Author Interview & Giveaway – Rachel Khona

Author Interview – A Quick Word with Rachel Khona

Can you describe Are You There Krishna?  in a tweet (140 characters or less)?

I think the subtitle sums it up!

“Essays on Talking to Ghosts, Accosting Celebrities, Getting High, Sexism, Race, and First-Generation Woes”

What are you currently reading? 

I am currently reading Jessi Klein’s book You’ll Grow Out of It

How important do you think social media is for authors these days? 

Yes! But it’s more than just posting it’s about really creating a following. Much easier said than done!

Are you currently working on another novel? 

Not at the moment, but I hope to in a year or so.


 About the Book

Title: Are you there Krishna?

Author: Rachel Khona

Published: February 2017

Book Blurb: Rachel knew even as a young child that she wasn’t like the rest of her Indian family. While her parents were plotting how she could make it into med school with her mediocre grades in chemistry and biology, she had other things on her mind, including such gems as:

· Why can’t she go to the temple on her period?
· Why don’t her Indian cousins like her?
· Why was it OK to be sexualized at a beauty pageant but not for herself?
· How can she straddle two cultures while retaining her sense of self?
· Why are women considered sluts and men considered studs?
· Why do people keep asking her if she was born in India?
· Should she wax down there?
· Why does she have crazy eyes?

After leaving home, Rachel got high in Amsterdam, met her pop singer idol in a bathroom, argued with a ghost, and got lost in the Pyrenees. But that didn’t stop her from questioning while men still tell her to smile. ‘Are You There Krishna? It’s Me, Reshma. Or Rachel. Or Whatever.’ weaves stories of Rachel’s life with observations on race, class, sex, feminism, and culture with humor and candor.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Goodreads

About the Author – Rachel Khona

Author Bio:  

Once upon a time in an exotic land called New Jersey, Rachel used to dream of one day playing tambourine in an all-girl rock band. That never happened.

Instead she became a writer. She has written for The New York TimesThe Washington PostPlayboy, Penthouse, Maxim, and Cosmopolitan among others.

When she’s not writing or designing, she is busy drinking wine and singing off key, bike riding, pretending she’s friends with Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, eating absurd amounts of cheese, or listening to rock music at an appallingly loud volume. Sometimes all at once.

Check out her book at 

Check out the other stops on the blog tour:

April 17 – Karan Eleni – Excerpt

April 18 – BookLove – Review

April 18 – Cafinated Reads – Review

April 19 – T’s Stuff – Interview & Excerpt

April 19 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

April 20 – Living Life With Joy – Guest Blog

April 21 – Books Dreams Life – Interview & Excerpt

April 24 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt

Enter the Giveaway Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Social-Media Short Link:

The Big Interview by Libby Kirsch

Today I’m excited to share a fantastic interview with Libby Kirsch, author of The Big Interview, the second novel in the Stella Reynolds Mystery series. I’ve also got an excerpt of the first chapter so you can get a taste for the author’s writing. The first novel, The Big Lead, is temporarily free this week. Go grab a copy of the first novel to find out what it’s all about and snag a copy of the new one too while you’re there!

The Big Interview by Libby Kirsch

dfw-lk-tbi-cover-mid Published: March 31, 2016

Book Blurb: 

Stella’s Saga Continues!

The perfect book for fans of the laugh-out-loud lines in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series combined with the who-done-it page turning style of a Sue Grafton mystery.

TV reporter Stella Reynolds signs with a new station, excited to move to a bigger city for a better job. When she arrives in Bristol, Virginia, though, she finds a sexist, mean boss, unfriendly coworkers, and a town in love with a sport she’s never even watched—NASCAR! Before she can unpack her bags, Stella is drawn into an investigation when a driver is killed in a fiery wreck on the track. Experts call his death a tragedy, but Stella has insider information that the accident is anything but. With a slippery ex-fiancee, an angry father, and a nosy neighbor, you’ll be laughing on one page and gasping on the next. If all goes according to plan, the facts will be revealed during an epic live Big Interview. But when does anything ever go according to plan? The Big Interview is a standalone book in the Stella Reynolds Mystery Series. If you like a great mystery peppered with laugh out loud moments and cringe-worthy catastrophes, Libby Kirsch’s The Big Interview is for you. Buy Libby Kirsch’s book today, and see how the final big interview goes down when the cameras go live.

Book Links, The Big Interview (#2): Amazon| Goodreads

TheBigLeadPlease note the first book in the series, The Big Lead, will be temporarily free this week. Go get a copy while you can!

Fun Fact: The Big Lead was chosen for a Publishers Weekly review.

Check out the review here.

Book links, The Big Lead (#1): Amazon| Goodreads


About the Author – Libby Kirsch

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads


Author Bio:

Libby Kirsch is an Emmy award winning journalist, with over ten years experience working in TV newsrooms of all sizes. She draws on her rich history of making embarrassing mistakes on live TV, and is happy to finally indulge her creative writing side, instead of always having to stick to the facts.

Libby lives with her husband, children and soon (don’t tell the kids yet!) a puppy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She doesn’t know what she was thinking.

Q & A with Libby

What inspired you to write the Stella Reynolds Mystery Series?
I started the first book in the series, The Big Lead, about three years ago. Just a two page document on our ancient laptop. I was a TV journalist for about ten years before deciding to stay home with our growing family, and I’d thought for years that a mystery series starring a TV reporter could be fun. So in between nap time and school runs, I jotted down the beginnings of a story and promptly forgot about it. But then last year that older, even more ancient computer stopped working. Memory was maxed out. So I set about clearing out the hard drive. I came across the word document that—months later—would become my first book. Isn’t it funny how life has a way of bringing you back to something important?

If The Big Interview was being turned into a movie, who would play the key roles?

Anna Kendrick would make an awesome Stella. She’s funny and does a great job playing the klutz, but can also be strong and decisive. I could definitely picture a young Matthew McConaughey playing Lucky Haskins. Wouldn’t he make a great charming NASCAR driver?

What are the challenges of writing a series? Did you plan the series out before writing or did the books come together as a series once you’d begun writing the first one?

One of the things I love about my series is that each book will take place in a different location. In TV news, reporters move around all the time. One or two years in small markets, and you’re off to the next challenge. And because ALL the reporters are moving around, you can run into old colleagues at new stations. I worked in three different TV markets (Montana, Tennessee and Ohio) with the same girl! So I just love that Stella will run into my favorite characters from different books—either when they move to her market, or they’re all covering a big story. I hope it’s a fun way to keep the books feeling fresh, but still make it feel like you’re running into old friends as you read.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I was a waitress for many years, and it’s not that the jobs were terrible… but MAN ALIVE could it be stressful!! I worked at one fancy place in Olde Town Alexandria, Virginia. We were supposed to memorize the nightly specials. One particular night I was on fire—sold like ten different orders of the Veal Parmaganian.  My last customer of the night called me over. “No offense meant to your chef, but this tastes like chicken. Not veal.” After a quick conversation with our chef I realized the special was CHICKEN PARM!! I’d been selling people Veal Parm all night and no one noticed, ha!! Thankfully the only people I dish out food to these days

What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

Wallet, phone, travel hand sanitizer, 11 hair elastics, 4 tampons (is this anyone else’s fear? Being out and about without protection??), 2 random pieces of artwork from my 4-year-old, 3 water bottles (I have 3 kids and we were at the park today), a half-eaten Clif bar, what appears to be the remnants of a squeezy yogurt (which is scary, we haven’t bought those in weeks), a travel pack of tissues, diapers and wipes. Whew. No wonder my back hurts!!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Huh? What’s that? 🙂


