Subway Scribbles

What do you sacrifice for your writing? Today I stopped by Kobo Writing Life to chat about how I’ve begun taking my writing deep underground.

Kobo Writing Life

By Lydia Laceby

“You have to make the time.”

It’s something you hear writers utter when asked how they find the time to write a novel. Whether it’s at midnight with a glass of wine when the kids are in bed, or in the wee hours of the morning before they’re up demanding breakfast; whether you take one evening a week away from your spouse or one morning on a weekend and ignore the housework. You have to make the time. Your novel will never get written otherwise.

And in my experience, I have found this to be true.

You can always find thousands of reasons not to write, particularly in this age of social media. But you have to sacrifice something. Sleep, cleaning, sex, cooking, exercising, spending time with your mother — something has to give.

Redesigning Rose - Cover ImageFor me, that sacrifice is in the form of spending less time with…

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A Word on Book Blogging

Why don’t bloggers always cross-post their reviews to Amazon and Goodreads?

I hear this question posed all the time. I’ve argued about this with one of my closest author buddies over cocktails. She debated they should while I unabashedly defended the blogger. I get the blogger. I was a book blogger. I know why. But I am also an author. And I understand why the author is desperate for the review.

I hope this doesn’t spark too many blogger-author words, but here area few book blogging facts:

Time from start to finish for a book review:

5 hours to read an average length book

1 hour to write comprehensive review (including edits and proofreads)

15 minutes to format blog post including all the book purchase links and links to author social media sites

5 minutes to schedule the blog post and add links to Facebook and Twitter.

30 minutes a day for email correspondence.

This is close to a full day’s work. One full day’s work that bloggers don’t get paid for, hours that are often crammed in around full time jobs, child care, and other daily activities.

Sometimes I think authors forget this.

And before scribbling a scathing comment, understand that I am an author, too. I struggle to secure reviews just as you do. I know exactly how frustrating it can be. I cross my fingers that a blogger is going to cross-post their reviews over at Amazon and Goodreads. But I completely understand if it doesn’t happen.


Because I know they have a life outside of books. Your novel(s) is your whole world. But it’s not theirs. And as much as they may love books, it will never be theirs.

I’ve run the book blog Novel Escapes for over five years so I understand firsthand the enormous amount of effort that goes into running a book blog. I no longer review or handle the correspondence due to time constraints with my full time job and writing schedule, but I still manage the posting of reviews and social media and it still takes up several hours a week. And it’s the first thing to slip when life throws a monkey wrench at me. And there have been many a curve ball that the Novel Escapes ladies have seen over the years.

In just over two years at Novel Escapes between four reviewers we had:

Three house moves

Two pregnancies and births

Three gravely ill parents

One engagement

One wedding

The death of two parents

Life shuffles and skitters on around us and when something has to give, unfortunately it is often the blog. It doesn’t put food in our mouths or roofs over our heads or look after our children and parents.

Honestly, sometimes just getting one review written or review posted can be taxing; looking at the TBR pile, exhausting.

Some food for thought if you’re waiting for Amazon and Goodreads reviews or considering a blog tour:

  1. If the review policy states they’ll post it on Amazon and Goodreads, then they should. If it doesn’t state anything about it, don’t expect one to appear.
  2. Bloggers don’t get paid for this. At all. Not even a little bit. Yes, we get books. This is wonderful. And we thank you. And we love to review for you. But sadly, we often run very short on time. (And any affiliate links we have or Google ads we earn from make us peanuts. They pay for the blog’s annual fees – because we have those. We have overhead. But we do it anyway even if we make nothing. Because we love books.)
  3. Many bloggers schedule their reviews in advance so Amazon and Goodreads are often an afterthought. They’ll go back and post them there when they have accumulated several to do.
  4. If you’re considering a tour strictly for reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, maybe suggest to the tour coordinator that you only want bloggers who guarantee they’ll cross-post.
  5. When seeking bloggers, carefully read their review policy. It should clearly state their stance on this, and if not ask when you’re pitching and clarify that you’re looking to have the review cross-posted in addition to the blog review.

Bloggers just want to help, really. We know you need the reviews. We are reviewing. On our blog. We just can’t always post it elsewhere. And I can’t strong arm the ladies who review for Novel Escapes to do that. And I can’t post them to my own personal Amazon or Goodreads pages which has always been part of the problem because they frown upon that kind of thing.

And honestly, sometimes it’s a miracle that you’re getting a review posted at all. There have been weeks where I’ve sat back and thought “I have no idea how we collectively managed to do all that this week.”

Some bloggers can do it all. I don’t know how, but they manage. I never realized how demanding and overwhelming running a book blog could be. But it is. Know that. And that it takes an extraordinary amount of (unpaid) time.

Cyber Monday Book Sale!

