Double Digits & Holding onto Childhood

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My daughter turned 10 last week. I tried to make it special―after all, it is a milestone.  For starters, it’s double digits. Never again in her lifetime will her age be a single number. It’s also closer to the teenage years. It may seem like she’s far from that because we’ve still got three years to go. But over the past year, she’s been slowly outgrowing her childhood things. Licensed characters are out. When friends come over they make videos or talk behind closed doors. Clothes with sparkles, graphics, or bling of any kind are now in the giveaway pile. Plain is in. The emoji pillows we so painstakingly collected are now dust collectors. We’ve transitioned from Justice to Old Navy leisure wear. To be honest I wasn’t expecting all of this to happen so soon. When I was growing up I played with Barbies until Jr. High. And only then I got rid of them because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to. So I’ve been trying to figure out what’s driving this earlier transition. I think a lot of it has to do with technology. And to that point, all she wants is a phone. But I’m still holding off because I don’t see a need for her to have one of her own just yet.

 

So what to get my tween for her birthday? I decided to let her redo her room, which I had designed when she was just a toddler. I like the idea of allowing her to make it her own and use it as a form of self-expression. Give her some control over something that should be hers. I definitely felt a tinge of sadness as I was packing away her old sheets and comforter. She’s outgrown the cute floral pattern and canvas prints I had searched long and hard for to add the perfect touch of whimsy to a little girl’s room.  Now it’s mint green and simple – I guess you could call it sophisticated. To me it’s a sign of the times: things are changing.

 

My mother-in-law was over for a family party this weekend. She gave me an article from the Chicago Tribune called “Turning 10 and Dreading Growing Up.” She wanted to know if I’d seen it. I said that I hadn’t – I don’t read the paper. But she saved it for me because she thought I could relate. The article is about the angst the writer’s daughter feels about turning 10. The stress that comes with wanting to stay little. The article went on to talk about the pressure tweens face and all the expectations that are piled on them. The pressure to be a great person, look great, and be great at everything. Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel was called in to comment. She said her patients tell her there are only 2 positions in life: ahead and behind. She went on to quote that “10 is the new 18.”

 

Say what?

I wasn’t super stressed about my daughter turning 10. But now I am after reading the tales of woe about childhood ending and the pressure to be perfect.

So here’s what I’ve decided. A lot of it comes down to parenting. Yes, there are a lot of things that we can’t control. But there are lots of things we can. I’m still embracing my daughter’s childhood. These are fun and innocent years and I want to protect that. She has a lifetime to worry about the world’s problems. But for now, I love that she still believes in the tooth fairy. Hasn’t questioned her existence. Ever. I love that she still wants to hang out with me or hold my hand. We went to Disney this past winter and she still wanted to get the characters’ autographs. She said she didn’t, but once we were there she changed her tune. I’m cognizant of the increasing demands and expectations at school. And while I expect her to rise to the occasion, I’m trying not to put so much pressure on her and let her find her own way. I don’t expect perfection. As long as she tries her best that’s good enough for me. And I’ve shared this message with her, hoping it will sink in.

 

She has her days where she’s moody and wants to be alone. Or doesn’t feel like talking or sharing anything about her day. Except when it’s time for bed, which she keeps pushing later. Is she a tween? More and more each day. But she’s not a teen yet. I disagree that 10 is the new 18. I think 10 is 10. And that’s how it should be.

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A Clean Slate

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My kids went back to school a few weeks ago. I love this time of year. It feels like a second New Year’s celebration. A fresh start, a renewed sense of optimism, and a chance to do things better. By the end of the summer things got chaotic in my house. The routine was somewhat out the window, the kids were going to bed late, and I was going a bit insane. I feel like that’s what summer’s for (not the insane part!), but it got tough in the end having no down time. In the last few weeks between the end of camp and the start of school, I was trying to plan fun activities to keep everyone entertained. My house become a revolving door of play dates. The kids were bickering constantly. Slime was a go-to activity. The mess! I had to put the kibosh on that. And we often ran for blocks in search of the ice cream truck. My kids have never had better speed or hearing. We could be downstairs in the basement with the door closed and they’d scream for ice cream. Before I could process what happened they were upstairs with their shoes on. You’d think they would be tired with all the running around and fresh air. But as my son said it gave him energy. The ice cream probably helped. He was going to bed late and my daughter was staying up past ten. So the only time I could get things done was after she went to bed. And let me tell you, at that point I was tired. I found myself forgetting to put a wet load of laundry in the dryer, drafting emails that were never sent, and doing work well past eleven. As much as I loved spending quality time with the kids, I felt like the quality I was putting into other things was somewhat lacking.

