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Archive for the ‘chick-lit’ Category

Christmas is in the Air Anthology 2

This is the second Christmas romance anthology from Books to Go Now that I have read this month. I loved the first one,Christmas Romance, and this the second one didn’t disappoint. Four talented romance authors, four sweet stories that will warm your heart this holiday season. And just like in the first one, there are dogs in this one, too!

In “Red Soles at Night Christmas Delight,” by Cary Morgan Frates, Audrey Wells is out of her wits when a dog jumps on to the deck of her boat and in the process throws her super expensive Louboutin shoes into the lake. The dog’s handsome owner has no choice but to dive into the freezing cold water to rescue them. Of course, Audrey ends up making sure he doesn’t get pneumonia. In a turn of fate, they end up spending Christmas Day together. A humorous and sexy story.

In “Yuletide Bride,” by Danielle Lee Zwissler, reporter Mary Simms is out on a mission. She wants to prove that the town’s Magic of Christmas Festival, where perfect couples are “matched” for life, is a sham. Will she have the courage to uncover the truth and destroy people’s belief in the tradition, even if it means destroying the happiness of some of the old couples involved? And what about James, the handsome lawyer who asks her not to go ahead with her story, and for whom she’s developing some serious feelings? Will Mary learn to have faith? An original, delightful story with a touch of mystery.

In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,” by Jennifer Conner, we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.

The last story is “One Horse Open Sleigh Race,” by Karen Hall, where we’re transported to 1819 London, and where, after a most unexpected encounter, a wealthy earl and the feisty twin of the new clergyman find true love thanks to a Christmas sleigh race and an adorable “match-making” Scottie. Lovers of historical romance will relish this one.

This anthology has a tantalizing, charming cover. That’s the first thing that pulled me to the book, and it adequately illustrates the inside content. The four stories in this anthology are all about strong yet vulnerable heroines and sensitive, yet forceful heroes; about the spirit of the Christmas season and the magical effect it can sometimes have on people; about the hope and faith for true love and the attainment of that love.

Through the authors’ imaginations, I was transported to different places and times, relishing the characters’ fictional worlds and predicaments. I also love how the authors incorporate humor into their stories, and how the dogs play their important roles. Christmas Is in the Air is an upbeat, thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I’m sure readers of sweet romance stories will enjoy.

Find out more on Books to Go Now and  Amazon.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

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Hi all,

It’s been a while since my last post…

I’d like to announce the release of my parody/satire novel, SUNSTRUCK, just published by Twilight Times Books! I really like the cover. Just looking at it makes me want to run to the beach–almost impossible in the middle of Brussels. It is a light, fun cover for a light, quirky summer read.

To celebrate the book’s release and for a limited time, the book will have the reduced price of $2.99 (instead of $5.95). You can find it at:

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | OmniLit

I’m offering a special gift for those of you who purchase a copy: just send me proof of purchase at mayra.calvani@gmail.com and I’ll give you a coupon to get my supernatural thriller, DARK LULLABY, free from Smashwords! You can learn more about the book here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94529

As part of the book’s release, I’m having a One-Day Blitz at Enchanted Book Tours andBewitching Book Tours. There will also be a virtual blog tour starting tomorrow and running until September 15th.

You can read reviews about the book on Amazon and also read a chapter HERE.

Cheers and happy summer reading!

Mayra

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Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker
By Marla Martenson
Bettie Youngs Books (April 15, 2010)
http://www.bettieyoungsbooks.com/
info@BettieYoungsBooks.com
ISBN-10: 0984308105
ISBN-13: 978-0984308101
Paperback, 272 pages
Memoir

Author’s Website: www.MarlaMartenson.com.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the head matchmaker of a high-class Beverly Hills dating service? In this her candid and witty memoir, Marla Martenson takes you on a humorous ride through the ups and downs of her life working for such a place, as she struggles with the often unreasonable demands of her wealthy clientele.

