Friday, July 20, 2012


Saving the best (if you're into hunky guys) for last, I give you the trio of men who are orbiting around Pilar in IN NEED OF THERAPY. You could not find a more diverse group of guys.  Ford is a psychiatrist from New York; he's down-to-earth, intelligent, kind - Pilar likes him instantly and they become good friends, bonding over their careers, families, and mutual love of a good cheeseburger.  The very smooth, charming, and wealthy Victor is Pilar's recently dumped ex.  While she bears him no ill will, she's growing impatient with his repeated, over-the-top attempts to win her back.  It doesn't help matters that her mother is Victor's biggest cheerleader.  Pilar's new patient, Mitch, is not her usual type as he's not well-educated or career-driven (He's in his 30s and works as a lifeguard!), but the man is undeniably gorgeous, not to mention entertaining with his swagger, and she finds herself enjoying their weekly interactions.

Author’s Notes:  You'd think that Pilar had an embarrassment of riches in the Hottie Dept., but alas, no.  While all of these fellas are very appealing, each in his own way, they, also, have mega-watt "Don't go there!" signs flashing over their heads.  Ford is a happily married man with a small child (the adorable Nate) and Pilar is too moral of a person to ever contemplate an affair (Okay, she might contemplate it because she is human and Ford has the dreamiest pair of blue eyes she's ever seen, but that's as far as she's willing to go.)  And there is no way that Pilar would ever dally with a patient no matter how sexy and flirty he was.  She's far too mindful of the restrictions that come with any  therapist/patient relationship and she would never do anything to jeopardize her career.  So, that leaves Victor. Is it ever a good idea to give an ex-boyfriend a second chance?  Should you believe him when he tells you he's changed?  These are all questions Pilar has to wrestle with.

Ford Quotes (non-spoilery): "Maybe Victor keeps coming back because your rejections lack conviction?  Maybe there's some part of you that enjoys all of the attention?"

"I know what they are, Pilar, thank you.  Anatomy was my best subject in medical school."

"You really put the whammy on men."

Victor Quotes (non-spoilery): "You have no romance in your soul, mi querida.  Most women would be thrilled to have a man fall at their feet and pledge his eternal devotion."

"You shouldn't be acting so familiar with a man you just met.  You'll give him ideas.  I didn't like the way he was looking at you . . ."

"I know you think I'm all flash and no substance, Pilar, but there's more to me than meets the eye.  I have hidden depths."

Mitch Quotes (non-spoilery): "Doc, I've got a job where I meet young, beautiful, half-naked women every day, and a lot of them come on to me.  If I didn't respond, I'd have to be gay or have some kind of medical problem." 

"Nine years of school?  I only made it through three months of junior college.  You must be really smart."

"I handed her a couple of casabas and asked her to squeeze my melons and tell me if they were ripe."

Casting Ford:  This was not easy!  I racked my brain for an actor who was handsome in a rugged, regular guy way and had the kind, intelligent face and piercing blue eyes I reference in the book, but I could not come up with a single actor who could do Ford justice.  So, I finally consulted the experts, my hottie-loving friends, and the always-imaginative Natalie Aaron came back with an excellent suggestion - Irish actor Jason O'Mara!  Honestly, I can't believe I didn't think of Jason myself as I've adored him since I first saw him on the TV show, MEN IN TREES.  He's perfect for Ford!

Casting Victor:  Victor is good-looking and stylish (he's always dressed in designer suits), so he has no trouble catching the eye of most of the women who come into his tapas restaurant.  I ran down a list of handsome Latino actors with dark coloring, and the one who most resembled the vision of Victor that I had in my head was the very yummy Adam Rodriquez. 

Casting Mitch:  I started writing IN NEED OF THERAPY back when I was still in the throes of my LOST-watching fever.  So, I based Mitch's physical appearance on my favorite LOST actor, the deliciously sexy Josh Holloway.  I even heard his Sawyer-voice saying Mitch's dialogue as I was writing it.  No one smirks with a naughty twinkle in his eye better than Josh and that's just what the character of Mitch calls for, along with a rockin' bod and a head full of shaggy blond hair.  

If you want to know more about these three handsome hotties and who Pilar ends up with, be sure to pick up my book, IN NEED OF THERAPY, when it goes on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble on Monday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Model-turned-swimsuit designer Sara Reade has been Pilar's BFF since they met in their freshman year of college.  Unlike Pilar, who's always diplomatic and sensitive of other people's feelings, Sara is a no-b.s., calls 'em like she sees 'em kind of gal.  She is fiercely loyal to Pilar and doesn't like to see other people take advantage of her, which she thinks everyone from jobless Izzy to the perpetually-cheating Victor does.  Currently on the verge of debuting her first swimsuit collection, Sara is an overworked, chocolate-addicted mess who relies on Pilar to keep her from losing it on a daily basis.    