Looking for great deals on some amazing books this Cyber Monday? Look no more! Below are books that are priced at 99 cents or lower – get them quick before the sale ends! From chick lit to women’s fiction to romance and more, we have something to keep everyone happy for this holiday! Find a special tweet at the end of each description and help us spread the word about these amazing deals!

Chick Lit

pie girls lauren clarkPie Girls – Lauren Clark

Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @LaurenClark_Bks

Tweet: PIE GIRLS by @LaurenClark_Bks is just #99cents! #chicklit for your ereader! #CyberMondayReads

dancing naked in dixie lauren clarkDancing Naked in Dixie- Lauren Clark

Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she’s offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia’s story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?

Original Price: $2.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @LaurenClark_Bks

Tweet: #CyberMondayReads – get DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE by @LaurenClark_Bks for only #99cents! #chicklit #booksale

the dr pepper prophecies jennifer gilby robertsThe Dr. Pepper Prophecies – Jennifer Gilby Roberts

25-year-old Mel Parker has a few tiny problems:
* Her job is terrible
* She’s been dumped yet again (and her ex is now her boss)
* Her parents think she’s a loser compared to her perfect younger sister
* All her efforts to improve her life seem doomed to failure
* There just isn’t enough chocolate in the world to make up for the above.

The best thing in her life has always been her best friend Will, who has seen her through every crisis from lost toys to pregnancy scares. But his girlfriend (who’s prettier, better-dressed, more successful and secretly evil) is determined to replace Mel as the woman in his life and how is Mel supposed to compete?

And what do you do when you’ve pretty much given up on your own life? You help others, of course!

Whether they like it or not.

Original Price: $2.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @GilbyRoberts

Tweet: #ChickLit Sale! THE DR. PEPPER PROPHECIES by @GilbyRoberts is only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads

french twist glynis astieFrench Twist – Glynis Astie

Sydney Bennett had spent her life in pursuit of perfection. She planned, weighed her options and made careful choices based on calculated outcomes. Through all of her efforts, she had come pretty close to perfection, if she didn’t say so herself. She had fled the cold winters in New York for sunny California, found a job that she loved and lived in the same town as her sister, and best friend, Kate. The one area of perfection that had always eluded her was her love life. No matter how hard she tried, she always ended up with a broken heart. After a particularly traumatic breakup, Sydney vowed that she was done with love.

Just as Sydney threw herself into her new plan to forget about men, a handsome Frenchman tossed all of her intentions out the window as he swept her off of her feet. Louis Durand had lived a life filled with excitement and adventure. He was impetuous, intelligent and incredibly charming. So naturally, he scared Sydney half to death. From the moment they met, Louis and Sydney’s romance progressed at warp speed. Sydney did her best not to run, but her deep rooted relationship anxiety threatened to provide an easy exit. When Louis mentioned marriage before Sydney even knew his favorite color, she was more than tempted to reach for her running shoes. Will she be able to put her fears aside to follow her heart? The one thing that Sydney will learn is that sometimes perfection comes with a twist…

Original Price: $.99

Sale Price: FREE

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @GlynisAstie

Tweet: Who doesn’t love FREE #chicklit? Grab your copy of FRENCH TWIST by @GlynisAstie now! #CyberMondayReads

french toast glynis astieFrench Toast – Glynis Astie

Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?
As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.
With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Original Price: $2.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @GlynisAstie

Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Get #chicklit for just #99cents! FRENCH TOAST by @GlynisAstie #booksale

in need of therarpy tracie banisterIn Need of Therapy – Tracie Banister

Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can’t stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she’s left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Original Price: $1.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @traciebanister

Tweet: IN NEED OF THERAPY by @traciebanister is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! Get #chicklit for your eReader!

limoncello yellow traci andrighettiLimoncello Yellow – Traci Andrighetti

Francesca “Franki” Amato is a tough-talking rookie cop in Austin, Texas—until an unfortunate 911 call involving her boyfriend, Vince, and a German female wrestler convinces her once and for all that she just isn’t cut out for a life on the police force. So Franki makes the snap decision to move to New Orleans to work at her friend Veronica’s detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc. But Franki’s hopes for a more stable life are soon dashed when Private Chicks is hired by the prime suspect in a murder case to find out what really happened to a beautiful young boutique manager who was found strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When she’s not investigating, Franki is hoping to seduce handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, but most of her time is spent dodging date offers from a string of “good Italian boys”—make that not-so-good aging Italian men—that her meddlesome Sicilian grandma has recruited as marriage candidates. As Mardi Gras approaches and the mystery of the murdered shop girl gets more complicated, Franki must decipher the odd ramblings of a Voodoo priestess to solve both the murder and the mystery of her own love life.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @TAndrighetti

