Romcom at its craziest, funniest and British-iest and it’s only 99p! #99books #romcom

British romcom at its best! Continue reading

What does a ‘trashy novel’ really mean? #romcom #trashy

I always thought the answer was gratuitous sex scenes amongst shallow characters, but others have told me it’s an insignificant plot. I Googled the answer and (palpitations!) it brought up chick lit. Chick lit! Surely not the light-hearted books I … Continue reading

Cookie’s Book Club: Women’s fiction versus other genres of literature

Women’s fiction versus other genres of literature

Today I read an interesting article over at Big Al’s Books and Pal’s on the topic of differentiating romance and chick lit genres. I think that Donna Fasano, the invited expert, explained the differences quite well. At least they made sense to me.

If I understood her correctly, while each genre may and generally does involve a romantic element the focus of each is different. In the romance novel the romance itself is the focus, whereas in the chick lit novel the romantic relationship is at most a factor in the protagonist’s growth or journey. Donna says that in chick lit, “Whether the protagonist ends up with a man is not as relevant as the learning process she experiences through various situations that culminate in her resolving her issues…” See the full article for more: BigAl’s Books and Pals: Chick Lit and Romance Fiction / A Defining Moment.

A lively discussion follows this article. I was surprised to find a comment attacking the genres for being ‘silly’ and ‘boring’. For one thing, the comment was not on topic. No one asked for a personal opinion of the genres. Secondly, it was rude and arrogant. The attacker tried to impose his distaste for the genre on others. Third, it wasn’t smart, since he is now an author with at least one less potential fan. But I digress.

The comment that the genres are silly and boring did start me thinking: Romance and chick lit have been mocked and belittled for ages, yet they are as popular as ever. No amount of eye-rolling or finger-gagging is going to change the fact that women love these books. But despite their popularity, have the genres truly been accepted as legitimate forms of literature? Yes, we read them, but how many of us are proud of it? Are we more likely to boast about reading a well-known piece of historical fiction or the latest chick-lit favourite?

Click below to be taken to the original article:
Cookie’s Book Club: Women’s fiction versus other genres of literature

Book Giveaways!

I have TWO copies of my chicklit novel, A Proper Charlie, to giveaway.
It’s fun and frothy and PINK!
For ladies from 16 to 100
No men allowed (unless entering for sister, mum, girlfriend, gran…)
Charlie watched as he fell back onto her settee, and then straddled his lap. Oh my God! What was she doing! She was having an out-of-body-experience, she thought. Only she wasn’t dead. She was alive. Very much so. She wriggled against him wonderingly and excitement flared in her body as his own rose to her teasing.

Charlie Wallis has everything a girl could wish for. A loving boyfriend, a nice flat and a fantastic job as a journalist for London Core. Trouble is, Charlie’s boyfriend’s a waster, her job title really reads ‘clerk’ and her flat, at the top of a high-rise, isn’t that nice after all.
Her new boss, Ben, is a huge bear of a man. A gentle giant, with chocolate brown eyes that hold a secret.

While London Core investigates the murders of local prostitutes, Charlie wants in on the action, deciding that dressing as a hooker and walking the streets is good research. Bumping into Ben was the last thing she expected.
A story of opposites that not only attract…

… but ignite!

To enter put your name and email address (so I can reach you) in the comment box. Names will be put into a hat (in my case a tupperware box) and the two pulled out will win!
Offer closes 10th April midnight.
A Proper Charlie can be shipped anywhere in the world.

Wise Words: A Proper Charlie – chicklit novel.

Wise Words: A Proper Charlie – chicklit novel.:

Charlie watched as he fell back onto her settee, and then straddled his lap. Oh my God! What was she doing! She was having an out-of-body-experience, she thought. Only she wasn’t dead. She was alive. Very much so. She wriggled against him wonderingly and excitement flared in her body as his own rose to her teasing.

Charlie Wallis has everything a girl could wish for: a loving boyfriend, a fantastic job as a newspaper journalist for London Core and resides in a trendy flat.

Trouble is Charlie’s boyfriend’s a loser, her job title really reads `clerk` and her flat, at the top of a high-rise, isn’t that nice after all.

Her new boss, Ben, is a huge bear of a man. A gentle giant, with chocolate brown eyes that hold a secret.

While London Core investigates the disappearance of local prostitutes, Charlie wants in on the action, deciding that dressing as a hooker and walking the streets is good research.

Bumping into Ben was the last thing she expected.
A story of opposites that not only attract …

A Proper Charlie is now available as a down load from Smashwords and on Kindle on Amazon.

Free e-book! Check out this hybrid chick-lit action/adventure novel!

The Scent of Jade
Dee DeTarsio

From TV writer Dee DeTarsio, a new novel, The Scent of Jade. When an ancient jade relic that holds secrets to global warming ends up in the hands of a not-so-perfect heroine, she is thrust in a fish-out-of-water adventure, lost in the Costa Rican rainforest.

“Romancing The Stone” meets “Survivor” for Julie Fraser, who was minding her own business, living her life as snug as a bug in a rut in San Diego, California. As the least adventurous person she knows, Julie finally whooped it up one day to jet off and surprise her husband, who was on a business trip in Costa Rica. Reeling from the discovery that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was, she accidentally steals an ancient artifact and is chased through the wilds of the rainforest, not knowing where to turn, literally, or whom to trust. She knew she should have stayed home.

