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Author Q&A with Amy B. Scher AND 3 Expert Tips on Getting Your Writing Groove Back

Author Q&A with Amy B. Scher AND 3 Expert Tips on Getting Your Writing Groove Back

amy-b-scher-authorToday’s 7 Quick Fire Questions & 3 Tips is with Amy B. Scher, author of the new book This is How I Save My Life – A True Story of Embryonic Stem Cells, Indian Adventures, and Ultimate Self-Healing (January 2013).

The book has been touted as a memoir a la Eat, Pray, Love as Amy, who has a history of chronic illness, travels to India to discover the foundation of healing. Amy’s story takes us on a heartwarming and hilarious journey as she grasps at her last hope to save her 28-year-old body. Now an expert in mind-body-spirit healing with offices in Los Angeles and Monterey, California, it’ll be no surprise to the reader to hear that Amy’s self-created motto is “When life kicks your ass, kick back.”

I love her already! Read on to find out more about Amy and her writing advice, and then go check out her new book and work at www.HowISaveMyLife.com!


7 Quick Fire Questions


1. Last movie you saw? – This is 40! I’ve been waiting for something as funny as Knocked Up for ages. It almost got there at times, but I have to admit, I cried more than I laughed. I left a shaken newlywed—scared to have kids and terrified of financial ruin. Not so funny, right?

2. Meal you could eat every day – Mac & Cheese, but not the real kind, the crappy in-a-box kind. Oh and I add salt. I add salt to everything.

3. Fav place to write – Snuggled in my office chair at home, laptop burning a hole on my lap, my favorite cup of tea teetering on the edge of my knee, and a Buddha sitting next to me. Yes, I’m a total hippie at heart.

4. Last thing you tweeted – That I was featured on GALtime.com. I love them!


5. Favorite book cover – Is it too egotistical to say my book cover? I am in love with it. Every time I look at it, I go back to that time of my life. My sister-in-law took the picture without ever knowing later it would become a cover. It reminds me how everything that happens is just setting you up for the next thing in life that will happen.

6. First job – I was an infant nanny. I got paid to get puked on and I loved it.

7. Best way to relax – Eating grapes in the bath with my Kindle. TMI?


Three Expert Tips on Getting Your Writing Groove Back


There was nothing more important I learned on my journey to health than the existence of our bodies as an energy system. When the energy flowing throughout our body gets blocked, we get stuck. We can’t think straight, physical symptoms arise, and we don’t “flow” like we should in our every day lives. As an author, I know when I’m stuck in my writing, it’s because my energy is stuck.


Here are some quick ways to release that stuck-ness and get your writing groove back, pronto.


  1. Don’t hold your breath. This is a common bad habit many of us have when we’re frustrated. I can be guilty too. However, your breath moves energy so the deeper you breathe as you work, the more you’ll move the stagnant energy out. And you know what that means, right? Yep, it will be much easier to allow those genius ideas to flow right on in.


  2. Tap! Gently tapping on acupressure points can release stagnant energy. I use many different points in my energy therapy practice, but here are a couple of shortcuts that can work wonders. I know they seem too simple to work, but my author clients swear by them.


  • Karate chop point: This is the fleshy part on the side of the hand just below the pinky finger. Take three or four fingers of one hand and gently tap for a minute or two there.


  • Collarbone point: Find the middle ‘notch’ of the neck (just under your Adam’s apple), and move your fingers an inch or two to either side along the collarbone. Then move them down just a bit so you’re below the bone. If you tap there gently, it can really help move stagnant energy out. Tap gently for a minute or two.

3. Clear your workspace.
Negative or stagnant energy clings to spaces. You know when you walk into a room and you can just feel it? Well, you want to make sure the room you’re working in doesn’t feel like that. Here are some quick ways that might make you feel like a hippie or a monk, but help you flow like one too.


  • Open a window and let some air in
  • Use white sage or incense or a spray that you like to clear the space
  • Put a bowl of sea salt in a bowl, in the center of a room
  • Put fresh flowers or plants in your workspace

That’s it! Now breathe, tap, clear. And get back to work. You have something awesome to write.