Tweet: LIMONCELLO YELLOW by @TAndrighetti is just #99cents for a limited time! #CyberMondayReads #chicklit

prosecco pink traci andrighettiProsecco Pink – Traci Andrighetti

For Franki Amato, life in New Orleans is anything but “The Big Easy.” When she met handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, she knew she’d finally found a man she could trust. But she can’t say the same for his sexy new secretary, who is about as trustworthy as Mata Hari and every bit as seductive. Meanwhile, Franki’s best friend and employer, Veronica Maggio, has named her the lead investigator in the murder of a gorgeous cosmetics CEO who was found lying dead in the master bedroom of a historic plantation home.
Now the pressure is on Franki to figure out what a bottle of pink lip gloss and the legend of a pink diamond have to do with the bizarre killing. The problem is that the plantation is notorious for being haunted, and Franki is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting a ghost. Adding to her stress, her Sicilian grandma is up to her usual meddling antics—this time planning Franki’s engagement to Bradley before he’s even considered popping the question. As Bradley grows distant and plantation employees begin dropping like Southern belles during a sweltering summer, Franki turns to a psychic with a phobia of ghosts to solve the mysterious murders and her own relationship fears.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @TAndrighetti

Tweet: Get #chicklit for just #99cents when you grab PROSECCO PINK by @TAndrighetti during #CyberMondayReads!

breaking the rulesBreaking the Rules – 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?

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @Catenabi

Tweet: BREAKING THE RULES by @Catenabi is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads – fun #chicklit! #booksale


zoey and the moment of zenZoey & The Moment of Zen – Cat Lavoie

When coffee shop owner Zoey Everwood takes her obsession with ex-boyfriend Braden too far, everyone—except Zoey—is convinced a bit of fun in the sun at the Moment of Zen Wellness Resort will help her get over him once and for all.

But Zoey’s relaxing vacation turns out to be anything but peaceful when she meets Shane Lawson, a resort guest who bears a striking resemblance to Braden. And things get even more complicated when the resort’s owner starts spilling secrets about Zoey’s aunt Nessa, the woman who raised her. Add a snarky Wellness Coordinator and Nate Holmes—Shane’s grumpy friend—to the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect tropical storm.

When Zoey comes back home with a new husband instead of tacky souvenirs, she must convince everyone she hasn’t completely lost her mind. As Zoey and Shane struggle to keep the magic alive outside the resort, Zoey discovers that she isn’t the only one having trouble letting go of the past. And when Nate drops a bombshell that changes everything, Zoey must decide if the old saying is true—what happens at the Moment of Zen stays at the Moment of Zen.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @Catenabi

Tweet: Grab ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN by @Catenabi for only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! #chicklit


when girlfriends chase dreamsWhen Girlfriends Chase Dreams – Savannah Page

A novel about chasing dreams, for better or worse, and living your love story.

Claire Linley is finally a bride! After nearly ten years with her college freshman sweetheart, Claire is going to become Mrs. Conner Whitley. She’s got her bridal magazines, is the biggest Martha Stewart fan, and subscribes to all the major wedding blogs. She’s been dreaming of this moment for years! How could planning her dream wedding be anything but perfect?

The easy-going and bubbly type, Claire will obviously have a blast planning, and with her fantastic group of girlfriends-made-bridesmaids she just can’t go wrong. Whether it’s wedding gown shopping, makeup trials, or cake-tasting, Claire’s friends are there in a pinch.

But how big does the pinch get? All Claire wants to do is get married, but at every turn something seems to go awry and she’s starting to lose it. How is a girl supposed to remain cool and collected when the pricey dream wedding planner isn’t turning out to be so dreamy? When DIY projects and the perfect venue are going up in smoke? How is Claire supposed to marry Conner when the special day that’s supposed to join them together, forever, is slowly tearing them apart?

This is the charming story about how sometimes the biggest events in life are defined by the smallest acts of kindness and love. It’s a love story about dreaming large, loving deeply, and, in the end, truly having the happiest day of your life, no matter what happens (or doesn’t). About what happens when girlfriends chase dreams.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: FREE

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @Savannah_Page

Tweet: FREE #chicklit from @Savannah_Page when you grab WHEN GIRLFRIENDS CHASE DREAMS! #CyberMondayReads


when girlfriends collection savannah pageWhen Girlfriends Collection 1-3- Savannah Page

This digital boxed set includes the first three novels of the When Girlfriends collection: When Girlfriends Break Hearts, When Girlfriends Step Up, and When Girlfriends Make Choices.


Follow Sophie Wharton as she learns what to do about matters of the heart when things don’t quite go according to plan.

A novel about the bonds of friendship, the power of forgiveness, and the lessons you learn when you let go.


Join mom-to-be Robin Sinclair as she embarks on a journey she never could have imagined.

A novel about love and support, and learning that with enduring friendships, no woman is ever alone.


Follow Lara Kearns as she struggles with how far she’ll go for true love…however forbidden…

A novel about forbidden love, the choices you make, and discovering what’s important in life.

