Friday, September 27, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY - RJ HEALD



1) Can you give us a brief overview of 27 (Twenty-Seven): Six Friends, One Year? 

27: Six Friends, One Year is the story of six friends aged 27 who reunite in London. On the surface they lead enviable lives, but underneath the facades, they are falling apart. The novel captures a year of ups and downs for a group of friends who live in a world fueled by social media and ravaged by recession.


2) What's your favorite quality about each of your protagonists?

When I wrote 27, I focused on making the characters as real and human as possible. So they all have good qualities, but they all have some serious flaws too!

Reneedetermined and successful, but can be selfish
Jamesputs his family first, but struggles to control his drinking
Katiealways there for her friends, but doesn’t know what to do with her life 
Daveeasy-going and goes with the flow, but unmotivated and suggestible  
Steveruns a successful business, but makes some poor emotional decisions
Samdetermined to see the best in others, but low self-esteem


3) What made you want to write 27 (Twenty-Seven): Six Friends, One Year?

I wrote the novel when I had just turned 27 myself. I was meeting up with a lot of old friends that year, and the one thing we all had in common was that life hadn’t quite turned out as planned. When we met we often referred to acquaintances and discussed how well they were doing. Our main reference point was Facebook, where people seemed to catalogue only the positive sides of their lives. It made me think about the stark differences between Facebook profiles and reality. So I decided to write a book in which people live enviable lives on Facebook, but when you look below the surface you see they are struggling.


4) How long did it take you to write 27 (Twenty-Seven): Six Friends, One Year? What is your writing process like? 

It didn’t take me very long to write the first draft at all – only about a month. But the editing has been a real killer. I kept taking the book to beta readers thinking it was finished and I just kept getting more and more feedback. So I kept rewriting. After I finished writing the first draft, it took me another 18 months to get the book to a place where I was happy with it.


5) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for 27 (Twenty-Seven): Six Friends, One Year, who would you like to see play Dave, Renee, Katie, et al on the big screen?

Dave - A young Hugh Grant
James - Robert Pattinson
Steve - Charlie Hunnan
Renee - A young Courtney Cox
Sam - Lena Dunham
Katie - Carey Mulligan 




6) How do you think of titles?

I like titles to be short and pithy. When readers are scrolling through Amazon lists deciding which book to buy, they only have the title and the book cover to go on. That’s why I made my title quite short and to the point: 27: Six Friends, One Year. I think that makes it quite clear what the book is about!


7) Tell us about your cover art design. How did you come up with the concept? Did you execute it yourself or have a professional do it?

I came up with an initial idea for a concept myself. I wanted six different drinks represented to represent the six different characters. After I came up with the concept I went to book shops and looked at covers for books in the same genre to get an idea of design trends.

Then I recruited the lovely Becky Chilcott to design it. She has works for several of the major publishers and I was honoured to have her designing the cover. She took my concept and experimented with it, offering first a choice of designs and then a choice of colours. After much discussion, I settled on the purple cover I have today.

  
8) The fiction market is so competitive now. How did you find an audience for your work? What do you think are the most effective ways an author can promote herself?

This question is very much front of mind for me at the moment. I’m doing what I can to raise my profile and I’ve had some lovely reviews, but it is an uphill struggle. The things I’ve found most useful so far have been Goodreads giveaways and KDP promotions. If you find that golden bullet let me know…


9) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your heroes and heroines
or spicy ones?

Interesting question! I’ve chosen to “fade to black” in most of my love scenes. 27: Six Friends, One Year is probably PG rather than x-rated! It’s not really a romantic novel; it’s more a tale of friendship and relationships.

When it comes to reading, I read all sorts of books, although I don’t like the love scenes to be too sickly sweet.


10) What are you working on now?

I have five different projects on the go at the moment. A couple of ambitious, literary novels, which I’ve been working on for years, as well as the sequel to 27 and also the prequel! And I’ve also just started a young adult thriller. It’s not my usual genre, but I’m really getting into it.


11) Who are the authors who inspire you?