Excerpt – The Big Interview

CHAPTER 1  New Girl

“Stella Reynolds. Hmm. You know it’s weird, I thought we were replacing our ugly reporter, but you’re actually kind of pretty. Let’s see… Where’s your tape? I know it’s here somewhere…” The young, fit, oddly smiley man shuffled things around on his messy, mahogany desk.
Stella looked around the office for the hidden camera. Surely this was some kind of joke. Her new boss couldn’t be serious. Her earnest search for her imminent Punk’dmoment was interrupted when Keith Howard, the general manager of NBC2 in Bristol, Virginia, said, “Ah-ha! Here it is.”
She looked back just as he pulled Stella’s résumé tape out from under a stack of papers. Flashing her a gleaming grin, he tossed the white case behind him and put the tape into the VHS player at his desk.
After a moment, Stella’s green eyes were drawn to her own image on screen. Her long auburn hair looked slightly tangled where it lay next to her face, and she noted with a grimace that she appeared slightly sweaty. You couldn’t tell that she was 5’9”, but as she looked at herself with a critical eye, she thought her button down shirt looked a bit sloppy. Keith pressed play, and sat back with a confused look on his face.
“Right, I remember you now. It’s remarkable sitting here looking at her,” he pointed to the Stella on screen, “and then you,” he pointed to her in real life. “You look like shit on camera. Has no one ever taught you how to wear makeup? Do your hair? Dress? Jesus, how do you people get hired?”
He looked at her accusingly, and she felt the blood rush to her face. “Everything was, uh, pretty last-minute at my old station in Montana. I mean, it was a really small market? And I guess doing hair and makeup for my live shot often took a backseat to shooting, writing, and, um, you know, editing the story.” She stammered out her excuse, then felt herself shifting from embarrassed to angry. She’d been driving for four days, and this was the kind of welcome she was getting?
In her first job as a news reporter, Stella had worked in the tiny town of Bozeman, Montana, as a multimedia journalist. That meant she had done everything to get her story on air—including lugging around the heavy, old, cumbersome equipment she used to shoot video. A few weeks ago, after just six months on the job there, the FOX affiliate had unexpectedly shut down, sending the four on-air employees scrambling for jobs.
Last week, she had accepted a reporting job in this much larger TV market and left her friends and boyfriend—a fellow on-air journalist—behind. She’d driven more than 2,000 miles straight to the NBC affiliate in Bristol, Virginia, where she now found herself across from an idiot.
Keith grinned at Stella, unconcerned. “Small markets are pretty crappy, aren’t they?” He didn’t wait for her to respond. “Listen, you’re supposed to be filling my brainy/ugly slot, so I don’t know what to do with you now that you’re here. Are you at least smart?” Again without a break he continued. “I guess you’ll need to meet with Marty and get settled in. He’ll know what to do with you.”
He bounced up and walked Stella to the door. He was slightly shorter than her, maybe 5’7” or 5’8”, with dusty blond hair. His light blue eyes constantly scanned the room. “Cam,” he called past Stella. “Take her to Marty. Tell him good luck.”
Stella’s face contorted in angry disbelief. She opened her mouth to set Keith straight on just exactly how smart she was—smart enough to not take crap from him—but once again, Keith spoke first.
“Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. Ugly face. Work on that. Awesome.” He nodded his head in satisfaction, then walked back into his office and slammed the door.
Keith’s secretary took her gently by the elbow and said soothingly, in the thickest southern drawl Stella had ever heard in real life, “Don’t you mind him, darlin’, he’s a hot mess just like his daddy. He runs this station like a frat house, but somehow we’ve got the best ratings we’ve ever had.” Cam steered Stella to a seat by the door and practically pushed her down onto the comfy cushion. “Can you sit right here for just a minute? I need to get something out of the copy room, then I’ll take you to the newsroom. Be right back,” she said brightly before disappearing.
Stella looked darkly around the office. She was tempted to walk out and never look back, but she’d signed a two-year employment contract from Montana. The terms were very clear. If she left the station before the end of the contract, she couldn’t work for any other station until six months after the original contract was up!  She was locked in, no matter what. Before she could spend too much time debating the legality of a contract like that, she heard the jingle of a cell phone in the hallway behind her. Expletives rumbled out of a man’s mouth like the engine of a semi-truck before he answered the call with a terse, “Hello?”
She smiled, loving that the F-word sounded much the same with a Southern accent as without. She also felt slightly better knowing that she wasn’t the only one having a bad day.
The man on the phone stopped just outside the door to Keith’s office, muttering more swear words and commands to whomever he was talking.  Her smile faded when she actually listened to his end of the conversation.
“You can’t kill someone over—no. No you listen to me.” He sounded frustrated. “You can’t do it, you’ll never get away with it. You’re both too high-profile.”
Her mouth dropped open as the voice in the hallway continued.
“I don’t care how good you are. You know who you need to talk to? Yes. I’m hearing there’s been a rift. The right situation could push him over the edge, and he might just be angry enough to do it himself.”
What in the hell?! Now she was convinced that she was on some kind of Candid Camera show. She twisted her head around so she could look out into the hallway, curious as to who was so cavalierly discussing death at her new job. All she could see was the shadow of the stranger. She leaned forward to get a better view, when the sound of Cam’s voice echoed toward her. The stranger to her was obviously no stranger to Cam.
“Hi again, darlin’—Oh, didn’t see you were on the phone there. Sorry.” Cam’s heels clicked down the hallway, past the man on the phone, until she came to a stop by Keith’s door. She blocked Stella’s view of the hallway entirely when she turned halfway back to the man on the phone. Stella could see her profile as she made an exaggerated show of locking her lips and throwing away the key. She then backed into the office and smiled brightly at Stella.
Ready? Yes, Stella certainly was ready to go, and never come back. But despite her misgivings, she nodded slowly at Cam and she stood up. When they left the office, her eyes scanned the hallway but by then it was empty.
She considered what she’d overheard. At first the stranger was trying to talk someone out of murder, then he seemed to pass along a tip to help get the job done. She felt a dull ache building behind her right eye. She should have never left Montana.
Cam led her down the hallway toward the newsroom. Her bleach blond hair stood in stark contrast to her ultra tan, slightly wrinkled face. Her light brown eyes were trained on Stella. “Marty is great. He knew what news was before he knew how to talk. He’ll get you set right up, sweetie.”
Stella clamped her mouth shut, wishing she hadn’t signed the employment contract from Bozeman. She vowed then and there to never take another job without first seeing the office and meeting the boss.
Her new station was part of a much larger TV market, but it was actually made up of three small cities in the far northeast corner of Tennessee. Locals called it the Tri-cities—Johnson City, Kingsport, and the border town of Bristol, half of which bled over onto the Virginia side of the state line.
Cam led Stella down the open hallway, which was lined with framed poster prints of all the popular shows that aired on the network that year. NBC was doing pretty well in 2005, despite losing Friends the year before. The hallway artwork featured shows like The West Wing, Fear Factor, The Apprentice, Law & Order, and Will & Grace.
“The Book just came in, and we beat the competition hands down,” Cam said, referring to the February Sweeps period that had just ended a couple of weeks before. It was a time when audience size was measured at all the stations for both entertainment and news programs. Advertising rates for the coming months would be set based each station’s performance over Sweeps.
If Stella was grudgingly impressed that there were pictures hanging in the hall, it was nothing compared to how she felt when they turned a corner and walked into the newsroom. It was so different from the drywall desk, dirty carpet, and decrepit equipment she’d grown accustomed to in her old office, that she forgot for a moment that she didn’t want the job anymore.
The open, rectangular newsroom had at least thirty desks, separated by half-height, cubical pin-cushion walls. The tile floor was clean and neat. Opposite Stella, the long side of the rectangle was made up entirely of windows, and as they stopped in the wide doorway, someone was opening about a dozen blinds simultaneously with the touch of a button. The view of a beautiful little park below was rapidly expanding. On the short wall closest to Stella, a huge station logo glowed bright against the dark blue background. Across the space, the other shorter wall was covered with TV monitors, showing news from the main cable stations as well as news feeds from all over the country.
The fourth wall was lined completely by desks, with an entrance at either end. Stella’s eyes swept the room, and she took in about two dozen people, some milling around, others hustling across the space. The sheer size of the newsroom was at least four times what she was used to, and the number of employees made her nearly giddy with excitement.
Cam tapped her on the shoulder and smiled. “It’s impressive, isn’t it? I think you’ll like it here, even with Keith to contend with.”
Cam’s wording wasn’t lost on Stella, but by then people had noticed them standing in the doorway and she didn’t have a chance to ask her what she meant.
She felt herself being scrutinized by at least a dozen people and stood up a little straighter, unconsciously sucking in her gut. Cam walked across the newsroom toward what looked to be the command center. There were two desks shoved together in an L-shape in the corner by the windows. The desks were covered with scanners and speakers, a keyboard for sending messages to pagers, and two small, sleek printers. As they grew nearer, a man spun around in his seat and smiled.
“Cam. Who you got?” he asked. His drawl was less pronounced than Cam’s but still impressive. When he said “got,” it seemed to have two syllables, “ga-wt.”
Cam gestured towards Stella and said, “Stella Reynolds here just drove in from Bozeman, Montana, to fill Sonya’s spot.” Marty looked at Stella with surprise. “Yes,” Cam said, “Keith couldn’t believe it either. Apparently she looks quite different on camera.”
Stella shot an accusing look at Cam. She seemed so nice! Now she was singing the party line that Stella looked like crap on TV.
If Cam noticed the glare, she wasn’t concerned. She winked at Stella, and said, “I’ve got to get back to work. Keith has dinner plans tonight, and I’ve got to pick up his dry cleaning before five.”
Stella watched her walk out of the newsroom, and then turned her attention back to the man sitting in front of her. Marty was older, maybe her dad’s age, and had deep wrinkles lining his eyes and mouth. Wire-rimmed glasses were trying to settle into the crevices below his eyes but were held up in place by the pads resting on the ridge of his nose. His brown hair was liberally dusted with grey, and his cheeks were rosy, like he had a touch of rosacea. When he stood up, she found that he was about her height, but a bit stockier.
“Welcome to town, Stella. Thank God we got a redhead. We’re about overrun with blondes ever since Keith came on board two years ago.”
She looked around the newsroom and quickly identified five beautiful blonde women, some sitting at desks, others headed to a conference room.
Marty leaned close and said in a stage whisper, “He thinks a woman without blond hair is smarter. No offense to you, but I don’t believe hair color has anything to do with IQ. You’d have to prove yourself to me even if you had a pink mohawk, got it?”
She nodded, deciding Marty was one of the good guys in a sea of questionable colleagues.
“You’re in luck,” he said, interrupting her musings. “Our chief photographer just got in. I’ll have him show you around town today.  Billy Joe,” he shouted past her, making her jump. “Come meet the new Sonya.”
Stella turned to see who Marty was calling, and froze—her mouth stuck between a grimace and a smile.
The man walking toward her was someone she would actively avoid if she saw him on the street. Not just avoid eye contact—but cross the street. Maybe at a run. He stood around six feet tall. His light brown hair was cut into a mullet, the front short, the back longer than Stella’s own elbow-length hair. He wore a black canvas duster, split down the back to allow for maximum mobility, dark sunglasses over his eyes, and a scowl across his face. He grunted hello, and muttered something else Stella couldn’t quite make out.
Marty patted Stella on the shoulder. “Great idea, Billy Joe, take as long as you like.” He turned back to her,  “When you get back, we should have your computer set up for you.”
Billy Joe grunted again as he stalked out of the newsroom and Stella scurried to keep up. She followed him down the hall to the elevator, and watched him press the down button. They stood in silence until the doors pinged open. He got in, and with a last, desperate look over her shoulder for a reason—any excuse, really, to not follow him into the tiny, enclosed space—she walked in after him.