“I honestly had no idea how shallow, picky, selfish, and entitled some clients could be. After six years of feedback, demands, and expectations, I’m still thrown for a loop now and then,” says Martenson. But what can you do when her clients pay $40,000 and up to find the right woman?

The author starts off by showing us what a regular day for her is like, answering annoying emails and trying to understand her clients’ often incredible and unreasonable requests, as they continually find faults with their gorgeous, perfect Barbie-doll dates.

After this initial glimpse into her ‘regular day,’ Martenson goes back in time to recount how she got started, working at restaurant jobs and waiting on rude celebrities such as Joan Collins, who once barked at her for forgetting a fork. “For all my work, she left me a $2 tip on a $120 tab. The woman was clearly typecast as Alexis, right?” says the author.

She also talks about her dreams of becoming an actress, her marriage, divorce and remarriage to the perfect guy, her father’s death and, finally, taking charge of her life. Eventually all fell into place and she started earning good money making commercials and getting small parts in films and print modeling work. She even got a couple of lines in the Mel Gibson film, What Women Want. Then, finally, how she got started as a recruiter for the dating service, on the lookout for what she calls “a fresh supply of goddesses” and her life as an author—a calling she never suspected she had.

The book is full of interesting anecdotes about Martenson’s work in Hollywood with the stars. The writing is simple, straight forward, witty and honest. This is the perfect fun, beach read. I like the author’s satiric slant on beauty and the mystery of dating and relationships, as well as the shallowness of Hollywood and the pressure put on women to look good. The book, though a light read, makes you think about society and the role of women and men in it, and explores interesting issues of gender.

Martenson is the author of two best selling relationship books: Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting and Good Date, Bad Date.

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There are people I know who really enjoy exploring the dark side of life. They are interested in really understanding the psyche and figuring out what makes people tick…particularly bad people.

I’m not one of those people.

Serial killers, depravity, warped sensibilities, scary people… If I’m being honest, I don’t like seeing the dark and twisted side of things. The dichotomy between the extremes of dark suspense and happily ever after, while highlighting the importance of love and the renewing spirit of humanity, still illustrates the evil that permeates our everyday lives, even on the periphery. It can be so disturbing that it sucks the happiness right out of me. I begin to fear who lives next door, wonder if there’s a lunatic watching my kids’ schools, worry that something dark and awful will befall someone I love.

I don’t like those feelings. At all.

Enter Lola Cruz. She’s a black belt in kung fun, a detective who sees bad things happen in her job. But she believes in love, is sassy, sexy, and smart. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. Writing Lola inspires me, and helps me see that darkness doesn’t have to be overwhelming. She gives me a unique lens to view life through and I love it! From the looks of it (4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews, and sparkling reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist) http://misaramirez.com/the-countdown-is-on/, I’m not alone.

I know evil exists. I know misfortune exists. I’ve been touched by it. What I’ve found, as I grow older, is that I don’t particularly like being reminded of it in the books I read. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t live with my head buried in the sand. I’m socially conscious, believe in serving, and put myself out there to help and be part of the world around me. I work hard to emphasize social awareness and servitude to my kids so that they understand the lottery they won by being born in the United States, the privilege they live with, and the fact that they are blessed in a world where not everyone is so fortunate.

One thing that every human wants is love. That’s why the Lola Cruz Mystery Series has love as a key ingredient. It’s equal parts mystery and romance, and love and romance, after all, make the world go round.

Biography:

Misa Ramirez is the author of the Lola Cruz mystery series: Living the Vida Lola (January ’09) and Hasta la Vista, Lola! (February 2, 2010) from St. Martin’s Minotaur. A former middle and high school teacher, and current CEO and CFO for La Familia Ramirez, this blonde-haired, green-eyed, proud to be Latina-by-Marriage girl loves following Lola on her many adventures. Whether it’s contemplating belly button piercings or visiting nudist resorts, she’s always up for the challenge. Misa is hard at work on a new women’s fiction novel, has developed a middle grade series, is published in Woman’s World Magazine and Romance Writers Report, and has a children’s book published.

