’m just waiting for the frenetic pace of my first book’s promotional period to die down before I can get into it.
I’m also working on selling ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’ as a TV series. My publicist in LA has a contact in a major studio who is very excited about the prospect. She feels it’s something that would work well in the industry right now, and would be good as a half hour comedy format (think ‘Sex and the City’ at sea) – and wants to option the book to try and sell it… I’ve also had a couple of emails from people who have seen my publicity and want to talk about TV adaptation too. However, I want to take it slow. It’s always been my ultimate dream, even before I started writing the book (I have a degree in Film and Television Production), but I want to be sure I understand what I’m getting into and the best way to go about it… There’s no room for mistakes with this part!
5. If you were given an offer to turn Sex, Lies, and Cruising into a movie, who would you want to see playing the roles of Ellie and the male lead?
I already have my cast list totally planned out, including Plan B actors for every role! Romola Garai or Andrea Riseborough would be perfect for Ellie… There is no male lead as such, but for other important characters, I would love James McAvoy as Jock, Adriana Lima or Alice Braga as Maria, and a Canadian singer named Alexz Johnson as Caitlin. Mind you, Blake Lively is reading my book (arranged by my publicist), so if she wanted to play Caitlin, I’d be very happy about that!
6. Did you always want to be a writer?
No… although I’ve always enjoyed writing (and reading), and I suppose I always found it came rather naturally. When I was at school, my English teacher and I had a false start (I was 12) when she didn’t believe I’d written the sensual poem I showed her (I literally had no experience with boys)… Two years later, she declared I was the most talented writer she’d ever taught (she was possibly prone to exaggeration, haha), and encouraged me to become an author. “You could write for Mills & Boon right now,” she said. That was funny – firstly, there was no internet in those days, so I didn’t even know how to contact them… plus at the age of 14, I had still never even so much as kissed a boy, let alone gained the knowledge and experience to write a romance novel!
So I pushed that idea to the side and spent the next twenty or so years doing a variety of other things. I left my ‘sensible’ career in marketing/PR a number of times, each time declaring, “I’ll never work in an office again!” travelling the world and pursuing singing, dancing, acting, teaching, studying French full-time in Paris, working on cruise ships, and even starting my own spray-tan business… before eventually ending up broke each time and working back in an office again.
But I always had a creative fire which needed to be fuelled, and it took until I fell pregnant a few years ago for me to finally say to my husband, “I’m ready to write a book now.” People had often suggested I write a book about my life, but a memoir hadn’t felt right. I knew I was a fiction author. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and throughout the years, when I’d had jobs which required writing of different types, I’d had a number of comments about my writing ability… so I set out to write my first novel.
7. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?
I love Paullina Simons. The Bronze Horseman is my favourite book of all time, and I’d love to write an epic historical romance novel like that one day (and I already know what it will be about!)… I do love the storytelling ability of Jackie Collins, and I’m always inspired by the hard work and down to earth nature of Nora Roberts.
8. Being a writer is a great job but what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
A singing waitress at Johnny Rockets. Although I’m extroverted and love to sing, it was just totally embarrassing, and I was a terrible waitress. I dropped a whole tray of burgers on the floor one day and just wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear.
9. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
My jeggings and my slippers. If I could wear them everywhere, every day for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.
10. What’s your happiest childhood memory?
I used to crawl into my mother’s bed at 5am every morning for her to read me a book (or three). I used to learn them off by heart (before I could read) and when she was tired and tried to skip a bit, I’d say, “Mum, you missed a word!” hahaha. Her favourite memory is when I first learned to read, and stayed reading in my own bed until 7am.
11. Where is your favorite place in the world?
Probably New York. I lived there for a semester, studying dance full-time, but it wasn’t quite the Sex and the City experience I’d hoped for. I was over ten years older than most of my classmates, and it made for a rather isolating experience. However, I absolutely fell in love with the city, and could easily live there again with my family, if the budget allows! We’re going back for a week over new year this December!
Excerpt of Sex, Lies, and Cruising:
“So, Ellie,” Jacoline said, grinning, “I heard you slept with George from the casino last night.”
I nearly choked on my scrambled eggs. Jacoline was eagerly awaiting my reply, and though I knew she wasn’t being malicious, I couldn’t help but feel cross at her for lobbing gossip at me without any warning.
“You certainly don’t waste time,” Justin muttered, his eyes on his plate.
Great. This was just…great. I hastily swallowed the bits of egg I hadn’t choked on and spluttered, “Excuse me, what? George?” It took me a minute to even remember who the hell he was. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I said, “do you mean that guy I met in the crew bar last night? I talked to him for maybe two minutes!” I didn’t have to fake my incredulous tone.
Jacoline laughed. “Oh, Ellie, it’s fantastic you’re not wasting time. Why wait when there are so many options available?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but was cut off by Justin.
“Best be careful,” he said snidely. “You wouldn’t want everyone to think you’re a slag.”
This was ridiculous. I hadn’t even recovered from seeing Seth and Ruby together, and now I’d slept with someone new? Didn’t these people have any more salacious—and true!—gossip to talk about?
