Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Under Her Spell -- A Visit with Eliza Daly

Today it's a pleasure to welcome one of my friends and '007 Golden Heart sisters, Eliza Daly, to Brant Flakes in celebration of her debut novel, UNDER HER SPELL! She’s going to tell us a little about her book, share a story excerpt and offer a fun giveaway: one commenter will win Godiva chocolates and another will get an e-copy of her debut story!! (Winners' names to be randomly selected by Eliza on Saturday, November 3rd and I'll post them here by Sunday the 4th.) But first...here’s a little bit about the author and her book:

Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.

When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie. You can find Eliza on the web at Website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.  UNDER HER SPELL is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble (coming soon) or iTunes .

About the book:
When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals.  But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself? 

Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance.  Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office.  The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business.  When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold.  Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business.

Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge.  If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer.
Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have found?

Happy Halloween! Thank you so much to my friend Marilyn Brant for having me here today and helping me celebrate the release of my first book. Halloween is the perfect time to talk about my new contemporary romance, Under Her Spell, which contains elements of spell casting. I can trace my curiosity in spell casting all the way back to the first movie I ever saw in the theater, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The thought of my bed whisking me away to exotic places sounded really cool. Maybe that’s where I also got my love for travel.

Practical Magic, with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, has become one of my must-watch movies at Halloween. Their ancestor casts a spell cursing any man who falls in love with an Owens woman to an untimely death. Sandra Bullock’s dad dies when she’s young, and she’s convinced in the curse’s power. Not wanting her love to one day be some man’s death sentence, she creates a love spell listing qualities she believes could never exist in a man, so she’d never fall in love. If you’ve seen the movie, you know how well that spell worked for her.

However, a soul mate spell seems to work for the heroine Monica in my book Under Her Spell.  She casts a spell, which includes a letter to her soul mate describing qualities she does hope to find in a man. When divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office, he appears to possess all the qualities in her letter. Yet, the anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove bad for Monica’s business. Monica fears the Dirtbag Spell she created sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold.

I was reading my final galley for Under Her Spell a few days after watching Practical Magic and I found the book’s opening scene with the Dirtbag Spell playing through my head like a movie. My book hadn’t even been published and already I was casting roles for the movie. (It’s part of my creative visualization process.) In the scene, Monica’s cousin Hope wants to cast a spell on her cheating hubby. Monica is reluctant to send negative energy into the universe, yet initially she doesn’t believe Hope will cast the spell anyway. Here’s a brief excerpt.

Monica set down the bowl of salt and grabbed a pencil and pad of paper off her desk and handed them to Hope. “Write this down. It’s called,” she tapped a hot pink nail against her lip, “the dirtbag spell.”

“Like it already.” Hope jotted down the title as she perched on the edge of the bed’s purple floral comforter.

“Take one of Kyle’s socks, fill it with dirt, and add a photo of him. It’s critical you aren’t in the photo.” Monica paced, tightening the sash on her lavender silk robe. “Include something of his like…”

“His new Rolex?”

Personally, Monica would list the watch on eBay and pray for a bidding war. But Hope, no matter how ticked off, was too timid to sell Kyle’s precious watch, and too frugal to risk damaging it by mixing it with dirt.

“That’s fine. Sew up the sock and bury it in your front yard. It’ll warn all women he’s a dirtbag.”

Hope poised the pencil against her lower lip, reviewing the spell. “Don’t I have to say something when I bury it, like a chant?”

What happened to being spell ignorant?

“Bury it in the moonlight while saying…” Monica scrambled for a few rhyming lines, “moonlight, glowing bright, warn all women in your sight, the man who lives in this house, is a dirtbag and a total louse.”

“Perfect.” Hope sprang from the bed, looking inspired. “Kyle’s at work. I’m going over to the house right now to bury that sock.” She turned and marched out, a woman on a mission.

Monica nibbled nervously on her fingernail. Hope wouldn’t seriously go through with casting the spell, would she? A big part of spell casting was psychological, focusing all your energy on making something happen. Monica had never seen Hope look so determined, or vindictive. Hopefully, if she did cast the spell, the negative energy didn’t return threefold.

What was the worst that could happen?

Monica’s question is quickly answered with Reed’s arrival in the next scene.

