Thursday, May 31, 2012


For the entire month of June, I'll be celebrating the work of several talented writers who have either recently released a novel or will be doing so very soon.  Everyone needs good reading material for the summer, right?  So, let's fill those e-readers up!  Whether you're in the mood for mystery, magic, romance, tropical locales, or cute dogs, I've got it all for you!  Interviews, guest blog posts, e-book giveaways . . . you'll find all of these and more at Books by Banister during Authorpalooza!

So, check back daily throughout June or keep an eye on my Twitter feed and Facebook wall and I'll let you know when a new post goes up.  Authorpalooza will kick off tomorrow (Friday) with me interviewing the very funny and charming Susan Buchanan, British author of SIGN OF THE TIMES.

If you are an author of Chick Lit, Women's Fiction, or Romance and you have a new book coming out this summer, there's still time to be a part of Authorpalooza!  Just drop me an e-mail and I'll be happy to help you spread the word about your latest release. 

Speaking of summer reads I'm excited to announce that my second book is on track to be released in July!  I can't wait to share all of the juicy details with you, so stay tuned for lots of exciting news (title, cover art, book blurb, character intros) in early July! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today, I'd like to welcome fellow Southerner, online pal, and talented writer Lauren Clark to Books by Banister.  Lauren recently released her second novel, DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE, and I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy.  See my rave review here and read on to learn more about Lauren and her new book . . .  

1) Can you give us a brief overview of DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE?

In essence, it's a story about finding happiness in the most unlikely of places. When the story begins, New York City travel writer Julia Sullivan is sent to Eufaula, Alabama to cover the annual Pilgrimage and she's not happy about it! When she arrives, though, she's soon charmed by the quaint area -- only to discover that a developer is planning to raze the city's historic landmarks.

2) What's your favorite quality about your hero/heroine?

Julia is smart, resourceful, and energetic--she always has the best of intentions--but often acts before she thinks. That impulsiveness gets her into a LOT of trouble!!

3) What made you want to write this book?

I lived near Eufaula, Alabama for several years and always enjoyed attending the Pilgrimage. It's a magical time of year--everything's in bloom--the weather is great! I always thought that the city would make a wonderful setting for a novel. In fact, the movie, "Sweet Home Alabama," (Reese Witherspoon) used shots of Eufaula's historic district!

4) What are you working on now?

I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends.  The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.

5) What comes first for you -- character idea, plot idea?

It's always an idea ... or a 'What if' question. For example, Stay Tuned was a "What if two anchors got into a fistfight on live television...what would happen next?" Dancing Naked in Dixie was a "What if a big city travel writer was forced to go on assignment to the Deep South or lose her job?"

6) How do you think of titles?

Stay Tuned came from being in the television business for a long time. I wanted something catchy, short, and easy to remember. Dancing Naked in Dixie jumped into my head one day when I was thinking about a novel about a travel writer who comes to Eufaula. My first idea was to have the protagonist discover some fabulous "dessert" or treat that was so good it made everyone want to dance naked! The more I thought about it, though, I felt it would be straying too much from the plotline that needed to be Julia's journey--a physical journey from New York to Eufaula, Alabama, but also a personal journey of growth and discovery about herself and her own family.

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

After just finishing Book 2 in the Shades of Gray series, I'm definitely in the prude camp! I had a racy strip-tease seduction scene in Stay Tuned, but I don't want to write anything that would make my mother blush or my grandmother come back from the grave to wash my mouth out with soap!

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

Love Sophie Kinsella...she's so funny! I adore Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin, as well as Lisa See, Abraham Verghese, and Michelle Richmond. I think Stephen King is brilliant, though I'm not a horror fan. The Green Mile is so moving, as is the short story he wrote which was made into "The Shawshank Redemption" movie. His book, On Writing, is witty and truthful!

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

I vary my reading--mostly between Chick Lit and Thrillers. I've been on a Lisa Gardner kick lately. I'm desperately waiting for Juliette Sobanet's third in the Paris series. I tore through Stieg Larsson's series, as well as Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (loved her trilogy for the strong heroine).

10) What was the last book you read that really WOW'd you?

Gosh - I was really impressed by James Patterson's Guilty Wives. It's not his usual serial killer repartee and I was captivated by the story. Prior to that, Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers was amazing, detailed, and very moving.

11) Do you prefer a series or stand alone novels?

Doesn't matter.  I'm happy with either!

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

I loved Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me?

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

Stieg Larsson - I need to know if there's a book four or five!
Stephen King - I think he is fascinating and has led such an interesting, yet grounded life
Jodi Picoult - She's such a fabulous writer and chooses such controversial topics. I really didn't think that I'd enjoy Lone Wolf, but decided to try it as an audio book and found it fascinating!
Both of my grandparents because I miss them so much. I would love a few more hours to talk to them and tell them that I love them.