Photobucket

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When I say ‘chick lit’, what do you think about? Fluffy novels? Air-head protagonists? Bags, shoes and designer clothes? Don’t be ashamed to admit it. That’s what I used to think when I read my first one a few years ago. Sure, there will always be poorly written chick lit novels with mediocre characterization and non-existent plot or storylines, but this happens in all genres. The truth is, chick lit has come a long way and now more than ever, publishers are looking for authors who can deliver not only a fun and sassy story but also a smart one as well. Just like in all genres, publishers of chick lit fiction want intelligent writing, a powerful premise, a likable protagonist with a strong, distinct voice readers can sympathize with, a villainess readers will love to hate, and a compelling plot.

Chick lit novels are extremely popular at the moment, mainly because of big hits like Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopoholic and Alisa Valdes Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club. Many aspiring authors think that writing chick lit may be the surest road to fame and six figure advances. Because chick lit novels are often fun, light reads, new writers may have the wrong assumption that they’re easy to write, but this isn’t the case. Just like any work of fiction, a good chick lit story takes talent and skill to write.

I recently had the chance to read two books on how to write chick lit: See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit, by bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, and Will Write For Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel, by Cathy Yardley. Both are great resources, not only on how to write in this genre, but on learning everything there is to know about this type of fiction: its history, new trends, and tips and tools for breaking into the market.

But let’s take a closer look at each book.

In See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit, the authors begin by explaining what chick lit is all about and exploring the reasons why you may want to write the chick lit novel. Then they go into the craft itself: creating the protagonists and secondary characters, the elements of style, the basics of plotting, deciding on a point of view, structure and pacing, and finally, the importance of revising. They also give submission, agent and publishing advice, including a short list of editors who handle chick lit. In the appendix, as a reading list, the authors give examples of popular chick lit authors and their books.

The font is pink and sometimes green, against sometimes pink or green background. The pages are thicker than the regular paperback, which made the pages stiffer and a bit less comfortable to turn. In spite of this, I found the book entertaining and informative, with the same humorous flavor of a chick lit novel, and the authors give helpful advice.

Will Write For Shoes is another great resource for the aspiring chick lit author.

This book goes into more detail explaining the genre and its history, and offers a ‘blue print’ for writing the novel. It also discusses in detail the various trends and subcategories within the genre. Like the title above, it tries to teach the craft with examples. Topics include: plot, structure, point of view, characters, setting, voice. It also stresses the importance of revision. Unlike the book above, it not only includes a good list of editors but also a list of agents who specialize in chick lit. There’s a sample query and synopsis in the appendix, something writers will find extremely useful.

This is a fun and comprehensive manual that should be in the permanent shelf of every new chick lit writer.

If you can get both, great. If you have to choose between the two, I’d recommend the second one, Will Write For Shoes. It’s more complete and the resources are better. I also liked that it’s presented in a more simple, uncluttered manner.

You too can share your story with the world because publishing your own book just got easier.

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nyI read this book while vacationing on the Turkish Riviera this past summer. It was an entertaining, delightful read — the perfect companion for those relaxing days under the sun. That said, this is a novel that will be enjoyed by chick lit fans anytime of the year and at any place.

The story begins in London, with twenty-something Angela Clark discovering at her best friend’s wedding that her fiancee has been cheating on her for some time. What’s worse, everyone somehow already knew about it — everyone except Angela.

Filled with rage, unhappiness and disappointment, Angela flies to New York City and rents a hotel room for a few days. There, a lot of unexpected things happen. She befriends one of the hotel clerks, who introduces her to her group of interesting friends. She meets two very different men who each in his own way sweep her off her feet. Of course, she also does some serious shopping (It’s New York City, right? Plus, she has a credit card). But most excitingly, she’s suddenly offered an opportunity to do what she likes best: write.

Through a series of adventurous escapades, Angela does some growing up and takes a closer look at herself and her life. Will she go back to London, as her family and friends are urging her to, or will she stay in New York and fulfill her dreams?

