Friday, December 16, 2016

Yes! Yes! Yes!

My TBR pile is huge! And it grows bigger and bigger. So I was so excited to finally read Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes. If you don't know who Shonda Rhimes is then you don't watch TV on Thursday nights. Or maybe at all. She's the creator of the long-standing Grey's Anatomy, Grey's spinoff--Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. She is Thursday Night Primetime.

I'm not gonna lie, I was pissed after she killed off one of the dreamiest characters of all time. But it didn't stop me from watching the show because . . . she's a boss. A genius boss. I'll never forget the last episode of season ten on Grey's when we find out who Maggie Pierce really is. I screamed. I cried. My heart filled with appreciation. Thank you, writers of this show! Thank you!!

It was in that moment that I realized just how impactful fiction can be. Sometimes I forget and think what I do as a writer doesn't matter. But if it didn't, novels, TV dramas, and science fiction movies wouldn't make millions of dollars.

Anyway, back to Year of Yes. In this fun narrative, Shonda realizes that she "never says yes to anything." So she vows to agree to everything that scares her and steps waaaaaay out of her comfort zone. Shonda shows a side of her that you wouldn't expect from a super successful woman in entertainment. It turns out that we have a lot more in common besides being writers. We even have similar ideas. Back in 1998 when I was 13 years old, I wrote my first legit short story called Raining in Hollywood, about three best friends from Iowa who graduate high school and immediately drive across the country to realize their dreams of stardom in Los Angeles. When I saw Crossroads later in 2003 I was like WHAT? Britney Spears took my idea and Shonda Rhimes wrote it! But obviously, that would be impossible. We must've all been hanging out in the same part of the collective consciousness around the same time. It happens. Needless to say, I LOVED the movie.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when she talks about how she deflect a compliment about her success by saying, "I'm just so lucky." And then makes the distinction that by saying she's lucky it implies that she didn't earn it. She says, "I'm not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass." That you are, Shonda!

Truth be told, I never really noticed how diverse her casts are. And if I did, I didn't think that much about it. The casts of characters in my books are diverse too and I was just thinking what I would say if someone asked me about it. I wouldn't know what to say. Then that night I read about Shonda being asked this exact question. Her answer was that diversity isn't special or rare. It's normal. She said she's normalizing television. "The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn't look like them and love like them. Because perhaps they will learn from them." And I like that answer.

I just loved this book. It was inspiring and somehow, I adore Shonda even more. So here's to all the writers and the badasses who are smart and talented and take advantage of opportunities, and work really, really hard. You go!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holly Jolly . . . Chick Lit Hop!!

Make the holiday season even merrier by discovering new reads from some of today's best chick lit and romantic comedy authors during the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop on Facebook.

Here's how it works: every day from Monday, December 5 through Friday, December 16, readers are invited to hop around to more than 60 authors' Facebook pages (with about five stops each day) to receive gifts and enter to win prizes.

Here is the schedule, which includes the list of authors posting each day and links to their Facebook pages in case you'd like to give them a "like" and follow along:













We will also give away several Amazon gift cards as bonus prizes on the event page. Every day that you participate and leave a comment on the main post for the day, you will be entered into the drawing to receive the prizes. Be sure to check back every day to maximize your chances!

Happy Holidays to all and to all some fabulous reading!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Songs That Inspired The Commitment Test

Pretty much every story I've written since I was a kid had, what I would call, a soundtrack. You know, the songs that would play in the background if the book ever got made into a movie  . . .  and I was in charge of everything. 

A while ago, I posted a blog with The Man Test soundtrack, so I thought it'd be fun to share what I was listening to when I wrote The Commitment Test.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) by Beyonce- This is a pretty obvious pick for a book that's about a woman trying to get her boyfriend to propose marriage. Plus it's a classic.

Marry You by Bruno Mars- This originally inspired a wedding scene that actually got cut out of the book. It was called Love and Las Vegas Again . . .

Distance by Emily King

Let's Stay Together by Al Green- There's a scene where a special guy and a special girl are dancing together in their hotel room. It's the kind of romantic scene I fantasize about for myself.

