Monday, May 4, 2015

Big News - I have a new book coming out!

I was updating my website to include the new book I have coming out next year and realized I hadn't even mentioned it here yet! Gah, it's been a crazy busy month! So yes! I have a new book coming out next spring, a dark, twisty mystery with a little bit of sexy thrown in. It's called The Twisted Life and I co-wrote it with the always fabulous Anne Greenwood Brown. She wrote one of the big main characters (Lauren) and I wrote the other (Jude). Here's the deets:

Lauren DeSanto never cared about the fame. The same could not be said for her best friend and bandmate Cadence Mulligan, who spent all her time promoting their music on YouTube. Even when their videos went viral, all Lauren cared about was their lyrics and their friendship. But when an infection paralyzed Lauren’s vocal cords and she could no longer sing, Cadence had no choice but to go solo.

Cadence’s star is rising. That is, until she goes missing after playing a small show at the local coffee shop where Lauren works. All eyes turn to Lauren and suspicion turns to accusations when blood evidence is discovered on Lauren’s work shirt and motive is found in a terrible fight between the two former friends over Cadence’s boyfriend.

And then there’s Jude Williams. He’s recently moved back to town with a vendetta against both girls. The problem is, as much as he tries to hate Lauren, he finds himself feeling sympathetic when the town and then the national media condemn her. After all, he knows what it’s like to be accused. It was Lauren’s false accusations that ruined his life.

As Lauren and Jude work together to reveal the twisted life of Cadence Mulligan, neither knows if the other is indeed searching for the truth or playing an elaborate game to cover his or her own sins. They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But it’s hard to know what to do when you don’t know which is which.

Add it to your Goodreads, I can't wait to share this one with you guys. It comes out Spring of next year. And stay tuned here and at my FB page - we'll be doing giveaways and other fun things when we've got a cover to reveal :D 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review - Love on the Ledge by Zoraida Córdova

Book Summary:
Sky Lopez thought she had it all—the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect life…until she discovers her not-so-perfect boyfriend has been cheating on her. So when her uncle asks her to help plan his Hamptons wedding, Sky jumps at the chance, leaving all of her “perfect” future plans in the rearview mirror.

The wedding doesn’t prove as good a distraction as she’d hoped, because when her relatives and friends find out she’s single, they put Sky in their match-making sights. Never mind that she’s only twenty four. Never mind that she doesn’t want to settle for anyone other than Mr. Right. Seemingly everyone in Sky’s life wants her to get married and have babies. Like, yesterday.

So when Hayden—a sweet, sexy roofer—plummets through the ceiling and practically falls into her lap, she can’t help but think that maybe nice guys do just fall from the sky.

Soon Sky finds herself juggling crumbling wedding plans, the cheating ex who’s trying to win her back, the cute plastic surgeon her family thinks is perfect for her, and the hot roofer she can’t seem to get off her mind.

As the wedding date draws closer, Sky will need to choose one—or none—to keep herself from falling off the ledge, and maybe into love.

My Review:
So much fun! You just get to step into this huge, crazy family (and friends so close they feel like family) and are swept in from the first chapter. The book takes place as Sky prepares for her uncle’s wedding and it has all the antics of a big family wedding. But it’s more than that, too. Sky has been burned bad by her ex and the last thing in the world she is look for is love. Until a hunky roofer literally falls through the ceiling and into her path.

Their romance is so real. Sky is wary of starting anything. She’s not looking for a rebound guy, and Hayden has hurts from his own past. But they are continually drawn to one another. Watching them spend more and more time together was such a pleasure to read. It was so genuine. That was the best part about this book. The realness of it in the family dynamics, the relationship, the conversations. Gah. I just downed this book. If you're into books with heart that make you laugh your butt off, I highly recommend Love on the Ledge.

Publish Date: May 5, 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Samantha Young's HERO

Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren’t his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets,. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again…

This was my favorite Samantha Young book since On Dublin Street. We’re so familiar with the hot CEO trend (and my fear going into this book was that it would feel like the same old, same old). Instead, Young brings a fresh take on CEOs because none Alexa and Caine, yes, but none of that insta-love or even insta-lust crap that drives me so crazy. Neither was there a point somewhere in the novel where Caine stops being a real person and turns into a two-dimensional ‘alpha male’ stereotype like so many authors are writing these days.