Author’s Notes:  Personality-wise, Sara and Pilar are complete opposites, but they complement each other.  Pilar is able to ground Sara when she's being high-strung while Sara is a great sounding board for her bestie, who knows she can come to her about any problem, be it work, family, or man-related.  Sara can always be counted on to give Pilar good, solid advice, even when it's not what Pilar wants to hear.  Everyone needs a friend like Sara!  And she brings out Pilar's fun-loving side, which is what Pilar needs since she's often bogged down by all the responsibility that comes with both her job and her needy family.

Sara Quotes (non-spoilery):  "Ethics don't buy a girl jewelry, or give her multiple Os."

"I'd sooner walk into oncoming traffic than put my name on a bikini made from this cheap, hideous-looking excuse for a fabric."

"Don't do it.  Don't sell your soul to that bed-hoppin', Gucci Pour Homme-wearin' devil."

Casting Sara:  Sara is a willowy blonde, with gorgeous blue-green eyes and oodles of charisma.  I see Swedish beauty Malin Akerman as the character.  She has that wholesome, but sexy, vibe and is definitely a head turner like Sara.  She, also, has the figure of a model without being anorexic and looks fantastic in a swimsuit!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Pilar comes from a large, extended Cuban-Chilean-American family, featuring an abundance of aunts, cousins, nephews, and in-laws in addition to her own sisters and parents, most of whom are very passionate, opinionated, and loud.  Pilar's is always the voice of reason in this tempestuous crowd.  She is the middle child of three, so she became the family mediator/peacemaker at an early age and she continues to function in that capacity as an adult.  Her older sister, Ana, is a stay-at-home mom with three boys so unruly that they’d make Supernanny question her career choice.  And the youngest of the Alvarez siblings is Isidora aka "Izzy," a rule-flouting rebel who delights in shocking her parents and the conservative Ana whenever she can.  The girls' mamá, Luisa, has mastered the fine art of histrionics and is always enacting some drama of her own making.  Needless to say, Pilar takes after her more mellow and cerebral father who misses out on most of his family's crises as he's busy running a successful Miami law firm.

Author’s Notes:  There are a lot of conflicting personalities in Pilar's family and somehow she always seems to end up getting caught in the crossfire.  One of my favorite scenes in the book is the one where Pilar gets together with her entire family to celebrate her mother's birthday and what starts out as a nice evening with everyone being on their best behavior quickly devolves into a complete free-for-all.  Isn't that always the way at big family events?

For me, one of the most interesting relationships in IN NEED OF THERAPY is the one between Luisa and Izzy.  They butt heads constantly and are always complaining about each other to Pilar.  Neither one of them will admit it, but the reason they have so much trouble getting along is that their temperaments are too similar, with both of them being ridiculously self-absorbed and stubborn and never wanting to compromise.  Pilar definitely has her work cut out for her trying to get those two on the same page.  

Izzy Quotes (non-spoilery): "He said he missed you and wanted to know what you were up to.  I told him that you'd moved to a remote island in the South Pacific so that you could provide psychological treatment to a tribe of cannibals there."

"You are such a prude.  I wear less than this to the beach every day.  And I get my butt pinched in clubs every night, so I might as well get paid for it."

"Wow, it's like being back in Psych 101.  Now, I remember why I dropped that class." 

Mamá Quotes (non-spoilery):  "Do you want to be the first woman in our family who's unmarried when she turns 30?  Even your cousin Sancha managed to find a man by the time she was your age, and she's got that lazy eye and a laugh that makes her sound like a donkey!" 

"Can you imagine what Father Ramirez is going to say when he hears about this?  The whole family will be excommunicated.  We'll be disgraced!"

"How could I have raised a daughter who has so little sense, a daughter who spits on the holy sacrament of marriage?"

Casting the Alvarez Women - Isidora:  Izzy is described in the book as being a knockout with dark coloring and legs that go on for days.  What's almost as important as her heart-stopping looks is her attitude.  She's hot and she knows it, so anyone playing this character would have to bring that confidence and sassiness to the table.  I think that the gorgeous Naya Rivera would be the perfect choice.