the big interview libby kirsch

Check out the other stops on the blog tour!

May 23rd

Steamy Book Momma – – Book Promo Post
Book Lover Worm  – – Book Review
Living Life With Joy – – Author Q&A

May 24th

Judging More Than Just The Cover – – Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer – – Book Review
Hello Beautiful Book Blog – – Book Excerpt

May 25th

One Book at a Time – – Book Promo Post
Book Lover in Florida – – Book Review
Hello…Chick Lit – – Book Review

May 26th

The Bookworm Lodge – – Book Promo Post
ShelbyReads – – Book Review
Fervently Curious – – Book Review

May 27th

Love Sex and Other Dirty Words – – Author Guest Post
vvb32 reads – – Book Review
Chick Lit Central – – Book Review

Tour arranged by:

HCL Book Tours & Author Services
now booking for July/August Tours

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Arielle Joy

Interview – Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen

I’m thrilled to share an interview with Jessica Goodwin, author of Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen. Read the interview below to find out more about Jessica and what inspired her to write this novel. Then go get yourself a copy from Amazon!

Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen by Jessica Goodwin

41xTYWbZD7L._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_Published: May 1, 2016

Book Blurb: When Claire Bradshaw decides to end her dead-end relationship of several years, she only has one place to go – back home to the tiny town of Palmetto Park. Claire keeps bumping into people from her past as she struggles to shake her “better than everybody” reputation, make peace with her enemies, and even attempts to rekindle an old flame. Claire gets to know her old friends all over again and gets to know more about herself as she starts over – right back where it all started.

Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Kindle book currently $2.99 on Amazon

About the Author – Jessica Goodwin

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Instagram

DSC_0900_522857_L_FullAuthor Bio: 

Jessica Goodwin lives in northern Virginia near Washington, DC with her husband, son, and their two cats. She likes cookies, coffee, and anything that sparkles. If she could have any animal for a pet, it would be a T-Rex. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, going wine tasting, singing in the shower, and taking pictures of the baby.

Two of Goodwin’s books, ‘Here We Go’ and ‘The One Who Got Away’ have been on the Amazon bestseller list. In March 2012, her third book, ‘One of the Guys,’ received an Honorable Mention in Sapphire Star Publishing’s Month of Romance contest. These titles were originally published on Amazon under her former name, Jessica Strassner, but have been rereleased under the name Jessica Goodwin.

Goodwin is also a mom blogger with work appearing on Scary Mommy, Baby Gaga, and Mommy Effect. She hopes to someday write a humorous parenting memoir.

Q & A with the Author – Jessica Goodwin

1. What inspired you to write Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen?

Social media. I know Facebook has been around for years now but it still amazes me how you can find someone and reconnect with someone that you completely lost touch with. What really got me thinking is how a lot of the people that I talk to the most on Facebook these days are people that I didn’t really hang out with or have a lot in common with in high school. So I started thinking about how I now have these relationships with people I never would have expected. I kind of wanted to write about how sometimes, the people you were mean to, overlooked, or ignored in high school can end up being some of the nicest people you come to know as an adult. You might not have had a lot in common as kids, but all that changes when you grow up. Clarissa Jean returns to her hometown and has a lot of the same friends (and enemies) but some people remember how she acted in high school and aren’t too quick to give her a friendly welcome home. She kind of learns the same thing I did along the way: you never know who will be there for you years down the road.

2. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

I recently quit my job teaching to stay home with my son and write full time, so the best part is that I get to make my own schedule! I love having the time to be able to concentrate on a topic or project without worrying about whatever other stuff I should be doing. I love that I don’t have to stress about when to squeeze in some writing time. It was a little frustrating at first, trying to find a balance between doing writing stuff, mom stuff, house stuff, and still having a little me time, but I think I’ve gotten into a routine now. The big thing is taking advantage of #BabyGoodwin’s nap times and trying to be as productive as possible while he’s asleep!

3. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?

Tieks shoes. I used to love wearing heels and dressing up if I had the occasion to, but running a lot messed up my feet, so when I wore heels to a charity event last month, my feet were killing me for days afterwards. I asked friends for cute, comfy flat shoe recommendations and everybody seemed to rave about Tieks. I decided to spend the money and give them a try. Holy cow. Worth every penny, and just as good as everyone claims they are!

I love sundresses. In the summer, I’d much rather just throw on a dress than try to put together an outfit.

I’m also a walking, talking, wine drinking stay at home mom cliché: yoga pants.

4. What are the things you can’t live without in your makeup bag?

Under eye concealer or under eye brightener, some moisturizer, and mascara. That’s about all I do these days, but if I’m going somewhere I love doing my eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 2 or Naked 3 palettes.

5. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

Keys, wallet, business cards, sunglasses. A bunch of receipts and junk. A bib, a travel baby spoon in a case, some baby puffs, and baby teething toys. Boring mom stoff. And a couple of wine bottle corks. I try to save them and write down where, when, and who I drank the bottle with.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to relax in the tub and watch Netflix on my iPad. Two birds with one stone – I get to relax and catch up on some of my shows at the same time!

7. What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?

I used to be a teacher, so if I hadn’t decided to give writing a go full time, I’d still be doing that! Not sure how happy I’d be about it, though, because I’m really enjoying being able to stay at home with my son.

8. What is your favorite inspirational phrase or quote?

“Words have weight.” – It’s from Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing.’ I actually have it tattooed on my rib cage. It’s a reminder that your words, whether spoken or written, will always leave their mark on someone… so what kind of impression do you want your words to make?


This post was organized by Aimee at Hello Chick Lit. Check out the other stops on the virtual tour!

Clarissa-JeanMay 16th

ShelbyReads – – Book Review
Living Life With Joy – – Author Q&A
Ali – The Dragon Slayer – – Promo Post

May 17th

Judging More Than Just the Cover – – Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer – – Book Review
Around the World in Books – – Book Excerpt 1

May 18th

The Bookworm Lodge – – Promo Post
Steamy Book Momma – – Promo Post
Love Sex and Other Dirty Words – – Author Q&A
These Words: A Blog – – Author Guest Post
Red’s Midnight Readers – – Book Promo
Writing Pearls – – Book Review

May 19th

Chick Lit Central – – Author Guest Post
Grass monster – Amazon Reviewer – Book Review
Book Lover in Florida – – Book Excerpt 2

May 20th

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – – Book Review
Splashes Into Books – Http:// – Book Review
Hello…Chick Lit – – Book Excerpt 3

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Living Life With Joy.

Arielle Joy

Interview & Excerpt – Necklaces & Nooses

Today I’m excited to share an excerpt of a new novel called Necklaces and Nooses in addition to a fab interview with the author Laina Turner!

