Sunday, September 13, 2015


Harper Duquaine, the main character of First & Goal, finds herself spending more and more of her time managing a fantasy football team with hopes of making it to the playoffs so she can win back the hefty entry fee she had to pay to participate. The more time she devotes to managing her team, the more she connects with one of her fellow league members: Brook MacLaughlin, the kind and friendly high school teacher and football coach.

Early in their friendship they discover a mutual fondness (and that’s using the word conservatively) for Bon Jovi. Their admiration for the band becomes a recurring element in their relationship. As a result, I ended up listening to a lot of Bon Jovi while I was planning and writing this novel. And, so many of the band’s songs are mentioned in the book I created a playlist to accompany it.

But how did this even come about? I mean, why did I feature an actual band when I avoided using any actual football players or linking them to specific teams?

Let’s say I was inspired. On October 20, with less than two weeks to go until National Novel Writing Month 2013 commenced, I had the opportunity to see Bon Jovi perform thanks to my Aunt Brenda, who surprised me with two tickets the day before the concert. I was excited. Thrilled. In disbelief until the moment the boys took stage. Like Harper and Brook, I love the band.

Keeping the texts all in the family.

I've had a thing for Bon Jovi since I was little. My parents have video footage of 3-year-old me dancing around in my underwear and a shirt that says "If You Think I'm Cute, You Should See My Grandpa" singing my own mash-up of Bon Jovi's "Lay Your Hands on Me" and New Kids on the Block's "Hanging Tough" in the fake microphone my dad made and attached to one of his cymbal stands.

In my early 20s, "It's My Life" was one of the songs I used to listen to when I was frustrated while on long business trips. And “Livin’ on a Prayer” has been a staple in my life forever. One of my fondest travel memories involves me singing that diddy with a group of agricultural salesmen in a piano bar on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

During the concert when I wasn’t singing and dancing along with Jon, inspiration was spinning in my head. I had to work this band into the book, because well… I wanted to have them in the book. Though some writers shy away from making pop culture references in their books to avoid dating the stories, I like to work some in – within reason. And as far as any fears of dating the book, well, the whole story is told amidst the background of a fantasy football season. If I was worried about dating myself, I should’ve picked a different book to write.

Bon Jovi on stage at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Based on how friendly and charming the band seemed, I firmly believed they’d be fine with me mentioning them in my novel. Particularly in the context of a budding friendship.

My initial instinct was to send Harper and Brook to a wedding together where they slow-danced to “Always” during the reception. But… there are pivotal dance scenes in my first two books, and I needed to branch out and use some other plot development. Then, I considered having Bon Jovi pop on the radio while they’re in the car together. But that didn’t seem sexy enough.

I needed another way for my characters to bond. Based on the development I’d already done for both characters, sharing an interest in Bon Jovi was a natural and believable way to create a connection. And though I don’t want to share the specifics of how the band is involved in the story for those of you who haven’t read it, I’m pleased with the way it turned out.

And as a writer, it was fun for me to incorporate. It constantly forced me to consider how the music would fit into a certain scene and how that song would push it forward. In addition to being a challenge for me, it also gave me a ready-made playlist to inspire me while I wrote.

Thank you, Tracie, for featuring me on your blog. I hope all of you enjoy reading First & Goal.

About the Book
When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way).  
Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool. 
With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

Now Available

About the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of First & GoalThe Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work appears in Merry & BrightA Kind of Mad Courage, and a forthcoming Christmas anthology from Marching Ink. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

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Monday, August 3, 2015


Fit for Love: Getting Fit With Your Partner

The room is steaming, breathing is heavy, and sweat pours off your bodies. Grunts and groans can be heard throughout the house. You’ve never felt so close to your partner. You've been at it for almost thirty minutes now and you can barely catch your breath. Get your head into the game. You’re not having hot sex – you’re exercising together. Same difference. What? What do I mean same difference? Working out with your significant other is like sex? No way.

This is not us. This is a random couple. But we do look this hot. Really. Really! Believe me? 
This is not us. This is a random couple. But we do look this hot. 
Really. Really! Believe me?