Too many to mention! I like Jodi Picoult because of the way she just keeps you turning the page. My book, 27: Six Friends, One Year, has been compared to One Day by David Nicholls, which I think is a real compliment as I love his work.


12) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

I’ll read in any genre, but my favourites are literary fiction and women’s fiction.


13) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot more books by independent authors. I’d like to mention The Dallas Mercenary by Michael Oren as one of my favourites. I read it a while ago, but the storyline has really stayed with me.


14) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

It’s a difficult one… Would I just be an observer or would I be involved in the action? Could I escape again when things got serious? If I have to stick around, I think I’d probably join a children’s book where the outlook is generally rosy! If I can escape, it would depend on which characters I wanted to meet the most and also the setting. Maybe I’d drop down in One Day by David Nicholls. I enjoyed that book and the characters felt like my friends.



15) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Lady Gaga
Russell Brand
Sigmund Freud
Richard Curtis
Richard Branson

I’d like to watch the chemistry between Lady Gaga and Russell Brand, while Freud scratched his head psycho-analysing them both. And maybe I could learn how to write romantic comedies from Richard Curtis and how to get rich from Richard Branson.


Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  Lavender
Favorite color?  Purple
Favorite food?  Roast potatoes
Favorite word?  Decadence
Favorite article of clothing?  My new coat
Dream vacation spot?  Thailand – I lived there for a year and want to go back
Favorite time period in history?  Period between WW1 and WW2  
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Caipirinha
Favorite date night activity?  Posh restaurant
Favorite song?  Changes daily... today it’s Scar by Cloud Control
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Russell Brand. Luckily he’s coming to dinner.   
Novel hero crush?  Can I choose someone from my own book? If so, Steve, as he is kind and sensitive!


Book blurb:  Your 27th year is a turning point. 

Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. Janis Joplin.

They died at 27. 

Six friends reunite in London. From the outside their lives are enviable; from the new father, to the rich entrepreneur to the carefree traveller. But underneath their facades they are starting to unravel. Dave is made redundant, Renee’s marriage is crumbling and Katie is forced to return home to her parents after six years abroad. In a world fuelled by social media and ravaged by recession, the friends must face up to the choices they must make to lead the lives they truly want to live.


Author Bio:  Ruth Heald is the author of 27: Six Friends, One Year, released in July 2012 by Dancing Parrot Press. 27 is the story of six friends aged 27 who reunite in London. On the surface they lead enviable lives, but underneath the facades, they are falling apart. 27 was selected as a Quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Ruth has written two full-length novels and several short stories. She was a winner of the Next Big Author Competition in September 2011. She spoke at the Bangkok Literature Festival in 2011 and was a BT Storyteller for the 2012 Olympics. 

In her spare time, Ruth runs FiveStop Story, a digital publisher of short stories, which connects up-and-coming writers with new readers, through its iPhone and iPad app and its Kindle book.


Buy 27: Six Friends, One Year: 

Amazon



Connect With RJ Heald:




Ruth has generously offered to gift a Kindle copy of 27 (Twenty-Seven): Six Friends, One Year to one lucky winner! You can enter up to 4 times using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday, October 3rd, and a winner will be announced on Friday, October 4th.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2013

COVER REVEAL - RACE TO KILL BY RACHEL KALL (ROMANTIC SUSPENSE)


Race to Kill (Book 1 in the Love and Scandal Series)

When fiercely independent Vivian Reese is thrust onto the national stage during a heated presidential campaign, she doesn't expect to become a media darling. She also doesn't expect to start to fall for her sexy new bodyguard, Marcus Locke. But when threats start surfacing against the sitting President's campaign and all evidence points to Vivian, she doesn't know who to trust. 

Delta Force Operator turned FBI agent Marcus Locke is supposed to be investigating campaign finance crimes. He's not supposed to be checking out the sexy, eloquent campaign spokeswoman Vivian Reese, who's one of his prime suspects! But when they are caught in the middle of a presidential race that is quickly turning deadly, he is forced to put both his heart and his job in the line of fire.
Tempers flare and passions ignite as the campaign gets dangerous, but when bullets start to fly will either of them survive? 