Slowly we’re adjusting to getting back to the rigor a new school year brings. My daughter is entering fourth grade and my son is in first. So far so good. Granted we’ve yet to have a full week of school. I’ve been getting all of us (myself included) up and out the door earlier. By the end of last year we were cutting it close with morning drop off. Everyone was less motivated to get out of bed. And even on those days it seemed like we were doing OK on time, inevitably we used those “free” minutes doing something else. I was a stress case each morning and vowed no more. So I’m glad for the fresh start. We’re all motivated to adopt good habits, but we’ll see what happens come October.

Just like with New Year’s, I’m trying to hold onto my resolutions.

So now I’ve gone from having no “me” time to lots of it. A good deal of that time will be spent doing work. Did I mention I’ve been freelancing for my former boss? I primarily work from home and a lot of what I’m doing is writing-based, which I obviously love. And it’s a nice work-life balance, which isn’t easy to come by. So I feel lucky and inspired. Which brings me to my next piece of news. I started writing my third novel! I’m hoping to focus on it more in the coming weeks and months as I only have a few chapters started. The story is something I mapped out a long time ago that I’ve been aching to write. It’s all in my head, but the challenge will be getting it down on paper in a way that does it justice. But I’m excited and it feels like the right time. Like with the flip of the calendar, I’m wiping the slate clean and I’m ready to begin. 🙂

Postcards From Camp

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Wow! I can’t believe that I haven’t posted since January. Eek. There isn’t a particular reason for my silence. I’ve just been focused on other things and my writing has fallen to the wayside. I miss it. It felt good to sit back down with my thoughts for company. Like an old friend who you haven’t spoken with in a while, it’s easy to pick right back up where we left off. And I see a lot more writing in my future – of the letter variety. My oldest daughter left for overnight camp last week. She’ll be gone for four long weeks. I know, some of you might be wondering why I’d want her to stay for so long. The answer is I didn’t. But she asked me, actually begged me, to go. I’m not against the idea of overnight camp. I went when I was growing up. My first year didn’t go so well, but after that I switched camps and loved it. I think it’s a great opportunity to instill kids with a sense of confidence and independence. But in my head I thought she’d go when she was ten. So I figured we had another year and another summer together. But when she continued to pursue the subject, I decided that while I might not be ready, she was.

 

So we met with the “camp lady” and she showed us videos of different options. I hadn’t intended to have her decide that way. I envisioned us going on a road trip, driving to the different camps so she could see them live and get a feel for what she liked best. But we missed our window of opportunity, so videos it was. She decided on Agawak in Minocqua, WI. I realize that things don’t always go according to plan, but I was nervous. How could she possibly make a decision from watching a video? I have to trust that she chose something that is the right fit. So I took a leap of faith and now she’s almost five hours away.

 

The goodbye was hard. I didn’t cry, outwardly at least. I put on my brave face and told her how proud I was and wished her an amazing time. Because I am proud. She not only had the courage to leave home for a month, but she went on her own. When she signed up she didn’t know another soul that was going. None of her friends go to overnight camp. That didn’t deter her. She said she’d make new friends. When I went to camp it was with a group of girls from school – I don’t think I’d ever have gone on my own. I think I often take the safe route. And I do have some regrets about it. I don’t know where she gets her courage. She’s this tiny thing with a big heart and a daredevil spirit. But I’m glad that it’s a part of who she is and that she was ready to take on this adventure.

 

She’s been gone a week and I have yet to receive a letter. The camp posts pictures and blog updates, so I have some exposure to what’s been happening. But I have so many questions and not being able to get answers is unnerving. When I was driving earlier I heard the song “I Hope You’ll Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. It hasn’t been on in ages, but I took it as a good sign because I love its message.

 

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

 

Maddie, I’m so glad you decided to dance.

 

As for me, I promise not to wait so long between posts next time. Until we meet again.

Life is for Living

For Sam & Michael

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I’m gonna put it out there: I’m not optimistic about 2017. I’m usually not a pessimist, but things haven’t gotten off to a great start. And we’re only three days in. I woke up on New Year’s Day terribly sick and couldn’t get out of bed all day. I know what you’re thinking. And no, it wasn’t the wine. I had some sort of weird 24-hour flu bug. That was no way to ring in the new year and I hoped it wasn’t representative of what lies ahead. But I shook it off because I love starting fresh with the flip of the calendar. Everything feels optimistic and new. Then I got a call yesterday that changed everything.

