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Talking Books with Cynthia Gail, author of WINTER’S MAGIC

Please welcome my special guest, contemporary romance author, Cynthia Gail. Cynthia is here today to talk about her latest release just in time for Christmas, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at www.Cynthiagail.com.

Why was writing Winter’s Magic so important to you?

Spring’s Surprise, now book #2 in the Music City Hearts series, was actually the first book I wrote. At the first draft stage, I hired an editor to give me feedback and direction. She suggested I take Beth’s character from book #2, create her own story, and plan a full series. I’d already fallen in love with writing, but the guidance and validation from a professional, award-winning author, stirred a deeper passion and I jumped right in.

What was the experience like writing Winter’s Magic?

It was so exciting to write with a purpose. I’m a planner at heart and I felt like I was finally on a path that I had confidence in. Beth is probably my favorite heroine in the series. She’s a strong woman, she’s worked hard to get where she is, and as a result, runs a successful, elite day spa. But even strong women have vulnerabilities. It’s how we face our weaknesses that counts and I think Beth handles adversity with a lot of grace and fortitude.

Can you tell us more about Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester?

Beth’s parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of thirty, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Despite her deep-seated insecurities, Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and finally accepts an invitation to dinner. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and she slowly learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

Sara and Jenny are Beth’s two best friends. Spring’s Surprise is Sara’s story and Summer’s Family Affair is Jenny’s.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This is the end of a scene where Nick realizes how different Beth is from other women in his circle. Due to his family’s status, he’s constantly pursued by women looking for prestige and money. But Beth isn’t pursuing him and he can tell by her genuine interaction with his grandfather that she’s someone special he simply has to know more about.

What about page 65?

In a previous scene, Beth’s bank calls a surprise audit of her day spa’s construction expenses, based on allegations from an anonymous source. Nick offers to use his grandfather’s influence to get the audit dismissed, but Beth won’t let him. She has nothing to hide and doesn’t want to ‘use’ his connections. In the scene on page 65, Nick’s ex-girlfriend makes a surprise visit to his office. During the conversation, he realizes she’s the anonymous source. Though he’d promised Beth that he wouldn’t interfere, he can’t stop himself, and calls his grandfather.

Now that Winter’s Magic has been published, what’s your next project?

Spring’s Surprise is under contract and expected to release in March or April 2013. I’m just starting to work with the first draft of Summer’s Family Affair and I’m outlining Fall’s Redeeming Grace.

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s no surprise that my first book had to celebrate the season. I hope you enjoy Winter’s Magic as part of your holiday collection.

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Read a Chapter: Women’s Fiction ‘The Third Grace’ by Deb Elkink

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the women’s fiction, The Third Grace, by Deb Elkink. Enjoy!

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  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company, LLC (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937573001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937573003

WINNER OF 2012 BOOK OF YEAR AWARD
The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman’s first love.
Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia” — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith. Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the country bumpkin far behind. But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench. The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.

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Chapter One

Light from the floor lamp winked at Aglaia through the garnet wine as her guest swirled the glass upward—winked as though it shared Aglaia’s secret, just waiting for her to ask her question again. But she held back. She was pacing herself . . .

She studied the profile of Dr. Lou Chapman, the critical eye and the nose thrust aggressively into the bouquet of the vintage. She shifted on the sofa and reached for her goblet to mimic Lou’s actions, careful not to slosh her own wine over the rim. She didn’t want to appear gauche; it was awkward enough trying to draw outfrom Lou the information she needed to prevail in her search.

Maybe she shouldn’t have asked the professor up following the theater tonight after all, she thought. Work had beendemanding of late, and this afternoon’s traffic brutal in the drenching rain. She’d arrived back at her apartment with no time to slouch into relaxation—just a few minutes to pin her hair into a messy nest and slip on the sapphire chemise that now lay against her skin, silky as a French boy’swhisper.

“Nice legs,” Lou said.

Aglaia crossed them instinctively but caught herself before saying thanks, realizing just in time that the compliment was intended for the wine. Feeling foolish, she straightened her back and feigned a worldly, knowing air.

Lou picked up the bottle, tilted it towards the light, and read the label through the bottom half of trendy spectacles. “Where did you purchase it?”

“At Santé on East Sixth Avenue,” Aglaia said with a shrug, as though she stopped in at the posh Denver cellar regularly on her way home from work rather than just the once—last week for a tasting with her wine appreciation class. But Aglaia wondered if she’d ever truly appreciate wine. This bottle of imported pinot noir had cost her dearly but it was worth the money to gain Lou’s confidence and, besides, Aglaia’s growing collection of corks in the green bowl on the coffee table proved she was recovering from her habit of temperance.

With eyes closed Lou sampled the wine, swished, sucked air in past pursed lips. “Subdued, earthy with a subtle berry, long finish. Excellent choice.”

Aglaia couldn’t detect earth or berry, but she was glad now she hadn’t caved in to her first impulse to grab a domestic merlot at half the price.

“A toast to your enduring success in the arts,” Lou said, wine stem raised, “even if it is in the private sector instead of the university, where talent like yours belongs.”

Glasses clinked; the two women sipped.

Aglaia swallowed the astringent and watched Lou’s eyebrows, the most animated part of her face. They signaled her mood, usually dipping downward at the outer edges in world-weariness but arched now in approval. Lou’s slate-cold eyes themselves were flat, two dimensional, and gave nothing away.

Aglaia angled her glass and looked into its blood-red interior. Wine was a symbol of communion, she thought, and she was using it with carnal deliberation to seal this relationship that had so much to offer her. As she lifted the glass to her lips again, she hoped her own silhouette projected an image of glamor. Alcohol had been taboo in the home of her youth. In her current lapsed state, the mere thought of consuming it was intoxicatingin itself—and emboldening. She was about to pose her question again when Lou spoke up.

“The costumes in tonight’s performance were remarkable, but your Phantom stole the show.”

“Not myPhantomexactly,” Aglaia said.

