Monday, November 9, 2009

Guest Blogger Maria Geraci + a Giveaway!!

I had a lovely weekend. First, the weather was, like, 65 degrees. In Chicago. In NOVEMBER! (Not as warm as Maria's home state of Florida, but c'mon! Midwesterners everywhere rejoiced and wore shorts.) Plus, there was a long-awaited, Friday-night get-together with friends that included hours of fun conversation, homemade brownies and "beer-itas," a form of margaritas made with beer--surprisingly tasty and deliberately potent. (One that Maria might find to be an excellent Bunco drink, btw...)

Then, on Saturday, I got to meet the fabulous Kate Jacobs at the library (will post more about that later this week!), who was so funny she had the crowd giggling from the moment she took the microphone...and so kind that she even mentioned meeting me on her blog. What a sweetie :).

And Sunday night, I got an email from the wonderful Kwana Jackson, who told me she'd reviewed my debut book in the just-launched (!!) Booksquawk blog, and she wrote this line, which I'll treasure: "ACCORDING TO JANE felt like a delightful mix of part Pride and Prejudice, part Ally McBeal with a little bit of High Fidelity thrown in. Discuss… as the main characters Jane and Ellie would say." (My novel and Nick Hornby's High Fidelity in the same sentence?! I adore you, Kwana!!)

But, what's so incredibly awesome is that it's a dreary-looking Monday morning here, yet it still feels like the weekend for me... Why? Because I not only have the pleasure of being a guest on two really great blog sites today: Shades of Romance Magazine/SORMAG with LaShaunda and Over Coffee with Sia (Thanks, ladies!), but I also get to host on Brant Flakes my friend and fellow women's fiction writer, Maria Geraci , and celebrate with her the release of her newest novel, Bunco Babes Gone Wild!!

Maria is my very first guest blogger, and I couldn't have chosen a nicer, more supportive one. When I read her debut novel, Bunco Babes Tell All, I loved and identified with her main character, thought the hero of her story was incredibly sexy and knew Maria was going to be one of my "automatic-buy" authors from that point onward. So, I can't tell you how pleased I am that her second book is finally out and that Amazon got my copy to me quickly!

Please join me in welcoming her!!! (Hi, Maria. ;)

First, I’d like to thank the lovely and generous Marilyn Brant for hosting me on her blog today, as well as congratulate her once again on her wonderful debut novel, According to Jane. It’s definitely on my “keeper” shelf!

With a new book out, I find that I’ve been giving a lot of interviews lately, and while a majority of the questions always seem to have a similar theme, each interviewer always asks a question or two that makes me stop, scratch my head, and have to think on how to answer. Which as a writer, is always good. Thinking spurs my imagination into different directions and anything that makes my brain work is fine exercise.

Recently, I was asked to describe each of the lead characters in my books in three words. And while that seems like a simple enough task, I’d never done it before. I’m not one to do character sketches ahead of time, or even necessarily afterward. While I do pre-plot my novels, I try to let my characters evolve organically from the story and let the chips fall as they may, so to speak. But having to think of those three words to describe each of the heroes and heroines of my books made me realize how those character attributes naturally led to the conflict that arose between them, and of course, ultimately, their character growth.

In my first novel, Bunco Babes Tell All, my central character’s name is Kitty. I always envisioned her as a sort of “everywoman.” Pretty, but not gorgeous. Smart, but not a Wall street banker, maybe a little bit klutzy, and a whole lot insecure about the things we women are insecure about in life, including sex. So I gave Kitty a hero who, in a lot of ways, is her complete opposite. I gave her Steve. Confident, relationship weary, and a whole lot distrustful of someone like Kitty who comes across as true good to be true. As a writer, you have to put your characters in constant conflict. You have to throw uncomfortable situations smack dab in their faces and see how they react. That’s how you discover their strengths, their flaws, the things that make them “them.” To challenge Kitty I set her up to do something she’d never done in her life. I gave her a one-night stand with Steve. At thirty-five, it’s not like she’d hadn’t had the opportunity before. But this time, she took it. And as a writer, I have to ask why. Why now? Why this guy? Their first “encounter” while successful in the fact that they got the “deed” done, leaves a lot to be desired, creates some incorrect impressions, and sets up the major conflict between them. Which of course, when resolved, will give them their happily-ever-after.