Can a monkey, a blonde Juan, a foreign scientist, a mysterious ‘love potion’ and the jade stone itself (that may hold secrets to global warming), help Julie on her mission to find and forgive her husband?

The stolen idol catapults her on a quest, as she discovers truths along the way about herself and her place in the universe. The Scent of Jade is creative and unique with surprising twists–in turn suspenseful and heartbreaking, combining humor and romance to reach the payoff ending. Original characters keep the pages turning.

The Scent of Jade spins its story with wit and wisdom, drawing those who love mystery, suspense, romance and adventure. While there are no vampires, readers are invited to enjoy the intrigue…
Perfect escape, like watching a romantic action movie with a sarcastic friend. At times the heroine fell apart; then she rocked her best Angelina Jolie, with humor, action and a hint of sexiness. –Unabridged Chick

The Scent of Jade has enjoyed a fast-growing, international fan base. Clever, quirky, and multi-talented, ebook novelist Dee DeTarsio is definitely a new author you want to friend, and then you can say, you knew her when…. –The Divining Wand

San Diego Novelist Romances UK. The Scent of Jade has a killer, Hollywood logline: Romancing the Stone meets Survivor. The author takes a page from her world-traveling protagonist Julie Fraser and has connected with Brit romance fans. –Mediabistro

Dee DeTarsio is a television writer living in southern California. After growing up in Ennui, Ohio, and graduating from Ohio State University she vowed ‘never to be cold again’ (in a tantrum more worthy of Suellen than Scarlett) and ended up in Tucson, Arizona, producing the news for the CBS affiliate, oddly enough called KOLD-TV. She moved to San Diego where she worked in the SeaWorld entertainment department as a Producer/Writer, (Penguins are mean!) and then became a Producer/Writer with NBC for a live, comedy/variety show.
After working for Children’s Hospital, she totally sold out and became the Marketing Director of a cosmetic dermatology group where she got free Botox. Her husband is a Director of Photography and travels around the world while she stays behind as the indentured servant of their two children. Though her father was never famous and her mother never beat her (that hard!) she suspects one of her sisters is a vampire. Learn more at her website and blog Check out the book trailer too!

My husband, who has earned his title of beditor, once complained that ‘women sure do think a lot.’ That’s right, we do. Live and learn, hombres. THE SCENT OF JADE grew out of his observation and into a hybrid chick-lit action/adventure novel.

I began with a “what-if” scenario (a woman on a resort vacation, what could possibly go wrong?) that grew into a ROMANCING THE STONE (awesome movie) meets SURVIVOR (amazing reality show!). I hate camping, I’m scared of the dark, I like my belly full, thank you, and my coffee hot, so I tried to make my heroine as uncomfortable as possible.

Click below for the interview:

What is it about?
THE SCENT OF JADE is a hybrid chick-lit action/adventure that follows a woman lost in the Costa Rican rainforest with an ancient idol that may hold secrets to global warming:

Was there a character you struggled with?
Julie Fraser, the protagonist, is the most important character, as the star of the show. I love her, and I had to keep making things difficult for her, and not give her an easy pass. We sometimes want to protect our babies and not let bad stuff happen to them, but half the fun is figuring out that the “bad stuff” is where it gets good!

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
I have written 4 novels–I just can’t seem to help myself! To help with promoting THE SCENT OF JADE, I also added ‘Til Somebody Loves You, Romantic Comedy Quick-Pick, a quirky chick-lit based in Chicago, following a copywriter’s search for her one true love–featuring a damsel in distress who can save her own day!

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
I am a television writer living in southern California. When my agent became a victim of the economy, I pushed to get my women’s fiction novel, The Scent of Jade, on Amazon. In the first two months, there have been nearly 2000 downloads (from Amazon, the iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords). In addition, The Scent of Jade has hit #6 in the Romantic Suspense category for Amazon in the UK–and broke through the top 100 on Amazon in the US in Romantic Suspense. One of the biggest kicks was seeing my books grouped with my idol, goddess Marian Keyes.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the digital revolution. The advent of the kindle and other eReaders, including smart phones!, has opened so many doors to so many new writers and genres, it has been an amazing adventure. I love reading new books and authors that I might not have found before.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
Though some in my family would place me on Team Eeyore, meeting the requirements of insecurity, self-doubt and doom and gloom necessary to be a writer, that miasma can magically disappear with the push of a button–upon discovering a kind note from someone who actually read something I wrote and liked it, who wasn’t my mother. Pinch me, I’m dreaming, but that unbelievable feedback is enough to make it all worthwhile! I’m trying out a new slogan: Be kind, Remind…an author if you like their stories…

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I’m a morning person, fueled by triple espresso–who never met a problem that couldn’t be solved by an afternoon nap and a good ten hours of sleep!

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer.
I am petrified of being left behind in this digital revolution, ( and do all of my projects on the computer. That said, however, every single idea was written, scribbled, and scrawled with a pen on paper first. I sometimes use crayons, gel pens on watercolor paper to fuel creativity (try that!), and love the sweet, sweet smell of a fresh Sharpie. My purse, pockets and desk are awash in sticky notes because I’ve learned the hard way–I’m convinced I would be a best-selling author by now, but I’ve forgotten what that brilliant idea was.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
I love TV and it loves me! While I concede that I will probably never fulfill my childhood dream of writing for a soap opera, (I ended up as a news producer instead… ‘If it’s news to you, it’s news to us’…) I am eternally inspired by what I watch.