Necklaces & Nooses by Laina Turner

Published: October 2011

Book Details: When Presley’s boss is found hanging she thinks its suicide until the police discover its homicide. Who would want to kill a the owner of a high end women’s boutique? Presley’s not sure but she’s determined to find out.


Stilettos&ScoundrelsStilettos & Scoundrels

Presley Thurman Mystery #1

Free on Amazon

Links: Amazon| Goodreads

Necklaces and NoosesNecklaces & Nooses

Presley Thurman Mystery #2

$2.99 on Amazon

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author – Laina Turner

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

laina turnrAuthor Bio: 

As a child Laina thought she would either be a truck driver (thanks to Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit) or work at Taco Bell (her favorite restaurant as a child).

As she grew older she realized her talents lay in academics and business and for the last several years has been a business consultant and college professor where she uses the analytical side of her brain and not the side that makes up stories.

Through all her career choices she has continued to have a passion for writing. This stemmed from childhood whereas an only child she developed a vivid imagination spending most of her time making things up and thinking the Incredible Hulk lived in her closet.

Proud of her vast experiences in life from barrel racing to being on the dance team for a semi pro basketball team to being a mom of 2 amazing kids, she tells her family and friends that no one is safe from their escapades slipping in to her books.

Taking the plunge to write books (cozy mysteries and chick lit) that she actually let people read in 2010, she has worked her way up to being a real author, having 5 fans (maybe 6 now). Her blog, Writing is a Lifestyle, was launched to share the daily fun in the life of a Real Housewife of the Midwest along with the musing of other fabulous ladies.

Interview with Laina

1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hi I’m Laina. 40 something mother of 2. Lover of yoga, coffee, and wine.

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?

My most recent release was Bats & Bling. The 10th installment in the Presley Thurman mystery series. I try to release at least one Presley novel each year and had written a few around holidays. I had some requests to do a Halloween themed one so Bats & Bling was created.

3. How long did it take you to write Necklaces and Nooses? What is your writing process like?

For me writing isn’t consistent. Sometimes I have a tons of ideas and the words just flow. In some instances faster than I can type. Then there are other times I can barely get 100 words on the page in a day. However, I treat writing like a job and I make myself write every day like it or not. A typical book takes 3 months start to finish.

I don’t write from an outline on the first draft. I just sit down with an idea and write. Then after the first draft I go through and create an outline so I can keep everything straight. I know that might seem a little backwards but it works for me.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I usually work on a couple projects at a time. Just in case I get bored of one. Or stuck. I am working on Weddings & Weapons the 11th Presley Thurman book and another romantic suspense yet to be titled. Both should be out in summer/fall 2016.

5. If you were given an offer to turn the Presley Thurman novels into movies, who would you want to see playing the main characters?

If I had the chance to turn Stilettos & Scoundrels into a movie I would want Debra Messing to play Presley and Charlie Hunnam to play Cooper. I just LOVE him.

6. What is your favorite thing about writing romance novels?

The happily ever after. I love life but life isn’t always happily ever after. Being able to write that perfect ending where all the good people end up happy is so much fun. I think that readers like this genre for the same reason.

7. Did you always want to be a writer?

Since 2nd grade. It took years of doing other things to realize I needed to fulfill my true passion to be happy and fulfilled.

8. If you could marry a fictional character who would it be?

Dirk Pitt. He’s the hero of many Tom Clancy novels. He’s a mans man and a woman’s man.

9. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?

I don’t read as much as I’d like but I try to read in my genre and others to give me a wider perspective. I’ve recently enjoyed several YA novels, Lauren Oliver and John Green.

10. What inspired you to start writing and what continues to inspire you?

I am an only child and as a kid my imagination was in overdrive It’s never stopped so writing down the things in my head is almost therapeutic.

11. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Never give up. Even when you face adversity and obstacles keep moving forward.

12. Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals?

After my first draft I write long hand and have an amazing woman named Anne type up my notes. I’m convinced I’m not creative typing and prefer to write in color. Blue and black just doesn’t cut it.

13. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?

Cork screw, keurig, and popcorn.

14. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?

I have this long black cardigan sweater which I wear year ‘round and love, love, love.

15.  What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

You so don’t want to do that. It’s a mess. But if you’re hungry you’ll find food and if you’re bored you’ll probably find a toy

16. Where is your favorite place in the world?

New Orleans. I love the weather, the culture, the people, the energy.

Excerpt – Necklaces & Nooses

“Read this!” Anna said. “This Sarah chick says she wants to get to know him better and is willing to try a long distance thing. I guess she lives in Iowa. How the hell did he meet a girl from Iowa?”

“Maybe she is just coming on to him?” I didn’t really like how Jeff treated Anna, but I didn’t want her hurt either. I was hoping to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Oh no, this is his response.” She clicked on the message to open it and started reading. “I would like to get to know you better by talking to you.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean anything besides friends.”

“Except he doesn’t mention anywhere in this email thread that he has a girlfriend, and she obviously is thinking he doesn’t or else she doesn’t care. Take this away from me. I just can’t stand to read anymore.”

I took the laptop from her, logged off, and shut it down. Setting it on the floor, I turned to Anna and refilled her wineglass. I could tell she was upset, and I had seen time and time again how much he hurt her. But I could also understand you weren’t done with a relationship until you were really done, and emotions weren’t always something you could force yourself to stop feeling. Even when intellectually you knew you should.

“Do you want to talk?” I said.

“Why, so you can just say I told you so again? I know I’m stupid.”

“Not stupid, Anna. I hate seeing you hurt like this all the time, which is why I say you need to kick him to the curb. But I also know what it’s like to love someone and hope they will change. While maybe not the smartest thing to do, when you look at the situation rationally you can’t help how you feel, and emotions don’t always make sense. Hell, they hardly ever make sense.”

“I need to realize he will never change, at least not with me. But, Presley, I know he loves me.”

“He does love you.” I actually had no doubts that he did love her. He just wasn’t ready to settle down and took her for granted. That was clear by his actions. Before Cooper, I was much more judgmental of Jeff, but I now had a better understanding of how difficult love was.

“Did Willie find out who broke into your condo?” Anna said attempting to change the subject.

“No. It’s disappointing, but whoever did it didn’t leave prints, and none of the doormen remember anyone who wasn’t a tenant. They found a door at the service area that had a busted lock. The maintenance guy said it wasn’t like that a week ago, so Willie is assuming that somehow someone cased the joint and found that was a weak spot.”

“That’s just weird they didn’t take anything.”

“No kidding. They obviously were looking for something. But neither Willie nor I have any idea what. I don’t have anything of value. Any criminal worth their salt should have noticed that right away.”

“Maybe that’s why they trashed the place. They were angry that you didn’t have anything for them.”

“It just doesn’t make sense. There are many people in my building that have a lot more than I do. Willie thinks whoever it was felt I had something they wanted, specifically. I think that Peter guy is involved somehow.”

“What does Willie think of him?”

“That there’s not enough proof to say.”

One thing that really had me confused was that I didn’t understand at all what the faux-German guy, Peter, wanted so badly with accessories from Silk. It didn’t make sense. After seeing him at the funeral, I had told Willie he had to be involved in this somehow. These were way too many coincidences. But Willie didn’t completely agree with me that the connection was necessarily bad. He hadn’t been able to find anything concrete connecting Peter with anyone from a sinister standpoint. Obviously Peter knew someone in the family or he wouldn’t keep showing up, but Willie said he couldn’t just assume it was for a bad reason without proof.

I told him that sometimes the connection wasn’t obvious, and he didn’t really like that. He had the audacity to say I shouldn’t be worrying myself about the investigation so much. We got into our first minor spat, if you could even call it that, about my involvement, and I basically told him he should have not asked my opinion if he didn’t want it. He muttered something under his breath I chose to ignore, and we hung up.

I didn’t think he was really angry, just annoyed. I seemed to have that effect, first with Cooper and now Willie. I had sat there since getting off the phone trying to figure out what the possible link could be. Willie had said this guy had a record for petty crime. James was a lawyer, so maybe that was a connection. Although James’s firm handled mostly white collar crime not smash and grab—Willie’s term not mine—it was plausible. Criminals and criminal lawyers seemed to run in the same circles. Or it could be completely unrelated, and I could be totally off base, and Willie right. Somehow I doubted it.

This blog tour interview and excerpt was organized by CLP Blog Tours.

Check out the other stops in Laina’s blog tour!