Original Price: $7.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @Savannah_Page

Tweet: Get 3 titles from the WHEN GIRLFRIENDS series from @Savannah_Page for only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads


Women’s Fiction

toronto collection1 heather wardellToronto Collection 1 – Heather Wardell

“Go Small or Go Home”: When massage therapist and aspiring artist Tess begins treating stressed but attractive hockey star Forrest, her art career soars due to his gallery-owning mother, but her creativity plummets under the weight of rules and deadlines. Soon, she’s lost the freedom and joy she’d always found in art. Is having her dream career worth losing doing her art her way, or can she somehow have both at once?

“Planning to Live”: Determined to lose weight for her best friend’s wedding, goal-obsessed Rhiannon flees her parents’ Christmas Day feast to avoid overeating but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Trapped and bleeding, with her cell phone out of reach, she struggles to escape, and to accept that she’s spent her whole life planning but hasn’t ever really lived. Will she get the chance to change that?

“Stir Until Thoroughly Confused”: Mary’s given up everything, including an unsatisfying marriage, to become a chef. But the career comes with a side dish: Kegan, her sexy but controlling new boss. They’re soon in a relationship, and in all-too-frequent arguments, and when it becomes clear they can’t work together and be together Mary faces a dilemma: keep her dream job or her dream man?

“A Life That Fits”: Twenty-eight-year-old Andrea is devastated when her boyfriend of fourteen years leaves her for a woman he calls Andrea’s opposite. Determined to get him back, Andrea changes everything in her life. New clothes, new activities, new friends… she’ll be her opposite in no time. But will she change enough to get Alex back? And if she does, will he fit into her new life?

Original Price: $9.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @heatherwardell

Tweet: Get 4 titles from @HeatherWardell for only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads!


toronto collection2 heather wardellToronto Collection 2 – Heather Wardell

“Live Out Loud”: Songwriter Amy wants to honor her late best friend by starting the support center for teenage girls they’d planned when they were just girls themselves. When her song becomes an internet sensation she sees how to get the money she needs, but soon realizes she adores her new pop star career. She must choose: create the center she needed herself as a teen or truly become Misty Will, pop princess.

“Blank Slate Kate”: Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That’s terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

“Finding My Happy Pace”: If thirty-year-old Megan were any more of a doormat, she’d have footprints on her back. She takes up running to strengthen her body, but marathon training with cute but heartbroken coach Andrew strengthens her assertiveness too. When her best friend’s demands threaten her race Megan must decide: cave in as she always has before or stick to her new-found ‘happy pace’ in running and life.

“All At Sea”: Three months after they met, Melissa will marry Owen on his family’s annual cruise. He’s a great catch, though, so although they’re moving fast she’s sure they’ll be fine. But when he proves to be a gambler and deserts her for the onboard casino, she wonders if she really knows him and if their marriage will meet her needs. Melissa must decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.

Original Price: $9.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @heatherwardell

Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Four titles for one low price of #99cents from @HeatherWardell! #booksale


redesigning rose lydia lacebyRedesigning Rose – Lydia Laceby

Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements–her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude–Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself.

Original Price: $2.99

Sale Price: $0.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @lydialaceby

Tweet: REDESIGNING ROSE by @lydialaceby is only #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! #womensfiction


the holdout laurel osterkampThe Holdout- Laurel Osterkamp

Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.

But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor.

Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.

Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.

Original Price: $2.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @laurelosterkamp

Tweet: Get your copy of THE HOLDOUT by @LaurelOsterkamp for only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads #womensfiction


the next breathThe Next Breath – Laurel Osterkamp

“I kiss him, choosing love over honesty, which is a choice nobody should ever have to make…”
Robin loves sweet, responsible Nick, with his penchant for Beethoven and Ben Folds Five. But she also still loves her college boyfriend Jed, an irreverent playwright plagued with cystic fibrosis. Now Robin is struggling to reveal her secrets and confront her past, as she finally performs in the play that Jed wrote for her, eleven years ago. Will Robin have the strength to keep her promise and stay true to her heart?
Alternating between present-day scenes, college flashbacks, and segments from Jed’s play, this tear-jerking yet uplifting tale illustrates how life is finite but love is infinite, and the road to recovery begins with the next breath.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @laurelosterkamp

Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: THE NEXT BREATH by @LaurelOsterkamp is only #99cents! #booksale


coulda woulda shoulda tara lee reedCoulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Tara Lee Reed

Elle Masters is over dating. It used to be fun: the drama, the angst, the exhilarating beginnings, the bittersweet middles, the blowout endings. Then the tears, hangovers, rebounds, and another addition to the Heartbreak Box in her closet. Now Elle can’t remember the last time a guy made his way into her box. When her friends Rachel and Valerie insist she snap out of her post-breakup funk with a girls’ night out/rebound hunt at a San Francisco bar, she isn’t expecting tall, dark, and hummuna-hummuna, Nick Wright. This is no rebound guy. He’s definitely, maybe, The One. In Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, you play Elle as she and her pals put the “antics” in “romantics.” You’ll question everything you thought you knew about love, over-analyzing and second-guessing your way through hundreds of modern dating dilemmas and passionate predicaments. With 60 Happily Sometimes Afters, you’ll always have another chance with Mr. Wright.