The writing is light and fun, making this a quick read. The author brings the city to life, with its exciting coffee shops, night clubs and stores. But the best part is Angela. With all her defects, she comes out as a very real and endearing protagonist.

Warning: I Heart New York will make you want to take the next plane to New York.

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lindseyI’m thrilled to have Lindsey Kelk as my guest on The Dark Phantom today. Lindsey is a children’s book editor at a top publishing house and the author of I Heart New York, a delightful chick-lit novel featuring the incorrigible Angela Clark. I Heart New York is the first book in a series of five. The second book, I Heart Hollywood, is due out January 2010. Visit her website and her blogs, BeautyMecca and BeautyAddict.

Thanks for being my guest, Lindsey. Tell us, how did you come up with the idea for I Heart New York and the series?

I’d just come back from a holiday in New York and was incredibly broke and depressed. New York has been amazing, and I just couldn’t seem to shake myself out of the post-holiday blues, so I decided, if I couldn’t go back (and my credit limit said no, I could not) that I would write about it instead.

I always conceived the books as a series, taking in different cities around the world — I love fiction series, I blame my teen obsession with Sweet Valley High. I never want books I love to end.

nyTell us a little about your protagonist. What about her will women readers identify with the most?

I hope people will like Angela because she and I are a lot alike! Except she gets the boys and, sob, I don’t do quite so well (send any and all viable applicants to my Facebook page please). People have said they like her because she’s funny and down to earth. Of course the book is a fantasy, so it’s not like stuff like that happens every single day, but I like to think that Angela deals with the situations she finds herself in like an actual person would.

That and she really likes shoes. And boys. And karaoke. And cocktails.

Like I said, we’re a lot alike.

Are you a disciplined writer? How long did it take you to finish the first draft? What about the editing process?

I really wish I could say yes, but since I finished I Heart New York, I’ve been terrible. In my defense, I work as a senior editor in children’s publishing so writing, editing and rewriting is my entire life! I Heart New York was really quick to write, the first draft took just six weeks, but I dedicated my life to it. I would come home from work, cook dinner, eat, open the laptop and write until I fell asleep. By the time I had a book deal and was writing I Heart Hollywood, SO much more was going on in my life and I didn’t have as much time. That one took maybe four months? Now I’ve just finished the first draft of I Heart Paris and just to make my life that little bit more difficult, I upped and moved to New York halfway through, BUT it still only took six months. I guess I’m a lot faster than a lot of other writers but, really, I should be more disciplined.

Editing is easier, my editor is AMAZING and always gives the most insightful and inspiring advice, so once I get her comments in, I can turn them around in a few weeks.

Is your second book already finished? I understand it’s scheduled for publication in early 2010.

Yup! I’ve just had the proofs, the cover is gorgeous. My cover designer, Lee Motley, is a goddess. And, yes, I Heart Hollywood is out January 2010. Scary.

Did you move to Paris for a while in order to write it?

I wish! I visited LA and Paris for research, but I wasn’t able to move. I just moved to New York with my job; it’s really a coincidence that I’m following in Angela’s footsteps, alebit a very big coincidence!

How many books are you planning to write for the series?

There are five books planned in my head, three written, two sort of plotted out but who knows? Maybe I’ll finish these five and then come back to it in ten years…

You also keep a popular blog called BeautyMecca. Tell us all about it!

I LOVE make-up! Basically, before I moved into publishing, I used to work in beauty PR, and, while I loved the products, PR wasn’t for me. BeautyMecca was my way of staying involved with the side of the industry I loved and steering clear of calling up journalists and asking if they wanted to try my new wonder foundation.

It wasn’t wonderful, but I will spare the innocent.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

Aside from BeautyMecca and www.iheartnewyork.co.uk (I write a blog as Angela for the site) I’m all over Twitter and Facebook if you really feel the need to know what I’m up to ALL THE TIME.

Thanks so much Mayra, that was fun!

Thanks, Lindsey, and good luck with your book. I look forward to reading your second one!

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