In Bunco Babes Gone Wild, I purposely set out to write a heroine who was very different from Kitty. Georgia is someone I like to call the “anti-Babe.” She’s smart (yes, like Wall St banker smart, although she works in Birmingham, Alabama, not NYC), confident of what she wants in life, and determined to get it at all costs. Alas, poor Georgia is not perfect. She’s also friendless and a bit humorless. And a whole lot clueless about what’s really important in life. There was nothing left for me to do but give her sweet, funny, sexy, care-free Dave. He’s the kind of guy who likes to kick back and enjoy watching the sunset while drinking a cold beer, but he also doesn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. Just by Dave’s very nature Georgia is forced to have to stop and wonder if what she thinks she wants in the beginning of the story is really what she wants. So what do I do as a writer? You probably guessed it by now. I give her what she wants! And the story conflict begins. I don’t think I’ll spoil it by telling you that Georgia also gets her happily-ever-after, because frankly, I just couldn’t write any other kind of story.

I love introducing readers to my Bunco Babes, and I love giving away autographed books, so leave a comment, and one random person will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of either Bunco Babes Tell All or Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Winner gets to pick! If you want to read more about the books to help you decide which one you’d like, you can read an excerpt here.

Isn't Maria WONDERFUL?!! Answer: YES! A winner's name will be drawn from the list of commenters next Monday, November 16th by noon, so please stop by before then. Hope you all have a great start to the week!


Pamela Cayne said...

Maria, thanks for coming to visit on Marilyn's blog. Your Bunco Babes books sound fabulous--I adore stories of women who've formed second families/communities and the friendship and support they give. Please tell me there's more in the series!

And thanks for hosting, Marilyn! May your awesome success continue well into the new year!

Melanie said...

Bunco Babes sound like really cute books! It can be fun when the characters are exact opposites of each other.

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamela~Thank you for being so supportive and wonderful to me and to everyone who visits here :). I'm hoping you're burning up the NaNo wordcount this week!

Melanie~Maria's stories are very cute, really fun and full of tremendous warmth. I think you'd enjoy them ;).

kalynnick said...

I never read anything by Maria Geraci but will give one her books a try in the future.

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

Rain Maiden said...

Maria, I have not read any of the Bunco Babes books, but they are on my wish list at Amazon. Question..Should Bunco Babes Tell All be read first?

Robin said...

Hi Maria and Marilyn! Thanks so much for sharing some insider scoop on your characters, Maria. Both books sound terrific! Best wishes with your newest release.

And Marilyn, have a wonderful week! I love hearing about all your blog visits and the wonderful feedback you're getting for According to Jane!

Maria Geraci said...

Pamela, The first book I fell in love with as a girl was "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. Subconsciously, I think, I must have wanted to be Jo all these years! Books about female bonding have always had a special place in my heart;)

Melanie, I love the chemistry that happens when opposites come together;)

Hi Kalynnick, thanks for stopping by!

Rain, you can read Bunco Babes out of order, but... if you have both books in front of you, I think the reading experience is enhanced if you start with the first one. Thanks for commenting, Rain!

And Marilyn, thanks again for hosting me today on your blog!

Maria Geraci said...

Hi Robin, thanks for your well wishes!

Marilyn Brant said...

kalynnick~Welcome to Brant Flakes! So glad you took time to visit :).

Rain Maiden~These are great books for your wish list! My preference is almost always to read related books in order, but I'd agree that it's not necessary in order to understand these stories.

Robin~It's always so nice for me to get a cheery message from you--thanks, hon!! Hope you're having a great writing week ;).

Maria~It's my pleasure! I've been looking forward to having you as my guest for a long time!! xo

lainey bancroft said...

Marvelous Marilyn...still going strong with the whirlwind social life and blog tour. Yay! Sounds like you're having a fabulous time.

Welcome Maria and mega congrats on the books! I love the titles and your Bunco Babes definitely sound like my kinda gals!

Maria Geraci said...

Hi Lainey,

Thanks! I like to think there's a little Bunco Babe in all of us;)

Kwana said...

Marilyn, so glad to help make your weekend nice.

And great guest post Maria!

Maria Geraci said...

Thanks, Kwana!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. Can't wait to read Bunco Babes-have listed it on my TBR list.

Marilyn Brant said...

Lainey!! Thanks for visiting us :). In my case, less social stuff and more working on proposal stuff, but I did enjoy getting away from the computer for a bit this weekend...

Kwana~You absolutely did! *smooch*

JWIsley, so glad you added Bunco Babes to your TBR! I think you'll enjoy them :).

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, great blog post. Maria, so nice to hear about your book. Will add it to my "buy" list.


Maria Geraci said...

Hi Nancy and JWIsley, thanks for stopping by!

Bethie said...

Please enter me. I would love to win either of these. I actually bought the Bunco game and hope to start a game night with my girlfriends.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Marilyn Brant said...

Bethie, you're definitely entered! As for playing Bunco with friends--what fun! I had the pleasure of being a "sub" in a couple of games and had a blast :).

Maria Geraci said...

Bunco is a great excuse to get together with friends (if you need one that is!) Thanks for stopping by and commenting!