 

My uncle was doing some shopping and suddenly collapsed. He had a massive heart attack and they couldn’t revive him. He was simply opening a door, which turned out to be a gateway to the other side. I’m still reeling from the news. I just can’t shake the overwhelming feeling of sadness at the tragedy of it. My uncle was a good man. I haven’t seen him in a long time—he got divorced from my aunt a number of years ago and remarried. But when I was younger our families were together all the time. My first cousin (his daughter) is the same age as me. We were as thick as thieves growing up and spent countless holidays and everything in-between together. Our kids are now the exact same ages—we both had girls first followed by boys—and our daughters even have the same name. It was by pure coincidence. Maybe some of that togetherness rubbed off. Anyway, I keep thinking about how my cousin lost her dad and her kids lost their grandfather. Out of the blue, with no chance to say goodbye. It makes me so angry, especially when I think about all of the evil people in this world who get to live another day. It’s not fair.

 

I know this is life but sometimes it really sucks. I don’t know what to say to her because words can never fill the void in her heart. I’m sorry isn’t enough. Because from this day forward her life is forever changed and she will always feel his absence in moments big and small. I know with time the pain will dull, but it will always be there. Even now that I have my own family I still rely on my parents. I don’t know if there ever comes an age where you don’t need them. My husband lost his mom when he was in college. And even all these years later we still feel the loss in moments she can’t share. I have close friends and neighbors who lost their parents. All taken far too early. It scares the hell out of me that things can change in an instant.

 

I usually have a point when writing these posts, but I didn’t start out with a goal in mind. I’m heart-broken about it and I guess writing is my catharsis. If I had to make one it’s that I’ve become complacent about the preciousness of life. And I know all too well from experience that it should never be taken for granted. But I get caught up in the daily grind and sometimes forget. Then the unexpected happens and it reminds me that life is short. It’s also exhilarating and mysterious with endless possibilities. Sometimes I get stuck counting down the days until this, that and the other that they pass me by. But life is for living and it’s so important to make each day count. That is how we can honor their memories. So I guess my outlook for 2017 is to enjoy it to the fullest.

What Inspired Me to Write My Novel

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It’s hard to believe my blog tour has come to an end. Thanks to those of you who joined me on my journey. I had a lot of fun writing the various guest posts. Character interviews were my favorite because they allowed me to once again channel the voice of Tara. And she’s fun and tells it like it is, unlike me. So enjoy this last post of my tour with It’s Raining Books. Until we meet again…


Topic: What inspired you to write this book?

 

The inspiration for I Should Have Said Yes came from my desire to write about dating during a time that’s heavily influenced by social media. I loved the idea of capturing one woman’s journey to finding Mr. Right on Facebook. I could visualize her updates at the end of each chapter, funny anecdotes about her disastrous dates. It was then that I realized I needed to look no further. I already had my perfect protagonist: Tara Winters. Readers got to know Tara briefly in my first novel, Out in the Open. Tara is the youngest of the Winters girls, the irresponsible sister who was always dating someone new. She often lamented about these men at family gatherings. I figured, hey, I can work with that.

 

But one of the things I didn’t share was the reason why Tara goes on so many dates. Tara has always regretted that fateful day back in high school, when she told love interest D. J. Parker that their kiss didn’t mean anything. When in fact it meant everything. But he was a popular senior and she a mere freshman—a nobody. Judging by his reaction it was the wrong thing to say and the decision has haunted her ever since. So she made a pact to say yes to any dating opportunity that came her way. Hence, Tara goes on a lot of dates. The book is a candid and entertaining look at this journey, all documented on her Adventures in Dating blog. As you know, my initial idea was to document her dates on Facebook. But after the first draft was done I decided that a blog was a better outlet. Simple posts lacked the richness that I craved and didn’t feel authentic to the generation. As my beta reader and coworker told me, Millennials aren’t on Facebook. I knew this to be true and always struggled with it. A blog turned out to be a better fit with Tara’s personality, and it was a fun experience writing posts in her voice.

 

You may be wondering how I came up with enough men to fill a book. It was a challenge, but like Tara, I was a serial dater before I met my husband. Many of Tara’s Mr. Wrongs were based on my ghosts of dating past and those of my friends too. I didn’t necessarily tell them, so I’m just waiting for that phone call! I wouldn’t say it’s autobiographical, but it was interesting to come up with characters that were based on people I knew. Some intimately!