Casting the Alvarez Women - Ana:  Eldest sister, Ana, has black hair and olive skin like Izzy, but the similarities end there.  Ana has had three babies in a row, so her face and body are a little softer and rounder.  Plus, she has a more mature look than either of her sisters since she's on the other side of 30.  I think the very pretty Sara Ramirez actually looks like she could be Naya Rivera's older sister.

Casting the Alvarez Women - Mamá:  Luisa was a celebrated beauty in her youth, who has the pageant tiaras to prove it, and she's very fastidious about preserving her looks, so I imagined her as being quite the bodacious lady even in her 50s.  Even though she's technically about 20 years too old to play Luisa, I still have trouble picturing anyone but the forever-gorgeous and feisty Raquel Welch in the role.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Psychologist, daughter, sister, friend, single lady looking for love, Pilar Alvarez has a lot of roles to play in my soon-to-be-released Chick Lit novel, IN NEED OF THERAPY.  Her career really defines Pilar as a person.  She is, and always has been, a fixer, someone who sees a problem or conflict and wants to jump in and resolve it.  She genuinely cares about her patients, friends, and family members and wants everyone to be happy.  An optimist and an idealist, Pilar accepts others at face value and strives to see the best in them, so her disappointment is acute when she feels that someone has let her down.  To paraphrase one Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pilar's "good opinion once lost is lost forever."

Author’s Notes:  I've always been fascinated by psychology and even toyed with the idea of becoming a therapist myself.  I took several Psych classes in school, read Psychology Today religiously, and doled out advice to friends like I knew what I was talking about!  So, it was fun to climb inside the head of a shrink for this book and explore how she felt about her work, her patients, and what her job-related high points and frustrations were.

Pilar may be smart, grounded, and good at what she does, but that doesn't mean she takes herself too seriously.  It was important to me that the character have a good sense of humor about all the craziness (both personally and professionally) in her life and that she have flaws.  She is fallible and she's the first person to admit that, which I think is an admirable trait.  She might be the most even-tempered member of her highly volatile family (more on them in tomorrow's blog post), but the fiery Latina inside her does burst out once in a while, usually cursing in Spanish.

Pilar Quotes (non-spoilery):  "Right, I wouldn't want a potential mate to know that I have a functioning brain."

"You are such a liar!  You weren't paralyzed by my beauty for a minute, much less an hour!"

"I'm always pro-eating."

"It is possible for two mature people of the opposite sex to have a platonic relationship based on common interests."

Casting:  I always pictured Pilar as beautiful, but not intimidatingly so. She's very feminine with a curvaceous figure, long, wavy brown hair, and a friendly smile that invites people to confide in her.  I think Eva Mendes comes pretty close to how I envisioned  Pilar.  She's appealing to both men and woman, has a great sense of style, and sparkles with warmth and positivity.

Monday, July 16, 2012


I am excited to announce that I will be releasing my second novel, IN NEED OF THERAPY, on July 23rd!  As this book is set in hot, steamy Miami, I thought it would make the perfect summer read for Chick Lit lovers!  So, slather on that sunscreen, order yourself a drink with an umbrella in it, and get ready for a fun, romance-and-comedy-filled romp!

Here's the book blurb for IN NEED OF THERAPY:

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.

And now for the unveiling of the original cover art for IN NEED OF THERAPY.  I hope everyone adores this cover as much as I do!  I think it perfectly conveys the essence of the novel.  Isn't the color scheme gorgeous?  So bright and cheerful!  I feel like I've been transported to Miami every time I look at it!  I have the very talented Jeff Okerstrom to thank for collaborating with me on this and for creating such a wonderful image.  Also, many thanks to Jenna Anderson for referring me to Jeff.

The pre-release festivities for IN NEED OF THERAPY will continue all week, so please check back here every day for more sneak peeks and tidbits.  Tomorrow, I'll be introducing you to the plucky heroine of IN NEED OF THERAPY, Pilar Alvarez.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


This giveaway is now CLOSED!  Congratulations to Bridget O'Neill, the lucky winner of HAPPY HOUR!

Authorpalooza has been such a blast that I decided to drag it out one more day!  My final guest for this wonderful event is British author, Anne Mitchell.  Her debut novel is called "HAPPY HOUR." Don't you love a fun, alliterative title?  Read on to learn more about Anne and her work and many thanks to all of the amazing authors who've guested on Books by Banister this month and all of the amazing blog readers who've dropped by and participated in the various giveaways.

Take it away, Anne . . .

1) Can you give us a brief overview of HAPPY HOUR?