“Don’t be coy. You’re obviously an accomplished artisan and you deserve to be discovered.”

Heat rushed to Aglaia’s cheeks but she knew she’d earned the praise. Her boss at Incognito Costume Shop wouldn’t let another employee touch the feature pieces contracted for the production, and they’d shown well on stage tonight.

Earlier this evening the curtains had closed to robust applause, but Aglaia waited until the last scalloped hem and tip of a feathered cap disappeared into the wings before joining in with the rest of the audience. When she recognized a critic from the Denver Post dashing backstage for an interview with the cast, she knew for certain that the name of Aglaia Klassen, up-and-coming costume designer, would appear again in the weekend reviews; her creations had worked their usual opening night magic. Indeed, Aglaia herself had been transported in her imagination to the play’s setting of the world-famous opera house in Paris.

Paris! It was the city of her dreams where, in just three days’ time, she’d finally be walking in the flesh. Aglaia took another sip to sober her elation over the imminent business trip, particularly regarding her plans for how she’d spend her free time there. Of course this would include a whirlwind tour of the city sights but other, admittedly idealistic, aspirations were at the forefront of her mind and had been all evening.

After the play, as Lou had driven through the city to take her home, Aglaia barely heard her scholarly assessment of the musical score because she was caught up in her thoughts of international travel. When Aglaia did speak, it was to articulate the undercurrent running though her subconscious for most of the performance—for most of her life, it seemed. That was when she’d casually brought the subject up with Lou.

“I wonder how someone can just disappear in Paris.”

Lou, slowing to make the turn onto Aglaia’s street, had said, “I suppose you’re talking about the masked villain spiriting the fair maiden away to his lair beneath the OpéraGarnier.”

“No, I mean nowadays, in real life. How would someone find a missing person in Paris?”

“That’s hardly the first question that comes to mind in critiquingThe Phantom of the Opera,” Lou had said, and she coughed out a laugh as if expecting an analysis of the play’s Faustian implications or something as cerebral. Aglaia’s own interests were much more intuitive, and she’d let the matter drop as Lou pulled into the space facing the apartment block, armed the car lock, and followed her up the steps while pontificating on the literary elements of the script.

Lou had remarked on Aglaia’s use of the Greek mask of tragedy as a pattern for the Phantom’s own disguise—a clever adaptation—and her mirroring of Hellenistic fashion in the simplicity of the heroine’s robe, guessing correctly that Aglaia’s inspiration had come from the Greek style of the Opéra’s architecture.

But all the while, right up to the time Lou had opened the wine, Aglaia was reviewing and reframing her question—her quest—regarding Paris. Lou, a sociologist at Platte River University and a jetsetter, was versed in things European, and Aglaia could use an expert at this point. Her Internet surveillance over the past month had turned up nothing very helpful.

Now Lou plucked a cat hair from the arm of the loveseat and Aglaia regretted not having vacuumed more thoroughly—Lou probably had a cleaning lady. Before the other woman could resume her intellectualized thread of the discussion on the evening’s entertainment, and at the risk of sounding fixated, Aglaia ventured a third query.

“So, Lou, if you were looking for someone in Paris, where would you start?”

This time Lou heard her, though she frowned. It clearly wasn’t her topic of choice. “Well, maybe I’d launch an investigation through the préfecture or contact the American embassy. Sightseers must go missing now and then. Or,” she gibed, “are you afraid of getting lost yourself when you’re over there, all alone in the big, bad city?”

Aglaia ignored her sarcasm. “It’s not a tourist issue.”

“You’re referring to a resident?” Lou asked with her eyebrow cocked. “The telephone book then, I suppose.”

The local phone book, of course. Aglaia would start with that notion as soon as she got to Paris. It might be a long shot, but she had this one chance for disclosure and she wasn’t going to let it slip away. She knew now how she would begin her on-site manhunt and felt herself unwinding for the first time all night.

But then the apartment buzzer rasped.

She didn’t expect anyone. Before she could answer it, the door was bumped open by her elderly mother. Tina Klassen, cheeks perpetually rouged by prairie wind and high blood pressure, was caught midsentence as though continuing an interrupted dialogue, her Low German accent still discernible.

“. . . and your father is in such a hurry to get home, Mary Grace. When harvest is wet like this and so late, you know how tense he is.”

She pronounced it “tanse” and, more out of habit than necessity, threw a Plautdietsch word into her ramble here and there—about the rain rotting the crops on the Laundt and about how Henry was waiting in the Trock outside. The tongue of the Klassen heritage was still spoken in many rural Mennonite households, but it was just partially understood and strictly avoided by Aglaia herself. She hoped Lou didn’t catch Tina’s flat, sticky words and the use of her old name, which Mom still hadn’t given up after all these years—or wouldn’t give up.

Maybe it was just as well. Tina wasn’t able to pronounce “Aglaia” correctly either, no matter how many times she was reminded that it rhymed with “I’ll pay ya.”

Tina pushed farther into the apartment. “Your father needed to pick up a tractor part none of the local dealerships had, and I don’t like it when he drives alone so long and so far. I only have a minute, dear. I brought you some fresh-baked Zwieback.

Aglaia was trying to lose a few pounds before the trip but—oh!—those rolls smelled delicious. The aroma disarmed her; she knew she should be hustling Tina out the door but couldn’t find her words.

“Did you get my parcel?” her mother asked, not yet noticing Lou sitting on Aglaia’s couch. “I didn’t know I was coming to town or I would have waited to bring it along and saved the postage. But I wanted to be sure it got to you before you left on your trip.”

In fact, when Aglaia received the package yesterday after work, she immediately began to tear at the brown paper, piqued about what her mother might be sending, until she saw the two-word title on the spine glaring through torn edges: Holy Bible. Annoyance at her mother’s intrusiveness soured her then and rose again now like acid in the back of her throat. Tina knew Aglaia was disinterested in religion—and that was an understatement.