All About Your Heart by Mindy Gledhill- This song could almost be the theme for all the Marin books. I discovered it when I was writing The Commitment Test and I fell in love with it. If this was a movie All About Your Heart would be the theme song.

If I Can't Have You by Yvonne Elliman

I Choose You by Sara Bareilles- Did you all know that Sara Bareilles is my favorite singer?? Next to Michael Jackson of course.

The One That Got Away by Katy Perry- So it's not a spoiler, but Marin's ex resurfaces in this book, causing all kinds of trouble. And I know for many, there's always that one who got away that you wonder, what if . . .

Real Love by Mary J. Blige- This is an anthem, that mostly reminds me of riding my Huffy around the cul-de-sac as a second grader, but it's what we all want. Real Love.

Marry Me by Jason Derulo- Okay, what romantic woman doesn't swoon over this song.

You can check out this soundtrack here on Spotify. I'd love to hear your thoughts, please leave me a comment  below. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

You're President. I'm President.

Today is not your typical day if you're an American. The 2016 presidential election is finally over and we will have a new president come January 2017. For many people in the country this is an exciting win and for many others, it's a devastating loss. 

Regardless of your political stance and opinions, this was a surprise win. When I woke up this morning I could already feel the heaviness in the air. A collective energy that permeates the country, maybe the world. 

There's a message I wanted to share with all of you whether you're pleased with the outcome or not. Yes, the president has power along with the rest of the government, but there are more of us than there are of them. We have so much more power than we realize. 

Let's not sit back and let a handful of people dictate our future. We have to stand up, sometimes with a stand-alone spirit and claim the power we have. Because I think you are president and I am president. We're all president. Every day we cast our vote by how we consume, the conversations we engage in, the way we conduct ourselves at home and in society. Those small acts accumulate and impact the world in a huge way, even if you don't realize it. 

Whatever you are passionate about and whatever changes you want to see, you have to take charge. After all, you are the author and the protagonist of your story. Let's all become leaders where we are right now, reveal our greatest potential, and truly help others do the same. That is how we make America great, that is how we make the world great. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

News about Book Three!

Hello Lovers!
It's been awhile since I last updated you on what's going on behind the scenes. There have been a lot of twists and turns this year that have tried to pull me away from writing. But I have not been defeated and now I have a few projects in the works, including, most importantly, the third book in The Marin Test Series

In this next part of Marin's saga, she's taking the next step in her life by adding a little one to her new family. After trying for over a year, Marin is weeks away from turning 35 and is still reproductively challenged. With changes at work and with her friends, the struggle to get pregnant could be Marin's most emotional journey. 

Of course, my goal with The Marin Test Series is to make relatable complicated topics lighter and even add a few laughs. It's been so great to live in Marin's world again. 

If you haven't read the first two in the series, click here to catch up before The Pregnancy Test is out!

Me and my writing buddy at work.

Monday, August 1, 2016

It's Hot Out! Let's Binge on Netflix.

Holy crap it's been hot out! I'm so glad we had our AC fixed a few weeks ago because we're in a heatwave. The kinda scorching temps and humidity that keep you indoors with a cold glass of iced tea . . .or reisling, whatever. 

Can you think of a better time to catch up on Netflix? 
Okay, but that's not until later . . . 

So for now I want to share seven of my favorite shows and movies to help you keep cool this summer. 

First the shows . . . 

1) Grace and Frankie 

I love this show so much, I started watching it AGAIN! This is a hilarious comedy about two older women starting again when their husbands leave them after having a 20-year affair with each other. 

These two are such a fun and energetic odd couple. Plus, I'm totally in love with their La Jolla beach house. This show actually makes me look forward to my 70's. 

2) Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce
This is a must-see for those of you who love strong and sexy female characters. Based on the book by Vicki Lovine, Lisa Edelstein plays Abby, a how-to author who falls from grace when she admits to her audience that it would be easier if her soon-to-be ex-hubby . . . 
were dead. This show is smart, sexy, and funny. Season one is on Netflix now. 

3) Lipstick Jungle

This show aired years ago, but it's still one of my go-to's. Why? First, it's based on the book by Candace Bushnell who also wrote the book that inspired my absolute favorite show, Sex and the City. If you love chick-lit, then you'll love Lipstick Jungle. Follow three powerful women as they navigate their high-powered careers, relationships, affairs, and kids. All in the Big Apple. The entire series is available to stream now. 