Original Price: $3.99

Sale Price: $.99

Amazon Link:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @DoorFlowerCO

Tweet: Interactive fiction for only #99cents! Get COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA by @DoorflowerCo! #CyberMondayReads


a questionable friendshipA Questionable Friendship – Samantha March

Brynne Ropert and Portland Dolish have been best friends since being paired as roommates in college. Seven years later they are now twenty-five, married, and living in Maine–– but the two women couldn’t be more different. Brynne finds fulfillment in her life as a wife, mother and owner of a small café and bookshop, but is struggling to expand her family. Portland is still coping with her mother’s death during her childhood, and her marriage is unraveling before her eyes. Portland envies her friend’s seemingly stable and easy life while Brynne doesn’t understand the growing distance between them and cannot begin to guess what secret Portland is hiding about her husband and crumbling marriage. While one woman feels shut out, the other enters into a web of lies to protect herself.

A Questionable Friendship explores what really makes someone a true friend, a support system, a sister. How much trust goes into a friendship and when is being a friend not enough? Brynne and Portland’s story will attempt to answer those questions, and show that happily ever after isn’t in the cards for everyone.

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something yellow laura templetonSomething Yellow – Laura Templeton

Thirteen years ago, Holly’s nine-year-old sister, Rachel, disappeared without a trace. Thirteen years ago, Holly left her hometown. Thirteen years ago, Holly’s first love and high school boyfriend, Houston, was the only suspect. Now, another girl has disappeared. Holly is back, and so is Houston—never charged and still proclaiming his innocence. Can she trust him? Should she trust him?
When out-of-work banking executive Holly McCann moves to the rural mountain town of White Cove, Virginia to care for her dying mother, the past collides with the present. A violent crime against her nine-year-old neighbor evokes memories of the eerily similar disappearance of her sister thirteen years earlier. Holly is thrilled by the arrival of her estranged brother, Oliver, but concerned by his mysterious behavior. She is befriended by the new minister, Jonah, an outsider haunted by his own painful past, but it is Houston Phelps, the only person arrested for the disappearance of her sister, who forces Holly to confront the past and start living in the present.

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Romance & New Adult

the-right-designThe Right Design – Isabella Louise Anderson

Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.

Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job–Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be caddish.

But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him–something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one?

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laurel heights denise moncriefLaurel Heights – Denise Moncrief

A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree…

Left an estate by an aunt she’s never met, Laurel Standridge takes possession of Laurel Heights, hoping it will be the safe haven she needs to recuperate from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson. Secrets long buried rise to the surface when her cousin James is murdered and dumped on the highway just outside the gates of Laurel Heights.

Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas…

Caught in an obligation Chase Peterson feels he cannot ignore, he agrees to help his brother Rand take back the property he believes Laurel stole from him, but Chase remains at Laurel Heights after he discovers Laurel took nothing of Rand’s away with her except nightmares, fading bruises, and a broken rib.

Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life…

Are the strange bumps, thumps, and bangs reverberating through the night caused by the murderer of Laurel’s cousin James, someone Rand has sent to exact his revenge, or a disturbed soul existing in another dimension, trying to communicate with the living? Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than mere physical attraction. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?

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chez stinky susan c daffronChez Stinky – Susan C Daffron

Kat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn’t laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she’s stumped when she inherits Abigail’s house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.Kat’s uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn–with a touch of antique skunk–and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that’s before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.

When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools). Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul. And why she can’t she stop thinking about Joel?

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Hard Hats and DoormatsHard Hats and Doormats – Laura Chapman

Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

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I’m in the Zone, Leave Me Alone

I’ve fallen into my writer’s cave again but this time around it is not quite as dark and scary a place as it was a few weeks ago. In fact, I’m not sure I even crawled out of it, but there are slivers of light now where before there was only dark.

I'm in the Zone

For this new book I dusted off a manuscript I’d written for NaNoWriMo nearly four years ago. I kept almost every character, renaming many along the way. For some reason with Book Two – which sadly doesn’t have a proper name yet – I gravitated towards names starting with J. There was Jessica, James, Jocelyn, and Jeremy, and a prominent last name of Jamieson, and every time I had a new character to add, a J name was the first to pop into my head. Apparently this is not an unusual phenomenon in the novel writing world. So I’m not weird. Or maybe all writers are weird. You decide.

So I had all these wonderful characters. I loved each and every one of them. But the plot of said NaNoWriMo book? Well, it sucked. Truly.

And I had another idea I loved that had sparked during one of the final rounds of edits on Redesigning Rose (something I’m learning occurs with me during the editing stages. As I write this blog post and edit Book Two, I am already plotting my next novel.)