Alexa too escapes a common trap of being a weak female lead. All of her choices throughout the novel feel realistic and really hit you gut emotionally. She fights hard but is able to be vulnerable too and it’s this combination as she tries to tear down Caine’s walls that keeps you flipping pages. Gah, such a great book. Five star read for me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Big-Boned. It's Not Just a Euphemism.

I was wearing women's size 12 pants when I was in fourth and fifth grade and in 16's by 8th grade. None of that Junior's section crap for me either. Nope, it was Ladies 16's. And I felt fat. These were in EXTRA LARGE territory after all.

Because everywhere I am hearing about how we should be a size 6 or 4 or of course, a size freaking zero. Because those are the sample sizes they are making for models! So the theory is that if I could lose enough weight, I could one day be a size six or four. I could get to be a SMALL. If I worked hard enough. If I just lost enough weight!

Like a lot of teenagers, I became obsessed with my weight. I stopped just short of developing a full blown eating disorder, but the obsession of counting calories consumed most waking moments for a couple years there... and I only ever made it to a size 8. Which at the time seemed like failure. Why not 6 or 4?

I haven't thought about all this kind of crap in a long time. Went to college, met a dude, got married, got secure in my body, myself. Have gone up and down in body size. Last year I dropped a bunch of weight due to a migraine med I went on, I know, you all want to punch me. All this to say, randomly, I haven't weighed so little since high school. I haven't tried on jeans to size myself (I abandoned pants with like, buttons, a couple years ago, I just wear jeggings, yay, pajamas you can wear outside!), but I did decide to try a new style, so I bought a bunch of dresses off ModCloth.

I figured, hey, I'm skinny now! I'm probably a Medium.

Picture me: aglow to get my new coat from Modcloth. I have not purchased new clothing (other than aforementioned jeggings) in two or three years. I take the glorious garment from the box and slip it on one arm. And then try to slip it on the other arm.

Except it doesn't go.

I mean, it sort of goes. I can jab the arm in there, but trying to button the damn thing, well let's just say that sucker's not going in. It almost gets there. But even if I suck in really, really hard, it's not making it. Because there are these things called RIBS. And they're in the way. Because even though I'm randomly so skinny that my waist is basically just my f'ing RIBS, I'm STILL not getting into a Medium.

That's right kids, I'm STILL A LARGE. At the smallest size I should healthily be, I'm a LARGE. 

There was never EVER hope of me fitting into a size 4 or 6. Because my BONES wouldn't have fit. I'm only now realizing this at age 32. The bones of my hips would literally split the seams and not get into those motherf'ers. It wasn't the 'thunder thighs.' There are bones involved!

So I start looking around at my friends. Like the one who fit into size 4's. Like, measuring the width of her hip bones to the width of mine. I'm so skinny now my hip bones freaking stick out! And there's no way these suckers are fitting in anything smaller than like a size 10 or 12 pants now that I'm an adult!

Yet when we say we're big-boned, people laugh under their breath. Yeah, okay, they think. Just a nice way of saying overweight. And then I want to punch them in the face. Now I have proof! I'm skinny enough to see these damn big bones poking out, and they're just mother'fing bigger than all the tiny size 4's out there!

I wish we could all rearrange our ideas of SMALL and LARGE or somehow do away with all this shit! GAH! Because these size idealizations screwed me up so much as a teenage girl. I was only ever gonna fit into Large or Extra-Large clothes, and not because I was fat. This is such an f'ing revelation to me, now all these years later. I want to go hug teenage Heather.

Long story short, I reordered the dresses and coat in Large.

THIS IS WHAT LARGE LOOKS LIKE! OR SKINNY! OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT! I feel f'ing gorgeous, so that's what I'll call it ;)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Heather's Best Reads of 2014

My reading lists each year are generally nothing to brag about to because I don’t read the kind of books that the intellectual cool kats are reading. Let's just say that few of the books I like ever make it onto the New York Times Book Review section.

I read trashy romance. There! I said it.

