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February is ALL THE LOVE (giveaway!)

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IMG_0197.jpgCan you believe it’s already February!? It’s a busy month at my house. Valentine’s Day and the Daddy/Daughter Ball and our anniversary–PLUS my little sister is having her first baby and the whole family is so excited. I truly love Valentine’s Day. We don’t go too crazy over here, but chocolate is a MUST and there are cards and usually some stuffed animals and the kids love all of it.

One thing I always think of around this time of the year is my novel Looks Like Love. Maybe because the cover is pink and white. Maybe because it’s a story of a girl seeking out adventure, and stumbling across a little romance along the way. It’s a novel that digs into the question What does love look like?  The main character, Kasey, has been dumped by her long-time boyfriend, so she heads off to visit her best friend, who just happens to be British. London is calling! So Kasey embarks on a trip of self-discovery, a touch of romance, and a lot of fun. When she gets back, things at work get crazy. The advertising firm where she works has finally landed LETA, a cosmetics company branching out with their first fragrance, called Love. Kasey’s tasked with finding out what love looks like, and then finding a way to sell it. From double-decker tour buses to glamorous galas–you’ll want to join Kasey on her journey to find out the truth about love.

The picture above includes a little “Book of Days.” I dug that out this morning when working on an Instagram photo post. This is one of my treasures. It’s the journal I filled out on my Europe trip, way back in college. I’m so thankful I wrote down even snippets of every day I was there. It was a trip of a lifetime and that little book helps me remember the details. The month I spent in Europe was the inspiration behind Looks Like Love. The places that Kasey visits–such as Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge, Bath, and more–are places I went to on my tour and that were stamped on my heart forever. The last week of the month was spent in Paris and Rome and Florence with my dad. The next year I would get married, so those days of just the two of us were extra special. (Though, I will say that admiring the Statue of David with your dad is an interesting experience! Ha! But we made it through and had an amazing time, from exploring Paris, to traveling via train in a sleeper car on our way to Rome (two little grannies shared our cabin!), to dinner in Florence. Those are moments I cherish.)

So, in some ways, Looks Like Love is imprinted with the heart memories of that trip. It’s one of my favorites and I hope you’ll check it out. Hop over to Amazon and read the first chapter!

The fun of Valentine’s isn’t just romance, and that’s part of what I love about the book. (Though romance is wonderful of course!) It’s exploring the many ways we see love in our lives–family and friends and so much more. Being loved by the people closest to us, and loving them well in return, makes all the difference.

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I thought I would do a little giveaway as my Happy Hearts Day gift to you! I’m offering one free Kindle e-book download for Looks Like Love. All you have to do is leave a comment (click on the rafflecopter link) telling us a vacation spot that’s on your bucket list, and for an extra ticket (not required), hop over and like my Facebook page . Since I want you to have this before Valentine’s Day, the raffle will run until February 9th. So spread the news, grab some white chocolate (Kasey’s favorite), maybe a little pink champagne, click on the link below, and get ready!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Adventure . . . Write About It

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imagesCAKQ302HI’m linking up with Write or Die today and the topic was adventure. It’s funny because this was the topic at dinner the other night with our small group. We were each supposed to share an adventure story. I feel like I had to go way back to college to search for adventure stories! Not that parenting isn’t an adventure. It is! And publishing books is a fantastic adventure. But as for true-blue, “I went on an adventure”–well, what came to mind was a trip I took the year before I graduated college. My then-fiance Jeff, my friend Monica, one English professor, and myself all joined up with a tour group to visit Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, and France. I tacked Italy on at the end and met up with my dad (who was working overseas at the time). It was a total adventure.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never been much of a journaler–you know, someone who keeps a diary or writes in her journal. Over the years I’ve written in journals–then I would read what I wrote later, feel absolutely ridiculous and throw it away. But on my Europe trip, I took along a small journal and wrote something down every single day. Even a small recap of what we did that day. And it’s something I value so much! A little record of one of my biggest adventures. The flight alone was a scary adventure (I’d never been on a plane for so many hours!). Then getting to Ireland and realizing it was freezing and I had packed for summer (what in the world).

Getting married at Gretna Green in Scotland while my English professor nearly had a heart attack during the ceremony (I think he was worried that he wasn’t supposed to allow students to get married on this school trip. Lucky for him, the marriage was only legal in Scotland).