I believe in magic, happily-ever-after and the 7th sense: hope. My favorite TV shows used to be reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, up to and including Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and, if you haven’t discovered The Wizards of Waverly Place yet, two wands up.

I also love the magic known as HGTV–a new kitchen in 30 minutes? Voila! And as for the fairy-tale ending possibilities of House Hunters, International…A Votre Sante! (The enchantment just doesn’t get much better than watching someone with a $1.2 million budget discover a crumbling 17th century 500-square-foot three-story-house with room for only a single-sized bed, kitschy rooster fabric curtained kitchen cupboards, that does include a wee washing machine in the bathroom, with nary a dryer in site.)

Writing for television is writing for tell a vision. Producers are the authors of suspense: amping up the conflict and drama. Storytelling a vision invites the audience, through whatever medium, to stay tuned for the good stuff…coming up.

Watching eye-spinning amounts of TV is just another venue for receiving hints from the universe. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I am so not a numbers person (and think it’s perfectly acceptable to round out your checking account, but always in the bank’s favor) (Hello? Left brain are you even home?). I have fallen into the pattern of working to complete whatever scene or action is unfolding. If I’m curious about what’s going to happen next, I’m hoping readers will be, too!

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I am working on the screenplay for THE SCENT OF JADE, which is also a great writing exercise. Screenplays, at 120 pages, are less than half the page count of a traditional novel, so the importance of every word, nuance and action is magnified. I am editing my novel manuscript–and then I will use a screenplay writing program called Final Draft, to format it.

I write every day–from sticky notes-to-self, to my blog, to finishing up my next novel. THE KITCHEN SHRINK, a hybrid romantic comedy/chick lit, (if your life’s a mess, your house could probably use a makeover, too…) will be published next month.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I beat myself up! Rejection stinks. Any kind of “thanks-but-no-thanks-you’re-not-what-I-had-in-mind” really, really hurts. But as my mother says, it apparently builds “character.” Fooey. Since stomping around, moping and plotting out sweet, sweet vengeance doesn’t get me anywhere, it usually sends me running back to the comforting glow of my laptop!

Do you have a critique partner?
I have been part of a writing workshop for several years. For the joy of disappearing into other worlds and other people’s lives, I thank the FAT Tuesday Writers (it’s not what you think–First And Third!) for their inspiration and motivation and give them a standing ovation for allowing me to hang out with them. Again, to have someone who is not my mother reading and critiquing my story, can only help my writing; reducing adverb count, (brutally!), managing beats and deconstructing plot defects!

Dee De Tarsio is kindly offering to give away ebooks of The Scent of Jade to THREE lucky readers. The first three to comment on the blog will receive a download link via Amazon kindle gift program of The Scent of Jade…


A Proper Charlie – chicklit novel.

A Proper Charlie
Charlie Wallis has everything a girl could wish for: a trendy flat, a loving boyfriend and a fantastic job as a newspaper journalist.

Trouble is Charlie’s boyfriend is a loser, her job title really reads `clerk` and her flat, at the top of a high-rise, isn’t that nice after all.
Her new boss, Ben, is a huge bear of a man. A gentle giant, with chocolate brown eyes that hold a secret.
While her paper investigates the disappearances of local prostitutes, Charlie wants in on the action, deciding that dressing as a hooker and walking the streets is good research.

Bumping into Ben was the last thing she expected.
A story of opposites who not only attract, but ignite!
Out Now!
To buy from click HERE or from click THIS And thank you.
Chapter One
Charlie loves Andy. Andy loves Charlie. Charlie has an exciting job working for a daily newspaper. The newspaper is called London Core. Charlie’s life is exciting and fulfilled. Charlie tells lies.

Charlie Wallis sat at her desk writing on an old summary report. Around her, the hubbub of her colleagues, planning the office party, presented snatches of conversation.

‘… where can I get an Amy Winehouse wig?’

‘… I’ve an Elvis wig, would that do?’

‘… Fanny’s looking. Head down, pretend to work…’

‘… where can I get an Amy Winehouse wig?

She sighed, and doodled a stick figure with a sad face. Telephones rang; some were answered while others trilled relentlessly. Sarah ran past, shrieking, ‘I’ve Jordan Price on line two for you, Faye.’ Charlie stopped paperwork from her pending tray floating in the excited woman’s wake, and watched as Faye received this apparently thrilling news.

London Core, even though termed ‘rag’ by others in the trade, pulled in a decent amount of readers – no wonder the Middleton Group wanted to buy it. Had bought it, she corrected unhappily.

The Middleton Group was renowned for swallowing up small newspapers like Core, changing the dynamics of the workforce, creating redundancies and relocating staff. Management had called a meeting earlier this morning and told them of the takeover and merge with the national The Globe, another of Middleton’s publications. They’d been assured their jobs were safe, but undoubtedly there would be shake-ups.

There was a shocked silence when all had trooped back into the open-plan office, which had lasted all of thirty seconds when everyone began talking at once.

Charlie stopped doodling for a moment to add Charlie loves her job to her nonsense writing. But her job doesn’t love Charlie, she continued in an illegible scrawl. She doodled another sad face, added tears and after a moment’s hesitation, jug ears.