 

I also gathered inspiration from unsuspecting sources. People reveal the most interesting things in public. I was riding the elevator and overhead a girl lamenting about a date where the guy got so drunk he forgot about her and left—the bar and the bill. That guy is now the star of “The Alcoholic” chapter. So as you see, inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes you just need to look for it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with T’s Stuff

snoopy-interview

Next stop on my blog tour: T’s Stuff. Check out my interview to find out where I get my inspiration from and where I’d go if I could time travel, among other “stuff.” 🙂


Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I think I’ve always had an overactive imagination. At times when I’m supposed to be relaxing, like before bed or when I’m in the shower, my mind conjures up elaborate stories. While they are usually one-off scenarios, I can picture things happening with vivid detail. Perhaps it’s my way of unwinding. Some people do yoga, I think up happy endings. Anyway, I never did anything with these ideas—just tucked them away with the rest of the useless information that rests somewhere in my consciousness. Until one day when I decided it was time to write that novel, I had the realization that parts of it were already written.

So I channeled some of these ideas into a book. It was important to me that the book felt authentic, so that meant writing about what I know best. And I’m an agency gal. So my first book, Out in the Open, was a romance between two advertising executives, Lexi and Jake. One of my grand visions involved a particular celebrity crush of mine serenading a girl, who may have borne a close resemblance to yours truly. I started there, or technically ended with it, because I thought it would make for a great last chapter.

The inspiration for book two, I Should Have Said Yes, came from my desire to write about dating during a time that’s heavily influenced by social media. I already had my perfect protagonist: Lexi’s sister, Tara. Tara is the youngest of the Winters girls, the irresponsible sister who was always dating someone new. The book is a candid and entertaining look at a singleton’s dating journey when she must say yes to any guy who asks her out because of a pact, all documented on her Adventures in Dating blog. At first I planned to document her dates on Facebook, always posting about her disastrous adventures. But then I decided a blog was a better outlet. It turned out to be a fun experience coming up with new posts to summarize her thoughts on each guy she meets—and lessons learned along the way. The book is essentially one woman’s journey from consummate singleton to finding “The One,” documented for all to see.

 

How did you do research for your book?

Research in this case primarily required me to take a trip down memory lane. Many of Tara’s Mr. Wrongs were based on men I dated before I met my husband. And it’s funny because that was the hardest part of writing the book: coming up with unique and interesting suitors for Tara. I wanted her dates to be realistic but also entertaining. So I drew inspiration from my ghosts of dating past and those of my friends too. I didn’t necessarily tell them, so I’m just waiting for that phone call! I wouldn’t say it’s autobiographical, but it was interesting to come up with characters that were based on people I knew. Some intimately, LOL.

 

Do you have another profession besides writing?

By day I’m a marketer. I’ve worked in the industry for 17 years, all primarily with the same agency! I love being surrounded by dynamic and creative people. My favorite part is watching how the seed of an idea transforms into something tangible. There’s nothing like shopping at Target with your kids and showing them the display that your agency designed. What started as a sketch in someone’s mind was now a display in the store—and I played a key role in making that happen. It’s not as enriching as say, saving lives, but fun nonetheless. I don’t think there’s a better job than working in an industry that sells ideas. With each new project, anything is possible.

 

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would go back to 1993. I’m not sure if that’s what you had in mind. You were probably looking for the Renaissance or such a period in history. But 1993 holds significance for me because it’s the time when I was choosing where to go to college. And I feel like that decision set in motion a chain of events that’s shaped who I am today. To be clear, I’m perfectly happy with that person, but I feel like I missed an opportunity. I was debating between two schools: one local and one that was out-of-state. In my heart I wanted to spread my wings, but I chose the safe choice. I went to the University of Illinois, following in my older sister’s footsteps. It’s a wonderful school and I received an excellent education. But I’ve lived in Illinois all my life and wish I had ventured out and tried somewhere new. That’s not to say I haven’t traveled and had interesting experiences, but I feel like I’ve always taken the expected path. Perhaps that’s why I like writing. It gives me a chance to push my boundaries and explore those places I’ve never been.

 

What is your next project?

I’ve got an outline for book #3 mapped out in my head, I just need to put pen to paper. It’s a romance about an event planner, Lucy, who shares a passionate weekend with a mysterious stranger. It’s so out of character for her that she wants to keep their names anonymous. She falls hard only to never hear from him again. Lucy struggles with moving on and finally meets an incredible new guy who is perfect for her. But can she let go of her “Mr. Anonymous?” And is she in love with a ghost because it’s easier than facing the real thing? Along Lucy’s journey her love and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test. Look for it to hit shelves in summer 2017. I figure if I put that out there in writing, I’ll need to hold myself accountable. 🙂

 

Q&A with BooksChatter

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Today’s stop is a Q&A with BooksChatter. I enjoyed answering these questions, particularly my dream team if the book were to become a movie. And I even got to put together a YouTube playlist based on songs that inspired my book. How fun is that? So read on to find out something quirky about the story and where unibrows fit in. Strike that, I assume it should be singular – unibrow 😉


What was the inspiration for your latest book (i.e. the one you are currently promoting)?