Fast and Flirty 
Favorite word?   Fabulous
Dream vacation spot?    Santorini, Greese
Favorite time period in history?  I do love to think about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but I adore my shower and washing machine too much to time-travel to back then
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Red wine, I love the "Writer's Block" Syrah by Steele Wines (California)
Favorite date night activity?  We have a great little brick oven pizza place within walking distance of our house. We know the owner, the manager, the servers, and many of the neighbors who come in!  Fun!
Coffee or tea or soda?  Flavored coffee, cream and sugar
Strong but lean or built and burly?  Daniel Craig, I guess I'm in the strong but lean camp!
Scruffy or clean-shaven?  Clean-shaven
Dark-haired or blond?  Blond
Celebrity Hottie on your laminated list?  Daniel Craig, Mark Wahlberg, and I do adore LL Cool J in NCIS Los Angeles.
Novel hero crush?  Mikael Blomkvist (of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series)

Thanks so much for stopping by Books by Banister, Lauren!  It was a pleasure to have you here.

Here's where you can find Lauren Clark:

DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE can be purchased at:

Monday, May 21, 2012


Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 is officially over and I want to thank the many talented authors who participated, along with the Chick Lit lovers who hopped around and left comments on each of our blogs.  A wonderful time was had by all and I look forward to doing it again next year (maybe even sooner!)  On to the big news . . .

I am pleased to announce that the Grand Prize Winner of the $150 Sephora gift card is <drum roll please> . . . Tiffany White!  Congratulations, Tiffany!  I hope you enjoy pampering yourself with lots of beauty goodies.

And the winner of my e-book, BLAME IT ON THE FAME, is . . . Janna Shay!  Congrats, Janna, and Happy Reading!

Each of the 34 authors involved in the blog hop will be announcing the winner of their e-books on their respective blogs, so please check in with them to see if you won. 

Once again, much gratitude and appreciation to all of you lovely Chick Lit authors, readers, and bloggers.  You helped to make Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 a huge success!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


What would a Chick Lit novel be without romance?  The search for, or perhaps the stumbling upon, of that elusive Mr. Right is one of the hallmarks of this engaging genre.  And if you've read as much Chick Lit as I have, you'll notice that there are a handful of romantic scenarios, and sometimes clever variations thereof, that are omnipresent in these fun, fizzy books.  Read on to see how many of these sound familiar:

The love/hate relationship:  Heroine meets hero and takes an instant dislike to him.  He's arrogant, he's rude, he's immature, he's uptight and repressed, he's an unrepentant skirt-chaser - whatever he is, he's the opposite of her and she can't stand him.  Friction occurs every time this mismatched duo meets, but we know that beneath all of that animosity lies attraction.  The love/hate relationship is a classic, and beloved, romantic trope that dates all the way back to Elizabeth and Darcy in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.  Modern examples of this type of love story include:  IT HAD TO BE YOU and WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, HOSTILE MAKEOVER and 7 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS by Wendy Wax, ACCIDENTAL IT GIRL by Libby Street, and EVERY BOY'S GOT ONE by Meg Cabot.

Best friends who belong together:  Childhood playmates, college study partners, co-workers, neighbors - however the hero and heroine know each other, they have a close, long-standing relationship and share everything from inside jokes to romantic woes.  Everyone else can see that they'd be perfect together, but the duo remains blissfully unaware.  Or maybe one of them is harboring a secret crush, but he/she is afraid to risk the friendship and admit to it?  Never fear!  Fate will intervene and those two crazy kids will come to the realization that they are, indeed, soul mates.  See:  SOMETHING BORROWED by Emily Giffin, LUCY SULLIVAN IS GETTING MARRIED by Marian Keyes, and WHERE RAINBOWS END by Cecelia Ahearn      

Ugly duckling gets makeover and finds romance:  Our heroine is a great girl who goes unnoticed by men because she's frumpy, or chubby, or has bad hair, or wears glasses.  As a result, she's got a whoppin' inferiority complex, which isn't only ruining her love life, but is having a negative affect on her career, as well.  Enter some fabulous fairy godmother in the guise of a gay friend, or a helpful sister, or a supportive boss who whisks our heroine away to the nearest salon/boutique/M·A·C make-up counter, and voilĂ , our heroine is transformed into the knockout she was always meant to be.  Soon, she's wowing every man who crosses her path.  Of course, the guy she ends up with is the one who appreciates her inner beauty.  See:  JEMIMA J by Jane Green, THE CINDERELLA PACT by Sarah Strohmeyer, and REINVENTING MONA by Jennifer Coburn.