TRAILER REVEAL:



Information about the book:
Title: Race to Kill
Author: Rachel Kall
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 7, 2013
Series: Love and Scandal Series


Author Bio: 
Rachel Kall writes romantic suspense. She likes writing spicy and suspenseful stories to keep readers guessing. Rachel is a member of Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death, and Georgia Romance Writers. She loves animals and is active in animal rescue. She enjoys adding loveable pets to her stories. She lives in Georgia with her husband and five furkids—two dogs and three cats. She is represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Find Rachel Kall Online:
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE BANISTER BUZZ 9/19/13 - FALL FRIGHTS ON TV


There's a nip in the air, and darkness is descending earlier each evening, which means it's the perfect time of year to curl up on your couch, with a cup of hot tea or cocoa, and watch something that'll make you shiver! I don't know about you, but I love a good, creepy thrill, especially if it's supernatural in origin. Vamps, ghosts, witches, headless horseman wielding broadaxes? Bring it! Fortunately, there will be plenty of the above on TV this fall, and I can't wait to get my scare on!


FOX's heavily hyped show, Sleepy Hollow, which tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a centuries-old soldier who suddenly awakens in the new millennium along with his decapitated nemesis, debuted earlier this week. I watched it last night (Thank you, DVR!) and enjoyed it so much that I immediately rewatched some of my favorite scenes (Those would be anything involving the very dishy, even though he's in dire need of a bath, Ichabod.) It was clear that a lot of money went into this show. The production values were top-quality, making the show seem almost cinematic. I was wowed by the set design, the moody ambiance, and the camera work - it all combined to give the viewer a continuous feeling of unease. You never knew what was going to emerge from that pervasive fog, or what might pop up in the old graveyard Ichabod kept tromping around in.

What really sold me on Sleepy Hollow was the dry humor that accompanied all of the eerieness. The characters did not take themselves too seriously, and Ichabod was surprisingly droll. His interactions with the police officer (the black, female police officer), whom he ends up finding common ground with, were priceless, as were his bemused responses to discovering modern-day conveniences like power windows in a car and flashlights. Kudos to Tom Mison (I've had my eye on him since seeing him play a very compelling Bingley in Lost in Austen.) and Nicole Beharie (She's best known for being in Shame with Michael Fassbender, who was her real-life boyfriend for a while.) for their great timing and chemistry. I like that this newfound bond of Abbie and Ichabod's isn't based on any kind of sexual tension or romantic sparks (Ichabod's sorceress wife is still out there, languishing in some alternate dimension, so technically his heart is not free.)

If you missed the first airing of Sleepy Hollow, FOX will be repeating it this Friday and it's also available for viewing On Demand. I encourage you to give this wacky, highly entertaining show a shot. Do it just to hear Mison say "lieutenant" with that sexy, British accent of his . . . SWOON



Fun Fact: The showrunners of Sleepy Hollow had intended to cast an American to play Ichabod Crane, but they thought Tom was so great that they rewrote the character, making him an Oxford professor who came to America to teach and ended up defecting to our side during the Revolutionary War.  


For several years now, one of my favorite spooktastic shows has been Haven on Syfy. Don't roll your eyes at me! I know that Syfy has some questionable programming (Sharknado - for real?), but their original series are actually quite good (see also Continuum and Lost Girl.) Haven is loosely based on a Stephen King novel called "The Colorado Kid," and it's about a small, coastal town in Maine where many of the residents are "troubled," meaning they have strange powers that come and go and they can't control them most of the time which often leads to death and disaster. 

Enter FBI Agent Audrey Parker in Season 1, who comes to town looking for an escaped killer. She teams up with local detective Nathan Wuornos, and a beautiful partnership is born. Audrey seems to have a way with the troubled, which helps to keep some semblance of order in Haven. She, also, has a way with Nathan, whose trouble is that he can't feel anything (not even bullets!), except for Audrey's touch. Their love story has been a very slow-moving and engrossing one over the last three seasons, and it climaxed (Get your minds out of the gutter!) in a very shocking way at the end of S3. 