I knew I wanted to write a book about dating in a time that’s heavily influenced by social media. A seed was planted while I was writing my first novel, Out in the Open. Tara is the youngest of the Winters girls, the irresponsible sister who was always dating someone new. I figured, hey, I can work with that. At first I planned to document her dates on Facebook, always posting about her disastrous adventures. But then I decided a blog was a better outlet. It turned out to be a fun experience coming up with new posts to summarize her thoughts on each guy she meets—and lessons learned along the way. The book is essentially one woman’s journey from consummate singleton to finding “The One,” documented for all to see.

 

How much of yourself is reflected in this book (for example, professional expertise, personality, or other), and how?

It’s funny because if you had asked me that question about my first book I would have said A LOT. But that’s not the case with I Should Have Said Yes. Tara, my protagonist, is very different from me. But that made her really fun to explore because I had to push my comfort zone. She’s artsy and extremely talented, with a blossoming jewelry business and an interior design career. I wish I had her vision—sadly my talent is seeking out what other talented people are posting on Pinterest. But I’m not totally without my merits. I worked at an advertising agency for seventeen years and managed a team of creatives. I was involved in a handful of space design projects for retail stores. So I felt like I knew enough to realistically paint a picture of her day job. At least enough to be dangerous. As for the men, some are loosely based on guys I dated, with lots of embellishment for dramatic (or comic) effect.

 

The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover – why you chose that concept and who the artist is.

I didn’t have a vision for the cover going into the process, which I actually found quite stressful. But in the end it was probably better because it gave my designer more creative liberties. I wanted the tone to be fun as my book is light-hearted and humorous, but also speak to the title. It’s a fine line as regret is a big theme that inspired Tara to form her “yes” dating pact. I also wanted there to be a connection with my first book, Out in the Open, because there is some overlap with the characters and story lines. I worked with Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations and think she did a fantastic job creating an intriguing cover that captures the tone of the book. Hopefully readers will agree!

 

Why should we read this book (or series) and what sets you apart from the rest? / What makes your book/series unique?

I like to think of my book as a modern day Bridget Jones’s Diary but with multiple love interests. And instead of keeping a diary for her eyes only, Tara shares her inner most thoughts with well, thousands. It’s unique because I’ve chronicled one woman’s dating journey from “The One That Got Away” leading to “The One.” I haven’t read any books that dedicate each chapter to a new love interest—plots are usually focused on the relationship between two people, or perhaps three if there’s a love triangle. Readers get to know Tara and what she is (and isn’t) looking for in a partner. They are along for the often hilarious ride as she meets many Mr. Wrongs, and I hope they’ll become invested in her finding happiness.

 

Can you tell us something quirky about this book , its story and characters? (for example, were the characters named after something or someone in particular)

Many of the characters were based on men I dated before I met my husband. And it’s funny because that was the hardest part of writing the book: coming up with unique and interesting suitors for Tara. I wanted her dates to be realistic but also entertaining. So I drew inspiration from my ghosts of dating past and those of my friends too. I didn’t necessarily tell them so I’m just waiting for that phone call! I wouldn’t say it’s autobiographical, but it was interesting to come up with characters that were based on people I knew. Some intimately, LOL.

For example, the night I met my husband I was supposed to be fixed up with someone else. That someone else had a very thick, dark and distinctive looking unibrow. I had a hard time concentrating on our conversation because it was distracting. Not only that he had it, but why not tweeze, even a bit? I don’t think looks are everything, but it wasn’t something I could get past. Not to mention he didn’t have a personality to make up for it. So when Tara meets Joey, you’ll know who inspired his looks. Or shall I say, look? 🙂

 

Who would you recommend this book to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

My target audience is women in the 18-50 range with a sweet spot on Millennials. That’s not to say that older women wouldn’t enjoy it. But they might not understand Tara’s motivations or relate to her because she is very representative of the Millennial generation. The only warning I’d give is that some people may view Tara as promiscuous. But I think that’s to be expected when you are young, single, and looking for someone who you are compatible with—on all levels. Although this book has way less intense romance scenes than my first. I wouldn’t let my parents read that one. This one I’m OK with. I mentioned it’s not autobiographical, right?