About the book:

“When Life Kicks Your Ass, Kick Back” – Amy B. Scher  


A fiery young woman with a debilitating and misdiagnosed disease (Lyme Disease) travels to a tiny clinic in India for a controversial embryonic stem cell treatment. On the journey to save her miserably failing body, she finds a world of cultural mayhem, radical medical treatment, and most importantly, a piece of her life that she never even knew she was searching for.

Why do some people heal from emotional or physical issues, while others don’t? Through extensive research and her own recovery experience, Amy finds the most important piece for her own healing—the impact of unprocessed negative emotions on our physical bodies. This powerful and uplifting story of sheer determination is for anyone who believes in—or doubts—the existence of miracles and the infinite power of self-healing. 



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“One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process and tell the story you want to tell.” Q&A with Lisa Becker, Author of Click: An Online Love Story

“One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process and tell the story you want to tell.” Q&A with Lisa Becker, Author of Click: An Online Love Story

Lisa Becker Headshot

Today’s 7 Quick Fire Questions & 3 Expert Tips is with Lisa Becker, author of Click: An online Love Story. Find out more about the book below this fab Q&A!


1. Favorite source for news (hard news, celebrity or otherwise)

I follow hard news, celebrity news and local news online through a wide range of websites from CNN to USAToday.  But my favorite place to get news is The Daily Show.  I’m secretly (well, now I guess it’s not such a secret) in love with Jon Stewart.  I think he’s brilliant, charismatic and funny as hell.  In fact, when it comes to the list of celebrities I jokingly get a “hall pass” to be unfaithful with, he’s my #1.  

2. Top 4 favorite fiction novels

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – it’s both my favorite book and movie.  Both touched me incredibly.  
  • Catcher in the Rye – Every few years, I re-read it. Each time I do, I feel like I see or learn something new and my reaction to the book changes. Perhaps it’s the different life stages that I go through, which impacts my interpretation of Salinger’s amazing novel.
  • Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – This was one of my favorite books as a child.  I bought a copy several years ago for my nephew and he recently gave it back to me so I could give it to my daughters when they get older.  It’s a wonderful, fanciful story and I still smile when I imagine the Whangdoodle who has a daisy on his sweet tooth.  
  • e – This Matthew Beaumont novel tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails.  I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell in Click: An Online Love Story, about the online dating world.  It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times.

3. Favorite celebrity chef

I don’t really have one right now.  Nearly a year ago, I read Michael Pollan’s nonfiction book, In Defense of Food, which examines the western diet and its effect on our health. His advice is simple: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That, coupled with a viewing of a documentary called Forks Over Knives, which examines how many degenerative diseases can be controlled or reversed with a whole-food, plant-based diet, changed my life.  I’m now nearly a year into being a vegetarian and have never felt better.  But I haven’t found a celebrity chef in the vegetarian space that I want to follow.  

4. How do you deal with writer’s block

Chocolate!  No joke, I eat chocolate.  If I’m stuck on a certain section or not feeling motivated to write, I give myself little chocolate incentives to get past the blockage.  Judging by my thighs, I had some serious problems writing Click.  😉


5. Last movie you saw in the theaters

The Vow.  I “vowed” I wasn’t going to let it get to me, but, much to the chagrin of my friends, ended up crying, sobbing, bawling, weeping and blubbering like a baby.  


6. Favorite way to relax

I love “Quiet Reading Time” in our house.  We try to do it a few times a week including once on the weekend.  Everyone sits quietly in the same room and we all read.  I love instilling the passion for books in my children and think the best way is by being a good, reading role model.  

7. The material item you could never give up.

I have a necklace that my parents gave me for my 21st birthday.  The stones are from my grandmother’s wedding ring and my mom’s engagement ring.  