Next to me, Caitlin shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Guys, don’t be ridiculous. Ellie just said hello to the guy. Are we seriously doing this shit again?”
“Bom dia, meus amigos!” Maria was almost singing as she walked in. She made a beeline to me and said, “Hello, Ellie! I am so glad you are not sad about Seth leaving.” A Cheshire cat grin spread across her face. “I did not think George was your type, but when I saw you together in the crew bar, you seemed very cosy together.”
I knew we had our culprit.
I took a deep breath. “Maria, I didn’t sleep with George. I talked to him for two minutes, and that’s all.”
She patted my shoulder, an insincere sympathetic smile on her face. “It is okay, chica, you are a grown up woman. You can be with anybody you choose.”
I wasn’t normally a violent person, but I wanted to slap the smile right off her face.
My cheeks burning from the implication that I was, as Justin had said, a slag, and my hands were actually shaking. I hadn’t slept with him and Maria knew it. It had nothing to do with George—I was sure he was lovely. It was about my reputation, which, if I was honest, had already been hanging tenuously by a thread before everyone thought I’d hopped into bed with George. If I’d any chance of retaining any kind of reputation whatsoever, I couldn’t let them believe this rubbish.
Trying to keep my voice even, I said, deliberately calmly, “I didn’t sleep with George. He literally bumped into me and tried to apologise. End of story.”
Jacoline’s gaze flicked between me and Maria; the smile had faded from her face and she seemed uncertain who to believe. The scowl on Justin’s face, on the other hand, had only deepened. Caitlin rubbed my arm soothingly and mumbled something about not worrying what people say.
At that moment, because my life really needed to get more complicated, Ruby appeared in the doorway, spotted us, and practically waltzed over. She had what was almost certainly a post-coital glow, and I was tempted to chuck the salt shaker at her pretty face.
“What’s going on, guys?” she inquired.
“Ellie slept with George from the casino last night,” Maria announced, wasting no time in jumping in to spread the rumour.
Caitlin rushed to defend me. “’Maria, shut up. Ruby, it’s not like that at all. Maria saw them talking in the crew bar, and well, you know how ships are…and Maria” she cast a burning glance at the Brazilian rumourmonger, “should know better.”
I shot her a grateful look.
Ruby shrugged. “No big deal,” she said. “We’re all here to have fun, right?”
I didn’t really want to think about the kind of fun she’d been having…
Nodding, Jacoline added, “It’s okay, Ellie. We all know what ships are like!”
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! I wished they would actually listen to me.
Maria obviously wasn’t finished and kicked the boot in a little harder. “You know, Ellie, I was a little bit sad when you and Seth were together while he and I were trying to work things out—” Ruby’s head came up but she wisely said nothing “—but now I can see you do not like to spend the night alone. I am sure you left him no choice. Men are simple, yes?” She sat back and folded her arms, smiling at everyone. “If you offer them a warm body, they do not say no. Not on a ship, anyway.” Laughing, she added, “We all know where to send the new guys for a good time, yes?”
Caitlin stayed silent and Jacoline looked uncomfortably down at the table. Justin snorted. Ruby took advantage of the awkward moment to escape to the buffet. On the upside, at least nobody actually agreed with Maria. Not out loud, anyway.
No one but Caitlin had bothered to defend me, either, and as I sat there, feeling desperately alone and friendless, tears began to well up and threatened to spill over. Not wanting anyone to see me cry, I quickly got up to race back to the darkness of the cabin. Caitlin wasn’t far behind.
Grabbing my arm as we walked, she said, “Ellie, please don’t worry about them. There’s no point trying to convince them. People on ships will always believe what they want, and getting all upset about it won’t really help. They’ll forget all about it by next cruise, I guarantee you.”
Rather unsurprisingly, this didn’t actually make me feel any better. “But Caitlin,” I wailed, “I didn’t sleep with him, and I don’t want them to think I did! I don’t want everyone to think I’m a bloody slag!” Was this really what ships were like? It was worse than secondary school. Here, I’d slipped up once and had pretty much been branded a scarlet woman. I wasn’t about to look for another man, but if I did meet a good guy there was no way he’d want a girl he believed had slept with two guys in less than a week.
I vowed to never speak to anyone in the crew bar ever again. And I definitely wasn’t sleeping with anybody else on this contract. I would just focus on my photography and hang out with Caitlin. And watch lots of DVDs.
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Check out the other stops on the blog tour!
July 20 – Polished & Bubbly – Review
July 21 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 22 – Sinfully Good Reads – Excerpt
July 23 – Buckeye Book Review– Review
July 24 – Basically Books Blog – Review, Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt
July 27 – ALove That Can’t Be Stopped – Excerpt
July 29 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review
July 30 – Tea Party Princess – Review & Excerpt
August 3 – Hey Said Renee – Review & Guest Post
August 4 – Karma For Life Chick – Excerpt
August 5 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
August 11 – Curling Up With a Good Book – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 12 – Living Life With Joy – Review, Guest Post & Q&A & Excerpt
August 13 – I Love My Authors – Excerpt
August 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt