Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer

Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced...

Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

I love geeks! This is no shock to anyone who knows me.  And I was thrilled that Libby Mercer asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her new book, Unmasking Maya, as the male lead was a hot geek!

This is high up there on my list of favorite reads of 2012.  I loved the character of Maya.  She is clearly lonely, even if she wants to deny it, as her past has burned her and she is unwilling to open herself up to the chance of love again.   She is quirky and an artistic fashionista, which I adored.  And Derek...cold, indifferent, infuriating, yet incredibly good looking.  Yup, I was sold on him immediately. I love that their relationship was not an insta-romance.  It took time, it took breaking down barriers, fighting, and ultimately realizing what they both wanted. It was a heart warming story that I couldn't put down.

I do wish that Maya had some retribution for the scandal in NYC, complete with payback against the dastardly ex, and that the sudden appearance of her father had been addressed more. Overall, the book was a flawless read for me.  I also would have loved to see more of Lin and her husband, they were a good time.  

Libby has a great voice and a knack for weaving a tale that you want to keep reading, you want more and dread the final pages coming up.  This was my first book by Libby Mercer and I have to go back and read all her other works now. I dare anyone to read "Unmasking Maya" and not have a smile on their face at the end and clamoring for more of the writing of Libby Mercer.


Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Getting Personal: A guest post with Cara Leyba

Why the Personal Approach is Key as an Author

Whenever people ask me for tips and advice on marketing and promotions as an indie author I tell them this: get personal.

Think about the way you like to be marketed to. Do you enjoy seeing robotic tweets and Facebook updates with buy links in them and no other messaging? Wouldn’t you be much more excited if your favorite author engaged you and established a real connection?

When I decided to self-publish, I decided to make my audience a part of the process. My blog followers knew the book was in the works, and they were extremely supportive of my decision to part ways with my agent and pull my book from submission and publish it independently. So I made video blogs, posts, and updates for them documenting the entire process. From the day I made the decision to go indie, to the day I handed in my first 10,000 words to my editor, to the release of my cover design, they were all a part of it.

I know they loved being involved, and I loved having the support system. They cheered me on and helped me keep going even when I sometimes felt I was in over my head. Having them invested in the process also really helped when my book came out. Sparkle went to #1 in both the Happiness and Self-Esteem categories on Amazon, and it’s all because of my readers. I am so grateful for our connection and I can’t thank them enough!

Author Bio:

Cara Alwill Leyba is a best selling author, and certified life and wellness coach from New York City who empowers women to live their most effervescent lives and celebrate themselves. She encourages women to indulge in the things that make them happy, and swears that every woman can live a "champagne life," no matter how busy she is or how tight her budget.

Her blog, The Champagne Diet, boasts a following of thousands of loyal readers and has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Cafe Mom, Daily Mail UK, MSN Australia, AOL UK Lifestyle, and a host of other publications worldwide. Cara's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, xJane, Mind Body Green, MTV News, and many other sites.
Cara regularly appears on the “Ask Dr. Fritz” radio show on WWRL New York, where she helps host Dr. Fritz answer questions from callers about love, career, family, relationships and more. She also hosts her own lifestyle and wellness show, "Uncork Your Best Self" on Blog Talk Radio.

Cara's first book, SPARKLE, became an immediate #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Happiness and Self-Esteem categories upon hours of its release. She celebrated the release of her book with a book signing in New York City this past fall.

When she’s not popping bubbly, blogging, or working with her coaching clients, Cara spends her days leading a digital advertising team at MTV Networks. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and dog-child. For more on Cara visit

Connect with Cara!

Cara's website:
Cara's blog:
Want to learn how to sparkle? Join Cara's "Sparkling Start" workshop next month and kick off 2013 in glittering, shimmering style! 

  Buy the Book!


As women, we have become professional self-critics. We've become so convinced by society that we need to attain a level of perfection that just isn't real. Whether it's trying to get skinnier, look younger, get that promotion, please our parents, get fuller lips or rid ourselves of cellulite -- we're on a never ending mission to change and it always makes us feel like crap.

Instead, why not focus on all the fabulous qualities we already possess? There is so much to celebrate when we look at all of our accomplishments. In this straight-up girlfriend's guide, lifestylist and wellness coach Cara Alwill Leyba encourages women to discover what makes them sparkle so that they can design the lives they desire and deserve. So raise your glass and toast yourself. You're about to start shimmering, shining, and dazzling every day. Because isn't everything better when it sparkles?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book excerpt: On the Rim of Love by Marie Astor

Marie has graciously shared an exciting excerpt from her latest novel, On the Rim of Love, with me and I hope you are as intrigued as I am!

Maggie sat in the empty Ritz suite Jeffrey had rented for their engagement trip and stared listlessly into a wall. Her clothes were strewn all over the bed – she started packing, but had to stop, unable to continue with the task through the tears that were flooding her eyes. It sounded like a cheesy cliché, but she really did feel like a knife had been stuck through her heart.

Next to her lay Jeffrey’s laptop – the files on it were all the evidence Maggie needed to know that Bethany’s words were true.

Beautiful women were a fact of life for Jeffrey Preston. At first, Maggie felt overshadowed by all the gorgeous starlets and aspiring models who flocked to Jeffrey at various social functions that he took Maggie to. On occasions like these, she could almost hear their jealous thoughts: Whatever did he see in you? You’d better watch your back or someone will take your place. Not that she had had any reasons to doubt Jeffrey’s fidelity: ever since the two of them had started seeing each other, Jeffrey had said goodbye to his wild past. Before, he had been known to stay out until all hours of the night, emerging from nightclubs with two or three stunning women on his arms, but once he began dating Maggie, he became completely committed to her, or so Maggie had thought. 

To know that she had been fooled the entire time was what really hurt the most. Now, in hindsight, a pattern emerged: all the times when Jeffrey did not answer his cell phone, even late at night, his haphazard business trips and his reluctance to talk about his supposed business meetings. At the time, she did not make anything of it, but now she knew that she had been a naïve fool. 

Maggie’s first impulse had been to pack up and go to the airport. She started throwing her clothes into her suitcase, but changed her mind halfway.

She had to leave this hotel room, but she was not sure she wanted to go home just yet. For one, leaving would let Jeffrey off the hook too easily – he owed her a face-to-face explanation. And for another, Eagleville was a photographer’s goldmine, and what better way to get over heartbreak than keeping busy?
But if she was going to stay in Eagleville, Maggie had to find new accommodations. There was no way she was going to remain at the Ritz – the prospect of running into her cheating, lying fiancé pretty much nixed that option. Nor did she want to stay in any of the hotels in the vicinity of the Ritz, which pretty much excluded the majority of the hotels in the resort, as all the lodging establishments were neatly packed into a tight cluster around the main gondola. 

That left the Owl Lodge – the rustic setting and proximity to the air tram made it the ideal choice. A few hours ago, the possibility of running into Taylor would have worried her, but she was a different woman now - the kind of woman who resolved to never get her heart broken again, and even the tantalizing green of Taylor’s eyes could not swerve her off her new course.


Maggie Robin has been dating the irresistibly good-looking, successful Jeffrey Preston for two years. But when Jeffrey proposes marriage a week after Maggie's college graduation, she is no longer sure if she wants to marry a workaholic TV producer.

Her doubts culminate when during a ski trip to British Columbia, Maggie meets Taylor Denton, a handsome, free-spirited big mountain skier who is the complete opposite of Jeffrey. It does not take Maggie long to realize that she has fallen in love with Taylor and she decides to break off her engagement with Jeffrey. But just when she thinks she has found the love of her life, an ill-fated misunderstanding tears Maggie and Taylor apart.

A week later, Maggie is told that Taylor has died in a tragic ski accident; yet, her heart refuses to believe in Taylor's death. When Maggie returns to Taylor's native town, she learns that Taylor is indeed alive, but has been seriously injured. Resolved to bring her lover back to life Maggie stands by Taylor's side, convincing him to embrace life again.


Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novelsThis Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm,On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense,ToCatch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dressin a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventurenovel,Over the Mountain and Back.

If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by herwebsite:www.marieastor.comor visither on Facebook:

Books by Marie Astor:
This Tangled ThingCalled Love– a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions,learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.

Lucky Charm– a humorous contemporaryromance about love, luck and friendship.
On the Rim of Love– a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love.

A Dress in a Window– a collection ofshort stories about love, coincidences, and fate.

Over the Mountainand Back young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes hissnowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knewexisted.

Connect with Marie!
 Twitter: @marieastor

**Anyone who purchases their copy of On the Rim of Love  before December 24 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will be entered in the giveaway! Five individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown to the right, and one bonus winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.** 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Promo from Kaira Rouda

Bestselling author, Kaira Rouda, is hosting a fabulous holiday giveaway.  And you don't have to be on the nice list to win this one! So settle in for a little holly and jolly and good luck with winning the prize! And hey, if you don't win the prize, you still have two fantastic books to read!

Are you feeling Naughty or Nice? Doesn’t matter, with this giveaway, you could win a prize to make both sides happy!
To have a little fun with the holidays, Kaira “asked” a leading lady from each of her two novels what she would pick for a Holiday giveaway prize.  Kelly, the protagonist of HERE, HOME, HOPE, is represented by the “Nice” gifts.  Ellen, one of the stars of ALL THE DIFFERENCE, made the special “Naughty” selections. To win this amazing prize, please visit Kaira’s Facebook author page: or her website’s blog: and sign up. The giveaway is open to US and Canada residents. Good luck!

Wait, there’s more!
As a special holiday gift for everyone, HERE, HOME, HOPE and ALL THE DIFFERENCE are 99 cents for your eReader now through December 31st so if you haven’t had a chance to read both of Kaira’s novels, now you can!

Here, Home, Hope:
 Kelly Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors' seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly's own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan. From page one, Kelly's witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan--she places Post-it notes all over her house and car--will have readers laughing out loud. The next instant, however, they might rant right along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor. Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, too, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career.


All The Difference: From the bestselling author of HERE, HOME, HOPE, comes a novel of suspense and choices, with a nod to the best of Susan Isaacs's tales of suburban murder. Once again, everything isn't what it seems in the wonderful suburb of Grandville. ALL THE DIFFERENCE is the story of three women whose lives become entangled by the choices they make and how, ultimately, one of them turns to murder to achieve her goals. Roommates Laura and Angie couldn't be more different. Laura is a local celebrity, the television anchor who is motivated to move out of small-time media markets and on to the big time, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, Angie, a luckless waitress, spends her time waiting for Mr. Right to save her from temporary jobs and a life spent making bad choices. On the other side of town, Ellen abandons her life as a successful fundraiser for that of an isolated housewife in the country estate she shares with her husband, whose affairs become increasingly hard to ignore. When the city's gossip columnist, Maddie, and restaurant reviewer, Dixon, become involved in the mystery, the unlikely duo stir up more than they intended. But will anyone be able to stop the next murder? With her signature compassion and wit, Kaira Rouda once again takes readers on an entertaining journey into the heart of women's lives in suburbia - this time with the question would you go to extremes to live the life of your dreams?

All The Difference is on sale for $.99 till January 1. Here, Home, Hope will go on sale December 12 and will go back up to regular price on January 1 as well.

Connect with Kaira:

Kaira's Facebook page
Kaira's Twitter page
Kaira's Website

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A few minutes with Tenaya Jane

A couple of months back I reviewed the haunting tale "BLUE ASPEN" by Tenaya Jane.  I had the honor of interviewing her while she is out on tour for her new book, "FORBIDDEN FOREST".  What a delight she is! Thank you, Tenaya, for taking the time!

1.       What is a typical day in your writing life like?

I wish I knew! LOL. I have a three year old and a ten year old with Autism. I just leave my computer on and write when I can. I've been trying to get up earlier, trying and failing.

2. BLUE ASPEN was a haunting tale.  Where did the inspiration come from?

  When I was a little girl, my grandma would tell me bedtime stories. She had one about the Sandman in her repertoire. It was short and sweet but it stuck with me. From then on, anything about the Sandman caught my attention. I wanted to create a dark character who could construct dreams but who might also give you a nightmare from time to time. I began writing Blue Aspen when I was 15. At that time, it was just about Dulcee and Vincent. I created Vincent to be what I wanted at that age. I always go for the dark horse. J       

3.Who would you cast in the movie version of FORBIDDEN FOREST?

I'm sorry to disappoint, but I have no idea. It's not that I haven't thought about it. I scoured IMDB to try to answer this question and I just can't find a single cast member. Sorry. L

4. If you could borrow a character from another author, who would it be and what would the story involve?

Wow! I've never been asked that before. I'd love to borrow Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Patrick Suskind. I'd put him in a room full of various other villains, but he'd be the one who terrified them all.   

5. What authors inspire you?

Ayn Rand, Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Meredith Ann Pierce, Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, and Patrick Suskind to name a few. I'm always inspired by originality and authors who take risks.

6. Is there a genre that you haven't wrote in yet, but are hoping to?

I'm hoping to begin writing my first horror when I finish with Forest Fire. I'm going to have to be careful to not scare myself. 

7. Where did you get the inspiration for your gorgeous covers?

The first time I saw the picture of the girl behind the broken glass I knew it was the one for BLUE ASPEN. Originally, BLUE ASPEN was with a different publisher and their cover artist designed a beautiful image but I never felt it really translated well. My two other covers are the talent of Char Adlesperger of Wicked Cover Designs. She is currently working on the cover for FOREST FIRE.

8.  What do you have coming up next?

Next will be the sequel to FORBIDDEN FOREST. After that I have a non-fiction I've been working on for a while I'd like to finish, a few more novellas, and my first horror.


Author Bio:

Hello. My name’s Tenaya and I’m an addict. I mean author. When I was growing up, writing was just something I played at from time to time. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was one of those people who could never finish anything. When my eldest son was diagnosed with Autism, I began to write seriously. Writing became a necessity for me in the midst of my heartbreak. It was either that or take up drinking. I ‘m thankful I chose writing as my escape because I discovered it truly is my thing. I want to be swept away when I read. That’s what I want my books to do for you. The main goal of my writing is to entertain you. I want to help you escape everyday life for a little while. I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy sharing them with you!
I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful sons. I’m an advocate for Autism awareness, and women trapped in abusive relationships. I try to always look on the bright side and help others do so too. I’ve lived many places but I currently reside in Missouri. I love reading, indie and foreign films, gardening, and moody music.
Connect with Tenaya! 
 Born in shame. Cast from society. Shape Shifter/Elf hybrid, Forest must fight for any respect she can get. Targeted in her youth by a vampire noble who placed an illegal slave mark on her, she is forced to obey him, no matter what.

Slipping the grip of her master and abandoning the prejudice of Regia, her native world, Forest takes a job on Earth, guarding the portal, using her skills as a warrior to enforce Regia's laws. Now, called home for a black ops mission, Forest must put aside her own prejudice to transport the vampire prince, Syrus, through enemy territory in a time of war.

Prince Syrus, mage and master of the Blood Kata, wants Forest more than he's ever wanted anything. In spite of their mutual mistrust, their attraction cannot be denied. Through the danger of their mission, and the secrets they both keep, it doesn't matter what they feel. Forest is forbidden.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Season's Readings!!

I'm so thrilled to share with you this fabulous promotion by eight of the most charismatic authors that I know! The couple of books that I haven't read are on my "TBR" list.  If you need further proof that these ladies are adorably fantastic, check out their individual blogs for their answers to some burning holiday questions,  such as Santa: Sexy or not, how to make a snow slut, and which celebrity hottie is on their New Years Eve kiss list.

In the spirit of coming together for the holidays, eight popular Chick Lit authors are "partying it up" with a shared promotion for book lovers! That means eight fun and fizzy e-books, each priced at $3.99 or less, that are packed with plenty of laughs and romance to keep you entertained on those long winter nights! And if you'd like to gift one of these books to a Chick Lit fan, we've got you covered with your choice of paperbacks!

Which books are featured in this festive promo?
Finding Lucas by Samantha StrohBailey - Daytime talk show producer Jamie Ross is beyond fed up with her toxic bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she goes on a hilarious, at-times disastrous, and totally life-changing hunt to track down the "one who got away." But are some loves best left behind? E-book and paperback available on Amazon. 
In Need of Therapy by TracieBanister - Handling the problems of hysterical hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day's work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But can she deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice without ending up on the couch herself? E-book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble; paperback available on Amazon. 
What the Dog Ate by JackieBouchard - Discovering what her dog ate turns Maggie Baxter’s world upside down. With her chocolate Lab, Kona, as her guide, can Maggie forego her overly analytical ways to find a new life filled with tail-wagging joy? E-book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 
The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything by Francine LaSala - Suburban housewife Mina, beaten-down and struggling with amnesia, starts getting her memory and her mojo back. But she soon learns everything has a price in this fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire! E-book and paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 
Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie - When Roxy Rule shares a passionate kiss with her lifelong best friend, she must come to terms with her feelings for him while dealing with two sisters in full crisis mode, a boss who makes her want to stab herself with a letter opener and a fiancé who can't wait to walk down the aisle. Can she keep it together--or will she break under the pressure? E-book available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble; paperback available on Amazon. 
Fashioning a Romance by Libby MercerDevastatingly handsome and deliciously weird, John Harrington is the man of Caitlyn Taylor's dreams… and her nightmares. She has no use for a womanizer like him, and dodges his advances like a pro. But when they end up in Paris together, Caitlyn feels her resolve begin to slip. How will she ever be able to resist the irresistible in the most romantic city in the world? E-book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. 
A State of Jane by MeredithSchorr - Jane Frank is newly single after nine years and looking for a second chance at love. But when she dives head first into the NYC dating scene and finds it infested with flakes who are interested today and gone tomorrow, it may be time for Jane to turn the tables! E-book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 
Picture Perfect by Lucie Simone - Lauren Tate's perfectly planned life quickly unravels at the seams when a smear campaign threatens her career as a top TV executive, but she learns just how cutthroat showbiz can truly be when the hottest scandal in Tinsel Town turns deadly and the Hollywood hunk who's stolen her heart goes missing. E-book available on Amazon; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Green Ticket by Samantha March

 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.

I am such a fan of the writing style of Samantha March. She wowed me with her debut novel, Destined to Fail, and I can say without hesitation that her sophomore novel, The Green Ticket, was just as compelling to read.  The character of Alex is such a sweet character with a big heart that you can't help but root for her through the entire book.  She finds herself with a dream job, at such a young age, as the manager of a hot salon and spa.  But things aren't what they appear on the outside as Alex finds herself sucked into one dramatic situation after another.  Creepy owner, Kevin, threw off that sleazy vibe from the get go, but his sweet and seemingly naive wife, Dani, appeared to be earnest in her attempt to be friends with Alex.

While the drama at the job attempts to take over and control her life, we meet Alex's friends and a hopeful boyfriend.  The girls that Alex calls her best friends are simply the best.  We all want to have that group of girlfriends that will be there for you and do anything for you - Alex has them. They provide the perfect amount of side story to keep it interesting without overpowering the main character and what is going on with her.

I've said it before and I stand by it - Samantha March is so talented and I dare you to read her books and not enjoy them.  Clearly she has a big career ahead of her and you won't regret The Green Ticket. I give it five stars and look forward to what Samantha has next.

You can get your own copy at the following:
Amazon: Print or eBook

Barnes and Noble: eBook
Kobo: eBook
Marching Ink: Print 

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.

Multi-tasking like a pro! A guest post by Samantha March

For those of you that haven't met her yet, let me introduce you to one of the busiest ladies you will ever meet, Samantha March.  In addition to running the successful Chick Lit Plus (both the challenges and the blog tour site) and her own publishing company, Marching Ink, plus being a successful author herself, Samantha is planning out her wedding, finding time to read and write reviews on a constant basis, and even had a marathon planned in there.  She exhausts me just thinking about her day!  I asked Samantha if she would stop by and share how she manages to get everything done in such a timely manner.

I get asked a lot about juggling my time or I fit everything in. I do work full-time in addition to my responsibilities  for Chick Lit Plus, CLP Blog Tours, and Marching Ink, and then I like to always be working on my next published title as well. And now I have one more task to add to my planner – getting married! My wedding is scheduled for September 7, 2013, and I have been full-steam ahead on those plans since the ring got on my finger. Sometimes I question how I fit everything in. I won’t lie – I work long hours. On average, it is about 15 hours a day. The weekends I usually don’t work as long, but I don’t get days off. I think one really easy reason to how I fit everything in is simply because it’s my passion. I love what I do, and I rarely feel like I am working. If I didn’t enjoy this, why would I work the long hours? So I consider myself lucky in that regard. It might have taken me a bit, but I finally got it figured out, and I can definitely see myself doing what I do for a long, long time.
Another reason why I think I can fit everything in is because I know when to give myself breaks. I listen closely to my body and what it tells me. I don’t feel that I over extend myself when it comes to my work, because that is simply not good for you and people can easily become burned out quickly by doing this. I know my limits, I know I need sleep, and I know I need time away from office to be a twenty-five year old woman with my friends and family. And I always love a good manicure!
The third reason I’ll list is simply good time management and organizational skills. I always keep to-do lists and my calendar is very organized, never letting me miss a deadline. I can tell myself that for one hour I will only write – and that means no TV, no Facebook, no emails. I can tell myself that for 30 minutes I will read and only read. I really am not sure where these skills come from, but I’m happy I have them. I think a lot of it is simply self-motivation, something every good entrepreneur needs!
Speaking of which, I now have to dash – off to make more wedding phone calls about our dinner menu :)

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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

To Catch a Bad Guy by Marie Astor

Marie Astor's latest romance novel "TO CATCH A BAD GUY" is my feature excerpt for the day. Cannot wait to read this one!  And check out the end of the post for a great contest. 

Dennis Walker was giving himself a mental browbeating for nearly blowing his cover. What on earth had possessed him to get all mushy with that stand-offish girl whose computer he had been fixing or, to be more specific, bugging? Well, actually, Dennis knew perfectly well what had possessed him. The girl was damn good-looking, and if he had to admit to having any weaknesses, it was to not being able to pass by a pretty skirt without looking and, preferably, much more than just looking. Still, this was work – not play, and if he wanted to get that promotion he had set his eyes on since he had started his career in the Department of Treasury Investigations Unit, he’d better get his mind out of the gutter and get focused on the game.
Still, even with today’s minor lapse, Dennis could afford to pat himself on the back: he had already tapped into the most critical employees’ computers, and the data that he needed to substantiate the case was flowing in. The most difficult part of his assignment would be to remain undiscovered, which, as the morning had shown, was going to be much trickier than Dennis had anticipated. Playing the role of Dean Snider was proving to be more challenging than he had expected. Dennis was a naturally social creature who was keenly aware of his masculine charms, which he enjoyed exercising on members of the female sex with great success. Dean Snider, on the other hand, was a mousy and shabbily pathetic excuse of a man who was afraid of his own shadow – a role that Dennis detested playing, but was determined to excel at, lest his boss prove to be correct in his initial intention to give the assignment to Laskin. Dennis scratched his neck, which was beginning to chafe from the rigid collar of his cheap shirt, and focused his attention on his computer monitor.
As a senior member of the IT department at Bostoff Securities, Dennis had the administrative rights to his computer and to those of the firm’s employees, which allowed him to install the data gathering software on the employees’ machines and receive real-time data feedback on his machine. The fact that his desk was smack in the middle of the trading floor made matters difficult. With a title like Chief IT Analyst, Dennis had expected to be allotted an office or at least a cubicle, but apparently Bostoff Securities was short on real estate. Thankfully, the software was transferring the data over a web-based connection to the server that the Treasury Department had sourced out for the investigation. The initial prep work of data sorting was to be conducted by junior analysts at the Treasury, and in the evenings, after having spent the day behind his desk at Bostoff, in the privacy of his home office, Dennis would catch up on the reports prepared for him. A work schedule that intense would pretty much eliminate any presence of social life for the duration of the assignment, but Dennis was used to making sacrifices when they were worth it. 


Author Bio:

Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novelsThis Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm,On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense,ToCatch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dressin a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventurenovel,Over the Mountain and Back.

If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by herwebsite:www.marieastor.comor visither on Facebook:

Books by Marie Astor:

This Tangled ThingCalled Love– a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions,learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.

Lucky Charm– a humorous contemporaryromance about love, luck and friendship.

On the Rim of Love– a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love.

A Dress in a Window– a collection ofshort stories about love, coincidences, and fate.

Over the Mountainand Back young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes hissnowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knewexisted.

Connect with Marie!
 Twitter: @marieastor

To Catch a Bad Guy 

 Janet Maple's stellar career ended with a layoff and her boyfriend of almost five years told her that he wants to be just friends. When she lands a job at one of New York's premier boutique investment firms, Janet begins to hope that her luck is finally turning for the better. Not only is she happy with her new paycheck, but things also seem to be looking up on the personal front, as the company's handsome attorney expresses keen interest in Janet. However, her euphoria is short-lived, as Janet soon discovers alarming facts about her new employer's business tactics. When her boss dismisses her suspicions as groundless, Janet finds herself confiding to a cute IT engineer, Dean Snider. The closer she gets to Dean, the more Janet is tempted to break her rule of not dating co-workers, but what she doesn't realize is that everything she knows about Dean, including his occupation and even his name, is a lie.

Dennis Walker is a top-notch white collar crime investigator who will stop at nothing to put culprits away. When an opportunity for an undercover assignment at one of New York's premier boutique broker dealers comes up, Dennis jumps at the chance, adopting a persona of geeky IT engineer, Dean Snider. While he may be an ace at his job, years of experience fail him when Dennis meets Janet Maple and finds himself torn between his professional obligations and his personal desires. Will he have to choose between his feelings and duty, or will he find a way to satisfy both?

**Everyone who leaves a comment on Marie’s tour page will be entered in the giveaway! Anyone who purchases their copy of How To Catch a Bad Guy before November 19 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries! Three individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown below, and one bonus winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.**

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pet Peeves: A guest post by author Debbie Dyke

I have quite a few pet peeves.  I can’t stand overly poetic descriptions of weather, scene settings and characters.  When I’m read a novel and come to an entire page of description I find it excruciating to read and will in all likelihood put that book down. I find it annoying when a writer has to describe every little thing in great detail so nothing stands out. 

Another pet peeve one is writing in the passive voice. It makes the writing boring and removed.  For example: The Bloody Mary is being drunk.  This is dead space.  Much better to write, “Gina drinks the Bloody Mary in one gulp.”  The active voice makes the words more exciting and clarifies who is doing the action. Too often writers fall into the passive voice and soon the story comes to a screeching halt.

I also get peeved when a writer has to mention what the character is thinking about and what's about to happen and how this pertains to his/her past. This dumping of the stream of consciousness detracts from the story. It’s much better to show than to tell.

Here are a few other pet peeves:

Too many metaphors.
Repetition with words.
Too many curse/swear words so they have no impact

I saved the worst one for last:  coincidences.  I can’t stand contrived coincidences.  I hate it when Uncle Guido shows up near the end of the novel  to take care of  the ‘situation’ or when the newspaper falls into the characters hand  with a photo that provides a key piece of information to solve the mystery. Maybe you think it’s just luck. I don’t think so. It’s just lazy storytelling.  Coincidences do happen in real life, but in a novel if it isn’t organic then it simply doesn’t work. These contrived coincidences are highly improbably and the events are simply disguised as happenstance.  Destiny doesn’t happen this way. When coincidences in a story don’t  ring true the reader will feel duped especially when they are used as major plot point.  It breaks the unwritten contract with the reader.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my journey with you.  I hope you enjoy reading The Bloody Mary Club and come away with an appreciation of all things financial! 

You can keep up with me by visiting my website:, or dropping in on my blog:  and find  me on Facebook at: DebbieDykeBooks.


 Debbie Dyke, Author, The Bloody Mary Club!

Check out Debbie's book, The Bloody Mary Club:

 A Fiscal Thriller Set in Historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia Stock market meltdown. United States housing bubble. Global financial crisis. Chief executives cooking the books. Who can you trust for financial advice? Gina Van Story, a savvy 40ish investment advisor to the rescue. She can spot a trend on the market and jump on it like a cat. She dreams of grabbing the bull by the horns and is on the hunt for one final big score. Gina and her three best friends form the Bloody Mary Investment Club and come face-to-face with corruption in a David and Goliath struggle when their stock portfolio turns deadly…literally. Over made-to-order Bloody Mary cocktails at historic Gadsby’s Tavern, Gina takes her friends under her wing and teaches them the ins and outs of the stock market. Trouble begins when, following Gina’s bullish advice, they become majority owners in the local bank and then stubbornly turn down a lucrative buyout offer. Not only will money and greed challenge their friendship, they will have to get smart fast and figure out how to turn the tables on the charmingly seductive, yet evil, banker who wants control of their stock by any means necessary – including murder!


Author Bio:

Debbie Dyke is a novelist and businesswoman from Alexandria, Virginia, and has a background in military intelligence, the stock market, executive recruiting and writing.   An Army brat, she’s lived in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Albania and Holland. She graduated from the American High School in Naples, Italy then attending University of Maryland, Munich Campus.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters degree in National Security.  Debbie has two grown children, Lisa and Jordan and has been married to Michael for over thirty wonderful years. Debbie has written 5 screenplays, one Wall Street calendar and two novels. 

1. $10 Amazon gift card
2. Bloody Mary Gift Basket (US only) OR
3. Three winners will receive a copy of The Bloody Mary Club**

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sex, Lies, & Hot Tubs: A day in the writing life of author, Elissa Ambrose

Thank you to CLP Blog Tours for asking if I would like to host Elissa Ambrose on my Book Nook. She is a fellow Zoni so you already know she is cool!  Please sit back and enjoy Elissa's delightful guest post on the day in the writing life of an author. 

Elissa Ambrose, Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs

My Typical Writing Day

Thank you, Michelle, for inviting me to blog about my typical writing day. This was a real challenge, since a typical writing day doesn’t exist for me. I do, however, have a typical writing pattern. It consists of three phases, and my day revolves around whatever phase I’m in.

Phase 1: the concept. This is when I get a new idea and run with it. I dream, I plan, I scribble. I live it, I breathe it, I sleep it. I could be at the park or in the kitchen or in a crowded restaurant—and out comes the pen and notebook. Even a paper napkin will do. In Phase 1, I go about my normal life; i.e. reading, working out, cooking, etc. If I sit down at my desk and try to force inspiration, it doesn’t come and no amount of coaxing, begging, or bargaining does any good. In this phase, I go out a lot with writer friends. We talk, we laugh, we brainstorm. We’re famous at Starbucks.

Phase 2: the first draft. For me, this is the most difficult phase. Fact is, the story has already been told, and I don’t feel like telling it again. There’s just one problem. Except for those practically illegible pages that have meaning only to me, my writer friends, and my hypothetical therapist, it’s all in my head. I know that you’re thinking—why not just skip the first phase and write by the seat of my pants? When it comes to fiction, I’m a plotter. Maybe it’s because I used to be a programmer or maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I always have to have a plan. Long story short, I’m itching to get to my favorite part, the revising, but I can’t revise something that hasn’t been written yet, so I have to force myself to write. I wake up, have coffee, and stare at my monitor. I check my email and then I try to write. I check Twitter and Facebook and then I write a little more. In this phase, I’m constantly looking for distractions. This is where the doubt sets in, and I ask myself, am I a real writer? This is where coaxing, begging, and bargaining actually help. Especially the bargaining. If I throw down ten pages, I get to eat that last chocolate truffle. Twenty pages? A whole slice of cheesecake.

Phase 3: revision. I once read that real writing is in the rewriting, and I agree. This is where my characters flesh out and the story gels. I mold and shape, cut and rewrite, edit and polish. When I’m in this phase, I’m oblivious to the world. One year my husband was out of town on business while I was working on revisions for Harlequin. On that last day, I started at six in the morning (which was remarkable, considering I’m not much of a morning person), and didn’t lift my head until 4:00 on the dot when, um, nature called. And then I realized that it wasn’t four in the afternoon—it was four the next morning. Not exactly a typical writing day, but close to it when I’m in this phase. Must be the programmer in me, this love I have for detail.

While I don’t have a typical writing day, one thing remains consistent. I don’t stop until I’m done. Must be the Virgo in me striving for order. Or maybe I’m a real writer after all. Isn’t that what a writer does? Try to make sense of this thing called life?

Check out Sex, Lies, & Hot Tubs:

If a woman tries to preserve a marriage that has been damaged by infidelity, is she heroic or is she delusional? How many times does her husband have to cheat before she calls it quits? How many times does he have to get caught?

Meet Ellen Dunwell, doting wife, loving mother, high school teacher extaordinaire. She’s worried that her husband, the respected Dr. Jeffrey Dunwell, successful dermatologist, wonderful father, great lover, is having another affair. A man of many interests, Jeffrey also dabbles in real estate. But Ellen won’t confront him about what she’s sure is his latest interest, his perky new lab assistant, Keeley Wilder. She doesn’t want to sound like a shrew, but worse, what if she’s right? As if that’s not bad enough, her friends don’t understand her, her neighbor’s son is a Peeping Tom, and her angst-ridden teenage daughter is stashing pot in her room and dating a control freak. When Jeffrey suddenly disappears, Ellen nearly slips over the edge. Instead, she pulls herself together and sets out on a mission to find him—only to get caught up in a web of intrigue and danger, where nothing is as it seems and the stakes are her life.


Elissa Ambrose was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating from McGill University with a degree in English, for some strange reason she embarked on a career in computer programming. Seventeen years later, after an amicable parting with technology, she returned to her first love—the written word. First she was an editor at a company that produced educational material, and later at a literary magazine. Prior to Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs, she published four romances with Harlequin and several short stories. Along the road to publication, she raised two daughters. She and her husband now live in Arizona. (Yes, it’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, remember? And you can’t shovel heat.)

Connect with Elissa:





Buy the Book!


Barnes &Noble:


Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review: Blue Aspen by Tenaya Jane


Seventeen-year-old insomniac, Dulcee Elders' mother dumps her at her uncle's
house and leaves without a word. Dulcee is forced to adapt to life with her
reclusive uncle and his isolated mountain mansion. Insomnia has plagued Dulcee since
her father died. Once at home at Uncle Jack's, inexplicably Dulcee now can
sleep; sleep brings not only strange and intricate dreams, but a shadow she's
compelled to follow. At first, Vincent Sands is only the silhouette of a man. When
Dulcee is asleep, Vincent can give her anything she wants, even the ability to
talk to her dead father. When Uncle Jack leaves town for business, Dulcee's
dream world and reality collide. Once she is alone, the silhouette is no longer
content to remain only in her dreams. Nevertheless, Dulcee and Vincent are torn
apart when Uncle Jack returns. Spiraling into withdrawal, Dulcee experiences
the high price of loving Vincent-an addiction rivaling that of any hard-core
drug. Desperate to bridge the gap between them, Dulcee faces a crucial decision
that carries irreversible consequences.

The sign of a talented author for me is one that can keep you completely on edge, engrossed in the book you are reading.  That is exactly what happened when I read Tenaya Jane's Blue Aspen.  It disturbed me, it fascinated me, and I kept turning the pages to find out what happened next.  The lead character, Dulcee, was such a heartbreaking figure.  Clearly she had suffered often in her young life, losing her father and having grown up with a mother that made it clear that she was in the way and not wanted.  When she was dumped off with her uncle and he showed genuine happiness at having her there, I saw a little sliver of hope for Dulcee.  Unfortunately, her uncle had his own issues to deal with and couldn't be there for her. Which is where Vincent Sands came in. First appearing as a shadowy figure looking in the window, he eventually showed himself to Dulcee and a bizarre love story began.  He was the disturbing part of the book to me.  As Dulcee started to lose her grip on reality and slip further into madness, the character of Vincent became more creepy to me.  I found the love between them to be obsessive and controlling.  I couldn't stop reading, needing to know where this was going to end up.  The alternate story of Dr Patricia Verell that ran parallel with Dulcee's was intriguing.  Both women, such polar opposites and yet so similar, let Vincent manipulate their minds. While Dulcee's ultimate decision showed how desperate she was for someone to love her no matter what, I was a bit surprised at how out of control Pat became.  And the final line of the book - completely threw me.

Tenaya Jane wrote a very gripping novel about love, madness, and sacrifice.  Saying the book disturbed me might make you wonder if I liked it or not.  The answer is yes! It is twisted, definitely, but it takes so many offbeat turns that every time I thought I had figured out what was going on, it proved me wrong.  If you want a haunting story that lingers with you, then this is the book for you and I can't recommend it enough

Hello. My name’s Tenaya and I’m an addict. I mean author. When I was growing up, writing was just something I played at from time to time. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was one of those people who could never finish anything. When my eldest son was diagnosed with Autism, I began to write seriously. Writing became a necessity for me in the midst of my heartbreak. It was either that or take up drinking. I ‘m thankful I chose writing as my escape because I discovered it truly is my thing. I want to be swept away when I read. That’s what I want my books to do for you. The main goal of my writing is to entertain you. I want to help you escape everyday life for a little while. I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy sharing them with you!

I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful sons. I’m an advocate for Autism awareness, and women trapped in abusive relationships. I try to always look on the bright side and help others do so too. I’ve lived many places but I currently reside in Missouri. I love reading, indie and foreign films, gardening, and moody music.
Visit Tenaya's Website!

Buy the Book!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: Breaking The Rules by Cat Lavoie

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule’s best friend and roommate accepts a glamorous new job overseas, she expects their relationship to continue as it’s always been—carefree and easy—until they share a heart-stopping kiss moments before his departure. Overcome with mixed emotions, she fights the urge to over analyze the situation and resumes back to her normal life in New York City, working for an intolerable boss at a dead end job, creeping further and further away from her own dreams of becoming a professional chef.

While things become more complicated between her and Ollie, Roxy is sure that nothing can come between two lifelong best friends—not even mild jealousy over a thriving career or a silly little kiss that meant nothing. In fact, it was such a meaningless and forgettable kiss that she convinces herself that it’s not even worth mentioning to her fiancé, although it is all she can think about.

Roxy’s already topsy-turvy life only gets more complicated when her sisters Steffi and Izzie suddenly become her roommates. Steffi is six months into a pregnancy she refuses to discuss and Izzie is in the throes of a premature midlife crisis. Roxy tries to take control of her career, her love life and her sisters – but can she really handle it all? And can the Rule family keep it together – or break under the pressure?

Cat Lavoie has arrived on the chick lit scene!  Her debut novel, Breaking The Rules, kept me up late at night (and on a “work night”, no less!) as I couldn’t put it down.  When I was first approached by Samantha to review, I took one look at the cover and said yes.  I have a habit of reading anything with cute covers.  It doesn’t always work out well, but in this case it was a home run.  Charming cover, interesting characters combined with witty storytelling. I loved the friendship between Roxy and Ollie and how their story unfolds with the added twists to keep the reader on their toes.  Icky significant others, crazy family members, and wild friends complete the picture.  I loved the relationship between the sisters, Roxy, Steffi, and Izzie, and how their relationship with each other grew and became a more solid unit, even through the fights and the secrets being revealed. If you want to believe in happy endings then Roxy is the perfect heroine for you as she searches for what makes her happy.  She falls down and messes up, but she picks herself back up with the help of her friends and family and she moves on towards her happiness.

I cannot wait to see what Cat has in store for us next because clearly this lady has the talent to stick around for a long time to come!

Cat Lavoie was born in the small town of Jonquière in Québec, Canada. At the age of nineteen, she packed up her things (mostly books) and moved to the big city of Montreal where she currently lives with her tempestuous cat Abbie—who is both adorable and quite possibly evil.
An incurable Anglophile since her university days where she studied English Literature, she can often be found daydreaming about her next trip to London. Since she’s an expert at the art of procrastination, Cat is easily distracted by cooking and home improvement shows—even though she’s not particularly good at either.
Cat grew up watching soap operas and legal dramas and—had she not decided to be a claims analyst by day and write chick lit by night—she would have probably become a designer suit-wearing lawyer. Or a character on All My Children (which is what she really wanted to be when she was twelve).
Cat is not sure whether she’s a geek or a nerd—and is afraid she might be both. Breaking the Rules is her first novel.
Cat blogs about the writing life and posts adorable pictures of Abbie over at the Catenabi Chronicles. Come say hello at: and follow @Catenabi on Twitter.