Before Aglaia could shut the closet door, her mother spotted the packet amongst the shoes in the shadow of the coats and reached down for it. “Why, it’s right here,” she said. “Didn’t you read the note to call me?” Aglaia hadn’t gotten that far in her unwrapping, and she recoiled as Tina shoved the bundle at her. Then her mother glanced up, for the first time seeing Lou in the living room. “Oh, my,” Tina said, tightening the knot on her kerchief, “I didn’t know you had company.”

Tina seemed to have shriveled even since the last time she and Henry made the two-hundred-mile pilgrimage to Denver—a city, a state, a lifetime away from their Nebraska farm. Aglaia looked down on her though she wasn’t tall herself. She looked as far down on Mom as she looked up at Lou. Tina’s jacket didn’t hide the dowdy housedress and her shoes were muddy. Aglaia was sorry again that she ever gave her mother a key to the apartment. Resigned she made introductions.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Lou arose and offered a manicured hand. “Do come in,” she said, as if she were the hostess. Aglaia didn’t blame Lou for wanting to compensate for her own uncomfortable silence.

But Tina, a teetotaler, now eyed up the wine glasses and Aglaia could almost hear her judgmental thoughts about her daughter’s rejection of long-held Klassen values. Aglaia couldn’t risk letting Tina make further comment in Lou’s presence and took hold of her mother’s arm to steer her towards the outer hallway.

“Isn’t that Dad honking outside? You have a long drive home tonight.” That was true; they wouldn’t get back until well after midnight. “I’ll walk you down.”

“No, no. I need to explain.” Tina, flustered, ripped the butcher’s paper fully off the cumbersome black leather book, exposing it to Lou’s purview. “I found this when I was digging around under the basement stairs. I haven’t opened that trunk since the summer the French boy came to stay with us. You remember?”

Did she remember? It was all Aglaia could do to keep her memories under wraps.

Tina was opening the Bible now to the dedication page. “It says, ‘Presented to François Vivier from the Klassens.’ I thought to myself, that boy must have meant to take this home with him, since he carried it to church every Sunday he was with us, and to every Wednesday prayer meeting.”

Horrified, Aglaia opened her mouth to protest, but no sound emerged. This was worse than she first imagined—worse than her mother simply sending her a Bible for reasons of maternal concern over her spiritual state. Tina was trotting out the one aspect of Aglaia’s life she’d been trying to hide, especially from Lou. Not only was this a Bible that linked her to a personal religion, but it was the very Bible owned by the person who’d totally reformed her religion.

“He wrote notes into the margins, starting right here in Genesis,” Tina said. She pointed to a finely penciled script but, thankfully, didn’t read the misquotation aloud: In the beginning, the gods created.Tina went on, “It was too small for me to make out without my reading glasses there in the basement, and Henry was about to leave for town so I had to rush if I wanted to get it into the mail. Can you see what it says?” Tina held the book out at arm’s length for a moment before giving up. “Anyway, I decided that, since you were going to Paris, you should pack it into your suitcase and take it to him.”

Aglaia bit down hard to stop herself from exclaiming and kept her face turned towards her mom so that the other woman wouldn’t discern her mortification. She heard Lou say under her breath, “Ah, hence the questions,” and was immobilized by her mother’s proposition—in fact, by her own resolution—to find François, which sounded completely ridiculous when spoken aloud.

“Mom, I have no idea where he lives,” she said, but in her heart she wanted to shout, If only I knew where he lived!

Tina responded, “He said he was going back to that famous school. What was it called?”

“The Sorbonne, but that was years ago.” Aglaia kept her voice curt, not wanting to give Lou—who was openly eavesdropping—any reason to suppose she’d put up with the nonsense of taking a Bible along to France. “Who knows what’s happened to him since? It’d be impossible to find him.”

Aglaia doubted her mother would yield to the argument. Once she got a bone in her teeth, she was stubborn. Aglaia wouldn’t mention that looking for François had been her daydream all along. Hoping her own voice didn’t reveal her desire, she quickly added, “Besides, I’m in Paris for only a few days.” Only a few days allotted to explore the world’s most elegant city, an impossible few days to run an old heartthrob to ground.

Tina’s wrinkles deepened as her forehead puckered. True to her nature, she persisted, “I just know he’d want this precious Büak.”

As if François would care about that Bible, Aglaia thought.

Tina fiddled with the cover, thumbing the gilded edges that on her Bible had long ago lost their shine. A museum postcard slipped from between the pages to the floor, image facing up, immediately recognizable to Aglaia. She hadn’t seen the postcard for fifteen years and she stared at it, transfixed all over again by the sculpture of the three nude women. Helpless, she plummeted into the memory of that first viewing like a pebble into the pond behind the barn, once again sitting with her family around the table with François on the warm May night he came to them—seated close to him, touched by his breath.

Tarrying together, the three marble nudes stand silken in the light, immortal young sisters polished with the ages—arm encircling waist, head on shoulder. Mary Grace is intoxicated with them, captured on one of the many glossy cards he brought to show off Paris to his American host family. She doesn’t pay attention to his descriptions of the Eiffel Tower or the bridges, but only to the timbre of his voice, the poetry weaving through his hesitant English.

He turns to her for a moment and says, “They have your name, non? Les TroisGrâces—Mary Grace.”

Her brother grins and kicks her under the table but she ignores him. She’s consumed with the statues and with François’s fingertips tracing the two-dimensional outline, caressing the nymphen forms as though they’re warm and living flesh. She’s disconcerted because her own womanhood is so new. Does he mean to excite her? 

Lou stepped forward to pick up the card before Aglaia shook her reverie.

Tina squinted at it. “I hope that French Jung didn’t take such a picture into church with him.”

“Perhaps he was using it as a bookmark,” Lou said. She turned the card over and Aglaia saw it was blank except for the museum information printed on the back. “Pradier, 1790-1852. Les TroisGrâces—the Three Graces,” Lou read aloud. “Your François appreciated the female form, I see—good taste.”