3 Expert Tips

  1. Tell Your Story – I had interviewed Charles Rosen, one of the producers of the original Beverly Hills 90210, for an alumni magazine article while I was in graduate school. And I’ll never forget what he told me, “Don’t fall in love with your words, because somebody above will probably change them.” One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process and tell the story you want to tell.  
  2. Give Online Dating a Try (if you’re single!) – I’m a big fan of online dating, as I met my husband online and it inspired my novel.  I say, people today are “married” to their cell phones and laptops, so why not use that technology to really get married, right?
  3. Choose Grateful – There’s an old expression that if you put everyone’s problems in the middle of the room, most people would choose their own problems.  Always choose grateful for what you have.
Click: An Online Love Story – Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with “My buddies and I were out drinking one night,” to the egotistical “B”celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC’s, FWD’s and inadvertent Reply to All’s, readers will root for Renee to “click” with the right man.
Connect with Lisa on Facebook 
Watch the trailer on You Tube
Buy the book on Amazon 

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“Make your own opportunities.” 7 Quick Fire Questions & 3 Expert Tips with Samantha March, author of The Green Ticket

“Make your own opportunities.” 7 Quick Fire Questions & 3 Expert Tips with Samantha March, author of The Green Ticket

Samantha March is a novelist, editor, blogger, publisher and the owner of Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours. Phew!  She’s a very busy lady for sure.

(Btw, if you’ve been thinking about doing a blog tour for your book, CLP Blog Tours is a great place to go!) 

Her new book, The Green Ticket, is out now and you can find out more deets about the book below. If you’re a fan of YA or chick lit, you won’t want to give this one a miss. Find out more about the gal behind the book in these 7 quick fire questions & 3 expert tips and don’t forget to check the book out after! – Laura


1. Favorite childhood book?

Anything from The Baby-Sitters Club!


2. What did you have for dinner last night?

Leftover pizza and breaksticks from Papa Johns!

3. Author you most admire & why

Ann M. Martin. I’ve looked up to her for so many years. Her books helped me through my childhood and tough years.


4. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received


Make your own opportunities. 


5. Most interesting job you’ve ever held

Definitely blog tour coordinator for CLP Blog Tours!


6. If you were to write a memoir, what would the title be?


All Up To Her


7. Favorite place to write?


My office!


3 Expert Tips  – to making your own opportunities


1. Find your passion. Once you do, it makes it 100% easier to strive to be your best.

2. Network. Don’t be afraid to get a little uncomfortable with meeting new people. You never know who might help or be an influence.

3. Do your research. Don’t dive into something blindly without taking the time to research it. Hasty decisions often come with the biggest regrets. 



About The Green Ticket

College junior Alex Abrams scores her dream job at the ripe age of twenty – manager to a successful salon and spa. Thrilled to finally have a real adult job, Alex enthusiastically jumps into the world of schedules, conference calls, and getting a massage when interviewing prospective employees. What she doesn’t expect are the very grown-up issues that comes with a demanding boss. Kevin Dohlman quickly becomes Alex’s worse nightmare – covering up his affairs, dealing with his enormous ego, and trying to protect her female staff from him becomes a full-time job in its own right. Alex has also befriended Kevin’s wife and co-owner, Dani, and is trying to keep Kevin’s secrets hidden from her. The situation only worsens when Kevin starts paying Alex off to make sure she keeps her insider knowledge to herself.


 While struggling to keep her wits and stay happy with her new grown-up job, Alex is juggling college courses, a new love interest, and keeping up with her close group of girlfriends. When her roommate and best friend Lila gets offered an opportunity to move to Los Angeles and sign with an agent, Alex realizes her life truly is changing, and everyone around her – including herself ­­–– is growing up.  Knowing she is faced with some hard decisions ahead, Alex struggles with keeping her job at Blissful. But does she really want to throw away what she dreamed of as a career – or will the secret-keeping for Kevin become too much to handle? The Green Ticket is a story about morals versus money, and how one young woman navigates the shaky line between the two.


Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and her debut novel Destined to Fail. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers.


Buy the book!

Amazon: Print or eBook

Barnes and Noble: eBook

Kobo: eBook

Marching Ink: Print


Connect with Samantha!