Even though management had assured them their jobs were safe, rumours had been rife. And because of that, the workers were organising a party to either celebrate or commiserate with those who may be chucked by the wayside.

The party had been arranged, and venue booked inside an hour after the takeover was announced. It’d been organised to coincide with the official date of the takeover in two weeks’ time. From a Tarts and Victors party, it was now going to be a pop-star fancy dress, past and present, and Charlie planned to go as Ginger Spice. She sighed again, and fingered a strand of her red hair. How could she enjoy herself at the party knowing her job was on the line and that her boyfriend was about to dump her?

She’d been seeing Andy Chambers for seven months; seven months and two days to be exact, and she’d been certain he was going to ask her to marry him. He’d mentioned settling down on several occasions, admittedly they might have been made in a jest, but still, why plant the seed if you don’t want it sown, as a foster carer used to say.

Charlie had spent her childhood in a children’s home. She’d have loved a family of her own, but it was never to be. It was at the top of her list of future achievements. Second was keeping her job. Third, having her ears pinned back when she won the lottery. All to be crossed out simultaneously, she thought dolefully.

Andy wasn’t going to ask her to marry him. She’d brought it up last month and practically had to resuscitate him.

‘I’m like a bird,’ he had said. ‘A wild bird that can never be tamed.’

She had repeated the conversation to Melvin, her best friend, who’d said if Andy was a bird, he’d be a turkey. It hadn’t helped. And ever since then, Andy had been distant towards her, and she knew the signs, even if she pretended not to. The cancelled dates, long trips away… they all signalled one thing and that was she was soon-to-be single – and jobless as well.

‘You dozy mare!’ shrieked Faye, and Charlie looked up ready with a retort but for a change the insult hadn’t been hurled at her. The deliverer of ‘Jordan Price on line two’ was Sarah, red-faced and in direct line of Faye’s attack. Charlie watched with interest, glad that for once, she was in the clear.

‘That!’ Faye boomed. ‘Wasn’t Big Tits Jordan, it was Jordan Price the catalogue model – a bloody fella. How the hell did you make that mistake? I need Jordan – Katie Price – the one with the big knockers, you moron. Jesus, Sarah, have you been drinking from the same cup as Charlie today?’

Cheeky bugger! She’d been quietly sitting here all morning; purposely not talking, or working for that matter, and keeping out of everyone’s way and she’d still received a sarky comment from queen bitch.

Melvin, sitting at the desk in front of her, turned with a grin. ‘Faye’s on the ball today,’ he said, andlaughed.

‘Not from where I’m sitting,’ said Charlie.

Mel flicked off imaginary fluff from his T-shirt, which bore the slogan: I’m knot a real blonde, I’m Knot, and fixed her with a concerned gaze. ‘You know, you’ve been causing a draught down the back of my neck for the last hour. I thought if I ignored you you’d cheer up.’

‘Thanks,’ she said dryly.

Melvin pouted in an attempt to imitate her gloomy face. ‘You’re really down, aren’t you? Come on, tell uncle Melly, what’s the matter.’

‘I’m going to be unemployed and single, which means I won’t be able to pay my rent and I’m going to end up an old spinster like my neighbour, Mavis. Oh God, I’ll have to buy a budgie. I hate budgies.’
‘Fanny’s assured us our jobs are safe,’ he said, although he didn’t look convinced. Mr Fanton was their managing editor, and called ‘Fanny’, although never to his face.

‘It’s last in, first out. And I haven’t exactly made a brilliant impression, have I? Fanny hates me,’ she added, remembering on her first morning the way his bulky frame appeared out of nowhere after she’d shredded what turned out to be important documents. He’d stood over her, his chins wobbling around his neck, beads of sweat on his upper lip as his comb-over hung limply down one side of his face. Charlie stifled a giggle at the memory. She sobered. Ever since then her relationship with him had been a non-starter. It was sad really.

‘Don’t antagonise him, then.’

‘I don’t!’

‘Not intentionally maybe,’ he said. ‘Just be on your best behaviour until you sign your new contract, doll.’ He pushed against his desk to free wheel in his office chair towards her desk. He lowered his voice. ‘So what’s this about “being single”? What’s Andy Pandy done now?’

‘He’s done nothing – yet. I hope I’m just being over dramatic like usual.’

‘Sounds ominous.’ He clicked his fingers. ‘Don’t tell me, you’ve seen the light and chucked him for a homeless drunk in a shop doorway, stinking of piss? You’ve gotta admit the better prospects there, doll.’

Melvin didn’t like Andy and never bothered to hide it. He was fed up of the ‘chances’ Charlie had repeatedly given him in the past. And while he thought she was treated like shite, she thought Andy was a romantic drifter; spontaneous and exciting.

‘He’s going to chuck me any day now. It’s like I’m waiting for the noose to tighten. God, I hate my life.’ She lowered her forehead to rest on her doodlings. ‘It always goes wrong,’ she muttered.

‘Baby doll,’ Melvin said. ‘The man’s a prat, and you’d be better off without him – if only you could see it. But as for your job, you are not going to lose it.’

She looked up; the report was sticking to her forehead. ‘But it’s Fanny’s choice, not yours.’