Necklaces &NoosesMay 2 – Caroline Fardig – Q&A

May 2 – Kelly’s Nerdy Obsession – Review

May 3 – The Mystery Tavern – Excerpt

May 4 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt

May 9 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

May 11 – Turning Another Page – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

clp buttonMay 12 – Have Books Will Read –  Excerpt

May 13 –Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

May 13 – Around the Worldin Books – Excerpt

May 13 – A Page to Turn – Review


Please note this post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. Thank you in advance! Arielle Joy

Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway – The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd

Today I’m excited to share an excerpt of The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd and an interview with the author, Holly Kerr. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd by Holly Kerr

CharlotteDodd2Published: January 26, 2016

Book Blurb: 

Chick lit meets spy thriller!

Charlotte Dodd is having a bad day.

After taking an experimental drug to erase her memories of saving the world (or at least the country – several times) Charlotte is given a new life – a quiet, unassuming job, a second chance at love with Luke, and no one trying to kill her.

Two years later and with no recollection of saving the world, she steps in to help a random stranger and is amazed at the ease in which she dispatches her opponents using a rolled-up magazine. But how is that possible? She has Buffy-like fight moves, fires a gun with deadly accuracy and can use the air from car tires to keep breathing underwater.

When she meets Ham – why is he so familiar? The flashes, the déjà vu, the dreams – they’re not really dreams? Blowing up a building in Mexico, being buried alive – those things really happened to her? And what is her brother doing flying a plane? Turns out those two years of quiet with Luke was really an undercover mission to help bring down a secret organization targeting her family.

Charlotte needs to remember her secret life if she wants to save the world again and the only man she’s ever loved.

Book Links: Amazon| Goodreads

Interview with the Author – Holly Kerr

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

holly kerrAuthor Bio:Holly Kerr writes chick-lit with a twist. No broody men, no obsessions with shoes, just fun stories about strong women going after what they want.

Her books include Coming Home, Unexpecting and Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder and her latest, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hi Joy!  Thanks so much for having me on your site.  I’m mother of three amazing kids and along with my very supportive husband and our pet bearded dragon, we live in Toronto.

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?

Sure! The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd is about a secret agent who has her memory wiped, and forgets about her life as a spy and the man she was in love with. I call it Buffy meets Bourne, but without the vampires. I had written a few chick lit novels but wanted to write an action scene. I loved television shows with a strong female who can kick butt, like the Jennifer Garner series Alias, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and wanted to create a world like that.  Charlotte has lots of fight scenes, a car chase, zip lining between building and jumping out of a helicopter, plus a love triangle!

3. How long did it take you to write The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd? What is your writing process like?

It took me about six months. I need a bit of an outline before I start a novel, but I’m more of a pantser than a plotter – I write by the seat of my pants. The characters dictate what’s going to happen. Saying that, I usually try and get into their heads as much as I can. I create character bios for my main characters before I start. When the writing isn’t going well, I go back to the bios and add more details.

Charlotte was the first novel that I worked with my critique partners. They are amazing, so I have to include them as part of my writing process. Working with them has really helped strengthen my writing.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m working on a sequel to Charlotte! It has a new main character but uses the world of Charlotte; the National Intelligence and Information Agency and a lot of the characters. It’s called The Best Worst First Date Ever and it starts with Tenley out on her first date with Ben.  Their evening is interrupted by Ben’s ex-girlfriend, an agent with NIIA. Lots of action ensues, and it has more romance than Charlotte.

5. If you were given an offer to turn The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd into a movie, who would you want to see playing the roles of Charlotte and Benjy?

I love these questions!!  When I do the character studies, I always cast the roles. I always pictured Charlotte Dodd looking a lot like Kate Hudson, but while Kate Hudson is in no means old, I think she’s passed the twentysomething age that Charlotte is. And in the book, I describe Benjy as looking like Neil Patrick Harris, but again, this was a few years ago! So here’s what I came up with. Doesn’t Anton Yelchin look like a young Neil Patrick Harris?! Charlotte needs blonde hair, though, but I loved Jenna Coleman on Dr. Who so much, it would be worth the wig!

Charlotte Dodd

6. How would you describe your writing style and previous novels to someone that has never read your work before?

I have a casual, breezy style of writing; very fast-paced. It’s kind of MaryJanice Davidson (who writes the hilarious Undead series) and Emily Giffen.  My editor once told me my style is a lot like Janet Evanovich, but because I’ve never actually read any of her books, I can’t confirm that!

I tried to call my books contemporary women’s fiction, but the reality is that I write in a typical ‘chick-lit’ style. But I don’t have neurotic heroines obsessed with shoes and broody heroes living the high life in New York or San Francisco. I write about regular women dealing with real issues like family, friends or trying to have a baby, all living somewhere in Canada!

7. What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?

Probably working in a book store! I was a SAHM for years and finally went back to work part-time in a bookstore a few years ago because the kids were older. But then I have to give that up because the writing kind of took off. If I wasn’t writing, I’d still be there! I loved being around books all day.

8. If you could marry a fictional character who would it be?

Ooh, I like this one, too! I think my fictional husband would be Jamie Fraser from Outlander    series. Not because I particularly want to live in 1700s Scotland, but because I love the way Jamie loves Claire.

9. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?

Joss Whedon inspires me because of the wit and relevance of his dialogue, although he’s primarily a screenwriter. Stephen King for the brilliance of his imagination and the reactions he can provoke in the reader. Sarah J. Maas, for her success with the storytelling and world building of her Throne of Glass series.

I actually don’t read a lot of chick-lit novels. I’m leaning towards YA these days, but more fantasy or dystopian than the romance. I share a lot of books with my 14 year daughter and her friends! I also have a love for historical fiction. That would be my dream book to write – something set in Tudor England. Maybe someday!

10. Being a writer is a great job but what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I actually had this conversation with my father and sister and we couldn’t come up with a really bad job that I’ve had, to my sister’s envious dismay! Probably this factory job I had for a week one summer I was in university. It wasn’t difficult, just boring and I worked shiftwork. I had one of the worst bosses ever when I first moved to Toronto, but I didn’t mind the job other than her. I think I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes jobs. Whatever job I had though, I was writing part-time as well which helped me leave the problems at work at the end of the day.

11. Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals?

I need to ‘think out’ what I’ll be working on and one of the best times to do that is when I’m in the shower. I need a little planning time. I also need tea and music. I also seem to be starting a collection of POP bobble-heads on my desk, so maybe they’ll inspire me!

12. Is there one book that stands out in your mind that you wish you’d written?

I think every author wishes they’d written a Harry Potter or a Game of Thrones, but for me, the book I wish I’d written – one that is realistic, based on my style and genre – is Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen. Really good chick-lit, but doesn’t seem like chick-lit.

13. If you could be plopped down into any book, which one would it be?

The world of Harry Potter! I even have a wand! And maybe I’m a little old to hang with Harry and his friends, but Mrs. Weasley needs a bestie, doesn’t she? Or I could be an assistant to Dumbledore!

14. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

A mess! My wallet, my daughter’s wallet, a tennis ball, possibly squash ball…sunglasses, lots of   receipts…candy for my kids…Pepto-Bismol pills, subway tokens and lots of loose change

15. Where is your favorite place in the world?

By the water – my favourite place is at our cottage, at the beach in the early morning before it gets busy and crowded. Or right before a storm when the waves are crashing and you can see the rain coming across the water.

16. If you could plan the perfect holiday, what would it be?

Again, someplace by the water and when it’s warm enough to swim and scuba. I’d want some friends with me to amuse the kids (because my family would have to be there) but friends who know me well enough to realize I’d want some alone time for part of the day! Someplace where I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning, and have someone take care of my needs.

If I were to go on a holiday by myself, I’d want to go to New York and wander around. Or maybe London.

17. Do you have any pet peeves?

People who spit. On the street. Where I can hear them! Grosses me right out. Also, being in a busy mall. Don’t those people have someplace to be? Can’t they walk faster?

18. A few of your favorites…

Favorite scent? Apples. Candles, perfume (DKNY Delicious) body wash, shampoo. I probably  smell like a very ripe apple!

Favorite color? red

Favorite food? Mushroom risotto with sausage or bacon, drizzled with balsamic glaze.  I like to cook!

Favorite word? Awesome!

Favorite song? Calling You by Blue October

Favorite book? Toss up between Pride and Prejudice and Rivals by Jilly Cooper.

Favorite/dream vacation spot? See above!

Favorite time period in history? I love Tudor England or the French Revolution. So much intrigue and conflict!

Favorite article of clothing? These days, my pajama pants! I’m only allowed to wear them after dinner though

Favorite drink of choice? I do enjoy a nice dirty martini! But I mainly drink wine

Favorite celebrity crush? Today it would have to be Chris Pratt

19. Either or…

Dogs or cats? Dogs, but not puppies. Just spent a few days with a puppy and…yeah. I need a more mature dog!

Red wine or white? I drink both but my very favourite is Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. The 2013 is nice too!