Aglaia attempted to change the course of conversation. “Mom, it’s too bad I didn’t know you were coming tonight or I’d have gotten you and Dad tickets for the play.” Not that they ever attended the stage.

But Lou, looking at the photo again, continued in spite of Aglaia’s red herring. “Pradier sculpted in the neo-classical style and used the ancient Greek mythsas subject material. The Three Graces, companions of Aphrodite, were very popular, and you can see that Pradier included their signature themes of fertility, beauty, and hospitality in this work. Note the way he utilized plants and jewels to get his idea across.” She stretched her arm out so that mother and daughter could see what she meant, but Aglaia knew Lou’s point would be lost on Tina. “The mythology of Greece made its imprint throughout history along many avenues,” Lou said. “For example, the plot of The Phantom of the Opera may well have had its origins in the story of Europa, the beautiful maiden who was stolen away by Zeus disguised as a bull.”

Tina scrunched her face in confusion.

As for Aglaia, she’d first heard the Greek tale whispered into her eager young ear by François’s impassioned young lips, and then read it again in Bulfinch’s Mythology, a text she discovered in twelfth grade on the shelves of the school library after her curiosity about the gods had been aroused. Her reading matter since her childhood days might surprise and even disturb Tina if she understood its content; it wasn’t quite the holy pap Aglaia was brought up on. But Tina’s disapproval wasn’t her concern at the moment, for Lou—satisfied with her examination of the postcard—was now craning towards the Bible as though she wanted to get a good close look at it next.

“Mom, I’ll take that,” Aglaia said. She reached for the book.

Tina handed it off to her readily. “Then you will return it to the boy? I knew you’d agree that it’s just meant to be.”

Aglaia intended only to get it out of sight—out of Lou’s sight, especially. The thought of delivering it was preposterous. But she zipped it into the front pouch of hersuitcase, packed and ready on the entry table. There was time enough to deal with it later, after she got rid of her mother and recouped her image with Lou, who probably thought she was totally incompetent about now.

Reprinted from The Third Grace by Deb Elkink. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company.

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Women’s Contemporary Fiction Author Rozsa Gaston: ‘When I suffer from writer’s block I go running’

Rozsa GastonRozsa Gaston is an author who writes serious books on playful matters. She is the author of Paris Adieu, Dogsitters, Budapest Romance, Lyric, Running from Love and the soon to be released Paris Adieu sequel, Black is Not a Color Unless Worn By a Blonde.Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between Rozsa worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

You can visit Rozsa’s website at www.parisadieu.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Kindle Store| Smashwords | LinkedIn | Barnes & Noble | Official Tour Page

 

About Paris Adieu

Paris AdieuThe first time Ava Fodor visits Paris as a nineteen-year old au pair, her French boyfriend introduces her to the concept of being comfortable in her own skin. If only she knew how…

One Ivy League degree later, she’s back for an encounter with a Frenchman that awakens her to womanhood. If only she could stay….

Five years later, Ava returns to Paris as a singer/pianist. She falls for Arnaud, whose frequent travel tortures her. While he’s away, a surprising stranger helps Ava on her journey to self-discovery. Armed with the lessons Paris has taught her, she bids adieu to Arnaud, Pierre and her very first love – the City of Light.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Rozsa. Can you tell us what your latest book, Paris Adieu, is all about?

Paris Adieu is a coming of age tale of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

The book has two themes: 1) how to be  comfortable in your own skin and 2) how to fake it till you make it.

Paris Adieu’s heroine, Ava Fodor, is clueless about both at the start of the story. But over ten years and three separate stays in Paris, she figures out a thing or two – thanks to insights living in Paris has given her. Ava studies French women, French food,  French attitude – while French men study her.  By the final chapters of Paris Adieu, she’s more or less transformed herself into the woman she wants to be. And if she hasn’t entirely, at least she’s learned how to fake it till she makes it.

Ultimately, Ava grasps that her newfound sense of self will work for her back in the U.S. in a way it never will if she stays in Paris. She’ll never become French. But she has become fabulous. More or less.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

My main character is Ava Fodor, a slightly plump, frizzy-haired nineteen-year-old American au pair in Paris. She struggles with being less than perfect.

Jean-Michel is Ava’s fussy, exacting first French boyfriend who educates her on all matters Parisian. Too bad his provincial outlook drives her up the wall.

Four years later, Pascal, Ava’s second French boyfriend, gives her something she’ll thank him for eternally – an introduction to her own womanhood.

Arnaud, Ava’s third French boyfriend, dazzles Ava’s head as well as her heart, until she finally tires of matching wits with him in a never ending zero-sum game. Recalling Pascal’s advice to her to always seek authenticity, she realizes she can’t be herself with Arnaud, nor in her career as a singer pianist.

When Arnaud’s friend Pierre shows interest in her original songs in a way Arnaud never has, Ava gains insight into who she really is and where she belongs. Pierre’s entrance into her life catalyzes her to move in a new direction – back to New York armed with the lessons Paris has taught her.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I base my characters on real people.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I almost never have more than a vague idea of where my plot is going. My characters let me know sooner or later what is going to happen to them. The plot derives from them.

Q: Your book is set in Paris. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Audrey Hepburn summed it up best when she said “Paris is always a good idea.”

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes. Mais oui!

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Ava meets April, the Californian ex-girlfriend of Ava’s French boyfriend Jean-Michel. April has returned to Paris for a brief visit and drops by to see Jean-Michel. Expecting to feel jealous, instead Ava realizes that she and April have far more in common with each other than either of them do with Jean-Michel. They’re both a bit plump, both on diets, both struggling to get their arms around the very Parisian concept of being comfortable in their own skins. When Ava witnesses Jean-Michel trying to sabotage April’s efforts to stay on her diet when they all go out, she gets wise to Jean-Michel’s controlling ways. After April’s visit, Ava has Jean-Michel’s number – and it’s up.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

I hope you enjoy reading the following excerpt from Paris Adieu as much as I enjoyed writing it:

“You saw her recently?” Arnaud asked, his voice for once not booming out, dominating the conversation.