In my new book, Jay Walking, Chelsea is dead set on losing her baby weight and meets a great looking guy while out on a walk. Jay is a runner, and his calves prove it. They begin working out together, and their chemistry couldn’t be hotter. Part of my daily routine is exercise. I know, I know, some of you are tired just thinking about it. What makes my workout great? Part of it is that I work out with my husband. We don’t always work out together, but sometimes we decide to do a program and it's fun as a team. In 2009, we completed a round of P90X together, and shortly after we started on Weight Watchers. This year, we tackled P90X3 and completed it in the beginning of July.

P90X3 is part of Beachbody and is an intense 90 day program. 
P90X3 is part of Beachbody and is an intense 90 day program.

Working out with a partner is awesome for so many different reasons. Let me break them down for you.
The convenience. I’ve exercised with girlfriends before. I remember going to Curves with my cousin Jody and taking a Jazzercise class with my friend Corinne. It didn’t stick though. Why? Partly because we needed to make arrangements to drive to the facility and work out. To put it simply, it wasn’t convenient. Working out with my husband, we have a set time we work out every day (Well, night. We work out at about 8 every night.), and we are in the same house to hold each other accountable. No excuses.

The support. If we’re doing a program to lose weight, we weigh in weekly and share the results with each other. We look back at the past week or so of eating and determine what in our daily food intake could have resulted in any gains. Right now my husband is trying to eat cleaner, so we evaluate our food choices together and different alternatives. I should mention, too, he’s the chef in the family, so he makes us tasty, healthy meals! I have yet to get him in just an apron.

This is not my husband. Not only did I already tell you I haven't gotten him in just an apron, but he would NOT be happy if I did and posted it on the Internet!
The competition. Since I’m not competitive by nature, I use this term in a broader sense. If we're in the middle of a workout and I don't feel I'm doing the best I can, I push myself harder to meet the intensity my husband has. I don’t often succeed, but sometimes I do (like that one time he fell before I did while in Warrior Three!)

The conversations. Fitness is something we have in common. Our workouts and eating habits have brought on some of the best discussions we’ve ever had! Not to mention my husband is now reading a lot. He’s reading fitness and nutrition books and they get us chatting. We lose track of time during our talks and I love it!

The view. Sure, some moves aren’t the most attractive, but watching my husband lift weights or own a Pilates move like it’s nobody’s business? Sign me up. The other night he was doing jumping jacks and I couldn’t break my stare. His body covered in perspiration? Sure, it may not smell the best, but it looks great.

The sex. Yeah, I said it. I mean, come on, I write romance! Working out together is H-O-T, not to mention the energy you get from being in shape! Some workouts can lead right into a good time, and others you need a shower after – but why not jump in that shower together?

Sexy shower, anyone?
Sexy shower, anyone?
Having a fitness friend or partner is so beneficial. Committing to a workout routine is difficult and it can be easy to lose motivation. I love having someone I can joke with (He loves my little comments while we exercise. Don't let him fool you!). It's great when my after-baby-bladder demands a new change of underwear after thirty seconds of jumping jacks and he needs to pause the program to get me new ones (No, I'm not afraid to ask him to get me a new pair!). What I love most is the intimacy and commitment. We've got each other's backs. 

jaywalking_cover_love 2

Check out my new book Jay Walking (releases 8/4) and see how Chelsea works fitness into her daily routine. It's on sale for $2.99 throughout the book tour, which ends August 15th. Also check out the first book in the series, Caching In, which combines romance and geocaching, for free during the tour. Both can be read as stand-alone novels. 

Click on your retailer to purchase Jay Walking:  

But wait - there's more! Enter this Rafflecopter to win a signed paperback copy of Caching In and a Wilson headband. US Residents only!

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About Tracy Krimmer: Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her first romance novel, Pieces of it All, released in May 2014 followed in December with Caching In, a romance mixed with the hobby of geocaching. She also has written several short stories. 

Find her online at, Facebook, or Twitter.