 

If you could / wished to turn this book/series into a movie, who would be your dream team? (e.g. director, actors, locations, etc. – dead, alive or mythical!)

I would love to see my book turned into a movie – wouldn’t most authors?! My dream director would be Richard Curtis. He directed one of my favorite movies: Love Actually. If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, the movie follows the lives of different characters that end up intersecting. But it felt seamless. I can see it working because each chapter in my book is like the different pieces in the film that come together to tell a cohesive story. As an added bonus, he directed Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The film would be set in Chicago because that’s the backdrop of the book. As for actors, I’m going to limit my list to Tara and her two primary love interests: D. J. Parker and best friend, Andy. Otherwise we’d be here all day.

Tara Winters: Protagonist Extraordinaire

emmaThe actress that comes to mind is Emma Stone. She doesn’t necessarily fit the bill physically, but I think she embodies Tara’s fiery spirit. Like Tara, Emma doesn’t take herself too seriously and is naturally funny. She’s down to earth, approachable, and downright likeable.

 

ianD. J. Parker: The One That Got Away

With his dark hair and bright blue eyes, Ian Somerhalder is a perfect match. If I turned him down I’d regret it too. For the rest of my life. Just look at him. Need I say more?

 


ryan-2Andy Sutton: Supportive Best Friend

With his boyish charm, Ryan Guzman could easily be Tara’s sounding board and possible love interest. He’s someone you could hang with and watch sports, as Tara and Andy often do. He’s warm and charismatic, the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind marrying if you were still single at 30. Another pact that happened by accident—or should I say, alcohol?

 

What do you like to write about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones? Is this / Are these the genre(s) that you also like to read about?

I like to write the kind of books that I read. While I enjoy a variety of genres, Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance are my favorites. As an eternal optimist, I love writing uplifting books. We are all too often inundated with news of tragedies. I’m a big believer in Happily Ever After. Real life is hard enough, so I like books that offer an escape from reality and give women hope that happiness is attainable. I guess I figure, why not live the fairy tale once in a while?

 

What is your writing process?

My life is filled with chaos, so when it comes to writing I like the quiet of my office. I can shut the door and with it all the distractions from my day. I don’t listen to music or have the TV on as background. I prefer to be alone with my thoughts. But music still inspires me, and there are certain songs that trigger powerful emotions that feed into my writing. In most cases I have a general idea thought out before I begin typing and let the story take over from there. I typically write small sections at a time and title them in a way that will be easy for me to sort through later. In this case it was dates such as “The Professor” or “The Mama’s Boy.” These begin as separate, random snippets, and the magic happens when I’m able to weave them all together.

 

What is in store next? (please tell us about your future plans; if book is part of a series, can you give us any hints on future developments)

I’ve got an outline for book #3 mapped out in my head, I just need to put pen to paper. It’s a romance about an event planner, Lucy, who shares a passionate weekend with a mysterious stranger. It’s so out of character for her that she wants to keep their names anonymous. She falls hard only to never hear from him again. Lucy struggles with moving on and finally meets an incredible new guy who is perfect for her. But can she let go of her “Mr. Anonymous?” And is she in love with a ghost because it’s easier than facing the real thing? Along Lucy’s journey her love and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test.

 

And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better… do you have a pet or something that is special to you (this could be absolutely anything!)?  Could you please provide us with a picture of you with them / it?

jbglazer_bookschatter-2

This is my little, green notebook that goes with me everywhere. That way when I’m out and inspiration strikes, I can capture it. These days it seems I have a terrible memory, so I find if I don’t write things down they escape me!

Why I Believe in Happily Ever After

happiness-is-contagious

The Reading Addict tasked me with writing about what I think is the strongest attraction about the genre I like to write in. Here’s what I had to say.


I like to write the kind of books that I read. While I enjoy a variety of genres, Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance are my favorites. As an eternal optimist, I love writing uplifting books. We are all too often inundated with news of tragedies. I’m a big believer in Happily Ever After. Real life is hard enough, so I like books that offer an escape from reality and give women hope that happiness is attainable. I guess I figure, why not live the fairy tale once in a while?

 

My latest novel, I Should Have Said Yes, is Chick Lit by technical definition, but I really like to think of it as a Romance. The book follows serial dater Tara Winters on her journey to finding Mr. Right. Tara is a successful interior designer, Master’s student, blogger, jewelry maker, and bona fide dating expert. While she has a constant stream of suitors, none are what she considers husband material. From dating websites to set ups, Tara has tried it all. She meets plenty of outrageous men along the way, from guys who can’t handle their alcohol, to dealing with body hair and mommy issues. At least it gives her plenty of fodder for her blog! In a short time she amasses a huge following and is seen as the quintessential singleton. But all she really wants is to settle down. So love is definitely a key theme of the book.