“She passed through Chavignol about a month ago,” Pierre said.

“Did she ask about me?” Arnaud’s tone was serious, almost reverential. I remained quiet as a mouse, tiptoeing behind the men.

“I can’t remember,” Pierre replied.

“You can’t remember what Mélanie said to you? I don’t believe it,” Arnaud said.

“We were at the boulangerie. It was crowded – we spoke in passing.” Pierre looked around, spotting me then clearing his throat.

I walked quickly ahead, pretending not to have heard anything. My blood boiled to think of how vulnerable Arnaud’s voice had sounded when he’d asked if whoever Mélanie was had asked about him. I’d never heard Arnaud utter a single word to me in a similar tone, not even when he’d said je t’adore.

Suddenly, I didn’t adore him back at all. My feelings for him crumbled, as the scales fell from my eyes. He was carrying a torch for someone named Mélanie. And whoever she was, she wasn’t me.

Always maintain straight posture at critical moments,” my grandmother’s voice rang out inside. I straightened up, flicking my ponytail back to ward off the gnat of insecurity now buzzing behind me. Then it hit me – Mélanie was the name of the woman in the photo at Arnaud’s country house.

Something tugged at my hair. I ignored it. Again, I tried to catch their conversation.

Arnaud had realized I was within earshot. Changing course, he began to describe a herd of elephants he’d seen in Cambodia.

I felt another tug. This time, I turned my face to the left, where Pierre’s warm, brown eyes caught mine. I lowered my own quickly, my pulse racing. He had been the one pulling my ponytail. Meanwhile, Arnaud droned on about yet another fascinating, obscure thing that had happened to him in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Pierre lowered his eyes back at me and made an inaudible ‘shhh’ with his mouth.

My smile was discreet, unnoticed by Arnaud, who was now waxing rhapsodic about how baby elephants call for their mothers. Whatever.

It occurred to me things that happen to us don’t really matter as much when they are not shared. If Arnaud had been watching baby elephants bawl for their mothers with me, for example, we would have shared the memory of such a charming scene forever, woven into the fabric of our relationship, however long it lasted.

Instead, it would be Arnaud telling his baby elephant story to others throughout the years, regaling strangers in bars with tales of wondrous exploits he underwent alone. So what? It all seemed like a big nothing to me.

“And then the female elephants all form a circle around the babies and bellow at the male elephants who try to charge the watering hole before the babies have had their drink. Yak, yak, yak, blah blah …” Arnaud was now completely caught up in his anecdote, oblivious to Pierre’s eyes flickering over mine, engaged, attentive, and fully present in the moment. “Be here now” was what Arnaud had preached to me.

But Pierre practiced it.

My mind wandered back to George Berkeley, the eighteenth-century empiricist who’d said “to be is to be perceived.” He was one of my favorite philosophers. In my college philosophy classes, he’d been one of the few I’d fully wrapped my brain around, along with Hegel and his three-part dialectic. As a songwriter I could really get behind the concept of three – verse, chorus, bridge were the three components of just about every pop song ever created. It was inarguably a pleasing number, both to the mind and to the senses. No wonder God had chosen it to represent Himself.

But back to Berkeley’s way of thinking – let’s just say that Arnaud hadn’t really seen those baby elephants, or heard them crying for their mothers, or seen the ladies get huffy with the males who tried to drink before the kids had their fill. Who would ever know? Since Arnaud witnessed this whole scene by himself, then who was to say it actually happened?

That’s what Berkeley would ask and that was what I was asking now. If Arnaud chose to live his life in a way largely unshared by anyone who remained constant in it, then was there meaning in what he experienced? Frankly – who cared?

Excerpted from Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

When I suffer from writer’s block I go out running. If I’m really blocked, I do a speed workout. Speed workouts put the body into an anaerobic state which causes the brain to produce endorphins afterward. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that promote feelings of euphoria. I usually sleep well and dream vividly the night after I’ve done a speed workout. I think it’s those endorphins inviting inspiration into my brain. By the next morning I’ve usually come up with a fresh new writing idea.

If that doesn’t work, I brainstorm by writing down as many plotlines, outcomes, and crazy directions for the story to go in as come into my head. I do this first thing in the morning before the day gets cluttered up with real life.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Read! I’d kick back with a fiction work of choice and learn from other authors. Famous, infamous or unknown, it wouldn’t matter. I love reading what other writers do with words. It’s always instructive. Even when its bad, it teaches me something. But there’s nothing like the pleasure of reading a well-written passage. It’s as good as eating a box of fine chocolates.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I’d written Bonjour Tristesse, the 1954 masterpiece and debut novel by Françoise Sagan. That book had it all: style, austerity, chic, wit, insouciance, ennui, the whole gamut of what the French refer to as “je ne sais quoi” – “I don’t know what.” I hope Paris Adieu has a similar blend of seasoning – but without the ennui. Ennui is one of those characteristics largely exclusive to Europeans – unless we’re talking about Whit Stillman characters. I’ve always wanted to have it, but never will.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Complete your projects. Don’t start a manuscript, lay it aside then start another one. Get into the habit of completing whatever writing project you begin. It’s a good discipline to follow and sooner or later one of your completed projects will be good enough to publish. If no one else thinks so, just publish it yourself. Voilà – you’re on your way!

Thank you so much for this interview, Rozsa.  We wish you much success!

 


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Interview with Fiction/Family/Relationships Author Richard Alan on ‘The Couples’

Richard Alan

Richard Alan lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his wife, Carolynn. They are the proud parents of three wonderful adult sons.He is a Vietnam combat and 101st Airborne Division veteran.

After an education in mathematics, a 17 year career in manufacturing engineering and a 22 year career in software engineering, he has started a career as an author. Richard writes novels about people trying to find their life-partner, soul-mate, the person they are meant to be with for life. His first two books, Meant to Be and The Couples, are available on his website and most online retailers.