Not that I’d have a lot of creative input if my book became a movie, but I picture Zoey Deschanel or Amanda Seyfried playing the quirky Monica. Rachel Bilson or Katie Holmes would look the part of Hope. Jake Gyllenhall would be a good fit for Reed, the down-on-love divorce lawyer. He’d fill out an Armani suit quite well. I’d considered Matthew Bomer, but he’d need to bulk up a bit and not sure if he has enough box office appeal yet in his career. The book is set in Milwaukee, which probably wouldn’t fly in a Hollywood movie, even though Bridesmaids was set there. I could picture it being set in San Francisco with all the book’s new age ideas. And I love San Francisco. They’d probably want it to take place at Halloween instead of in the summer, for promotional purposes. I’d need to add a few Halloween scenes, or likely they’d just have their screenwriter add the scenes. Hopefully the movie would still resemble my book in the end.

I once saw James Patterson speak and he mentioned being on the set for the filming of Kiss the Girls. He was surprised when a character appeared, who wasn’t in his book. So if James Patterson doesn’t have much creative input, I’m sure I wouldn’t. But will I really care? My book will be a movie and I’ll be on David Letterman promoting it. There’s that creative visualization at work again. Have you ever seen a movie that was a lot different than the book? If you can't think of one, then what's your favorite Halloween movie?

Thanks for stopping by today. Please check out the upcoming stops on my blog tour, October 22-November 26. I’ll be giving away a variety of gifts, such as e-books, writing journals, and Amazon or B&N gift certificates. If you comment on 5 or more of my 20 blog stops, and are a Facebook fan, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of two $25 Amazon or B&N gift certificates at the end of my blog tour. Winners will be announced on my website’s news page the end of November.
Thanks again for joining us, Eliza!! It was a treat to have you as a guest :). And to everyone visiting, don't forget to leave a comment in answer to Eliza's question about movies so you can be entered in the giveaway here. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

There is inevitably at least one week every fall where I spend most of it rhapsodizing about my favorite foods of the season... This was that week. *grin*

On Tuesday, I was at Austen Authors -- check out my post Celebrating the (Almond) Joys of Autumn -- and today I'm at Magical Musings -- writing about The Festivities of Fall. BTW, there's a book giveaway there this weekend as well!

Right now, I'm also the featured guest of Sally Smith O'Rourke (Austenticity), and my autumn-themed book, Double Dipping, is excerpted on her website. (The direct link to the first 3 chapters is HERE.) So, this has been a fun week of getting to talk about that story and all of the foods that signal "fall" to me...

In keeping with this (over)focus on high-caloric delights, I wanted to share a recipe link with you all because...well, I didn't want to be the only one drooling! It's for "Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise." Oh. My. Goodness. It takes about fifty gazillion steps to make it, so chances of me actually going through all of them to make the recipe are slim...but I'm hoping someone who knows what they're doing in the kitchen will show me an easy version sometime. I'm open to any and all suggestions!

I hope you're all having a wonderful fall Friday. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great New Reads!

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting local author Nancy Grossman and chatting with her about her debut young-adult novel, A World Away, during a lovely book-club event. What a fun night! Nancy's novel revolves around the "rumspringa" of an Amish teen, who leaves home for a summer of self-discovery in Chicago.

Take a peek at the story's concept:
A summer of firsts: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She’s never even talked to someone her age who isn’t Amish, like her.
A summer of good-byes:
When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can’t wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can’t imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.

A summer of impossible choice: Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.
I fell in love with Eliza and was fascinated to get an inside glimpse into the world of an Amish teenager. A wonderful story to read -- I highly recommend it! Below are a few photos from the event:
But one of the reasons I enjoy being an author is because people I know and love are publishing books all the time, so every week brings new literary gifts! Several friends have had big fall releases -- including my pal Susan McBride, whose Avon Impulse novella is a special release during Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's called In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40.
About the story, Susan writes: "It's my personal tale of being single at 40 (remember the study that said women over 40 have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married?), meeting the love of my life (and becoming an "accidental" cougar), being diagnosed with breast cancer at 42 before I walked down the aisle, and finding out I was pregnant at 47. Yep, a sense of humor has come in mighty handy!"
Lexi Ryan -- one of my awesome '007 Golden Heart sisters -- also has a new novella out, Just the Way You Are, and this one is book #2 in her Decadence Creek series!
Here's the hot premise:
One year of marriage. No sex. No complications. No messy emotions.
Stacey Parker has laid out the rules for her temporary marriage to Harrison Duval, and Harrison plans to break every one. Ten years ago, Stacey disappeared from his life, and he’s not about to let it happen again.
Stacey has wanted Harrison for years, but giving in to the heat between them could mean exposing her secrets, secrets about family scars and choices young women shouldn't have to make alone. Secrets that could tear his world apart.