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“Live with hope. Optimism is important. Our attitude really does matter.” Q & A with Jane Porter, author of The Good Woman

“Live with hope. Optimism is important. Our attitude really does matter.” Q & A with Jane Porter, author of The Good Woman

You might know Jane Porter from her hit novels She’s Gone Country or the book that was made into a movie, Flirting with Forty. If you don’t, Jane writes emotional women’s fiction that deals with a host of common female struggles. Her new novel, The Good Woman is the first in a new trilogy about the Brennan sisters. Here’s the blurb (provided by her awesome PR company, BookSparks PR):


“In The Good Woman, Meg Roberts is the eldest of the Brennan sisters and she is used to being in control and presenting an image of perfection to those around her.  But Meg’s life isn’t perfect and lately it’s been feeling out of control as well.  As she approaches her 43rd birthday and reflects on her 17 years of marriage, Meg realizes she wants more out of life.  More love, more passion, more something.  She embarks on an affair that shatters her world and her family relationships.  Meg is forced to come to terms with the person she was, and who she has become, as well as learning that happiness isn’t something she has to chase, but rather a choice she must make for herself.


Porter sheds light on the difficult and sometimes painful consequences of the choices women make.  Readers will find comfort in Porter’s revelation that real life is messy and that while every woman’s choice to find happiness and self-acceptance may take a different path, many experiences and feelings are universal.”

Here are her 7 quick fire questions & 3 expert tips!


7 Quick Fire Questions


Last movie you saw in the theater

Frankenweenie!  Just saw it yesterday with my two sons.

Ice cream or Fro Yo

It used to be ice cream…rocky road or chocolate peanut butter, but I’ve become rather addicted to cake batter flavor frozen yogurt.

Favorite place to write

Any place quiet, comfy with lots of windows and good light.

Last thing you tweeted
Tweeted about how cool it was doing a workshop with my close writer pal Megan Crane at OCC RWA on Saturday.

Favorite book cover ever

Has to be my newest, The Good Woman, although I loved She’s Gone Country, too.

What was your first job?

A carhop at A&W.  Loved working at A&W.  Am still a sucker for bacon cheeseburgers and a frosty mug of root beer!


Favorite way to relax


Read.  Love to curl up and read for hours with no distractions.

3 Expert Tips on Choosing Happiness


#1 Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t.  

#2  Take pleasure in small pleasures–tiny treats and little joys are still treats and joys.

#3  Live with hope.  Optimism is important.  Our attitude really does matter.

Find out more at: www.janeporter.com

The Good Woman, Berkley, Sept. ’12

The Good Daughter, Berkley, Feb ’13

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“If I waited for inspiration to strike, I’d never write.” Q&A with Kristyn Kusek Lewis

“If I waited for inspiration to strike, I’d never write.” Q&A with Kristyn Kusek Lewis

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of How Lucky You Are by the talented Kristyn Kusek Lewis and devoured it in a weekend. The book really hits the nail on the head when it comes to the reality of female friendships, relationships and the deadly comparison game that we all play in life. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought they would rather have someone else’s “perfect life” as a good reminder to stop and smell the roses – and see the amazingness that we ALL have in our own lives.


Kristyn stopped by to answer our 7 quick fire questions and 3 expert tips on remembering how lucky you are.

– Laura


7 Quick Fire Questions


1. Favorite way to relax: At a spa. Years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to get a massage every month for a year. It is easily one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

But in my real life, which involves two small kids, two large dogs, and a major home renovation, I don’t get to a spa all that often, so I like to have a scotch with my husband after the kids are in bed.


2. Nickname: It’s a long story but when I was in my early twenties, my girlfriends dubbed me Spesh. It stuck, and it’s what everyone from that time of my life calls me. And my dad’s always called me Dinky.


3. The material item you could never give up: My engagement ring from my husband, which I wear in the usual place, and my grandmother’s engagement ring, which I wear on my right hand.


4. Last Facebook status: I wrote that I loved seeing all of my friends’ photos of their kids on the first day of school.


5. Favorite book cover: Can I say my own? The designer did such a stellar job, and I had nothing to do with it. I also love Meg Mitchell Moore’s covers—they’re so elegant and evocative.


6. Writing routine: I have dedicated writing time every morning until lunchtime, while my kids are in preschool, and a few afternoons a week. I believe strongly in having a rigid work schedule—if I waited for inspiration to strike, I’d never write. That said, I’m constantly scribbling random lines and ideas on slips of paper, napkins, and the back of my hand.