So I decided to marry the two, something that was infinitely more difficult than I ever could have imagined. But I’ve done it. I stripped away everything from that shitty old draft except three scenes and rewrote/wrote my new story with all the old characters. And it’s mostly finished. I’ve slotted the biggest pieces of the plot puzzle together. Finally.

I have some minor tweaks and oodles of line-by-line rewriting to do to polish the draft before handing it over to my beta readers. And I’m determined. I really want to finish by September 15th. I don’t know if this is possible, but I didn’t think my last deadline was possible either and I did it. And I also never thought writing on the subway was possible, but I’m doing it. I can crank out 850 words on my iPad during my 40 minute commute. That’s more than I write in an hour at home. I’ve even discovered a way to edit Book Two on my subway trips even though it’s a copy and paste affair into my writing software when I arrive home. Scrivener, please, please, please keep working diligently on your iPad app!

I’m studying anything and everything right now, observing for even the tiniest of details to add. Nothing is off limits. My manuscript is never far from my thoughts as a sentence tweak here or there pops into my mind at random times. I have notes everywhere. I get so deep into my writing zone underground on the subway that I’ve almost missed my stop several times, something I’ve rarely even done with reading.

Speaking of reading…

I’m so far in the zone that I haven’t picked up a novel in over a week. I don’t even know why I wrote all the words leading up to this because that says it all right there.

Jennifer Weiner Fan Girl

I’m meeting Jennifer Weiner tonight at her Toronto signing. EEEEK! I’m meeting Jennifer Weiner, the queen of chick lit and women’s contemporary fiction! I’m going to bumble over my words because I have so much to tell her. I’m very confused as to what to thank her for most:  

  • For inspiring me to write.
  • For championing women’s fiction and chick lit.
  • For writing incredible books.
  • For writing one of my favourite books, Good in Bed.
  • How the first-ever review at my book blog, Novel Escapes, was Certain Girls five years ago last Friday.
  • For the writing advice she gave in an interview when Certain Girls released about how quickly pop culture references become dated, and how readers like physical descriptions of characters.
  • For the break up with a (not-so-lovely) boy after we fought when I’d purchased the hard cover copy of Good in Bed when I struggled to pay my rent at the time. It was the best “Book Investment” I ever made as I describe in THIS post.
  • How a book of hers made it to my wedding with “the one.”

Do you think she’ll grant me that much time!? How I wish we could go out for a dinner. I have so much I need to tell her. #fangirl 

Writing Tips I’ve Learned from Watching Soap Operas

Flopping down on the couch to catch up on with my soap folks at the end of the day isn’t high on my priority list. I do, however, still enjoy watching batches of episodes while working on Novel Escapes, my blog, or whatever marketing and chit chat I’m doing online. I’ve watched General Hospital for close to thirty years and have watched various soaps since I was in diapers with Granny and Granny. Yes, they both wanted to be named Granny. Confusing to mini-people, my brothers and I labeled them Granny Down The Street and Granny At The Lake based on where they lived, and it stuck until I was thirty and Granny at the Lake left this world.


Granny at the Lake and Lydia - Val's Wedding2

Granny at the Lake

Lydia and Granny Down the Street

Granny Down the Street









My maternal granny, Granny Down The Street, called them her “stories” and watched As The World Turns and Guiding Light which she sadly outlived both of. My paternal grandmother, Granny At The Lake, called them her ‘soaps’ and watched Another World and General Hospital. I’ve watched all of these at one point or another with them, sometimes cuddled on the couch, sometimes lying on the floor with my feet kicked up in the air while reading a book, and very often baking cookies in Granny At The Lake’s small kitchen with her tiny black and white TV crammed on the corner counter. To this day, I love cooking and baking when there’s a television nearby to watch, particularly soap operas. Fond memories die hard.

I’ve seen it all over the years from the devil (during a very brief stint with Days Of Our Lives in university) to mobsters to hundreds of characters risen from the dead. It’s all very implausible yet I keep watching. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the tie to my grannies or maybe it’s that watching all the drama can make you feel better about your own life when it’s not where you want it. Maybe I just want background noise and something I don’t have to pay close attention to.

A soap opera is the first thing I ever tried writing that I can remember. I was thirteen. Determined, I hammered away on the ancient typewriter we had – yes, I am that old. I find it very odd now how I thought I could do this. But now that I am older and have some experience with life, I find I can actually write about it.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about writing based on my soap opera watching:

  • Repetition is bad. Soap operas are the worst for this. I often refrain from whipping my converter at the television when it occurs. But I get it. They’re looking for a new audience and often have to explain things should someone new be watching. This isn’t needed in novels, however. No one is picking up a book at page 113 wondering what happened before that point. Just a nudge of memory here or there should suffice if drudging up something a reader might not remember immediately.
  • Keep things interesting and moving. No one likes to watch/read the same thing droned on and on about – part of the reason I’ve stuck with General Hospital is that their plot actually moves along at a quick clip. You can tune out for six months and come back having (almost) no clue what’s going on.
  • Interesting characters are move fun to watch/read.
  • Cliché and one dimensional characters are boring to watch/read.
  • Make things believable – and if they aren’t you better have a good reason for it happening.
  • Tension should fluctuate. Too much and it becomes unbearable, too little and it becomes boring.