Coffee or tea? Tea. Can’t do coffee, even though I love the smell

Summer or Winter? Summer. Spring, actually

Sleep in or get up early? I’m an early bird!

Apple or PC? PC for computer, Apple for everything else!

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd – Excerpt


Chapter 1


“Not all girls are like you.”

-Jon Snow, Games of Thrones


If I had known how this night would end, I think I would have left my car.

My cell rings almost as soon as I step outside the movie theatre, with the ringtone that sounds like a distorted robot.

Sorry I deserted you this weekend but it’s for a good cause. Hope you liked the movie. Have fun and be careful.

Luke, my boyfriend of almost two years now. He pretends to worry about me, but I think that has to do with the fact he’s my brother’s best friend and has known me since I was twelve. Luke has no anxiety issues, other than wondering what my brothers might do to him if he let me get hurt. It was tricky making the jump from almostsortof sister to passionate kissing but I think Luke and I have done okay. This time. The first time we were together, I was young, he was stupid and it ended in a big mess. But I’m over that.

I text him back.  You worry too much.

Can’t help it, babe. Bad stuff happens to you.


Do you want a list?

Nothing really terrible has ever happened to me, but I’ve had some near misses. Like the gas leak in my apartment that time. The fire department said it could have easily blown the place sky high if I hadn’t noticed the smell. And the car that ran the red light that other time; if I hadn’t swerved at the last minute it would have totaled my car. Oh, and the time I was pushed on the subway platform – that was a little too close to think about.

And not worth thinking about tonight. My mind full of Tom Cruise’s antics in Mission; Impossible, I stick my phone in my bag without responding and head for my car.

It’s a nice evening; it’s the middle of April so the air still has a bite to it, but there’s enough green stuff popping up to make you realize spring is, indeed, in the air. I had parked my car on a side street, close enough to be a quick walk to the movie theatre, but far enough so I didn’t have to have to fight for a spot. There’s a new condo building being built on the corner of Duplex and Maxwell and mud has been tracked along the side-street by the trucks, making it look more like a dirt road in the country than a city street. Most people don’t like to get their cars dirty so there was plenty of parking when I showed up a few hours ago. Being a recent car owner, you’d think I’d have a similar mindset, but growing up on a farm and loving the outdoors, I came to the realization at a young age that everything comes clean one way or another with a little hot water and soap.

The flop flop flop of my Birkenstock sandals as I walk along is comforting. When I’m not at work, I’m strictly a jeans and T-shirt girl and I practically live in my battered old pair of Birks. It’s a temp job and I don’t love it, but at least it’s something until I can figure out what I really want to do. I look at it as a way to pay my share of the rent. Luke is the definition of a trust fund baby and keeps telling me he has no problems taking care of me, but I need to retain some sort of independence.

As I turn onto the side street where I left my car, I have a flash of insight that it might have been a good idea to have parked closer to the movie theatre. At least to have parked on a street that isn’t quite this empty.

The street isn’t entirely empty. In the dimming bit of daylight left, I see three men standing behind my car. They look they’re having some kind of discussion involving raised voices and hand gestures, which I guess probably makes it an argument, not a discussion. There’s a dark- coloured sedan parked a little too close for my liking. I’ve only had the car for a couple of weeks. It’s the first car I’ve ever bought myself, a cute little red Mini Cooper with a white roof. I love it. If their big, dirty car backed into mine…

But a little niggle at the back of my neck tells me it’s more than that. I take in the situation; one little guy (not really little but compared to the other two goons, a professional wrestler might well be called miniscule) and the two really big, really threatening-looking guys standing there looking mean.

Why aren’t I getting the hell out of here?

“Is there a problem?” I call politely when I’m a couple of feet away from the disgruntled group. Instinctively I’ve rolled the magazine they give out at the theatres into a tight cylinder. I clutch it firmly, and settle my bag more comfortably across my chest.

As soon as the words leave my mouth, one of the men up and literally clocks the normal sized man with a hard punch right to the face. The poor guy goes down like a sack of potatoes thrown from a truck.

The man not involved in this little fight-club scene whips around to face me, stepping in front of the other two as if to block what’s going on. His hand is tucked ominously in his pocket. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, the sheer size of this guy – tall, yet stocky and wearing a black leather coat that isn’t at all slimming – is intimidating as well.

It only gets worse when he pulls his hand out of his pocket and I see he’s holding a gun; a gun that is now pointed right at me.

“What you want?” the man with the gun barks at me in a heavily accented voice.

Russian. I’m not sure how I know that, though.

I remember my grandfather Seamus telling me once that I needed to act more aggressive, more assertive when dealing with conflicts. This was because of my physical appearance rather than the fact that I’m a woman.

Most of the time I’m overlooked because of my size – five foot one inch, one hundred and nine pounds – or I’m given a patronizing smile because of the way I look. I’ve got the whole blonde, cute thing going on. I’m cute. I know I’m cute. People have actually compared me to Kate Hudson. Sweet, nice and cute are descriptives that have dogged me all my life.

But my grandfather, who, God rest his soul, was not at all cute, had no way of knowing how beneficial it can be sometimes to rely on your cuteness in times of trouble. While the aggressive approach may work well in the boxing ring or the work place, sometimes I’ve found it works to trade on the little girl persona when you’ve got the chance, especially with big men who have guns.

Why do they have guns? And why am I not on my way out of here – car or no car?

“Oh, my goodness!” I gasp, making my blue eyes widen, my arms thrust over my head in a gesture of surrender. “I’m so sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt, just want to get my car which is right there. I didn’t do anything, didn’t see anything and if you want my purse, take it, only I don’t have any money in it and my credit cards are maxed are out so it won’t do you any good but…”

“You go,” the one holding the gun barks at me. Like I said, he’s quite large with a body like a bull with huge shoulders and chest tapering down to almost skinny hips and legs. His head, with its close cropped sprinkling of dark hair, also seems to be sitting directly on his shoulders, forgoing any sort of neck-like appendage.

“Really? Sure, okay. Going – right now, going.” And being cute wins another round.

Bull is joined by the other man, the one who hit the guy in the face. This one is even bigger, but more stream-lined so that his hips are almost the same size as his shoulders and he has a wicked scar running the side of his face. I’d say both could easily be cast in any gangster goon movie. They are both seriously unattractive.

“Get lost,” Scar says to me. Of course he pulls out a gun as well. This night just gets better and better. Maybe I should have stayed home and watched T.V. instead of going to a movie.

Maybe Luke is right to be worried about me.

“Going. Just need to get to my car,” I say, and point to my beloved little red Mini Cooper. “Right there. Hoping to drive away in it –” I pantomime driving since it’s clear from the accent and the broken sentences that English isn’t the first language of these fellows, “–and forgetting I ever saw you. You? Never saw you. Heading home. Where I’m not going to say anything to anyone.”

“Go,” Bull barks in this guttural voice which sounds like a skinned knee rolling over gravel or something equally painful. It adds nothing to his appearance. If he really wants to improve himself, he should do something about the pockmarks dotting his face. I’m guessing this guy had some issues as a teenager if he had that much acne to deal with.

Bull moves to the side, sort of shadowing me as I, slowly with careful steps, move onto the street towards my car. For the first time I get good look at the guy on the ground. He really looks like Neil Patrick Harris, otherwise known as Doogie Howser. I binge watched episodes of Doogie on Netflix last weekend. Same short, spiky blonde hair, same cute face with the square jaw, only this guy isn’t wearing a suit. He’s wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie sweatshirt with a sports jacket tossed on top. And black Converse sneakers, which I’m guessing from the outfit I saw Neil Patrick Harris wearing at the Oscar awards, he wouldn’t be caught dead in.

He’s sitting up now, and rubbing his jaw. On second glance I know it’s not Doogie. Plus, why would Neil Patrick Harris be in the process beaten up by two thugs who barely speak passable English on a deserted side street in Toronto?

“Are you okay?” I whisper as I scurry by him on the ground.

He just looks at me with wide eyes and my heart tugs with concern. His face is battered and blood trickles from a cut on his forehead. Obviously there was more going on before I got there. Scar swings his gun back around to point it at him.

“Shut it. Or she joins you.”

Reaching my car, I fumble with my keys, the magazine still clutched in my hand. Scar watches me like a hawk from beside my car, but Bull’s attention is focused on Doogie, pointing his gun right at him. But there – Bull’s eyes flick around and settles on the shell of the condo building being built. Doogie is still looking at me, like he’s waiting for something.

When I unlock the door, I don’t slide in behind the wheel. I unlock the Le Club attached to the steering wheel first; my older brother Declan insisted on buying me the safety device when I got the car. I had laughed when he presented it to me, and called it an antique, but he insisted and there’s not a lot I can refuse Declan.