Melvin yanked off the paper, leaving an inky stickfigure imprint on her forehead. He was grinning. ‘It’s Mr Middleton’s actually, our new boss, so whether Fanny hates you or not, is irrelevant.’

At that moment, Faye thudded past their desks, storming up the aisle and shouting to the air, ‘I’m going to be Baby Spice. Those who mix up a man with Katie Price don’t deserve first pickings.’

Charlie and Melvin watched as Sarah followed, answering back in a singsong voice, ‘It was my idea, and I’m Baby.’

If Faye was queen bitch, then Sarah was princess bitch. Charlie and Melvin often had to duck behind their desks as the insults hurled from one to the other. Still, it made the day tick along nicely.

Melvin raised his eyebrows at Charlie, who pulled a face in return. ‘This party is causing more problems than it’s worth,’ he said.

‘I can’t see why they’re arranging it, anyway. It’ll be like a kick in the teeth for those who’ve lost their jobs.’

‘OK THEN!’ Faye announced loudly. ‘We’ll ask Melvin,’ she said, causing Melvin to groan even louder. Charlie giggled.

‘Mel…’ Faye began, as she sauntered over. She pouted and pushed out her more than ample chest as she shamelessly flirted. Sarah, glancing down at her flat chest, stood normally. ‘We’ve decided to join Charlie and become a Spice Girl for this do –’

Charlie’s groan was ignored.

‘- and we value your opinion,’ Faye went on. ‘We both want to be Baby Spice, so Mel, as a superior member of staff you get to choose.’

‘Lucky me,’ he said, as Charlie snorted behind him. Melvin Giles was senior copy editor and it had been mainly down to him that Charlie became an employee of London Core. They had met in a children’s home; both orphaned. She was a skinny seven-year-old and he was a skinnier nine-year-old. They’d bonded instantly and pretended they were brother and sister to anyone who seemed interested, little realising that the system would split them up when Charlie was twelve and Melvin fourteen.

‘What happened to Lady Gaga?’ he asked.

‘She found out Bev on reception’s going as her,’ said Sarah with a hoot of laughter. ‘We both thought it’d be a good idea to dress as the rest of the Spice group and obviously with my blonde hair I’d be the perfect Baby.’

Faye cleared her throat and said, ‘Right, now which one is Baby?’

‘Sarah,’ he said.

Charlie clamped a hand over her mouth to hold back her laughter over the look on Faye’s face.

Faye glared at him, her hands on her hips. ‘And your reason?’

‘You’re black.’

Faye stroked the back of her neck, then placed her hands back on her hips. ‘Forget the obvious,’ she said.

‘As a superior member of staff,’ he said, quoting her and dismissing her simultaneously, ‘discuss this at lunchtime. Charlie,’ he said, turning back towards her, ‘meeting at the vending machine, pronto.’

Charlie tugged her forelock. ‘Aye, aye, Cap’n.’

At the machine, Melvin ordered two coffees. It served tea instead, but as they were lucky to receive anything at all from the temperamental machine, they didn’t complain.

‘As I was saying, everyone needs an office clerk and you make a great one, doll,’ he said. ‘Anyway, Fanny reckons the Mid Group will keep all staff on. It’ll still be London Core, and you and me will still have jobs. Look on the bright side, doll, we might even get a promotion.’

‘Good luck never lasts, Mel, you know that,’ she said. ‘And I’ve had too much of that lately.’ She raised a hand and began to count off her fingers. ‘Us,’ she indicated herself and Melvin, ‘Andy, and then a job with Core. I even passed my driving test and got a little car! Mel, the luck simply can’t last.’

‘You’re talking alien again,’ he said and Charlie punched him on the arm.

‘So why weren’t we told about this takeover earlier? I mean, as from next week some guy called Donald Middleton will be our boss. Sir Donald Middleton, in fact. Will I have to curtsy?’ She chewed on her lip.

‘That’s just royalty, doll.’ He smiled down at her affectionately. ‘I don’t recommend you try it. Old Middleton might think you’re taking the piss.’

She pouted, but already felt better. Melvin always did that to her; made her feel wanted and worthwhile.

He suddenly enveloped her in a bear hug. He was Charlie’s best friend/brother/father figure all rolled into one tall, skinny frame. And with cropped blond hair, several ear piercings and black eye-lined eyes he was as gay as a Maypole.

‘As long as we have one another,’ he said. ‘We’ll always be bessy mates, won’t we?’

‘Always,’ she said the best she could with her face pressed against his chest.

‘Feeling better now?’ he asked, releasing her.

Charlie nodded.

‘Good. So, is going as a Spice Girl official, even though the ugly sisters are joining the group?’ he asked.

Charlie laughed. ‘It’ll be OK. Girls on News are going as Girls Aloud. Jen wants Jimbob to go as Simon Cowell just because she’s Cheryl Cole. But I think going as a Spice Girl is more recognisable, don’t you?’

‘Only because you want to wear the Union Jack frock.’

She grinned. ‘Yeah. I shall look on eBay.’

He laughed. ‘So, who’ll go as Posh?’

‘Juliet did say she’d come with me.’ They both looked across as Juliet stood to retrieve a mound of paperwork from a shelf above her desk. Her shirt sleeves fell back to reveal many tattoos. She plonked the paperwork on her desk and the motion caused her family-pack of cheesy puffs to fall to the floor. She swore, snatched them up and filled her mouth.