Have you ever found writing tips in unusual places?

A Rare Find

Yesterday I took a detour off my new Friday morning writing schedule to run an errand, and it even though it was something that didn’t result in my writing any words, it did spark Writer Brain so was well worth the trip.

My husband loves maps. He’s particularly fond of old, rare maps of Toronto, or rather York in those days, and with our first anniversary rapidly approaching I decided to poke around his favourite map shop. The first anniversary gift should be paper according to someone. This miraculously fits us with his love of maps and my love of books. Maybe every anniversary of ours should be paper. Except the gold one. And emerald. And diamond. Paper can be forfeited for those.

Unfortunately, the outing was a bust for a gift. I couldn’t find anything, and I think I’m a little out of my element in the map-buying world although the curator at the store was very helpful.

The trip did, however, inspire Writer Brain to explore new thoughts and ideas as I spent two hours flipping through antique maps and images. I wondered about the ancestry and lives of those living on farms in the 18th century – some maps have family names written on their plots of land. I stared at images of the streets of Toronto, King and Queen Street bustling with horse and buggies and women with puffy skirts and parasols. Sometimes taking ourselves out of our writing caves and exploring new things can spark creativity. I remember this from The Artist’s Way, but I rarely practice it. I am now reconsidering this decision.

It wasn’t until I admitted defeat and decided to wrap up my visit that I finally looked up. I had been so involved in the maps that the corner of the large room didn’t even register. I walked over and stared at the gorgeous nook that I wasn’t even allowed to enter. Antique books. Shelves and shelves of them. Jane Austen, Hemingway, Dickens. There were bibles and other religious tomes and this was just what I could see from behind the ropes.20140314_121007

I couldn’t help but wonder as I gawked: what first edition book I would want? And how had I never thought about it before? Probably something by Austen or Dickens, or maybe something more contemporary: a first edition of Pillars of the Earth because it’s my favourite book of all time. Google just informed me via that I can indeed own a first edition, signed copy of Pillars of the Earth for just shy of $900.00. I’m a little stunned, to be honest. And yes, I still want it.

What rare book would you want wrapped up in a bow?

Writer Brain

This is my brain on writing one morning this week.

Roll out of bed, rub eyes, stumble into the kitchen and pour coffee. Sip. Pad softly to the bathroom. “Write” a kick ass first sentence for my new book in the shower.

Edit until perfect and repeat twelve times. Promptly forget it while applying lotion. Screech and curse.

Why don’t I have one of those writing pads for the shower? I do my best work in there. Grumble all the aqua-notes-homeway to the subway. Hold the door open for a teenage kid twice only to have him forget to return the favour and slam the door in my face after he had swaggered past me. Why so disrespectful? What happened to him not to say a simple “Thank you” or return the favour? Is it because I’m a woman? Does he hate women? Maybe his mother left him as a small boy. Maybe his dad did. Maybe he’s just a punk and doesn’t care about anyone. Maybe he hangs out with the “wrong crowd.” God, I’m old.

Climb aboard subway and begin to read. Get distracted and watch a seeing-impaired woman enter the subway car with her guide dog. Cute doggie. Don’t pet the dog, Lydia. That’s bad form, something I know from living next door to a seeing-impaired man several years ago. I golfed with him. True story. He was incredible. Too bad my ex-husband inherited him, staying in the house and all. I digress…  I gawk around to see who offers their seat. One person on the opposite side stands, but the woman had already turned to ask someone closer. Why doesn’t anyone get up? Are they too tired? Are they really sleeping or faking it? Can’t she see or feel the dog at her side? I can’t believe she had to ask someone to move. Wow, the woman who moved looks mighty pissed about it. What a jerk. Is she extra tired today? Did she not eat and is weak? Maybe she has an invisible illness and needed the seat just as much, but didn’t want to cause a stir because no one might believe her? Or maybe she’s just a bitch. Do her children think so? Is she estranged from them, or did she teach them the same horrible habits? Maybe she has no children. Maybe that’s why she’s miserable. Maybe there was a tragedy…

I turned back to my book and look over a couple of minutes later. The dog is gone! Nope, there he is, tucked under the seat. Gross. How many germs are under there? What about all the germs on this pole I’m clutching? If there was an outbreak in the city, I’d be the first to go. I have the worst immune system. I’d bring it home to my loved ones…

Oh, look at that guy! What a swagger. And that stance! What is he wearing? Talk about high maintenance. Oh yuck, I’m surprised he hasn’t asphyxiated on cologne fumes. Or his ego. Geez. I wonder what he does for a living. Thank God I don’t have to date anymore. This guy would be a treat on a date. I bet all he’d talk about is his car. Something sporty. Expensive. I wonder if anyone’s ever met on the subway. What an unusual way to meet someone…reader-brain

I can’t stop making up stories about the people I see, the things I hear. Of particular interest lately was a woman crying on the subway – and the woman who sat down beside her.