The bar falls into my hand like a club. I tighten my grip.

Get in the car and drive away, Charlotte!

Bull has pulled Doogie to his knees, towering over him with a gun trained on the back of his head.

I glance at my reflection on my car window. My white blonde hair is pulled into two braids. With no make-up and freckles dotting my nose, I look about fourteen. I blow my bangs off my forehead and curl my bare toes until they crack. Adrenaline pumps through me.

These guys aren’t going to know what hit them.

Without any warning, I take two steps away from the car and manage to smack Scar right in the head with the Le Club. I put all of my 109 pounds behind it and give a gratified “Ha!” as he stumbles into the car.

With a yell, Bull abandons Doogie and starts for me like I’m waving a red flag and he’s a – well, a bull. A bull with a gun, that is. Instead of standing there in terror and still holding both the Le Club and my rolled movie magazine, I take three steps towards him and punch him straight in the nose, just like my brother Seamus taught me so long ago, but this time with my fist folded over my handy sticks. I hear a satisfying crunch and blood spurts out of his nose, but unfortunately my attempt doesn’t stop Bull. Or stop him waving the gun in my direction. To get rid of the gun, I slam the Le Club against his wrist as hard as I can. He drops the gun and I kick it against the fence surrounding the construction area and turn around in time to dodge a fairly big fist to the face.

“Whoa,” I can’t help but gasp. “Ever hear of not hitting girls?”

Bull is growling at me and my only response is to hit him again, this time with my magazine. Think of Matt Damon’s fight scene in one of the Bourne movies – it’s really quite effective. Add me using the Le Club along with it, like a pair of nunchuks and Bull really doesn’t know what’s hitting him.

Until, of course, he lowers his head and charges me like, again, a bull. I end up on the ground on my bum, losing hold of both my trusty sticks. Bull then lifts me by the front of my shirt and slams a gigantic fist into my face.

“Get him in car,” Bull growls at Scar, who has a fistful of Doogie’s hoodie and his gun pointed at his head. Guess a metal bar to the head doesn’t really slow him down. “Leave her to me.” I feel a moment of panic as Bull advances at me with a menacing grin.

But I’m not finished. Doogie needs me. I grab hold of the Le Club again, and with a yell, jump up and start hitting Bull where ever I can reach – arms, legs, stomach. It’s not as effective as having both my sticks, but I’m doing fairly well. I throw in a couple of kicks as well, which Bull doesn’t see coming – his only concern is defending his head from the metal bar.

I’ll have to thank Declan for my new toy.

But Bull suddenly jumps to the offensive, getting a few punches in, one that connects solidly with my solar plexus. It feels like I’ve been hit by a truck. Then he lets his left hook fly and even though I jerk my head to the side at the last moment, it still sends bells ringing through my head as it connected with my cheek. I taste blood inside my mouth.

What am I doing?

I’ve never been able to walk away when someone needs help, even when it’s the smart… really, the only intelligent thing to do. And it would be the smart thing to run away but my gut tells me I need to be here, that this is the right thing to do.

They are going to kill him. I can’t let that happen.

I give my head a shake and hold my ground. I try a couple of kicks for good measure. One connects solidly with his kidneys and Bull visibly winces, but he’s ready for the next one and grabs my leg, giving it a jerk and knocking me off balance.

Before I can fall – which might get me out the way of his very big fists – he grabs a hold of one of my braids and backhands me with his sore hand.  I stumble backwards or as backwards as I can with Bull still holding my hair.

“You shouldn’t pull hair,” I reproach him through a mouthful of blood. I run my tongue around my mouth – the teeth are still intact.

“Stupid girl,” he says. “Should have minded own business.”

“Yeah, that’s what they all say.” I swing my Le Club again but my aim is off and Bull grabs it out of my hand and tosses it aside.

“Not too fun without your pretty little stick, are you?”

Then the piece de resistance; by the big guy, not me – he picks me up by my shoulder and a handful of jeans at my hip–holding me suspended in the air for a second as I try to grab him. You know, when you’re about to be thrown into a swimming pool and you try to grab hold to take the person in with you? That’s me. But I don’t get a hold of him, and he throws me bodily into the side of my car. I land badly on the road with the wind knocked of out me. Saying this isn’t going too well for me is now an understatement.

But I’m not finished yet. I tuck my knees to my chest and thrust out with as much power as I can, catching Bull in his midsection, hitting him with a sharp foot to the groin, which can always damage a man, no matter how big he might be.

Teach him for trying to mess with a girl.

Bracing my hands beside my shoulders, I rock back and flip to my feet; a move perfected from watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I grab my magazine from the ground beside me and tighten the roll, ready to finish Bull off. I’m getting tired of this.

“I’ve got another stick,” I say as menacingly as possible in my girlish voice. But there’s nothing girlish about how I can wield my movie magazine. Bull can do little but protect his head.

“Stop!” Scar finally calls out, still holding a gun on Doogie. If I didn’t know better I’d say both of them are enjoying the show. “Grab her and let’s get out of here.” He begins dragging Doogie to the car behind mine.

I can’t let them take Doogie. I don’t know why – I don’t even know who he is. Or who the bad guys are. Doogie could deserve everything that’s coming to him.

But somehow I don’t think so.

I poke my magazine into Bull’s throat and grab his massive shoulders, slamming my knee into his midsection – once, twice – before stomping on his foot. Leaning over, I aim a kick at the side of Bull’s knee at the same time I grab my Le Club from the ground. When I stand up, Bull is falling over and the Le Club is flying through the air towards Scar. It’s a perfect aim and hits him on the wrist bone and he drops the gun.

I had no idea I could throw a metal stick like that.

Doogie grabs the gun and with a few kicks and punches, has Scar down in no time.

“Holy shit!” I gasp in disbelief, still wheezing a little from getting the wind knocked out of me. I can hear my breathing and if I listened really hard I think I might be able to hear the blood pounding through my veins. “Who are they?”

“Very bad dudes,” he says into the sudden silence, sliding across the hood of my car. “Look, we can chat later. Keys?”

“Ground,” I tell him, limping to the passenger side. “Should be right there.”

Doogie scoops the keys up. “Get in the car, Charlie!”

Still clutching my Le Club with one hand, I jump in my car. Doogie guns the engine and the car shoots away from the curb, whipping down the street as fast as my little car can go. The CD I was listening to comes on loud since I never remember to turn it down.  It’s sort of fitting in a cheesy, low budget kind of way that the song is ‘Danger Zone’ from the Top Gun soundtrack.

“How do you know my name?” I ask with confusion.


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Interested in Holly’s writing? Check out my blog post with an excerpt from her novel Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder.

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Check out the other stops on Holly’s Blog Tour!

The Serect Life ofCharlotte DoddMarch 28 – The World As I See It – Review & Excerpt

March 29 – Change the Word – Q&A

March 30 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

March 31 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt

April 1- Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

April 1 – The Book Sirens – Review & Excerpt

April 4 – Around the World in Books – Excerpt

clp buttonApril 5 – Coffeeaholic Bookworm – Review

April 6 – Queen of All She Reads – Review & Excerpt

April 8 – Phantom Paragrapher – Review

April 11 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post

April 11 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt



Please note, this post has an Amazon affiliate link. This means if you purchase the book with my link, I get a small kick back. Thanks in advance!Arielle Joy


Book Review | Summer by the Sea

I know Summer is over but give me a tropical drink and a summery novel any day of the year and I’ll be a happy camper. Today I’m excited to share my book review of Jenny Hale’s novel Summer by the Sea, in addition to sharing a fabulous interview with the author. Read on to learn a bit about Jenny and find out why I loved her novel!

Summer by the Sea by Jenny Hale

summer by the Sea_3.inddPublished: June 12, 2015

They say there’s always one summer that changes you.

For Faith the one summer she can’t forget is when she fell in love as a teenager – only for her sister, Casey, to steal her man. Now, at the request of her beloved ninety-year-old Grandmother, Faith has agreed to a family holiday – at their childhood beach house, where it all began.

Faith hasn’t seen her sister in years but is finally ready to forgive and forget, enjoy the sunshine and relive happy memories. What she’s not ready for is meeting Jake Buchanan – the owner of the beach house – or the long-forgotten feelings he ignites in her.

Can Faith overcome the hurt of the past, rekindle the close bond she had with Casey and make this summer THE ONE to remember?

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UKGoodreads

My Review

One of the main themes of this novel is that being successful means different things for different people, and that’s okay. Summer by the Sea is a story filled with betrayal and selfishness but overwhelmingly of love and family. The novel touches upon heavy subjects of life and love and loss in a beautiful, well-written and heart-warming way. One of the most important messages throughout the novel is the idea that life isn’t about working. You have to find a happy balance and not live your life to prove something to others. At the end of the day, you have to make sure that you’re happy with your life and that always starts with living your life on your own terms, not someone else’s.