Walking through ruins of a castle in Wales (where the queen had just been the day before!). Hearing Born in the USA played in French while on the tour bus in Paris. Going to the movies in London and seeing Spiderman. Seeing the Statue of David while in Italy (with my dad–um, a little awkward!). Feeling small and completely in awe of the Vatican. Running to catch a moving train that we were supposed to be on. Falling in love with Edinborough. Lunch by a river in the Lake District. The wind blowing hard at Stonehenge.

Basically it was the trip of a lifetime. It was my adventure and it inspired what would become my novel Looks Like Love. I’m so thankful I journaled on that trip. After all, you want to remember your best adventures.

Book Blog Hop!

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Hi, loveys! So the very talented Mrs. Susan Mathis tagged me in a book blog hop and I’m super excited to be part of it. The deal is that we answer questions about books we’ve written so I’m talking about Looks Like Love. Fun! Here we go:
What is/was the title of your book? Looks Like Love
 
Where did the idea come from for the book? Well, the title is actually taken from a line in the book. The entire premise of the story is about finding out what love looks like. I wanted to write a story that explores the different forms love takes–you know, friendship, family, romance, faith. I wanted to delve into the fact that our perspective of love can sometimes be limited. And the truth that taking a closer look at what love really looks like can change your life.
 
What genre does your book fall under? Contemporary romance, chick-lit
 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After a devastating break-up, Kasey Addison embarks on an adventure to discover what real love looks like.
 
How was your book published? Since I’m an editor myself, I took the plunge and self-published my book. Lucky for me, I had editor friends to help copyedit my manuscript and I already knew the process of proofing and writing back cover copy. To be honest, I had a lot of fun with the process.
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About a year.
 
What other books would you compare this work to within your genre? A Girl’s Best Friend by Kristin Billerbeck, Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones, Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker, Bridget Jones’s Diary, etc.
 
Who or What inspired you to write this book? I took a trip to Europe about ten years ago that caused me to fall in love with all things British. Several years after the trip, I decided to write a story where I could incorporate some of my experiences (not the romance experiences, FYI. I was already engaged by that point! The travel aspects.).
 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? For anyone who’s a travel lover, a large part of my story takes place in England. So if you like fiction that takes you on overseas adventures, Looks Like Love will be right up your alley. My main character is a relatable girl who sometimes feels lost in her own life. She’s a fun character and I had a blast writing her.
You can find Looks Like Love on Amazon or at all Tattered Cover locations in Denver, Colorado. It’s also available (very affordable) for Kindle and Nook. And I think there are some used copies on Amazon at the moment for really great prices. So if you’re looking for a gift for Christmas, check it out!
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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Hey guys! It’s been awhile since I updated you on what I’ve been reading. I recently finished Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and for the most part, I really really liked this book. I have to say ‘for the most part’ because something happened at the end I didn’t like. But I’m still planning on reading book 2, so I’m invested. What I love about this book is our heroine. She’s likable (not whiny, not pining, not obsessive). She’s got good character qualities. And for 99% of the book I really liked our main guy. He’s a strong character. The relationship dynamic between them is really gradual. That’s a refreshing departure from ‘girl sees hot guy and is now ready to make her world revolve around him.’ The fantasy aspect of the story is really intriguing. But watch out because I’ve got a couple of spoilers to share. So if you haven’t read it and you want to, leave now. 🙂

Things I was upset about: that the mother dies. It feels like a trend in YA books that the parents have to die. The parents are always dying! Let somebody live already! Second, at the end Perry kills his brother. One second before, he’s realizing it’s archaic that his sister couldn’t marry who she wanted. But apparently he doesn’t think it’s archaic to still fight to the death for the tribe. He killed his brother! The father of the beloved nephew! I was super disappointed in that. I guess he only thought the other thing was archaic because it might affect his relationship with Aria. 

I’m going to read the next book in the hope that Aria isn’t quite so blasé about the whole “I murdered my brother to be chief” situation. We’ll see. Anyway, that happens at the very end, and up to that point, I was sold on the story.

*On a side note, for all my Colorado friends, Looks Like Love is still at all Tattered Cover locations in Denver! Go pick up a copy and show me some love!