 

One of the reasons I like to write about love is because it’s powerful, mysterious, and universal. While it’s difficult to put the significance of its meaning into words, it can be summed up with a simple icon such as a heart, cupid, x, or kiss. And though times may have changed, the fact that we are all searching for love has not. It’s the work of movies, songs, poems and of course, books. Some people fall in love easily, while others spend a lifetime looking for that one perfect someone. While the goal may be the same, we all have a different journey. I love exploring these journeys. In my first novel, Out in the Open, my protagonist Lexi is nursing a broken-heart and is scared to let love in. In I Should Have Said Yes, all Tara wants is to meet the One. She’s just having a hard time finding him and has to kiss a lot of frogs before she meets her prince. Two sisters, two very different paths to finding love. But in the end they both find happiness. Because I think that’s what love is all about. It’s not finding someone who makes you happy. We are all in control of that and I think it needs to come from within first. It’s about finding someone to share your happiness with.

 

And that is the key reason why I write: it makes me happy, and in turn, I like making others happy. I guess it’s my way of sharing. J I seriously get an endorphin rush after I have a breakthrough or finish a chapter. Some people get that rush from exercise, mine comes from creativity. (Kind of wish the working out thing did it for me). Anyway, I agree with the sentiment that happiness is contagious. And it can start with something as simple as a smile. As I said, I’m an eternal optimist, so I’ll end with a quote that I think is perfect during this season of giving.

 

“Happiness adds and multiples as we divide it with others.”

– A. Nielsen

 

Dating Advice, Anyone?

relationship-quote

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I’m excited to be back and kick off the second half of my blog tour. Next up: a guest post with Read Your Writes featuring Tara’s top 5 pieces of dating advice. Well, that’s what it was supposed to be, but I think I accidentally didn’t send the write up. So I Should Have Said Yes was a spotlight vs. a guest post. Doh! I guess I sometimes screw up like Tara 😉 Anyway, it was a fun exercise but a tall order. Did I mention she dishes out advice after each of her dates and I had 20 chapters to choose from? But I combed through her posts and came up with a list that’s fitting. Enjoy!


Meet Tara Winters: serial dater, blogger, interior designer, master’s student, and sometimes screw up. (With all of that on her plate, I guess we can cut the girl some slack)! She’s always regretted saying no to love interest D. J. Parker and vowed never to repeat her mistake. So her “yes” dating pact was born. Hence, Tara goes on A LOT of dates. She’s here today to share her top 5 pieces of dating advice. Take it away, Tara!

 

 Number 5: Always have an exit plan

Let’s face it, some dates aren’t going to go well. Or perhaps your date is into you but you just aren’t feelin’ it. You need an exit strategy so you can leave. Pronto. These should be planned in advance so you aren’t under the gun in the heat of the moment. My friend Jordan and I have an agreement. We’ll text each other 911 if we are in need of rescuing. The other party has to immediately call and provide an excuse so we can leave gracefully. I’ve needed to use it on a handful of occasions. Interestingly she has not. But I paid her back in spades by scoring her an invite to a local celebrity fete. My blog post on that night is still my most trafficked one! So we’re even 🙂

 

Number 4: Never lie to land a date – it will always come back to bite you

We’ve all been there – embellished the truth a bit to make ourselves seem more likable. Don’t do it. Seriously. Because the truth always comes out. And let’s face it: lying is no way to start a relationship. My coworker signed me up for one of those online matchmaking sites. I know she had good intentions, but if I wanted to do it don’t you think I would’ve of? It’s not like those things are some sort of secret. It really pissed me off, but I’ve moved on. Anyway, I was going to delete my account but someone already contacted me. And because of this yes dating pact I felt like I needed to go through with it. We made arrangements to meet up and I couldn’t find him. Perhaps it’s because he looked NOTHING like his pic. Did he think I wouldn’t figure it out? This is why I don’t do online dating. People make things up, hiding behind the comfort of their screen. But therein lies the problem. Once you meet face-to-face, the gig’s up. Lucky for Curtis (that’s his name) we are still friends. He’s a good guy but just needed some guidance. I cleaned up his profile and now he’s dating someone. Glad it worked out for one of us!