It was later in the evening, and I’d had a couple of beverages that may or may not have involved vodka, so I didn’t even notice the weeping girl until a woman opposite me got up. Instead of moving toward the doors, she sat back down in my periphery. This was a highly unusual occurrence so I took notice, which was when I discovered the girl in tears.

Why? That’s all I could think. What would possess a woman to cry on the subway? I’m loathe to cry anywhere except the comfort of my own home with the exception of a fantastic book that will make me leak tears wherever I am, so naturally I began wondering about her. Did she just get dumped by the love of her life, did someone die, was it the love of her life, or did she herself just receive terrifying medical news? Why was she riding the subway after terrible news? Had she lost her job and couldn’t afford the privacy of a taxi to shed her tears. What if she was crazy? Bi-polar? What if she’d just committed a crime? Did she run away from an abusive boyfriend? What if she just found out she’s pregnant and knows her parents will kick her out. Maybe they just did because she came out as a lesbian. Did she just have an abortion? What if she’s on her way home to commit suicide?

And what about the woman who went to comfort her, a guardian angel of sorts? Maybe they become friends. Maybe not. Maybe the encounter changes both their lives – but how?

And this, my friends, is a writer’s brain. No drugs required.

Note: I went to work that morning and pounded out a thousand words in between calls, emails and calendar invites. Shh.

Good Book When

During my teen years, my mom once walked past the bathroom as I stood in front of the sink engrossed in a book. She shook her head and said “It must be a good book when you can’t even put it down to brush your teeth.” I mmm-hmmed with a mouthful of toothpaste and went about my reading. My teeth had probably never seen such a scrubbing. That was the sign of a great book. I couldn’t even put it down for the two minutes it took me to brush my teeth. I’ve stopped reading when I scour my pearly-whites, but there are many other hints I’m reading a fabulous book – other than the words themselves.

I want to know how you can tell when you’re in the grip of a great book? Post below, or hashtag it on Facebook or Twitter with #goodbookwhen and I’ll find your responses!

For me, I know I’m reading #goodbookwhen:

  • I actually look forward to my morning commute.
  • I forget to eat.
  • I eat cheese and crackers or oatmeal for dinner.
  • I zoom past my stop on the subway.
  • Someone asks me what I’m reading and I get cranky at a potential conversation…about books! True story.
  • I actually look forward to my morning commute.
  • Even the sweaty, smelly, elbow and briefcase jabbing commuters don’t bother me.
  • I crave a subway situation to prolong my page flipping.
  • I am desperate for a relaxing bath but won’t take one because the book I’m reading is on my iPad.
  • It is one of the last things I put down at night and the first things I think about in the morning.
  • I’d pick the book over shopping…for shoes.
  • I fib and say I have an appointment so I can read on my lunch instead of socialize.
  • I find myself avoiding reading or reading slowly so it won’t end.
  • I re-read sentences and marvel at the writing.
  • I think about it for days, months, years after I’ve finished.
  • It changes my life.

The Third Decade

Last weekend I entered the last year of my thirties and spent the week looking ahead to what many dread. As I’ve pondered the last nine years, I can’t help but marvel at the changes the last decade has brought.

I’m not exactly where I thought I would be. Being childless at thirty-nine was not part of my plan, but I never thought I would actually sit down and write a book and then edit it for two years, only to self publish it in upcoming months – even though it was my dream since I was thirteen.

I didn’t think I would be a divorcee. I didn’t think I would remarry again so soon. And I particularly didn’t think it would be to an old friend. But I should have known after our lives intersected many times over the last decade that fate would throw us back together one last time and seal the deal. As much as I want to at times, I can’t regret the time we never had together because without it, I wouldn’t be the individual I am today. And I’m kind of pleased with her. I’d never give her back.

I remember watching a talk show in my mid twenties with an actress who, on the brink of forty, stated her thirties were the best years of her life. She mentioned how much she had grown as person, how much she had learned, and how comfortable she now was in her own skin. At the time I had wrinkled my nose and thought she was crazy. I knew everything in my twenties.

I knew nothing.

I learned more about myself in my thirties than I ever have. I didn’t think it was possible to grow so much as a person as I have in the last near-decade. My newfound strength and determination astounds me each and every day as I push through my goals, as I do more in a day than has been possible for me in years, as I become more and more comfortable with who I am and who I am meant to be.

She was right. The third decade has been an incredible ride.

Not every day is perfect, which is good because growth would stagnate and decay would set in. I am grateful for every day, including the less pleasant ones, because – like negative feedback on my manuscript – it brings new challenges and spurs on growth.

I am grateful.