 

Season 4 just started last Friday, and let's just say that Audrey's not the woman she used to be. Will Nathan and his frenemy, Duke, be able to track NuAudrey down and restore the balance in Haven? Who the heck is this William character (played by the always awesome Colin Ferguson) and what does he have to do with NuAudrey? If you loved The X-Files, check out Haven because the shows have a very similar vibe, right down to the freaky cases of the week. You can catch up on Haven via Netflix, which has Seasons 1-3 available for streaming.

While watching Project Runway on Lifetime last week, I saw a promo for the new drama, Witches of East End and was instantly intrigued. A sexy, magic-filled show about a family of female witches who are kicking butt and seducing hot guys - Sounds like a spicier, grown-up version of Charmed, which used to be a guilty pleasure of mine. The premise is fun (the witches have been banned from using their powers and are trying to live normal, low-key lives) and the cast is great (Jenna Dewan Tatum, Rachel Boston, Julia Ormond, Madchen Amick, Eric Winter, and Daniel DiTomasso), so I am in!

 

Since the show doesn't premiere until Oct. 6th, I thought I'd entertain myself by reading the first book in the series by Melissa de la Cruz, which the TV show is based on. I'm about halfway through Witches of East End and I am thoroughly enjoying it! The writing is excellent, the character arcs are compelling, and there's lots of steamy goodness. Bodacious younger sister, Freya, gets it on with her good guy fiancé's HOT younger brother while her engagement party is going on - HELLO! It'll be interesting to see how this triangle plays out on the show. Roll on, October!


Last, but not least, I must bring to your attention the latest re-imagining of that classic vamp tale, Dracula, which will air on NBC on Friday nights, starting on Oct. 25th. This show looks like it's going to be some particularly ripe fromage with lead bloodsucker, Jonathan Rhys Myers, chewing scenery with his fake fangs and a bad American accent. Will I watch? Of course! And who knows? It may turn out be delightfully campy (I'm already loving the steampunk style costumes the characters are wearing.) And I am fond of several members of the supporting cast, Thomas Kretschmann, who's always divine, super cute Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and my girl, Katie McGrath, who was so good at being bad on Merlin

 

What have been some of your favorite shows with supernatural elements? Is there any type of horror you can't abide? For me, it's zombies. I cannot deal with those decomposing, brain-eating creepers, which is why I have to pretend like The Walking Dead doesn't exist - SHUDDER

Until next time, Buzzers . . . Wishing you a fabulous fall TV season and a super scary Halloween. Oh wait, we still have six more weeks to go until Halloween. I got confused since all of the costumes and candy are already out at the stores. <shakes head>

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

EXCERPT - KEEPING SCORE BY JAMI DEISE


Keeping Score is about a divorced mom, Shannon, her 9-year-old son, Sam, and Sam’s first summer playing competitive tournament baseball. Shannon lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and works downtown for a children’s advocacy group. It should be a perfect place for parents to work, right? Think again…



Excerpt - Keeping Score

My commute to work consisted of a drive to the Shady Grove metro station and a train ride to the Metro Center station near F Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Since Shady Grove is at the end of the Red Line, it takes nearly forty five minutes to an hour to get to downtown D.C. – more if there’s a problem on the track, which occurred more and more frequently these days. I’d drive, but my Toyota’s already got 150,000 miles on it, and my job provided Metro Checks but not parking spaces.

Today was no different. We waited for ten minutes at the Woodley Park/Zoo station. I had a window seat, but my seatmate was a three-hundred-pound man who oozed out everywhere. My face was pressed to the dirty plastic for the entire ride. By the time I got to the office, which is about two blocks away from Metro Center, I was dirty, sweaty and late.