7. Your last supper would be…? Easy! My mother’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes with my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese on the side. They’re Southern. They know comfort food.


3 Ways to Remember How Lucky You Are


1. Don’t compare. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There will always be people who are richer, smarter, more beautiful, whatever, but nobody else gets to be you.


2. Give yourself a daily reminder to be grateful. My family goes around the dinner table and recounts the best and worst parts of our day (or, as my four-year-old calls it, our “best favorite” and “worst favorite”).


3. Remember that a perfect life doesn’t exist, and that attempting to live that way is capital-B boring. Think about it: Would you rather spend time with a woman whose interior seems as perfectly pressed as her exterior, or someone who laughs at herself, admits her mistakes, and encourages you to do the same?  


About How Lucky You Are


Waverly, who’s always been the group’s anchor, runs a cozy bakery but worries each month about her mounting debt.  Kate is married to a man who’s on track to be the next governor of Virginia, but the larger questions brewing in their future are unsettling her. Stay-at-home mom Amy has a perfect life on paper, but as the horrific secret she’s keeping from her friends threatens to reveal itself, she panics.

As life’s pressures build all around them, Waverly knows she has some big decisions to make. In doing so, she will discover that the lines between loyalty and betrayal can become blurred, happy endings aren’t always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain the life you deserve.

With its sensitive depiction of important issues, including spousal abuse, HOW LUCKY YOU ARE will spark interesting discussions among women’s reading groups and book clubs.


–> Check it out on Amazon



More about Kristyn Kusek

 Kristyn Kusek Lewis holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked in magazines for over 15 years. She has written for the New York TimesO, The Oprah MagazineReal Simple,GlamourAllure, Good Housekeeping, Self, More, and Redbook, among other publications.

Kristyn’s website

Kristyn on Twitter

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“Place is not simply what you see. Hit all the senses. That way the location becomes vibrant.” Q&A with Therese

“Place is not simply what you see. Hit all the senses. That way the location becomes vibrant.” Q&A with Therese

Thérèse is the author of INDIA’S SUMMER, a compelling story of a single woman about to turn forty who travels to LA in an attempt to reinvent her life. The book has been praised by Jane Green, Orlando Bloom and Goldie Hawn. I invited Thérèse to answer 7 quick-fire questions and 3 expert tips for successfully using location as a character in the story (India’s Summer is set in LA & London). Find out more about the book below this fab Q&A!


7 Quick Fire Questions

1. Favorite place to write?

 I have a lovely home office, but somehow during the course of the day always end up multi- tasking and my computer, papers, coffee cups and clutter ends up strewn across the kitchen table.


2. Favorite celebrity chef?

Gordon Ramsay. I love the trouble -shooting, the tears, the fury the swearing, the frustration. I’m hopeless at following a recipe though.


3. Most interesting job you’ve ever held

Well I’m not sure ‘ held ‘ is quite the word, but I suppose selling Afghan coats in Turkey proved interesting. I was a student earning my way during a summer in Europe. I would go to the market and tell the tourists who were looking at the stalls that the prices were better at Orhan’s factory, then bring them there. The best part was that it was actually true and people went away very happy.


4. Childhood obsession?

Ballet. I am still prone to the occasional pirouette around the house.


5. Last movie you saw in the theaters

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Such a delight. You want to pack your bags and head straight for Jaipur.


6. Dream travel destination

The moon


7. PC or Mac?



3 Expert Tips for successfully using location as a character in the story (LA, London)


1. You can only write convincingly about a place if when you are describing it when you see it clearly in your mind’s eye. So try writing about a place you know really well.

2. Place is not simply what you see. Hit all the senses. That way the location becomes vibrant.

3. Check out all the facts and try to avoid clichés. Your take on a place will be unique. Make it as authentic as possible. 