‘Good choice.’

Charlie nodded. ‘I shall ask Andy to come with me. He could go as Bon Jovi. He loves his music.’

‘Pete Doherty would be better.’

Charlie threw him a look, and Melvin looked back unashamed.

‘OK,’ he said. ‘So maybe Doherty is a little tame for Andy Pandy.’

Charlie exchanged her look for another light punch. ‘Andy’s off drugs now. He told me.’

Melvin raised twin eyebrows. ‘Run out of benefits?’

‘I will not dignify that question with an answer,’ she said primly.

An interview wih chicklit author Stephanie Haefner

A Bitch Named Karma
Stephanie Haefner Haefner is a lady after my own heart – a chicklit lover! People, or perhaps I should say, women like us cannot take life too seriously. We admire the male bod, and other women’s clothes and shoes. We are romantics (nothing wrong with that), and enjoy a good girly read.

Stephanie Haefner’s debut novel is called A Bitch Named Karma. Check out the trailer on youtube. She has had shorter works published in various magazines, which you can find out about if you visit her at or find her on her blog: or website:

Here’s what I asked Stephanie Haefner…

This is your debut novel, but is it your first novel you have actually written?
No, it is not the first I’ve written, but it is the second. The first was this crazy long story that has so much of myself poured into it. I love that story, but it is so green! Someday I may go back to it and try and salvage it…I know there is a lot in it that’s worth saving! A Bitch Named Karma was my second attempt at novel-length fiction and it has come a long way since I first typed “The End”. I also have a third MS titled Spellbound, that I am hoping will find a home someday!

How does it compare with other chick novels/what makes it different?
I’d say it compares with other chick lit in that it is a story about a woman with a fabulous life and friends and a sexy boyfriend, a shoe obsession, and it all falls apart. The difference lies in that Lexi, my main character, finds her new life to be completely different, but it’s the perfect life for her…one she never even knew she wanted.

What audience is the book intended? (ie YA, adult)
Lexi is a very sassy lady and she uses quite a bit of “colorful” language. There is some sex in the book, but it’s not graphic at all. If a parent read the book first, and was okay with their teen reading a story with 4-letter words, then the the story might be pretty inspiring for a teen. It’s a story of finding love where you didn’t expect and that judging covers is not the way to go through life. (I have two teen cousins who want to read it, 19 and 17)

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?

An actual number of drafts, I have no clue!! LOL! The first draft was written in about two months. Can’t explain it. The words just flowed effortlessly! I spent several months editing and perfecting it before my initial query-go-round with it. It went well, actually, but didn’t end how I’d hoped. After that it sat, then went through a few more rounds of edits and a plot restructure. I queried again, with no luck. I finally found a home with Lyrical Press, a primarily digital publisher.

Can you say you are a chicklit author, or have you dabbled with other genres?
I can proudly say I am a chick lit author!! (Don’t get me started on the stigmas of the genre!) I never start a project with a specific genre in mind…I just write and then classify later. But almost everything ends up being chick lit/women’s fiction. I did write one novellette that I classify as romance, but the main character still undergoes a major change.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
Hmmm…well…my favorite scene is the very end and I don’t want to give that away!! 🙂 I’ll give you another great scene instead!

I walked down the hall confident as my Manolo Blahniks click-clacked on the marble, ready to raise some hell. A hand-written sign had been plastered to the door: Sheila Brown— Editor. The scent of a black Sharpie wafted into my nostrils as I pounded on the door. I heard a screechy “Come in” and found a middle-aged woman sitting behind the desk.
She flipped through a manuscript and didn’t look up when I strode through the door.
“Sit, Ms. Marshall.”
“I didn’t tell you who I am.” I wanted to show off my tough side.
“I already know,” she said and finally looked up at me. A fluorescent shade of pink lipstick decorated her lips, doing nothing to improve her ghastly pale skin and salt-and-pepper bob. “I’ve read all our books, including the latest.”
“Oh, I see.”
She was well prepared for only being on the job one day.
“Marisol Takes Manhattan, your newest and first in a series.” She paused to push her glasses up on her nose, and I awaited her praise. “It absolutely sucks.”
Feeling like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of my lungs, I struggled for oxygen. Everything around me went gray and the words “absolutely sucks” echoed in my brain over and over. I’d slaved over this book for the better part of six months, making every sentence perfect.
A shrill laugh blared into my ears. It sounded familiar. I couldn’t place it, but knew it didn’t come from Sheila. She sat emotionless.
“What do you mean? Are you sure you read the whole thing?”
“Yes, every boring, plotless, cliché-filled word.”
The room started to spin and a tingle radiated throughout my legs. Fearful that I might black out, I moved a box of office supplies from a chair and sat down. I breathed slowly and deeply, staring at her, wondering if I’d heard her right. How could she possibly say that? I was Lexi Marshall—a multi-published author. Women adored my books. They devoured them. This malicious statement insulted every fiber of my being.
My temperature began to rise as bewilderment changed to anger. Ms. Editor handed me my disc, then ripped some sheets from a legal pad and shoved those at me, too. They were filled top to bottom with chicken scratch.
“I made notes for you. Revise and have it back to me in two weeks.”
Finally finding the confidence and attitude I’d possessed before entering her office, I asked, “And what if I refuse?”
“Then you can try and sell your garbage to another publisher.”