I worked as a PR manager for Children In Need, a lobbying group specializing in poverty and child welfare. Since I was half of a job share, I had pretty set hours: Monday through Friday, eight am till two. CIN is run by a workaholic, Jeanne Applebaum, who never married or had kids so, as she liked to say, she could devote her life to children all over the country. These children did not include the offspring of people who work for CIN. The media liked to make a big deal about the so-called war between working moms and stay-at-home moms, but they completely missed the war between childless bosses and their employees with kids. Missing work due to a sick child? Want to leave early to catch a child’s play? Jeanne would make your life miserable. It was just her little way of punishing you for making different choices than she did.

So when I ran into the eight am staff meeting at ten past eight, I wasn’t surprised that she blamed my lateness on Sam.

“How nice of you to join us, Shannon,” Jeanne sneered. “Sam have trouble getting on the bus this morning?”

“I don’t know,” I snapped. “He doesn’t get picked up for another fifteen minutes.”

A few of my colleagues swallowed smiles. Jeanne conceded the point was mine.

“Alright. Let’s get an update on the awards ceremony. Tania?”

And it was ninety minutes of blabbing. We’ve been working on the same issues in the five years since I’ve been here. Nothing ever really changed. With summer coming up, things would slow down even further. We did have our awards dinner in July, but that was the only big-ticket item on the agenda. My job was like watching the later years of a long-running sitcom: The jokes might be different, and the cast got older, but even the new episodes felt like reruns.

The most interesting battle occurred in my head: Would I eat a donut? Or would I successfully fight temptation for a full hour and a half?

Problem solved. Ron, our House liaison, popped the last donut in his mouth.

That caught Jeanne’s attention. “Ron, I need you to attend Congresswoman Howard’s fund raiser tonight.”

Ron looked annoyed. “Jeanne, I told you, Brian’s senior day game is this afternoon. He’s pitching.”

Jeanne blew out her cheeks in a loud, angry sigh. She hadn’t forgotten about Brian’s game.

“It’s always something, isn’t it,” she scoffed. “What about the kids who don’t have parents? Or health care? Do you think they’re playing baseball after school?”

“Those kids will still be suffering even if Ron breaks his son’s heart and goes to the fund raiser instead,” I said.

Jeanne rolled her eyes. “Shannon, always with the snappy comeback.”

“Yeah. That’s why I’m your spokesperson. Snappy comebacks get quoted.”

“Fine. Tania, are you available?”

Tania looked down at her notepad. “I have to pick up the baby before six thirty. Otherwise it’s two dollars a minute. I can’t afford that on what they pay me.”

“On what they pay you,” Jeanne repeated icily. “Do you know how much they pay me? Do you think I’m out the door every day at five no matter what?” She pounded the table like her fist was a gavel. “What about the families? What about the children?”

“What about our families,” I said. “What about our children? 

Jeanne took a long look around the room. “I am. So. Disappointed. In all of you.” And with that, she got up, grabbed her iPad, and strode out as if she were the Queen of England.

A few people clapped their hands over their mouths to muffle their snickering.

“It’s hard to believe she never had kids,” said Stephanie, our accountant. “Because she is just like my mother.”



Blurb:  When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it'll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it's the crazy, competitive parents who really makes Shannon's life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn't fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon's best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints.

And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself. In this world, it's not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game... it's all about KEEPING SCORE.



Author Bio:  A lifelong resident of Maryland, Jami Deise recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, along with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, KEEPING SCORE is her first novel. Jami is an associate reviewer at Chick Lit Central and a generalist reader for an NYC-based literary agency. Along with women’s fiction, she loves all things horror and watches too much TV.

Buy Keeping Score: 

Amazon 

For Nook/iPad

Find Jami Diese Online: 

Blog

Twitter 

Facebook

Thursday, September 5, 2013

THE BANISTER BUZZ 9/5/13 - DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 17 CAST ANNOUNCEMENT


BREAKING NEWS: Pro Anna Trebunskaya is preggers, which explains why she's not participating in the show this season. No word on who the baby daddy is (she split with husband, Jonathan Roberts, earlier this year.)