Indias Summer by ThereseAbout India’s Summer

Jane Green calls it, “A furious, fast-paced, fun romp.” Orlando Bloom praises, “India’s Summer avoids the familiar cliches of LA and yet captures the characters of the city so well.” Goldie Hawn marvels, “India’s fascinating character is what makes India’s Summer a compelling read.”  New York Times bestselling author and spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle and model and author, Miranda Kerr are also raving about INDIA’S SUMMER. 
Single and about to turn forty, India Butler, a grade school teacher in London is having a meltdown. Desperate to reinvent her life she flies out to LA to spend the summer with her sister Annabelle a famous Hollywood actress and her brother in law a legendary rock musician. She maintains a wry detachment until she begins dating Adam, a gorgeous A- list actor. In an attempt to appear more successful she tells him she creates and teaches motivational workshops. 
When Adam’s friend is in a drunk-driving accident, Annabelle finds a lump on her throat and a mutual friend’s stepdaughter overdoses, India is drawn behind the veneer of Hollywood glitz and glamour and into their private lives. As her illusions about the perfection of their LA lifestyle fade away, India has an epiphany about her own real talents. She begins designing the kinds of classes and workshops she has fantasized about to Adam and successfully launches a series of workshops to help parents relate to their teenage children. She also drafts a book proposal.

In love with a movie star and with a burgeoning new career as a self- help guru, India is in her element until a defamatory video, filmed of her venting to Annabelle soon after her arrival goes viral. Her new life unravels. Humiliated and depressed, she returns to London where she repairs the damage with those closest to her. When her agent calls with news that he has sold her book proposal she takes control of her life. Shakily re-united with Adam and still balancing life on both sides of the pond, she returns to America to promote her book.
Where to find Thérèse online

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“Love the One You’re With (That means you, dummy)” – Q&A with Maria Geraci

“Love the One You’re With (That means you, dummy)” – Q&A with Maria Geraci

Today’s quick fire questions and 3 expert tips come from Maria Geraci, bestselling author of The Boyfriend Club. Her new novel A Girl Like You was described to me as “a richly compelling story of discovering you’re the “ugly friend.”

Great premise right? Find out more about the story and find the purchase links below the interview. 

Over to Maria! 


7 Quick Fire Questions

1. Desert island food (if you were stranded on a desert island and could only eat one thing).

This is a hard one. It would be a toss up between ice-cream and bread. So maybe an ice cream sandwich?

2. If you were to write a memoir, what would the title be?

Love the One You’re With (That means you, dummy).

3. Last thing you tweeted

Some form of “thank you.” I’ve gotten lots of nice congratulatory tweets from friends and fellow authors wishing me well on my new book. The support from fellow authors has been so heartwarming.

4. Solution for writer’s block

Just write. For me, inspiration comes while writing. If you wait for it to come magically, you’ll never get anything written.

5. Favorite blog to follow

That would be my group blog, Girlfriends Book Club. Lots of great supportive women writers all cheering each other and fellow writers on.

6. Red wine or white wine?


7. City gal or Country lass?

How about small city? Preferably by the beach.


3 Expert Tips for accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. There’s only one you and you’re special and perfect, just the way you are.

2. Surround yourself with positive people! No Debbie Downers in your life.

3. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. 


A GIRL LIKE YOU by Maria Geraci 

Roxanne St. Claire, New York Times Bestselling author raves, “A Girl Like You delivers the goods: unforgettable characters set in a quirky small town with a feel-good ending that lasts long after you close the book.” And Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author, calls it, “An unexpected delight!” 

Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.” In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe.

Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star. But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

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“Write characters you love. Let your characters fascinate you.” 7 Questions, 3 Tips with Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water

“Write characters you love. Let your characters fascinate you.” 7 Questions, 3 Tips with Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water

I ADORE these answers from Joy Castro and I think you will too!!

I can’t wait to dig into Hell or High Water, a novel set in the years following Hurricane Katrina. I haven’t made it to New Orleans yet, but it’s certainly on my wishlist of places to visit over the next year or so. Whether you’ve been to New Orleans or not, I’m assured that Castro’s novel will entertain and rivet. Find more details about the story below.

 Onto those questions – take it away Joy!