Shy English rose Jane Anderson has always been happy for her husband Paul, a handsome garden designer, to take the spotlight while she looks after their son Jeremy. But when Paul wins a gold medal at the famous Chelsea Flower Show, he catches the eye of glamour-puss Elizabeth – and it’s not just his horticultural skills she’s interested in.  Jane’s oldest friend Susie invites her to New York for a little therapeutic shopping and sightseeing, but in Manhattan Jane finds she bears an amazing likeness to Rosie Reynolds, ultra-glamorous host of the popular news and talk show HAPPY HOUR, and it’s not long before Rosie makes the same discovery.  After Rosie’s botched face-lift Jane is offered the job of emergency stand-in on  HAPPY HOUR - but here she meets Lou, a dangerously charming man who also happens to be Rosie’s husband. For Jane, it’s the hour of truth... 

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

It doesn’t sound a very exciting quality, but I think it’s Jane’s strong sense of fairness – she always tries to see both sides of the argument, even when the awful Elizabeth is part of the equation!  She is also an extremely loyal friend, which is a quality I value.

3) What made you want to write this book?

I love gardening and I love New York, but to be absolutely honest I didn’t spend ages working out the story – it just came into my head one day, and kind of insisted on being told.  It was almost as though I was watching a film, and just had to describe what I was seeing as it happened.  One day when I was writing HAPPY HOUR I sat at my computer from early in the morning until five in the afternoon – I hadn’t eaten anything or even got dressed!

4) What are you working on now?

My next novel is called DAYDREAM BELIEVER.  It’s heroine is a successful chick lit writer who seems to lead a gilded life – until her long-term boyfriend leaves her for a young actress, and her books stop selling.  She decides she’s going pick herself up, dust herself down, win her boyfriend back and carve out a new career – and that’s when her troubles really begin!

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

That’s a difficult one.  Probably plot idea first, but quickly followed by character.  If you don’t have characters readers care about, they won’t care about the plot either!

6) How do you think of titles?

Titles are really hard!  HAPPY HOUR suggested itself to me as the ideal name for an early evening ‘soft news’ kind of TV programme – and luckily it alliterated too (which, sad geek that I am, I really love).  DAYDREAM BELIEVER obviously references the Monkees song, but it also says something important about the character of the heroine.

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?

Sweet/romantic every time.  I think it’s fine to hint at more, but as a writer I don’t really go much beyond the bedroom door.  Readers have great imaginations and can fill in the rest!

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Helen Fielding (author of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) and Nancy Mitford, author of the utterly brilliant THE PURSUIT OF LOVE and LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE.

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

Very eclectic! I love chick lit (of course!) but also mysteries, thrillers, YA – anything that grabs you from the beginning and won’t let you go!

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

There’s a lovely, light-as-the-foam-on-a-capuccino book by Michael Tonello called BRINGING HOME THE BIRKIN.  It’s funny, fabulous and I re-read it whenever I need cheering up. 

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

If you’ve enjoyed a novel it’s always nice to find out what happens to the characters afterwards – though quite often sequels can be a bit of a let-down.  So on balance, stand-alone.

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

Definitely PERSUASION, by Jane Austen.  And please could I be the heroine, Anne Elliot?  I absolutely adore the hero, Captain Wentworth!

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

I would invite Dorothy Parker and Jane Austen (would love to see how they got on), George Clooney (I might just sit him next to me), Sir Winston Churchill and Emmeline Pankhurst. I'd anticipate a lively evening!

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  Givenchy III (but sadly, I don’t think they make it any more).
Favorite color?  A very pale turquoise/aqua.  It’s a very elegant colour.
Favorite food?   English roast beef and all the trimmings.
Favorite word?  Concatenation.
Dream vacation spot? 
New York, New York!
Favorite time period in history?  Late eighteenth/early nineteenth century (Jane Austen’s era).
Favorite girl's night out drink?  A bellini (prosecco and peach juice).
Favorite date night activity?  Seeing a film (I love the cinema!)
Coffee or tea or soda?  Tea every time.
Strong but lean or built and burly?  Either – it’s character than counts!
Scruffy or clean-shaven?  Clean-shaven (but a little stubble is fine).
Dark-haired or blond?  Either.
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  George Clooney or Colin Firth – either would be very acceptable.  Or possibly Daniel Craig...
Novel hero crush?  Either Captain Wentworth (see above) or Mr Rochester from JANE EYRE.

Thanks for being a part of Authorpalooza, Anne!  Good luck with HAPPY HOUR and all your future writing endeavors.

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite flower is and you'll be entered to win a Kindle copy of HAPPY HOUR.  Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!  Drawing will take place on Sunday, July 8th, so get your comments in by midnight on Saturday, July 7th.

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