I love it. It’s my bread and butter. After a long day of writing and hanging out with the kiddo and husband, I just want… Well, what I want in a book kind of changes all the time. Because what I really want is for my socks to be blown off. I don’t want cheap escapism. I don’t want a cookie cutout of a hero and heroine. I really want psychological complexity and depth and to be put through the ringer and an ending that feels earned. Basically, I wish I could have Outlander or The Bronze Horsemen or… hmm, what are my other gold standards for amazing? Haha, I’m too knee-deep in historical fiction to have any other reference points of books that ripped out my guts like those two (both of which I read last year, funnily enough).  

In the meantime, I read everything else, and I try to be pretty unabashed and unashamed about it, because f*** that s*** about shaming smart chicks even when we like to read books that don’t *seem* intellectual enough or whatever crap people like to label ‘romance’ book readers with (to all of those people, I want to say, hey a-hole, I read Derrida and I understood him!... okay, well, I *mostly* understood him...!). The books I will list below may have their problems and I’m sure my fellow feminists and I could get into some heated arguments about them, but it can’t be denied that the authors want to f*** with your emotions, in some cases exploring the dark and taboo, which I think secretly fascinates us all. And they sure took me on one hell of a ride.

Also note, books on the first 3/4ths of this list are pretty much exclusively self-published books, which I went on a tear with this year. It wasn't me trying to say FU to the publishing industry or anything. These books were just telling some crazy a** interesting stories. They aren't the self-pub of even 5 years ago. These are well edited and stories the mainstream publishers aren't touching, probably why I was like, wow, this isn't anything I've ever read before (often very dark reads).

Pepper Winters: Tears of Tess; Quintessentially Q; Destroyed


Pam Godwin: Deliver; Beneath the Burn

Tabitha McGowan: The Tied Man

Tillie Cole: It Ain't Me Babe; Sweet Home; Sweet Rome; Sweet Fall

 Laurelin Paige: Fixed On You Trilogy
Mia Sheridan: Archer's Voice; Leo; Stinger (especially Archer's Voice)

A. E. Muphy: Broken; Connected

Shay Savage: Surviving Raine; Transcendence

Also, I barely read anything in YA, and mostly just friends' or acquaintances' books, but of what I did, there were a few stand outs, this amazing series:

Juliann Rich: Caught in the Crossfire; Searching for Grace

and this book was great too, I feel like I want to suck out the author's brains to figure out and understand how she wrote a dude's voice so naturally since I'm trying to write from a guy's POV in my newest book. Men are an alien race of unfathomable shallows and crannies. Her book illustrates this perfectly.

Carrie Mesrobian: Sex & Violence

Then the later part of the year, I got into the genre I swore would never interest me, literary fiction. Stop the presses, I'm as shocked as you. Because GUYS, I found some that was readable and had PLOT! And characters I could dig into! And that hit me in the guts, which is all I really want from a book. Please, just please, books, cut me up inside but then put me back together a little bit at the end!!! I'm not sure how long this will last or if I just stumbled onto a few really good ones.

So here are some of the more literary finds,  probably more of the upmarket variety and not deep into the heavy folds of literary fiction, but I dig what I dig.

Carson McCullers: The Member of the Wedding
Anthony Marra: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Chris Bohjalian: The Light in the Ruins

Then there were these two installments, where I met Karl Ove in deep and intimate detail and couldn't look away for about a thousand pages. Like anyone who reads them, I can't imagine them leaving my thoughts any time soon.

Karl Ove Knausgård: My Struggle Book 1 & 2

And to end with, the book that blew me to pieces, and not just because of the 'choice' which I kinda knew about from pop culture, and not even because of the language usage in the writing, but because of the VOICE Styron masterfully captures-- through which there are all the things the reader can see in the immensely complex Sophie and Nathan that the 22-year-old Stingo is too young and naive to comprehend (yet with overtones of his older self seeing as he retells the story). To show your reader something your protagonist isn't seeing, when your protagonist is sort of the narrator (though occasionally his much older self jumps in with foreshadowy things) - are you getting how difficult that is to do as a writer? Wicked hard, but Styron navigates it so naturally.