– Laura





7 Quick Fire Questions


1. Any childhood imaginary friends?


Yes!  Lots, actually.  We moved often, and I’d lose the friends I’d gotten attached to, so I made up a little pantheon of best buddies to keep me company.  My very best imaginary friend was Jack (who looked suspiciously like the Artful Dodger in the movie Oliver!, which I’d seen at a formative age).  Jack was my bad-boy alter ego who got into trouble, whereas I was an obedient good girl.  I really believed he existed; I was in love with him.  I insisted on setting a place for him at the table each evening, pulling out a chair, conversing with him, etc.  My parents were patient people.


2. What did you have for dinner last night?


Carry-out pad thai from Blue Orchid, one of our favorite restaurants here in Lincoln.  When my husband and I first moved here five years ago, we lived in an apartment in the same building as Blue Orchid, and they got to know us a little too well.  I’d call, and as soon as they heard my voice, they’d be like, “One yellow curry with tofu, and one pad thai?”  Chagrin.  Yes, please. 


3. Author you most admire


The living author I most admire is Kate Atkinson, because she blends all the best qualities of literary fiction with an exciting, forward-driving crime narrative.  She’s brilliant!  I also admire Sandra Cisneros tremendously; she came from a difficult past, her work is gorgeous, and she’s devoted so many of her resources to helping other writers.


4. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received


“Don’t take it personally.  Any of it.”  That’s genius advice, applicable in every realm.


5. Favorite way to relax


I love being out on the water.  Wind, waves, sunshine—they soothe and energize me.  I haven’t tried it yet, but being out on a boat with friends, food, and wine might just be heaven.


6. Worst job 


Scooping ice cream on the Riverwalk in San Antonio—too tempting!  I also had a teaching job, straight out of graduate school, in an all-male college.  Teaching women’s literature and feminist theory to rooms full of young men was challenging, to say the least.  But I learned a lot.


7. Ice cream or Fro Yo


Either, all, any time!  Team chocolate.  And dulce de leche, if I can get it.


3 Expert Tips!  Three Tips for Writers:


1. Write characters you love.  Let your characters fascinate you.  Let them have layers.  Let them be contradictory, vulnerable, flawed, real.  The whole time I was writing Hell or High Water, I kept discovering things about my characters, and when I wrote the sequel, Nearer Home, they kept right on surprising me.  (Who knew Bento could fly a plane?)  Let your characters grow, change, and talk back.  You’ll be surprised.


2. Champion the work of other writers.  Not only can writing be lonely work, but it’s incredibly competitive, so writers can be assailed by envy and despair.  The best antidote for these painful, isolating feelings is to work on behalf of others.  Find writers whose work you genuinely love, and then do everything in your power to promote and help their work.  Expect nothing in return.  It’s not a tit-for-tat thing.  Do it because it’s good for your soul.


3. Be fearless.  Writing a crime novel was so far outside my comfort zone.  I’m trained as a literary academic, a scholar of modernism (Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Stein):  long, winding sentences, lyrical epiphanies, and so on.  To write a lean, mean thriller full of action and suspense, I had to completely retool, and that was sometimes nerve-racking.  But learning new approaches is fun.  It keeps you uncertain, unmoored, and reaching, and that’s an exciting way to live.


About HELL OR HIGH WATER (7/17/2012): Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length investigative feature. It’s a far cry from the club openings and plantation tours she usually covers and could become a story that will send ripples through New Orleans in the two years since Hurricane Katrina. The piece is about sex offenders who have fallen off the grid since the city was evacuated.


While Nola speaks with survivors, offenders (some still on the registry, others not), and experts, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in New Orleans. As Nola’s work leads her into darker corners of the city, she has to hide her work from her friends and ultimately must re-visit her painful past of living in the housing projects as a Latina where there are few people of her ethnicity.


Vividly rendered in razor sharp prose, HELL OR HIGH WATER brings New Orleans to life in a riveting journey of trust betrayed and the courageous struggle toward recovery.

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GIVEAWAY & 7 Quick Fire Questions, 3 Expert Tips with Kathleen Shoop, Author of ‘After the Fog’

GIVEAWAY & 7 Quick Fire Questions, 3 Expert Tips with Kathleen Shoop, Author of ‘After the Fog’

UPDATE 5/17: Winner has been chosen. Congrats, Melissa!