Burned-by-love heroine doesn't trust men:  This poor woman has been done wrong by some jerk (Maybe he cheated on her with her best friend, or cleaned out their apartment while she was at work, or worst of all, stood her up on their wedding day?)  As a result, she's given up on men and sworn off love for fear of being hurt again.  Enter a wonderful guy who has to spend the rest of the book trying to woo and win her despite her down-with-men stance.  Will he restore her faith in the male sex and make her believe in love once again?  Chances are excellent.  See:  EXES AND OHS by Beth Kendrick, HOW TO SLEEP WITH A MOVIE STAR by Kristin Harmel, A HOPELESS ROMANTIC by Harriet Evans, and BOOKENDS by Jane Green.

Hero and heroine are thrown together in some wacky situation:  It's not every day that you meet the man of your dreams by masquerading as a housekeeper or swiping a cell phone or being trapped in a snowstorm, but that's what happens to these ladies through some strange twist of fate.  The unusual circumstances under which they first encounter their potential mates lead to wacky hijinks, bonding, and eventually an appreciation for each other's charm and resourcefulness.  See:  I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER and THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS by Sophie Kinsella, NADIA KNOWS BEST by Jill Mansell, and SHE WENT ALL THE WAY by Meg Cabot.

Which of these tried-and-true romantic scenarios is your favorite?  Leave a comment below, with your name and e-mail address, and you'll be entered to win a copy of my e-book, BLAME IT ON THE FAME, in which you'll find a prime example of a love/hate relationship!

Book Blurb:  A power-trippin’ bitch, a has-been, a skanky ex-model, a press-shy indie queen, and a British stage actress no one knows – that’s how the Best Actress hopefuls in this year’s too-close-to-call Oscar race cattily describe each other. Which of them will win the much-coveted gold statue and what price will they be forced to pay as they travel the red carpeted-path to Hollywood glory? 

Amidst all the press-schmoozing and angsting over which designer gown to wear, these Oscar contenders feud, commiserate, and face a succession of personal crises – scandalous secrets come to light, marriages implode, accidents land two nominees in the hospital while another receives news that could derail her career, all culminating on Tinsel Town’s biggest night when anything can happen, and does.

*  *  *  *  *

For a chance to win the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop Grand Prize of a $150 Sephora gift card, simply do the following:

  • Collect all 34 of the secret words (you will find a secret word in each of the blog posts on the hop.)  The word will be italicized, so it will be easy to locate.  ***HINT***The secret word in my blog hop post is in the first paragraph. 
  • Submit your list of 34 secret words to before midnight on Sunday, May 20th and you will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing! 
  • The Grand Prize winner will be announced on Monday, May 21st, and the $150 Sephora gift card can be redeemed online, or at any Sephora store in the US.
  • Chick Lit Author Blog Hop contests are open to residents of the United States only.
Please see the post below for a Linky list with all 34 participating authors/blogs.  You will have an opportunity to win a different e-book at each blog hop stop.  Good luck!


Monday, May 7, 2012


We're having a party, and you're invited!  In honor of May being International Chick Lit Month, some author friends and I decided to band together to celebrate, promote, and extol the many virtues of this wonderful, entertaining, and underappreciated genre.  Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 will be a week-long event, running May 14th-20th, and 34 amazing writers are donating their time, talent, and some very special prizes to make this inaugural event a huge success! 

Here's how the blog hop will work . . .

  • Each of the 34 participating authors has written a special Chick Lit-centric piece and these posts will go live on Monday, May 14th.  At each blog hop stop, you will have the opportunity to enter to win a FREE Chick Lit e-book from that particular blog's owner/author.  All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog post, including your name and e-mail address, and you're automatically entered to win.  If you visit each blog hop stop, that means you have the chance to win 34 different e-books!
  • The blog hop will start at Natalie Aaron & Marla Schwartz and end at Jen Tucker.  You will find a list of all the stops on the blog hop at each auther's blog.  Authors' blogs will be listed in alphabetical order according to last name.
  • In each of the author's blog posts, there will be a "secret word."  This word will be italicized, so it will be easy to find.  All you have to do is make note of this secret word at each blog hop stop.  Collect all 34 secret words and submit your list to before midnight on Sunday, May 20th and you will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing!  The winner of this drawing will receive a $150 Sephora gift card!  $150 to spend on make-up, fragrance, bath and body goodies, skin care, and hair products!  How fun is that?  This gift card can be redeemed online, or at any Sephora store in the US.
  • Winners of each of the participating author's e-books, as well as the Grand Prize winner of the $150 Sephora gift card will be announced on Monday, May 21st.
  • Contests are open to residents of the United States only.

We hope you'll join us for this exciting event!  Don't forget to tell all of your Chick Lit-loving friends!  The more, the merrier!