Are you agented?
I am not, but not for lack of trying. I’ve done the query-go-round and though I found some success, it didn’t land me an agent. I will always try to find an agent with any new projects I complete. An agent can help get me a deal with a big publishing house, who will get my work in front of a larger audience.

Who are you published with?
Lyrical Press Inc is my publisher and they have been fantastic! They are primarily digital but offer select titles in print through a POD printer.

Are you a full time writer?
I consider myself a full-time writer though it’s extremely rare that I can actually put in a full day’s worth of writing! I have two children, one of which is school age. I juggle my time between both kids, school activities, house work, etc… I write when I can. When my son naps and it’s completely silent in my house, I get to work on my latest project!

Do you have any writing experience? Ie have you worked as a journalist, completed a university writing degree?
I have no formal writing experience, though I did write several articles for local newspapers when I was a teen. I was the reporter for a club I was the member of and would send in articles about club happenings. I was accepted for a journalism program at one of my city’s colleges but decided on a different career path. I spent over a decade working in the floral industry.

What are you working on now? How far along have you got?
I am halfway though Karma Kameleon, the sequel to A Bitch Named Karma! I did a ton of writing in July and the month of August I decided to spend editing the first half and ensuring that the story is going exactly where I want/need it to go! The plan is to get back to writing the rest of the story when my daughter goes back to school the first week of September, finishing it by mid October.

What is your experience with POD. And do you do your own marketing?
Well, technically my book is not officially for sale in print until December 1st, and will not be sold through my publisher until then. But somehow it is for sale on Amazon. I have received a few copies and so far I am very happy. The book itself is a great quality. The best part of POD though…I found a glaring typo in the text. (A formatting error that was fixed on the print galley but somehow reverted back). I emailed my publisher the minute I saw it and she right away fixed it and re-uploaded to the printer. Mistake fixed. With any other print publisher, that would probably not be able to be fixed.

As far as marketing goes, I do most of it myself. My publisher sends the book to at least a dozen reviewers, but that is really all they can do. But these days, big time authors with big time NY publishing houses, they too have to get out there and promote themselves. I am on Twitter and Facebook. I blog, do online chats and I am on Goodreads. I try to participate in online communities as often as I can. I try to use my time wisely and devote it where I will get the most/best exposure.

Have you tried to go the “traditional” route?
I have and sadly, it just didn’t work out. But I will always keep trying!

How many rejections have you experienced?
Far too many to count!!! We’re talking hundreds!

Meredith Cagen – Chicklit Author.

Guilty As Charged
Meredith Cagen
When I was younger, I had a relationship that broke my heart. Adverbs, adjectives and accolades did not do him justice. He was the perfect man. No matter how many times he showed his true colors, I was steadfast in my belief that he was perfect. I languished in my illusion (actually delusion) of his perfection. I was in love.

I didn’t know what to do. There was no expert who could guide me. No published Q and A pertinent for my situation. I searched for a plan, a guidebook, and a path to success: how I can get the storybook ending with Mr. Perfect.

Every “what not to do while dating” offense a girl can make, I embarrassingly did. I was available to him. I telephoned him. I was the one who initiated contact, demonstrating my interest as if he had doubts. Running to see him when he beckoned, accepting his last minute dates and last minute cancellations. Worse, I accepted his lies, I had no self respect. I threw myself at him. I was insane! Where were my friends when I obviously needed them? An intervention was needed but no one restrained me.

Unwilling to consider the possibility of his rejection, I changed myself to meet his requirements.

Yes, Mr. Perfect had criteria. His personal preference was models, blonde skinny models. His office walls were covered with photographs of Mr. Perfect with his choice of arm candy. It was a shrine to his ability to attract these trophy girlfriends. A medium height, curvy size eight brunette (me) didn’t seem to be a worthy enough prize for a man of with his considerable talents.

I tried my best to meet his standards. I dieted, exercised, groomed, and ingratiated myself into his social universe. I attempted to succeed with this game plan. But I committed the biggest sin a girl can. A don’t so whopping that I am banned from giving advice forever. A mistake so huge, there is no known recovery. This dating felony pains me even now, years later. I told him, I was in love with him.

What was wrong with me? The girl police should have come and thrown me directly into jail or a padded cell on the spot. No trial or psych evaluation was necessary.

Crimes Charged: Extreme Stupidity and whatever else is beyond.

Verdict: Guilty.

Sentence: Rejection by Mr. Perfect.

My idiocy haunted me for years. If only I had a second chance. What could (coulda, woulda, shoulda) I have done differently while staying true to myself. In my fantasies, I would still be me, but smarter. What was I thinking during this dark period of being in love? How did I permit myself to act like a fool?

One day, I looked back at my past actions, those silly schemes, attempts at change, and idealistic belief that if I loved him with a pure heart, he would love me back. I started to laugh. It was funny, very funny. Telling this story would be my second chance and shot at redemption

Reality hit me as I lay pen to paper, Mr. Perfection was my upstairs neighbor, he was The Man Upstairs. That was the original title for my book, ‘The Man Upstairs,’ but people thought it was a book about religion.

To this day, I am uncertain what was going through my pathetic naive head during that time. Maybe I wasn’t thinking properly? There are theories that love affects (and obviously impairs) your cognitive thought processes. Next title was ‘What Was I Thinking?’ but people thought that was a self-help book.