I’m delighted to introduce award-winning author Kathleen Shoop to the Ladies Who Critique blog!


Kathleen is the author of THE LAST LETTER, which sat on the Kindle bestseller list last summer selling more than 50,000 copies and winning 8 awards. Her latest historical fiction novel, AFTER THE FOG is set in the steel mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog.” It’s out now to purchase, or you could win a copy simply by leaving a comment below!* If you are chosen as the winner, I’ll send the book right out to you and you can curl up with it next weekend.

*This comp is open to US residents only. Sorry folks outside of the US! I try not to make a habit of doing US only contests but shipping costs sometimes dictate that. 



Rose Pavlesic is a straight-talking, gifted nurse who is also controlling and demanding. She has to be to ensure her life is mistake-free and to create a life for her children that reflects everything she missed as an orphaned child. Rose has managed to keep her painful secrets buried in her past, away from her loving husband—who she discovers has secrets of his own—their dutiful children and their large extended, complicated family.

 But, as a stagnant weather cycle works to trap poisonous gasses from the three mills in town, Rose’s nursing career thrusts her into a conflict of interest she never could have fathomed—putting the lives of her loved ones at risk. As the fog thickens, Rose’s neighbors are dying; thousands of people in the community are becoming increasingly ill. Rose is faced with decisions that can destroy her carefully constructed House of Pavlesic and reveal its true character.


7 Quick Fire Questions:

1. City Gal or Country Bumpkin? –City Gal who’d love to be a Country Bumpkin! I love magazines like Mary Jane’s Farm. I’m fascinated with people who have gardens and vegetables and live, even partially, off their own earth. I’m as far away from being that woman as a person can be!

2. Fave food? Pasta—seafood and pasta—put them together and I’m a happy lady.

3. Favorite place on earth? Kiawah Island—when my car circles onto the main drag and we head toward the gates, I lose every ounce of stress I have!

4. Combination of men to create your dream man?  Leonardo DiCaprio, Randy Pausch (alive, of course), Mike Greenberg 

5. If I gave you a superpower, what would it be? To turn back time

6. Would You Rather… Give up your computer or your car? Car, definitely! I often think if I shrunk my existence down to places I could walk, things would get real simple real fast…then I realize that’s another fantasy for me, right up there with being a farm girl. Living in the suburbs is no place to be car-less!

7. What would you buy with an extra $100 right now? New shoes


3 Expert Tips! Three Tips for Writers



1. Never forget the joy you get out of writing. Bring that sensation to the keyboard and it will help you forget about all the people judging the work later.

2. Immerse yourself in the backstory. I don’t mean to tell everything in the characters’ backstory, but surround yourself with the things the characters might find beautiful, utilitarian, awful. Just having one item my characters might have used helps me find the core of who they are.

3. Fall in love with revision and critique. The trick is finding people who can read your work and understand what you’re trying to do scene by scene. Then they can tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Having readers wrench the book into a vision you don’t have is not helpful. I want my book to be as strong as possible, but I want it to be mine! When you have that relationship with a reader you know when they say “this works,” that it does and when they say, “this is not doing what you think it is,” that you need to go back into the text.  


You’ve got to be in it to win it! Leave a comment 🙂

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Sarah Pekkanen’s 7 Quick Fire Questions, 3 Expert Tips

Sarah Pekkanen’s 7 Quick Fire Questions, 3 Expert Tips

SarahPekkanenThis weeks 7 Quick Fire Questions & 3 Tips (a weekly feature) is with Sarah Pekkanen, author of These Girls. Find out about this fantastic new release at the bottom of the interview!

Sarah’s dream dinner date is Ryan Gosling, what d’ya say about that?

– Laura


7 Quick Fire Questions


1. Dream dinner date  Ryan Gosling. No, a shirtless Ryan Gosling. So we couldn’t go to one of those “No shoes, no shirt, no service” places.

2. Writing routine In the car, on the couch, in the waiting room for the orthodontist, at morning, at night…. you get the idea.

3. Extrovert or Introvert Both. I crave solitude at times, but I also love being around people.



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