4) Fuller House

Okay, so I know most of you have seen this, but come on, it's so adorable and nostalgic. Watch it again! I've seen the whole season twice already. I couldn't stand Stephanie Tanner when I was growing up (I know, How Rude!) but she's easily become my favorite character on the show. Not to mention, John Stamos appearances. Talk about hot, hot, hottie, hot!

5) Something's Gotta Give

So now we're on to the movies. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I watch it ever year when the weather starts warming up. This is one of the funniest most heartwarming romantic comedies out there. Nancy Meyers is a fantastic writer and Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton nail it in this film. Really, I love all of Nancy Meyer's films like The Holiday and The Intern. She has the best set designers. Beautiful interiors calm my nerves. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

6) For A Good Time, Call . . .

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! That's what I did throughout this entire movie. Two rival roommates start a phone sex line and it gets them into some hilarious shenanigans. What I love most about this movie, besides the numerous LOL moments, is that it's really a story about friendship. I wish I wrote this movie. It's seriously sexy and funny. 

7) I Give It A Year

Last but not least is a RomCom that's so good even my husband enjoyed it. And though I've made him sit through many chick-flix, this is probably the only one he's ever really liked. It's the story of a newlywed couple's relationship that peters out and each has a new love interest. The only problem is, their still married! This movie is funny and sweet and I'm positive you'll love it. 

So there you have it, seven shows and movies to keep you entertained out of the sun and in the AC. Post a comment below and let me know what movies or shows are on your binge list this summer. 

XXO- Amanda 

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

This Is The Kind of Madness That Follows Comedy Writer Lynda Around

Linda Renham is fun, romcom author from across the pond who was kind enough to share a story with us. Her latest novel, Perfect Weddings, is available now!

Now more from Lynda. Enjoy!

So, I’ve got a bus pass. Let’s not go too much into how I got one, okay? I’d rather not go there. Anyway, a free bus I have. It’s been in my purse for months. I live out in the sticks, where buses run hourly (if that) so the thought of standing around waiting for a bus when I could pop into Oxford quite easily in my car seemed a silly choice to make … until.

I met my friend Marie in Oxford for a few hours shop and some lunch and the car parking charge was over ten quid. Now, that’s just taking the Michael right? So, when we arranged to have another jolly (as Marie terms it) around Oxford, I thought why not use my bus pass? It’s free after all.

Organised I became. And that’s unusual for me. I checked the bus number, G3. It came to my village at a quarter to the hour, every hour. I then checked the times of the returning buses, emailed them to my phone. I prepared a chicken curry in the slow cooker, turned it onto low, after all I would be back by three so it would be safe enough. Armed with everything I needed for my bus trip, I set off to get the 11.45 bus which would get me into Oxford by 12.30 and all free of course. Marie never said a word but I sensed she was uncertain about the whole thing. It was a lovely sunny spring day. Perfect for my first venture on a bus, after all it must have been all of thirty years since I went on a bus. It was lovely. I travelled through several other local villages before heading onto the main road, and then finally towards Oxford Town itself.

‘Let me know when you arrive?’ Marie had texted.

I don’t know why she was so worried. I arrived on time and we had a great shop and several coffees. In fact we had been enjoying it so much that we lost track of time. It was almost four.

‘Fancy something to eat?’ asked Marie.

My stomach churned at the thought of the chicken curry. It would be okay wouldn’t it? It was on low anyway. But to be on the safe said. I text my stepson who lived nearby to ask if he could pop in and turn it off, after all, better safe than sorry.

Off we trotted to Pizza Express. Halfway through my phone bleeped. It was a text from my stepson.

‘Sorry not at home today, won’t be back until after 5.30.’

My stomach flipped over. Oh no. I’d just presumed he’d popped in around four and turned it off. Visions of my cottage on fire now began to haunt me. Oh no, this is a disaster. Even a free pass isn’t worth my house burning down.

We finished up our food and I glanced again at the time on my phone.

‘I’ll be in time for the 5.30 bus,’ I said confidently.