Monday, July 27, 2015


It's a Dog's Life
by Merlin 

Hi. In case you’re wondering, I’m a dog.

You may already know me, under one of my many aliases, from reading the books written by my patron, T A Williams, aka Trevor Williams, the man who writes books for women. You see, he and I go way back and he always puts me in his books.

I normally appear as a pedigree black Labrador (my true persona) although in The Room on the Second Floor I morphed into an enormous, but utterly charming mongrel (apart from an unfortunate habit of drinking out of the toilet bowl). Curiously, on the cover of What Happens in Tuscany, the artist transformed me into a long-haired retriever. 

Now, I have nothing against long hair. Indeed, some of my best friends are very hirsute, although my patron (“owner” sounds so very demeaning, don’t you think?) is very definitely not of the hirsute variety. In fact, take a look at any photograph of him and you’ll see light reflecting off his bald head.

Anyway, I digress…

My most recent incarnation is in What Happens in Cornwall as a young, very handsome (naturally) Labrador called Henry. I rather like that name. Henry has the great good fortune to live on an island with the famous film star, Ann Cartwright, described as “the most beautiful woman in the world”. There is no doubt that Henry has a good life, although having to travel to and from the USA in a crate is not my idea of fun. In this book, Henry plays a leading role, as it is he who makes an amazing archaeological discovery. I’d better not tell you too much.

Prior to Henry, I appeared in a charming cameo role as Dante, the Italian Labrador. In What Happens in Tuscany…, Dante is the undisputed capo di tutti i capi of a rather fine hillside overlooking Florence. He has style, manners and the remarkable ability, unusual in Labradors, to restrain himself from farting in the presence of refined company. Although he understands Italian, he is also fluent in English. No mean feat for a quadruped. Not as good as being able to type like me, but not bad at all…

His predecessor was called Danny. Danny is the eponymous hero of When Alice Met Danny. Now, it may surprise you to find that a Labrador knows the meaning of the word eponymous, but by now you’ve probably gathered that I’m a slightly unusual dog. In fairness Danny has a lot of competition in that book. You see, he’s not the only Danny. There’s a windsurfer, a baby, a writer, even the lord of the manor. In fact everywhere you turn, there are characters called Danny. But Danny, my alter ego, is the true hero of the book. And he gets the girl and keeps her, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast.

The large mongrel incarnation of me in The Room on the Second Floor is called Jasper. Apart from his aforementioned idiosyncratic drinking habits, Jasper has an unfortunate habit of knocking things, and people, over. He manages to destroy a priceless grandfather clock, tip his mistress into a bush and chew up a perfectly good pair of shoes. On the plus side, he discovers a gold ring, is responsible for rescuing his master, and chases off a potential villain. I suppose you could think of him as a canine Schwarzenegger; not too hot on refinement, but a good friend to have beside you in a fight.

And last, or rather first, if you look at the chronology of the books, is Noah in Dirty Minds. Noah’s master, Tom, has had a tough time recently and Noah has been there all the way to offer canine company and support. He has a weakness for biscuits, an obsession with swimming. Although flatulence is a recurring problem, he’s probably the closest to me, the original and genuine canine inspiration for T A Williams, or the Old Man, as I like to call him.

Now, if you will excuse me, I can hear the postman at the gate. Woof, woof, woof… 

What Happens in Cornwall… is out on July 20th, 2015, published by Carina. Check out the other stops on Trevor's blog tour and be sure to enter his giveaway below:

Book Blurb

For a very British summer holiday…
When archaeologist Sam realises her relationship is as dead as the skeletons she’s exhuming, she knows it’s time to make a change. But with bills to pay her options are limited…until a discovery on Rock Island in Cornwall gives her a reason to escape… 

Head to the Cornish coast!

In Cornwall, questions are thrown up at every turn: who is the glamorous owner of Rock Island that the paparazzi are so interested in? How has the irresistible, but impossibly arrogant, history professor James Courtney managed to get so far under Sam’s skin? And will it ever stop raining so Sam can lose the cagoule and sip a cool drink in the sun? One thing’s for sure: there’s never been a holiday quite like this one! 