Yesterday was a big day for DWTS devotees like myself. The names of the 12 celebrities who will be competing on Season 17 were revealed on Good Morning America. Actually, "confirmed" is probably the more appropriate word because thanks to the good folks at TMZ I knew 9 of the 12 celebrities in advance. Spoilers rock! ;) So, what do I think of the latest crop of ballroom dancer wannabes? Overall, I'm pleased. There's a good range of ages and personalities, and there are several contestants who have previous dance experience and/or musicality to help them with this challenge. I'll just go ahead and admit that I prefer watching stars who have some natural aptitude for dance. Imagine a show full of Kate Gosselins and Master Ps . . . SHUDDER

So, let's break this thing down. Here are the 6 brave men and 6 courageous women who will be vying for the mirror ball trophy, starting Sept. 16th, along with my thoughts on their potential and my predictions on where they will place in this Battle of the Sequins! Ladies first . . .



Elizabeth Berkley (Actress, Saved by the Bell/Showgirls), paired with Val Chmerkovskiy - She's tall, which means she'll have great lines, she's relatively young (41), she's fit, and most importantly, she has dance experience (And no, I'm not taking about her stripper pole shenanigans in Showgirls, she was in a dance company when she was a kid and performed in many ballets and musicals.) Val's one of my fave male pros on the show (I think he's the best choreographer next to Derek) and he's on a hot streak since he made the finals the last two seasons. My prediction: FINAL FOUR


Valerie Harper (Actress, The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Rhoda/Valerie), paired with Tristan MacManus - She's a television icon, so there's a huge nostalgia factor with her, plus she started out her career as a Broadway dancer, so she's got that muscle memory and knows how to move. Sadly, she's battling a terminal illness, which has been much discussed in the news the past 8 months. She's doing much better than her doctors expected and she seems to be in great spirits. I admire her tremendously for taking this on and I will be rooting for her to do well. I just worry about the physical and emotional toll this will take on her. She's fortunate to have the very sweet and nurturing Tristan as her partner. My prediction: Middle of the pack  



Christina Milian (Singer/Actress), paired with Mark Ballas - She's young (31), has a fun personality, and should have great musicality since she's a singer. Plus, she's got a sizable fanbase online (over a million followers on Twitter.) Mark's a fairly popular pro and he's good at coming up with edgy/different choreography that I think will suit Christina. My prediction: FINAL FOUR






Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi (Reality TV star), paired with Sasha Farber. A few years ago, I probably would have cringed at the inclusion of Snooki in the cast, but she's rehabbed her image quite a bit lately by becoming a devoted mom, losing weight, and leaving the Jersey Shore behind. She's a firecracker, and I think she'll be really entertaining to watch. I didn't realize that she was a gymnast and cheerleader (so was last year's winner, Kellie Pickler), which I'm sure will hold her in good stead. I think Snooki will surprise a lot of people on this show. My prediction: Middle of the pack


Leah Remini (Actress, King of Queens), paired with Tony Dovolani - She's outspoken and feisty and has been getting quite a bit of press lately over her leaving the Scientology fold and speaking out against them. I think she'll probably be a decent dancer (I read somewhere that she and her husband have taken salsa lessons.) I'm just not sure if the DWTS audience will embrace her. And I'm just not feeling her partnership with Tony. I know it's early days, but I didn't see much spark between them during their GMA bits. The other female competitors are so strong this year; I think Leah might get overshadowed. My prediction: Out early  

FUN FACT: Leah and Elizabeth were on Saved by the Bell together back in 1991.
  

Amber Riley (Actress & Singer/Glee), paired with Derek Hough - She's spent the last few years learning and executing choreography on Glee, so I don't think she'll have any trouble  picking up ballroom dancing. She's got the Gleeks behind her, and that is one hardcore fanbase. Plus, she's got DEREK as a partner and he wins almost every season! No way this girl isn't making it to the end. My prediction: FINAL FOUR 




Corbin Bleu (Actor, Singer, Model & Dancer/High School Musical & One Life to Live), paired with Karina Smirnoff - This guy's a frontrunner if there ever was one. He was in High School Musical, people! And yes, I've seen all three of those movies, don't judge me. Corbin is adorable, he's studied ballet and jazz, and now that he's shaved off his signature 'fro, he looks like a young Ben Vereen. He will be gold on DWTS and he's the best bet the guys have this season. My prediction: FINAL FOUR

FUN FACT: Whenever Karina's been asked who her dream DWTS partner would be, she's always said "John Stamos or Corbin Bleu." So, she's finally getting her wish! 