God, there's just a mastery to the writing in that way. It's not about beautiful language, but it's the epitome of what they're talking about when the say voice. It was like a master class. So I'm watching all of that happen with a writer's eye and then being drawn into the tragedy of the narrative, which is almost Shakespearean as it unfolds. I felt like any keen reader can see where it's heading long before it arrives and like Romeo and Juliet, you are on the ride for the headlong rush toward disaster and you Cannot. Look. Away.

William Styron: Sophie's Choice

So, 2014, another year down, nice knowing you. 288 books read.  It's strange as hell where the rabbit trails of reading interests lead. Lets see where 2015 takes us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: Bad Romeo

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven
St. Martin's Press
Now Available

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time. 

Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

My Review:
This story unfolds, both present and past, in a way that won't let you stop flipping pages. The characters are so well drawn, you are just IN the story from the first page. Ethan is so screwed up, but not in your typical asshole alpha guy way. I think that's what felt so fresh about this book. The drama and difficulties in the relationship between Ethan and Cassie felt new and different from all the other NA books we're reading out there. And seeing the change from past Cassie to present Cassie is so dramatic, gah, there just a ton of mysteries wrapped up in the past that are desperate to know WHAT HAPPENED and HOW it happened and also wanting in your guts for things to work out between these two! Amazing writing, amazing book, can't wait for the next installment!

Thanks to NetGalley for a free review copy. Available now, everywhere books are sold.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Great Experiment: Parenting

After coming back from holiday vacation, I find it’s difficult to transition my headspace back into real life. My mind is still lost in the place I visited. We drove eight hours to Chicago and stayed with college friends and their four children, all under eleven, for three days over Thanksgiving weekend. Today was my first full day at home trying to work and write again, but all I could think about was being back there, all the thoughts and revelations and conversations and observations of their family and family life.

I was very impressed by our friends' parenting style (also it’s been so interesting to see friends you met in college develop over a decade into responsible parent types). Naturally, my friend L has to be at the top of her game all the time with so many kids running around. She homeschools them too, and I don’t know, has this bearing of order even though it understandably gets chaotic at times. Anyway, ha ha, it’s a different parenting style from at our house with my own son which ends up being very laissez faire out of necessity because of my health conditions and my husband being in a PhD program. L has to have a military lineup in order to feed them all, whereas we’re like, kid, go find yourself some dinner in the fridge! Um, yeah. Her kids eat better.

But more than that, it’s just the different cultures of families. We think a lot about multiculturalism and the differences in cultures and the difficulty this creates in communications between ethnicities (I’m not just talking language wise), but this weekend made me think about the vast differences in the home lives of families, which affects how the kids will see the world their whole lives (whether they retain the views or rebel against them). Her children are growing up copying out Bible verses and with a religious lens to everything in their world. Because L homeschools them, she’s able to discuss world events and history and science and economics influenced by their family's sense of morality. My son is a lot more influenced by forces outside the home since he spends the majority of his time at school and an afterschool program. He’s in fourth grade, out in the world of social strata and bullies and the drama and trauma of all that and then he comes home to our little haven, an only child, where we all spend two hours a night together, eating and maybe watching a show.

I’m not saying one way is better or the other, but it was startling to me for some reason to witness such a different way of doing things. Which is an obvious thing, I know. But how often do you get to get a close-up view of another family, sleeping in their living room and observing them morning to night for half a week? And while parents might be on best behavior, children under ten don’t quite get the concept, so it all tends to hang out. You see it as it is. I felt like there were a lot of things I could learn from L. Other things I felt I was contented about at home. Other things that make me feel intensely curious about the true home lives of other people, which you rarely get an honest picture of even in a memoir because few people are willing to be so honest (unless your name is Karl Ove Knausgård).

So my overall thoughts were ultimately about the quandary of marriage, when you get two people together who come from these opposite little orbits, these mini-cultures of their families growing up who then meld into their own new orbit trying to come up with their own new customs and laws and language and how strange and awkward and rocky it is at first trying to navigate together. Just ask anyone in their first year of marriage! Especially if they haven’t lived together beforehand. I think about my son’s future partner and wonder about all these strange little habits we are forming in him both good and bad and then I just laugh and hope I’m just not screwing him up too badly. The rest I leave to his future therapist.