Richard’s other interests range from mathematical analysis and photography to anything with an engine. His current projects include writing the third (Finding Each Other) and fourth novels in the “Meant to Be” series, and discovering the properties of functions of p-adic numbers. Having completed a potting bench for his lifepartner, Carolynn, he is busy driving her to watch salmon runs, visit National Parks, and anywhere that provides an opportunity to view her avian friends.

His latest books in the Meant to Be Series are Meant to Be and The Couples.

You can visit Richard Alan’s website, VILLAGE DRUMMER FICTION at www.villagedrummerfiction.com.

CONNECT WITH RICHARD:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Kindle Store (Meant to Be)| CreateSpace (Meant to Be) | Amazon Kindle Store (The Couples) | CreateSpace (The Couples)

 

ABOUT THE COUPLES

 

 

Acclaimed author of Meant to Be, Richard Alan, once again enchants us with characters that we really want to know. You will laugh, cry, and love with them as you seek the answers to the relationship questions posed by this talented author.

Will a tough techy lady be able to find love with a man who is still mourning his deceased fiancée?

Will an intellectually snobbish genius learn that there is more to the truck mechanic than meets the eye?

Can a nerd and a party girl find happiness together?

Can a teenage boy musician get past his unrequited love to learn to love a ranch girl instead?

Will a troubled rape victim be able to have a normal relationship with a man?

The Couples is about people who may belong together and how the world around them helps them, or sometimes defeats them in their search for a life partner. It follows the lives of couples,their friends, and their support systems,as they explore their relationships.

The Couples is Richard Alan’s second novel in the “Meant to Be” series. It continues to explore relationships, love, and life.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Richard. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Couples, is all about?

The Couples continues the theme established in Meant to Be of people who may belong together and how the world around them helps, or sometimes defeats them, in their search for a life partner.  It follows the lives of couples, their friends, and their support systems, as they explore their relationships.

Meyer and Joan return in The Couples, along with several other characters from Meant to Be.  New people are introduced who also interact with Meyer, Joan, and others.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

Anna and Michael, both of whom are techies, are the main characters.  Michael is emotionally hurting due to the sudden death of his fiancée a few weeks before their wedding.  Anna has to get over her poor self-image and learn to trust her feelings.  The book centers on their ability to help each other and to grow to become a couple.

There are several supporting characters.  One of the them is suddenly confronted with the opportunity to become the mother of the daughter she gave up for adoption ten years earlier.  Another is a rape victim who is trying to rejoin society as a whole person.  One is a teenage boy musician who is trying to get past an unrequited love and finds happiness with a ranch girl. These and several others come together as a community to support each other in their quest to find their life partner.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

They are totally from my imagination.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

First I develop characters and then the characters tell me their stories.  The stories they tell me always provide twists and turns.  I follow them wherever they take me.  Sometimes I am as surprised at the outcome of a relationship as I’m sure my readers will be.  Occasionally, a subplot will be very interesting but not fit the main thrust of the book.  I save those for subsequent novels.

Q: Your book is set in the Pacific Northwest, including the Seattle area and the Boise, ID area.  Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular? 

The stunning backdrops of the stories my characters wish to convey is provided by the rich tapestry of the mountains, plains, deserts, forests, and marine environments of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

No; the interactions between, and the growth of, the characters is the major theme of the story.  The setting provides reasons to interact.  The characters reaction to the scenes around them may provide insight into their personalities.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening? 

A 10 year old foster child is visiting with a family who might adopt her.  When a bully is about to hurt the girl, he is stopped by the potential future father.  She smiles at him and wonders if this is what it’s like to have a father.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts? 

As they sat in front of the campfire, Anna’s eyes were filled with tears.  She told Michael, “Just when things were the best, they became the worst.  I could never provide that kind of love for someone, like Sharon did for you.”

Michael left his chair, kneeled in front of Anna, and holding each of her hands in his, told her, “You can and you will.”

He leaned forward and kissed her lips.  Anna’s mind was spinning.  She tightened her grip on Michael’s hands with as much strength as she could.  She knew that business partners shouldn’t act this way but… it was heaven to be kissed by Michael.

Anna closed her eyes and said in a quiet voice, “Michael, I’m scared.  I’ve never even had a boyfriend and sometimes, just the thought of you, does things to me I don’t like to think about.  That frightens me.  I’m not sure…”

Michael stood up in front of Anna.

Interrupting her he said, “Please stand up, Anna.”

“Michael, please listen…”

Michael lifted her arms slowly pulling her to a standing position.  He guided her arms around his neck, and in a soft voice told her, “This is how to get rid of that scared feeling.”

Michael wrapped his arms around Anna, pulling her body tightly against him and put his cheek against hers.  He could feel Anna’s arms slowly tightening around his neck.  Michael thought “Thank you Lord, for bringing Anna into my life and finally letting me hold her.”

Anna thought that having Michael’s arms firmly around her was better than her dream.  With the warmth of the fire pit, the cool evening breeze blowing on her, and the warmth from Michael’s body against hers; Anna didn’t ever want to let go.

After a while Michael asked her, “Does this help you feel better?”

“Yes, Michael,” she whispered.

 

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track? 

I have never suffered from writer’s block.  I have the opposite problem.  This is a good problem which has allowed me to write four books in the last fifteen months.

 

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted? 

Create world peace.  Oh, no – this is not a beauty contest.  Seriously, I’ve written a storyline for my fourth book where a woman in her late twenties takes a six year old girl for her first ride in a sailboat.  I would use the extra hour to continue polishing that story so my love of sailing, and being on the water, comes thru and becomes part of the girl’s character.

 

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why? 

Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality.  Only a genius can take a reader from arithmetic to particle physics and beyond in one volume.  In my opinion, this one volume provides more science than any two years’ worth of college courses.  His clarity of thought and purpose should be a guiding light for any writer, in any genre.