Brant Daugherty(Actor, Pretty Little Liars/Army Wives), paired with Peta Murgatroyd - I did not have a clue who this guy was when his name was announced, but he is major eye candy and seemed sweet in the GMA interview. So, I look forward to seeing what he can do. Fingers crossed that Peta doesn't oversexualize Brant in their routines (she's done this with other partners who were good-looking and it got icky quick.) Despite the pretty, I'm afraid that Brant's lack of name recognition will do him in. My prediction: Out early


Bill Engvall (Comedian/Actor), paired with Emma Slater - Historically, comedians have not done well on this show, so I don't hold out much hope for this poor guy. The fact that he's paired with a first-time pro (Emma was promoted from the troupe), who doesn't have a fanbase, isn't going to help matters either. And their goofy partner pose? GROAN My prediction: Out early






Keyshawn Johnson (Retired football player), paired with  Sharna Burgess - DWTS loves its football players (3 of them won mirror ball trophies!) I'm not sure how well-known Keyshawn is or what kind of fanbase he might have. I just hope he's light on his feet and has a good work ethic like most of the athletes who've been on the show. His secret weapon will be Sharna who worked a miracle on Andy Dick last season. For the record, I have a total girl crush on Sharna and think her choreo is uh-mazing! If she could take Andy to 7th place, I'm confident she'll go even further with Keyshawn. However, I think he'll be bested by all of the celebs with dance backgrounds in the end. My prediction: Middle of the pack



Bill Nye (TV host, Scientist, Actor), paired with Tyne Stecklein - The Science Guy? Really, Dancing With the Stars? SIGH As a rule, middle-aged white men don't fare well on this show, but a little research told me that Bill is an avid swing dancer. Is he a good swing dancer? Who knows? But hopefully this means he has some rhythm. Still, I don't see him lasting long because his fanbase is mostly kids and they're probably not going to watch this show and power vote for him. Also, I have no idea who his partner is. Apparently, she was in the troupe before being promoted, but all of those troupe blondes blend together in my head.  My prediction: Out early


Jack Osbourne (Television personality), paired with Cheryl Burke - Will Jack do as well as his older sister, Kelly, who made it to the finals and finished in 3rd place back in Season 9? Probably not, but I think he'll do a respectable job. He seems earnest, and Cheryl is a tough taskmaster, so I'm sure she'll pull the very best out of him. Jack was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, so I applaud him for attempting to do something like this. He's got guts. My prediction: Middle of the pack


FUN FACT: A feud erupted between Jack's mom, Sharon Osbourne, and Leah Remini, after the latter was dismissed  from her hosting position on The Talk back in 2011. Leah said on Twitter that the firing was fellow co-host Sharon's fault. Sharon denied it and said Leah should move on. DRAMA! Their paths might just cross at DWTS this season as I'm sure Sharon will be there to support her son. Stay tuned . . .

Who will you be rooting for on DWTS this season? Do you have any early picks for the celeb who will be first out or the one who will take home that tacky trophy? What do you think about ABC eliminating the Tuesday night Results Show? Performances and eliminations on the same night - weird or wonderful? 

P.S. I will, also, be watching clips of Strictly Come Dancing (the British mother show) on You Tube this fall. They just announced their cast of 15, and I didn't know a single person! That's okay. It's always fun to "discover" British celebs, like Harry Judd, the adorable drummer from pop group McFly, when I watch SCD. This season I'm planning to keep a very close eye on this hottie - former rugby player Ben Cohen. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

COVER REVEAL - ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN BY CAT LAVOIE



COMING IN OCTOBER 2013


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. 




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. Her debut novel, Breaking the Rules, was published in August 2012 by Marching Ink. If Cat isn't reading or writing, she's most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.



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