And my long-time Chicago-North RWA friend, Sara Daniel, has her newest contemporary romance, Construction Beauty Queen, out now from Entangled Publishing.

The romantic details:
Chicago socialite Veronica Jamison is determined to shake off her sheltered lifestyle and overbearing parents. She heads to her grandfather’s small town of Kortville, ready to roll up her sleeves and work for the family construction business. She’ll prove her worth, even if it means answering to the company’s ruggedly handsome co-owner, Matt.

Matt Shaw just wants to run his business, spend time with the niece he’s raising on his own, and give back to the townspeople who have stood by him. Managing a spoiled-rotten princess he knows he’ll never be good enough for? Not part of his plan. But as he gets to know Veronica, he learns there’s more to her than her beautiful looks and designer clothes. She’s got a heart as rich as her background.

With the quirky townspeople rallying against Veronica inheriting her grandfather’s business, it’s up to Matt to try to drive her out of town. But how can he, when instead she’s driving her way into his heart?

What novels have been on your nightstand or your ebook reader lately??

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Season, New Book, New Scarf!

While I am about the last person who will actually be ready for the holidays when they get here, I'm definitely looking forward to their arrival this year because I have a new contemporary romance coming out!!

HOLIDAY MAN will be available in all digital formats before the end of November, and it's a story that was inspired by one of my favorite seasonal films, Bing Crosby's and Fred Astaire's classic musical "Holiday Inn."

Here's the scoop on the novel:
Shannon Quinn is the small-town girl who runs "Holiday Quinn" -- a holiday-themed inn/resort based in scenic Door County, Wisconsin. One winter evening, wealthy Minneapolis businessman, Bram Hartwick, blows into town along with the fast-falling snow. The sparks Bram and Shannon create succeed in heating up the chilly Midwestern night, not to mention plenty of holiday weekends in the year that follows... But is their relationship only for special occasions, or might it be the elusive everyday love that neither one thought could be found?

Rebecca Young -- the daughter of my Austen Author friend, Abigail Reynolds -- was the very talented designer who created the cover, and I love it! She's just getting started, but she's already got several designs in her portfolio. You can check out some of her other work on her website.

Speaking of very talented people, I was surprised and thrilled to receive an absolutely lovely gift this week from a reader who has become a friend. Catherine DePasquale has awed me time and again with photos I've seen of her amazing knitting and crocheting projects, but this time I was the lucky recipient of one. I still can't get over how cool it is, and I had to share it with all of you. Using some of the colors from the cover of A SUMMER IN EUROPE, and choosing the pattern and the type of yarn based on a scene from the story, Catherine knit me a beautiful and oh-so-soft scarf!! She describes the process and shows photos on her Ravelry page. It was just so thoughtful...and I felt like I was my character Gwen getting a special birthday present (even though, in my case, it's not my birthday ;).

Thank you so much, Catherine!! This is me wearing it in the picture above, and I'm standing underneath one of the Venetian masks that my husband and I brought home from our first trip to Italy together. I can't tell you how much I've been daydreaming about going back! Ahhh, hopefully someday... It doesn't need to be a summer in Europe, btw. I'd be delighted with a fall, winter or spring there...

On a completely different note, you know that old children's joke: "Why was 6 scared of 7?" Answer: "Because 7 8 (ate) 9." Well, I can't get that out of my head today because the date is 10-11-12. I keep expecting there to be some kind of riddle associated with it, LOL. And with that weird numerical observation still hanging in the cyber air between us, I will say goodbye for now (and not a moment too soon, you're all thinking ;). Wishing everyone who reads this a wonderful rest of the week and weekend ahead!

p.s. YAY!! "The Vampire Diaries" Season 4 premiere is finally on tonight -- squeee!!! More Damon!! Any new shows this month that you've been hooked on? Who else watched "Arrow"?