A Little Something About Books and News of Guest Post

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So I thought I’d do a little update on reading for the summer. I mentioned in my last post that I’d just finished reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I really enjoyed this book. The only thing I had mixed feeling about was the parents. The main character’s parents are super cool (in mostly good ways) and they have established this great family unit where even this teenage daughter of theirs wants to spend time together as a family.  But even though the parents are great, loving, supportive, fun, observant–they’re also A-OK with their teenage daughter sleeping with her boyfriend. I know there are probably lots of parents out there who are like this (though I personally don’t know any!). But to me, it just felt confusing. At some point, parents have to be parents (not friends). However, this one aspect of the novel wasn’t a huge deal in the story and while I found it disappointing that there wasn’t any advice about this for the girl (like why it might be a good idea to wait till you’re just a little older and how it can change relationships and teen pregnancy is actually a very serious problem and yada yada yada), I felt like the main character was definitely mature for her age and the author didn’t spend chapter after chapter promoting teen sex (for which I’m grateful. That kills a YA book for me). Overall, what I loved about this story were the heartfelt moments, of which there are many. The main character is trying to decide if she wants to stay or “go on” (die), and the conversations her best friend, grandfather, and boyfriend all have with her (more like to her) while she’s in a coma are just so real and powerful. I mentioned before that it’s a cry-worthy book but not a depressing book. I really think that’s an incredible accomplishment by Gayle Forman. To make this book filled with such sad things, but then to offer the right balance of hope and humor–well, she did a great job. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

On to the next. I just finished Fang by James Patterson. This was a Mother’s Day gift to me from Jeff, however, it was also the 3rd book in a series I’d never heard of before. I went ahead and read it and really liked it. I haven’t really read any books about mutants before, but it’s not that different from vampires or werewolves or other books about teens who have special powers. I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series though.

Today I’m picking up Matched by Ally Condie from the library. I’m super excited to read this one. It’s been on my list of “must reads” for a while. The cover is great but I’ll have to get back to you about content. I also want to read Heaven is For Real. Have you heard about this book? I’ve heard really good things about it, and I need to check it out soon.

And here is some exciting news! I wrote a guest post for Joy Tamsin David’s blog “Edgy Inspirational Fiction.” (I just love her blog!)  The guest post was posted today so be sure to stop on over and check out the discussion. You’ll love Joy’s blog! It’s perfect for book-lovers.

 

Operation Encourage an Author

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Hi everybody! So I love the blog Operation Encourage an Author! It’s a place of encouragement and support and sharing great books. So I was thrilled when Casey agreed to spotlight Looks Like Love on OEA! I hope you’ll hop over and leave a comment.  

On another note, I hope everybody had a great Easter! It was cloudy and chilly here in Colorado. Not ideal weather. But Ashtyn searched for Easter eggs in our house and had a great time doing it. 🙂 It was a fun holiday. Sara and Nemo came over, and I was reminded of how thankful I am for my family. There’s just something so comfortable about being with family. It’s one of the greatest blessings in life.

Interview with Christa Banister

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Hi everybody! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’ve been buried in boxes and covered in paint. The “settling in” process has begun at our new house. Moving is chaos. Every night for the last two weeks, Jeff and I have painted the interior of the house once Ash went to bed. Today Jeff brought in more boxes for me to unpack, and we hung a few pictures. It’s really starting to feel like home. Which I’m thrilled about because I really like our new place and can’t wait for everything to be put away and for life to get back to normal. Jeff’s been a good sport today. For some reason, hanging pictures is always a major situation for us. Could be that I always disagree with the level and think the picture needs to go up on the right just a little. And this makes Jeff crazy. It’s actually so familiar to me–this process. I had to work hard not to giggle about it today while Jeff was turning red and I was, as usual, asking him to raise the mirror just a tad on the right. 🙂

So anyway, you should be hearing from me on a more regular basis now that the computer is off the floor. It’s not so easy for us pregnant women to type while sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor. I know that we probably won’t be completely settled in for a few more weeks, but it seems like we’re accomplishing enough every day to feel like there’s actually a light at the end of the tunnel.

On another note, good things are happening with my novel Looks Like Love. It was featured today on the Family Fiction website. Yay! And Christa Banister, author extraordinaire and completely fabulous person that she is, posted my interview with her today. So hop over to her website and check that out. I loved her questions. I’ll be featured on Operation Encourage an Author on Monday, which I’m excited about. I’ll post the link then for you to stop by.

Well, my dears, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open as I write this. I think it’s time to call it a night. I’ll be in touch soon.