Enjoy a summer of surprises and romance with What Happens in Cornwall…, the perfect retreat for fans of Fern Britton.

Purchase What Happens in Cornwall

Author Bio

Firstly, my name isn't T A. It's Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right.

Connect With T. A. Williams



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Monday, July 13, 2015


Last summer, I made a huge transition in my career as an author. Since 2011, I’ve been writing novels set in the Deep South, beginning with my first book, Stay Tuned. I went on to publish three additional novels, all in the chick lit genre.

In early 2014, though, I acquired an agent who represents primarily drama and suspense. Fortunately, I’d written two such novels, but had kept them under wraps when my chick lit career started taking off.

After months of shopping around my suspense novel, Center of Gravity, my agent sold the novel to HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson in a two-book deal. Amidst the shock and celebration, I worried quite a bit about losing my readers. After all, chick lit readers are my people. Not only that, many of my author friends write chick lit too—what would they think?

To further confuse the issue, I’d been publishing under the pen name, Lauren Clark, but Thomas Nelson suggested I use my real name, Laura McNeill, to differentiate between the two genres.

In the end, I decided that these are all great problems to have. When I thought about it logically, domestic suspense isn’t all that far of a stretch from chick lit. Before you decide to stop reading, hear me out. 

Melissa Amster, the creator and a writer for Chick Lit Central says, "I define chick lit as modern women's literature featuring a female character ranging in age from 20-40, dealing with issues in the fields of career, romance and family (or even a mix of these items)."*

With this in mind, here are 5 reasons why the chick lit and domestic suspense genres are a bit like kissing cousins:

1. Life Issues - Chick lit plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues, such as love, marriage, dating, relationships, friendships, addiction, and much more. Center of Gravity? Gone Girl? Girl on the Train? Check, check, check.

2. Tone - Barbara Vey, in an article for Publisher's Weekly says, "Chick lit is told in a ... confiding, personal tone. It's like having a best friend tell you about her life. Or watching various characters go through things that you have gone through yourself." Ditto for domestic suspense. Center of Gravity is told mainly from three first-person perspectives - Ava Carson, 8-year-old Jack Carson, and attorney Graham Thomas.

3. Humor - Chick lit readers, in general, expect to be entertained with at least a few scenes that make them laugh or smile. Though this is not generally an element in domestic suspense, I did insert a scene to break the tension mid-way through Center of Gravity.

In the scene, attorney Graham Thomas stumbles on a conversation between Mitchell Carson and several school employees. At first, Graham eavesdrops behind a huge saltwater fish tank, but jumps into the fray and confronts Mitchell after hearing him spin outlandish lies about Ava. (It's a great sceneone of my favorites in the book.)

4. Platonic Relationships - In chick lit, the heroine's relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationship. The same goes for many domestic suspense novels. In Center of Gravity, Ava misses her relationships with the teachers she worked with as a school counselor, and the close friendship she enjoyed with coffee shop owner Marley Kennedy.

5. Romance - Though there aren't a lot of swoon-worthy scenes in Center of Gravity, there's a definite attraction between hottie attorney Graham Thomas and heroine Ava Carson. Thomas is a Harley-driving, rugged, and outspoken lawyer who joins Team Ava to fight the injustices she's experiencing.

So, there you have it—five ways chick lit and domestic suspense relate in theme, focus, and voice. I’d love to hear what you think. Do you read only chick lit and rom coms or do you occasionally venture off into other genres?

(Tomorrow, July 14th, marks my release day for Center of Gravity, and I want to thank my friend and fellow author Tracie Banister for hosting me on BBB.)

<Blogger's Note> Always a pleasure to have Laura on Books by Banister. She's one of my fave Chick Lit authors, and I'm sure her writing will translate beautifully to the Suspense genre. Wishing her all the best on her new creative endeavor! 

*PW Article: How do you define Chick Lit?

Book Blurb

The truth could cost her everything. 

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

Purchase Center of Gravity

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Author Bio  
Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.
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