But I won’t be home until well gone six and by then we’ll either have chargrilled chicken curry or a burnt down cottage. I sent Andrew a message saying I should be home before him but to be aware the slow cooker had been on since 9.

‘You worry too much,’ he replied.

‘Where do you get your bus from?’ asked Marie as we hurried along, both of us conscious of my burning cottage.

My brain froze. I had no idea.

‘Presumably outside Debenhams,’ I said. ‘That’s where I got off.’

‘Probably,’ said Marie, unworried. ‘My friend used to get that bus and she picked it up around Debenhams.’

We kissed goodbye and she trotted off to her bus stop and me to find mine, except the G3 wasn’t mentioned at the Debenhams bus stop, or at the bus stop further down. I strolled around the corner to the next lot of bus stops. The sun had now gone down and the wind was sharp and cold and I didn’t have a coat. I tried not to panic, after all the G3 had to go back too didn’t it? Finally I found it. G3. I double checked it did go to my village, although I knew G3 was the right one. And then I waited and I waited and I waited. It was getting colder and there seemed to every bus in Oxford but the G3. I checked my phone again. There should have been one at 5.30. Then I saw it, large as life and the most beautiful sight ever, the G3 bus. Except it said it was terminating at Woodstock, which was quite a way from my village. Never the less I jumped on and checked.

‘You want the next one love,’ said the driver. ‘I’m not going the whole way.’

I sighed and clambered off into the cold again. Meanwhile another passenger waiting at the stop asked me about his bus. I simply gave him a blank look. I barely knew which, was my bus, let alone what was his. Plus, I had a lot more on my mind. Like my slow cooker. It seemed my stepson at this point was going to pop in and then he saw my car and presumed I was home. How was he to know I’d taken the stupid bus?

Finally another G3 came along and I jumped on, sighing with relief. Maybe I would be home just in time before the dinner dried up totally. I struggled to relax and focused on the two women chattering away behind me. My ears pricked up when one of them said,

‘This is the Enstone bus isn’t it?’

I nearly threw up into my handbag. Enstone, what did she mean Enstone? Enstone is miles from my village. No, she must have it wrong surely. It’s the G3 and it goes to my village via Woodstock. Yes, here we are coming into Woodstock. The bus goes through the village as I hoped and then travels along the road that leads to the turn off for my village. I check the time. It’s now almost six. Andrew will soon be home. Please let him come home to a charred chicken rather than a charred cottage. The turning for my village loomed ahead. I’m ten minutes from home. I may even make it before Andrew. I get my phone out ready to dial 999. Best to be prepared, I always think. But the bus flies pass my turning and continues on into the countryside. Oh no, he is going to Enstone which is miles away. Has he gone insane? I jump from my seat, almost flying into his lap as he brakes sharply.

‘You want this stop?’ he asks.

I stammer out my village and he looks curiously at me.

‘I’m going to Chipping Norton,’ he says.

Oh my God that’s even further away. He may as well have said Dublin.

‘But … I thought …’ I begin.

‘You needed the Charlton G3,’ he said.

How many bloody G3’s are there? Why can’t there one like everyone else has.

‘But …’ I begin but it’s no good telling him about my charcoal cottage is there?

‘You’ll have to go all the way with me now,’ he says, moving off.

I sigh and text Andrew, fighting back my tears.

‘I’m so sorry for burning the house down. I only wanted to save parking fees.’

A quick message back tells me he is home and that home is still there in fact and that the curry looks great. Meanwhile, I’m travelling through the countryside of Oxfordshire.

We arrive at Chipping Norton where the driver tells me he has to wait a while before turning back. We then go all the way back and finally reach the turn off for my village but instead of taking it he stops.

‘This is you,’ he says.

‘But aren’t you going to …’

‘You need to cross over, get the next one. It should be five minutes and that will take you to the village.’

Oh for goodness sake.

‘One consolation,’ he says.

Oh really, is there one?

‘You won’t do this again will you?’

He’s quite right of course.

I cross the road, get the oncoming bus and get home at 6.45.

Still it could be argued I got the most out of my free bus pass.

To learn more about Lynda, connect with her on her website or on social media!