 

Number 3: Don’t underestimate the importance of waxing/shaving

Ladies, I realize this is a given. Except for my freshman year roommate. I’m still scarred about it – but I digress. So I’m talking to you men out there. Who decided that it’s not OK for women to have body hair but it’s perfectly normal for men to look like animals? If they had to endure one bikini wax, I tell you it would never happen again. I bring this up because it has an impact on intimacy. I went out with an adorable guy, but when I discovered he was one with the bear I had to draw the line. We are talking an abundance of hair everywhere. Except his hands. I would’ve noticed and cut that right off from the start. I think I’m a tolerant person, but it’s just something I couldn’t get past.

 

Number  2: Don’t assume he’s payin’

I think it’s nice when a guy pays, but I don’t expect it. My rule of thumb is whoever did the asking should do the paying. But you just never know, so always have cash or a credit card on you. You’ll also need it to get home, especially if you want to bail. Remember rule #1?! I know this seems obvious, but it’s happened to me. A guy asked me out to a very nice restaurant. I normally wouldn’t agree to such an expensive place on a first date, but it was Raven. That place has a six-month long waiting list and I was dying to try it. I brought up said fact about how it’s pricey, tactfully of course, but he assured me he had a connection. One of the investors was his friend, or something. So I agreed. At the end of the meal his connection didn’t come through. Go figure. And he didn’t have enough cash to cover the bill. Who doesn’t bring a credit card in this day and age? Now you see why I need to cover off on this one. So I had to pay. And boy was I pissed. We met for brunch the next day so he could pay me back. Funnily enough the brunch place was cash only, but I guess he left that at home. So I paid for the meal again. At least I got my check to cover dinner. Couldn’t get to the ATM fast enough to cash it. I logged in my steps that day – LOL!

 

Number 1: Embrace yes!

Warning: this may get a bit sappy. But I want you all to learn from my mistake. I started a dating pact because I didn’t say yes when I had the chance years ago. And I’ve regretted it ever since. It’s a terrible burden that I carry with me. So never be afraid to say what’s in your heart. Just go for it and have faith that things will work out as they’re supposed to. So often we say no because we are scared of the outcome. Don’t let fear rule your decisions. Take a leap of faith. Sometimes things won’t work out as you planned, but the unexpected path could just be the one you were meant for all along.

 

 

Regrets Only

regret

I had a guest post ready to go where I dish about the theme of my novel: regret, and how it inspired my protagonist, Tara Winters. For whatever reason it’s not up yet, but I’m going to share it anyway. I figure, why not? It’s already written. As for the blogger, I can cut her some slack. We all make mistakes that we regret. Tara sure did, and I’m pretty sure it’s what got her into this mess in the first place 🙂


The key theme in my latest novel, I Should Have Said Yes, is regret. You may be thinking it’s a melancholy saga, but the irony is that the tone is humorous and light-hearted. While it’s a serious topic, I wanted to have fun with it rather than exploring something heavy and dark. I’m all about happy endings. So why choose to write about regret? Because it’s relatable. We all have regrets and they impact our lives daily. It can be something as small as eating that extra piece of chocolate, to life-altering decisions like turning down the first bid on your house, which turned out to be the one and only. The thing is not all of us can or choose to do something about them. So I wanted to create a character who would embrace her past mistakes rather than allowing them to define her: Tara Winters.

Tara has always regretted that fateful day back in high school, when she told love interest D. J. Parker that their kiss didn’t mean anything. When in fact it meant everything. But he was a popular, accomplished senior and she a mere freshman—a nobody. Judging by his reaction it was the wrong thing to say and the decision has haunted her ever since. So she made a pact to say yes to any dating opportunity that came her way. Hence, Tara goes on a lot of dates. The book is a candid and entertaining look at this journey, all documented on her Adventures in Dating blog.

Tara meets countless Mr. Wrongs. But it only takes one to get to Mr. Right. It’s this thought that keeps her going. Even when she wants to throw in the towel and call the whole yes pact off, the memory of her past mistake still weighs heavily on her heart. It’s a burden she’ll always carry with her. But she feels empowered knowing she chose to do something about it. Saying no to D. J. has led Tara down a path she never expected. At first she created her blog as a forum to share her disastrous dates with friends and family. But with each hilarious new adventure, she attracts more followers—perfect strangers invested in her finding “happily ever after.” Tara realizes that as the quintessential singleton she has a voice. And she uses it to share advice about love and dating based on her experiences. As Tara would say, it’s often a lesson in what not to do. So while she regrets turning down D. J., she doesn’t regret where it’s taken her. That’s the funny thing about regrets: they can lead us down the path we were meant for all along. As for Tara, she’s come to realize that embracing no may just be the key to her happy ending.