 

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?  

Do not try to edit your own manuscript.  Have a group of beta readers critique your book before you have it published.  Listen to the editors and beta readers, but be careful not to let them ruin the spirit of your story.  They are not the author, you are.  The final product ultimately is your responsibility.  Start creating buzz about your book long before the manuscript is even finished.  Read blogs about writing.  There is a wealth of information out there and many authors who are extremely supportive.  Good luck and have fun.

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Bonnie Trachtenberg, author of “Wedlocked”

Bonnie Trachtenburg

Bonnie Trachtenberg worked as Senior Writer and Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She’s also written for three newspapers, and has penned countless magazine articles.Wedlocked is her first novel. She lives on Long Island with her husband, stepchildren, and cats.

Please visit her blogs at:

http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

http://www.Wedlockedthenovel.com

and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/WritebrainedNY

Q: Thank you for this interview, Bonnie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wedlocked: A Novel, is all about?

A: Wonderful to be here. Wedlocked is the witty, engaging tale of a struggling actress named Rebecca Ross, who, after years of disappointment and heartache, finds herself catapulted into a disastrous marriage and onto a honeymoon from hell. Readers will find that the story is like a wild ride through Rebecca’s life, featuring zany, memorable characters; unique, unpredictable plotting; and lots of humor.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Rebecca starts out as a perfectionist Pollyanna and talented overachiever but gets taken down quite a few notches by her experiences in life—so much so that she begins to doubt everything she’s ever believed and is compelled to make a desperate decision. Rebecca does what her dictatorial mother, an overzealous convert to Judaism, has always wanted her to do: she marries a Jewish man, namely Craig Jacobs. Craig is charismatic and persistent but brash and defiant too, and he comes into Rebecca’s life like a hurricane. But it’s not until her wedding day that she begins to realize just how wacky and destructive a man he is—and just wait for the honeymoon!

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: The characters in Wedlocked are closely based on real people, as the story is based on my first brief and calamitous marriage. Some characters are composites and most were amplified—but not all! I guess you could say that with a few changes, Rebecca is really me. In fact, friends who have read the book say they hear my voice in their heads when Rebecca narrates.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: In this case I was very consciously aware of the plot since it was inspired by actual events from my life. In my second novel, which is in the editing phase, I used an idea that had been marinating in my mind for a while. However, in both cases, I found that the stories took unexpected turns as I wrote.

Q: Your book is set in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. Can you tell us why you chose these places in particular?

A: I’ve lived in both New York and Los Angeles and therefore have a great affinity and good knowledge of both. Many of my life experiences can be tied to places and events in both cities. I chose Italy because I’ve been there three times and find it to be a paradise. What better place to set a disastrous honeymoon? Especially since that’s where mine took place.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Yes, all three settings are like characters in what they offer and how they each affect Rebecca’s life. They also lend a certain richness to the story that only location can.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Rebecca is about to shoot her first national commercial and is practicing her lines. She wants to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong since, thanks to her, all her other career opportunities have gone down the drain. Of course something will go wrong, but this time it will be totally out of her control.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: Sure. This is from the prologue and sets the stage for what’s to come:
“As we were announced into a resplendent ballroom filled with enthusiastic guests, it was as if a UFO had plucked me out of my should-be life, only to plop me down in some sort of bizarre alternate universe. For it had been less than a year earlier that I was this close to seeing my dreams of fame, fortune, and romance come to fruition, when they exploded in my face like a cruel joke.

With Craig’s hand gripping mine, and the Starbright Orchestra’s lead singer channeling Frank Sinatra, the glorious, Gatsby-esque room that had so enchanted me, began spinning even faster than my shell-shocked, post-nuptial brain. What some brides know is that when you find yourself sashaying down the aisle on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, things can sometimes turn bafflingly surreal. Sensing something’s terribly amiss, you chalk it up to jitters, refusing to acknowledge a most unpleasant fact: the man standing before you in white tie and tails is far from the soul mate you hoped for.

If I could have seen this truth in real time, I like to think I would have mustered the courage to make a mad bolt from the chapel. But I was thirty-six—trampled, lost, and romantically bankrupt—so the only thing running away that day was the train I was riding, and I kept my seat, although I was destined to wreck.” —from Wedlocked: A Novel

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bonnie. We wish you much success!

A: It was a pleasure. Thank you!

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When Dreams Become Reality by Darlene Mahon and Peggy Vasquez

We have two special guests today! Darlene Mahon and Peggy Vasquez, co-authors of Judi Moreo’s motivational self-help anthology, Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together (Turning Point International) are here to talk about when dreams become reality.

Divider 5

Darlene: “I’ve been telling stories since the time I could speak!  Just ask my parents!  My sister and I would make up stories and tell them to our cousins.  We would dream of becoming talk show hosts so we could tell the world our stories and hear others’ stories as well.  The dream of becoming an author was always there waiting for a door to open.”

Peggy: “Every since I can remember I wanted to be an author.  While growing up one of my favorite things was “playing school” with my friends and sisters.  Of course I was always the teacher.  I loved leading the class through activities and assignments.  My other favorite activity was writing.  My friend and I would write stories and imagine we were published authors.  I loved writing so much that I kept a journal all through junior high and high school.  I need to get the trunk out of my mother’s garage and dust off those old journals . . . who knows, maybe that will be the catalyst for my next book.”

Darlene & Peggy: “You may call it daydreaming…I call it making plans.”  Peggy Vasquez gave Darlene Mahon a magnet with that phrase on it and it is a perfect vision statement for their partnership.  Ten years ago they became co-workers and office mates and soon discovered they had much in common, including aspirations to become trainers, speakers and authors.  Big dreams for administrative assistants.