Another important theme in the story is holding on to memories. Although we can look back on good memories whenever we want, life continues to move forward, whether we want it to or not. With the love and support of your family, you are strong and resilient and can get past whatever bad times come your way. The worst feeling you can carry isn’t sadness, it’s regret. Regret at lost opportunities and waiting until it’s too late. You have to take chances or else you’ll miss out on the great things in life. Even if things go wrong, you’ll figure it out and at the end of the day, the people that matter will be there for you.

Summer by the Sea was an emotionally deep novel, but written in a fun and thoughtful way. Hale’s prose and writing style is beautiful, thoughtful and fun. This is the perfect novel to sink into when you feel like taking a vacation and getting away from it all.  Jenny Hale never disappoints and never fails to deliver a fabulous, well-written, entertaining and thoughtful novel.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

About the Author – Jenny Hale

Author Links: WebsiteFacebook | Twitter

7201437Author Bio: When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.

While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result is Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.

When I’m not writing, I’m a District Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a mother of two boys, and a wife to a very supportive husband.

Interview with the Author

  1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hi! Thank you for having me on your blog! I’m Jenny Hale, author of Summer by the Sea and other Women’s Fiction titles.

  1. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it.

Summer by the Sea is about that one summer that changes everything. For Faith the one summer she can’t forget is when she fell in love as a teenager—only for her sister, Casey, to steal her man. Now, at the request of her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Faith has agreed to a family vacation—at their childhood beach house, where it all began.

Faith hasn’t seen her sister in years but is finally ready to forgive and forget, enjoy the sunshine, and relive happy memories. What she’s not ready for is meeting Jake Buchanan—the owner of the beach house—or the long-forgotten feelings he ignites in her.

The inspiration for this novel came from the setting. The Outer Banks is a set of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina where I’ve spent many family vacations. I enjoyed creating my characters in this familiar setting.

  1. How long did it take you to write Summer by the Sea? What is your writing process like?

It takes me about three months to write draft one and then we go to editing. I work full time as a teacher and I have two small children so my writing process is different every day. I usually set a goal of a certain number of words for the day and then it’s a mad scramble to get those words.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

26214652I’m working on my next Christmas novel. It’s about having dreams and the big question: Should we take a risk to chase our dreams or not? It’s about a nurse named Abbey Fuller who scores an interior decorating job. That job is at a million dollar mansion. And the mansion is owned by bachelor Nick Sinclair. In the story, not only does Abbey have to decide if taking the job is worth the risk, but she also learns that falling for Nick could be riskier. Especially when she has her young son and her ailing Gramps to think about…

[Jenny’s Christmas novel, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses will be published next month, so don’t forget to check it out!]

  1. What kind of environment do you write in?

I write with dogs barking, children asking for snacks, the phone ringing, and neighborhood children knocking on my door. Sometimes I’ll get 200 words at one time, and sometimes I’ll only get 50, but at the end of the day, I usually reach my quota, and that’s all that matters. If I have silence (which rarely happens), I can get a week’s worth of words in three hours.

  1. Where is your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place in the world (besides home) is the UK! I haven’t had too many opportunities to travel, but of the opportunities I’ve had, that’s my favorite place.

  1. Did you always want to be a writer?

Actually, no. I didn’t even think about it until adulthood. I’ve always been a storyteller, but writing novels was something that came later in life.

  1. If you were given an offer to turn Summer by the Sea into a movie, who would you want to see playing the roles of Faith and Jake?

Jake: Dustin Milligan

Faith: Shenae Grimes

  1. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?

Flip-flops! I love them and will buy far more than necessary if given the opportunity.

  1. A few of your favorites:

Food? Crab cakes

Drink of choice? coffee

Word? Filibuster

Vacation spot? White Stone, Virginia

Period in history? 1980s

  1. Either Or…

Dogs or Cats? Dogs

Red wine or white? White

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Summer or Winter? Both!

Sleep in or get up early? Get up early.

Apple or PC? Apple

Interview with Heidi-Jo Swain

Wishing a big congratulations to Heidi-Jo Swain in the wake of her debut novel The Cherry Tree Cafe! I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today to celebrate her novel. I’m sure you will enjoy the Q&A as much as I did. Read on to discover fabulous tidbits about Heidi, from what inspired her to write her debut novel, what you would find if you took a peek in her handbag, to my favorite part of the interview; the best advice she ever received from her fellow author Mandy Baggot! When you’re done learning about Heidi, don’t forget to go check out her novel and get yourself a copy!!

The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi-Jo Swain

24907329Published: July 16, 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK

Cupcakes, crafting and love at The Cherry Tree Cafe…
Lizzie Dixon’s life feels as though it’s fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. So, there’s only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again.

Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little cafe and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie’s sewing skills are just what she needs.

With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago…?

For everyone who loves settling down to watch Great British Bake-Off, the Great British Sewing Bee, or curling up to read Milly Johnson or Jenny Colgan, The Cherry Tree Cafe is a coffee-break treat.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads | iBooks | Kobo

Interview with Author Heidi-Jo Swain

Author Links: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

5dUejMtc_400x4001. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hello, thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your lovely blog.

I’m a contemporary romance fiction author, a lover of Galaxy bars, ready salted crisps, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz who is lucky enough to live in a very pretty part of south Norfolk with my family and a mischievous cat named Storm.

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?

My debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café, centers around the life of lovely Lizzie Dixon who, having had her heart broken, moves back to her hometown where she joins forces with her best friend Jemma and opens The Cherry Tree Café.

As far as inspiration goes I’m a huge fan of crafts, an even bigger one of cake and something of a sucker for a love story, so putting the three together was an absolute joy!

3. How long did it take you to write The Cherry Tree Cafe? What is your writing process like?

To be completely honest, I can’t remember how long it took me to write The Cherry Tree, but I would guess around six to eight months.

I like to have a pretty good idea of the entire plot before I begin writing a novel but more often than not the characters take over so I’m always open to making changes along the way!

I tend to write quite quickly and a recent change to my writing process has helped speed up the development of a first draft considerably. I write longhand on the days I’m working now and type up what I’ve written in the evenings. I’m also lucky enough to have a couple of designated writing days during the week (well, that’s the theory) and if possible I sit at the keyboard all day then.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on my next novel… Not very forthcoming but I’m sworn to secrecy. Sorry!

5. What is your favorite thing about writing romance novels?

To me, writing is a complete indulgence. I only write about settings I would love to visit, or even better, live in, and characters who I wouldn’t mind swapping places with for a day or so. The old adage; write what you love and love what you write certainly applies here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I am very blessed to have such a wonderful family and home, but every day my writing gives me the opportunity to step off my own page and onto someone else’s and I love that.

6. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

I’m going to go with writing advice here, for obvious reasons and the best piece of wisdom I ever received was a timely reminder from my bacon loving pal Mandy Baggot.

She told me, when I was trying to decide what to do with my writing, where to submit and so on, that she didn’t like having all her literary eggs in one basket and that I needed to remember that the journey I am on, is my own.

Those words gave me some perspective and reminded me that there actually are no rules, that I didn’t have to wait around for someone else to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, that if I wanted to I could make the decisions and make things happen for myself.

So that’s what I did.

7. What kind of environment do you write in?

When I’m at the keyboard I always sit in the same position at the dining table however, writing longhand can happen anywhere. To be honest, if I’m writing, I’m writing and nothing distracts me except for cake of course.

Cake aside, this shift to longhand has been an absolute blessing because if I have paper and a pen I can write anywhere. There are no boundaries.

8. Is there one book that stands out in your mind that you wish you’d written?

Letters to The Lost by Iona Grey. Without a doubt simply the best book ever. Iona and I share the same publisher and having met her I can tell you she’s absolutely gorgeous, completely down to earth and a thoroughly lovely lady. This of course does nothing to allay the book envy…

9. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?

In the kitchen I couldn’t live without my vintage glasses and tins, my Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston bits and pieces, the length of floral bunting my mum made and all the deer themed ornaments from my Nanna.

Oh, was I supposed to include a gadget or two here? Sorry, I’m all about the pretty!

10. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

Oh I love my current bag. It’s a cross body blue and white polka dot beauty from CK that I found in a charity shop for around £10! I know!

Ok focus… Inside you would find my purse (empty), a very red lipstick, lip balm, business cards, notepad, pen, painkillers, a mirror and a very pretty purse I received in a Happy Mail parcel with the words ‘Anything Is Possible’ written across the front.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today and your fabulous answers! Wishing you the best of luck with your new release and we can’t wait to find out more about your next novel that’s in the works!