Ultimately, their shared passion for teaching, speaking and writing led them to this exact point in their lives.  This year their life-long dreams were realized! They experienced their first speaking engagement and first book signing.  They spoke at the national Administrative Professionals Conference to 100 people.  The session was titled, “Taking the Mystery and Misery out of Partnering with your Manager.”  Their excitement grew as they entered the room to embrace the opportunity they had envisioned for so long.  They examined the room and checked the equipment.  They laid out their notes and tested their microphones.  As they were preparing, the staff began placing more chairs in the room.  There was more interest in the class and they needed to fill the room with chairs!  The sign near the door read “maximum capacity 89” however the room was set for 110!  As they enthusiastically greeted attendees they calmed their nerves by focusing on the attendees instead of themselves.  They set their sights on delivering the material to a hungry audience.  The class began and after 90 minutes concluded.  Everything went so well it seemed as if it were a dream, almost surreal.  The attendee’s response was overwhelming and many approached Peggy and Darlene afterward thanking them for valuable information and asking them to stay in touch by sharing their business cards.

Immediately following the session they experienced their first book signing.  The adrenaline was flowing.  As they walked out of the conference, they paused to pinch themselves just in case!  Yep, they were awake and embracing the moment when dreams become reality.

Peggy Vasquez has been an executive assistant for top executives for more than a decade.  In addition to providing daily support to C-level executives, she is called upon to provide leadership and training. Peggy has led executive assistant teams and together they have designed and implemented many successful programs for administrative staff, including: Award of Administrative Excellence, Annual Office Professionals Seminar, Administrative New Hire Training, Quarterly Administrative Development Forums, National Award Recognition, Personality Profile Training, and a Mentoring Program. Peggy’s belief in the value of the administrative professional inspires her to share her passion, knowledge, and techniques to empower others to succeed.

Peggy Vasquez may be contacted at:

www.ActingOnBehalfOf.com

ActingonBehalfof@hotmail.com

Join me on Facebook

Connect with me on Linkedin

Follow me on my blog: http://peggyvasquez.blogspot.com/

Darlene Mahon has worked as an administrative assistant for over 25 years.  She has embraced opportunities to provide training to other administrative staff over the years and is currently scheduled to train at two national administrative conferences in the fall of 2010.  She actively participates in community theatre, has performed in local commercials and corporate training videos.  Darlene’s compassionate, empathetic presence resonates with audiences everywhere.

Darlene Mahon may be contacted at:

www.ActingOnBehalfOf.com

ActingonBehalfof@hotmail.com

Join me on Facebook

Connect with me on Linkedin

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Theory Cream Ice The: A Mirror Review by Steff Deschenes

We have a special guest today!  Steff Deschenes, author of The Ice Cream Theory , is here to give us a “mirror review” of her own book!

Theory Cream Ice The

A Mirror Review by Steff Deschenes

The Ice Cream Theory is a charming “self-help” book that draws a unique parallel between ice cream flavors and human personalities, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the variety inherent in a well-lived life.

While I agree with this snapshot summary of what the book’s about, I disagree, and have from the start, with the “self-help” bit of that statement.

But then again, I’m allowed to.

Because I’m the author.

I didn’t have much of a choice, though.  When it came time to pick a genre for my self-published book, “Super Cool Almost True, but Somewhat Inaccurate Anecdotes from My Life” was not a viable option.  So, the powers that be shuffled me into “Self Help: General.”

Which makes me feel altogether silly – because, really, what the heck does a twenty-something know about life outside of their own little world?

Apparently something more than nothing, considering the book has gone on to win 12 independent book awards and has had had a number of glowing reviews from ice cream companies, bloggers, and newspapers.

The reviews tend to say the same thing.  “Her writing style is conversational and down-to-earth,” which I know is true.  Friends, and even fans who’ve met me after reading the book, tell me its uncanny how similar reading the book is to talking to me in real life.  That’s good.  I like that.  Every author strives to find their literary voice and if I’ve found mine so strongly at such a young age, then I know I’m doing something right.

Reviews have also said, “It takes a special kind of braveness to put one’s life out there for the entire world to judge.”  The line between bravery and stupidity is very small though.  Writing about raw, honest thoughts and emotions about ex-boyfriends has resulted in several late-night, overly-drawn-out conversations with said ex’s to discuss what was written about them and us.  As a general rule of thumb, I make them take me out for ice cream if they want to talk.

And, across the board, reviewers agree that “by the end of the book, you come away thinking and looking at yourself, the people in you know, and your life experiences wondering what flavors would match up.”  Success!, considering that’s kind of the whole point of the book.

There are a couple of things, however, that not a single reviewer, blogger, friend or family member seems to have picked up on.  And, if I was asked to write a review about The Ice Cream Theory, I would have made it a point to focus on the fact that:

A)    There isn’t a single curse word in the entire book – the language, while sassy and filled with adult references and undertones, is entirely PG; and . . .

B)     There isn’t a single social, pop culture, or brand reference made.

Both of which were done intentionally, and are relatively impressive.  Especially the latter of the two: to be able to write an entire book about ice cream, and yet not once actually reference or name an individual store or brand is especially remarkable, if you ask me.

We are an impressionable society constantly surrounded and berated by an influential media, multi-billion dollar corporations, and the entertainment business.  It’s nice to be able to think for ourselves on occasion; and, I hope that I contributed to that by creating something devoid of such references.  I also am under the personal opinion that when we include celebrity or brand names in our art, then we are dating ourselves.  In essence, by excluding those things, I feel I’ve written something timeless.

And the no-swear-word rule simply originated as a “can I do it?” concept, because I tend to have a potty mouth. I quickly realized that I could still effectively say what I needed to say sans any colorful language, and create a delightful story that is apparently readable and relatable to regardless if you’re seventeen or seventy-seven.

With its upbeat, conversational tone and broad appeal, The Ice Cream Theory is not a typical “Super Cool Almost True, but Somewhat Inaccurate Anecdotes from My Life” kind of book.  It’s a must read for anyone bruised by life’s tough lessons and in need of a cheerful pick me up!

Or so the reviewers say!

# # #

Steff DeschenesDespite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. You can also visit her at www.theicecreamtheory.com.

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