My healthy curvy body, thin not emaciated, did not fit into his model sized world. I wasn’t who he wanted, whatever my size. Paroled from my romantic stupidity I realized that the intellectual/emotional connection didn’t exist between us. It is what is on your insides that counts. It’s a cliché but true. The older I get, it’s my sense of humor that gets me through the days and the nights. I love when someone makes me laugh, even if it’s me! I am a Size Eight in a Size Zero World.

Size Eight in a Size Zero World

Meredith Cagen is a working wife and mother living in New York City. She works as a freelance writer and registered nurse. Known as “Queen of the Multi-taskers,” she returned to school to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Finding the subject dry, technical and boring, she had a difficult time focusing on her studies. Easily distracted, and prone to daydreaming, she wrote Size Eight in a Size Zero World, an extraordinary book about a working wife and mother.

Size Eight in a Size Zero World can be bought from Amazon (UK) and Amazon USA, plus many other on-line or bricks and mortar stores.


Meet Lindsay Chandler—a 32 year-old New York City working wife and mother with old-fashioned values who thinks she’s living a fairy tale life (she’s not). She’s too busy navigating between her job, husband, home, children, friends and other obligations to acknowledge her loneliness. Then an unexpected friendship with her upstairs neighbor (he is smart, successful, sophisticated and sexy— she’s not) unleashes her passion and re-ignites her sparkle.

This liaison causes her to realize what she is missing. Yearning for a storybook ending, she decides to make changes in her life, embarking on a quest for self re-invention in this hilarious, witty, heartfelt story.

In the tradition of Sex and the City, Size Eight in a Size Zero World, is a modern-day story of a good girl trying to do the right thing and the wrong thing simultaneously, while remaining true to herself, whoever that is.

With the help of a believable cast of characters, Lindsay embarks on a plan to better herself and plight. This novel is a wickedly funny social commentary on the lives of average women in New York City’s posh Upper East Side.

Meet Meredith: and on Facebook

Romance/chicklit Novels by L.A. Dale

L.A. Dale
School teacher, Flora Owens thought she had the perfect life. Everything was as it should be until the morning she found her knickers had been stolen from the line again. She should have known it was an omen.
Now, the positive chi of her ordered world is in tatters. Her boss has broken his leg and been replaced by the man she thought she would never see again, the parents are complaining and her colleagues are behaving oddly. Added to that, she is so far in lust with her new boss she can’t even think.
Stalkers, saucy love affairs and a mild case of OCD.

What’s a girl to do?

Perhaps… Perhaps… is due to be released by Night Publishing soon.

LA Dale is a fiction writer, living in Perth, Western Australia, the most remote city in the world but by no means the most boring. She has been writing for the past ten years, delving mostly into women’s fiction and chicklit. For LA, this means sex, humour and a good dose of reality but definitely no heaving bosoms or rugged cowboys.

LA has completed 3 novels – Heart of Glass, which was released in June 2010, Perhaps…. Perhaps which will be published by Night Publishing later this year and The Taming of the Bastard which she is currently editing. Her other works in progress include a set of short stories in the Romantic Erotica genre and a new romance based on the Dire Straits song “Romeo and Juliet.”

You can learn more about LA Dale here or follow her on Twitter. Join her on Facebook or visit her website.
Heart of Glass

The year is 1979.
An uncool girl in the cool crowd, Bella Stone finds herself the girlfriend to footballer, Ben James, the boy everybody wants to date. Ben and Bella are destined to be together and yet somehow, life has a way of keeping them apart.

Feeling betrayed by Ben, Bella reinvents herself as the life of the party. In a desperate attempt to find the love she lost, she almost loses everything.
Now, it’s 1987.

Ben is back but Bella has grown up and moved on. Is it too late?

Heart of Glass is a tale of the fragility of the human heart, a longing that will not be tamed and a promise that no matter what, someone will always love you.

This book is currently available:

• in eBook format
• in paperback at Amazon
• from Angus and Robertson bookstores in Western Australia
• or by direct purchase (free postage and signed) from the author.

I asked LA a few questions:

Tell us about your current book?

Heart of Glass was written about four years ago and was written because I was very lonely having moved with my husband and family from Tasmania to Western Australia and writing seemed like a good way to fill in the time when the kids were asleep and my husband was away working. I had the idea based on first loves we all have and it went from there but it grew into something much bigger.

Why that genre?
I love romances and happy endings. Most of the movies I choose are of that genre also. Chick lit appeals to my weird sense of humour. I love that a lot of them are written in first person

What gives you the stimulus to write this particular genre?
I have a very vivid imagination. Obviously, I read a lot of books like these and watch a lot of movies. Plus, I take things from real life experiences, not necessarily my own but maybe those I’ve heard of or witnessed. I love music too. Lyrics – esp U2 – provide heaps of inspiration.

Have you tried to write in another genre?
No but I am currently nutting out the ideas for a children’s book based on a little boy I taught who was always asking questions. I also want to try my hand at short story erotica.

Is your book a stand-alone or part of a series?
At the moment, all the books Ive written are stand alone. I tend to want a resolution for stories. I get extremely cross when books/movies don’t end with and ‘ending’.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family?
Heart of Glass has some characters that were based on people I knew at University and School but the events were entirely fictional. I tend to start with a character idea and then the character sort of takes on their own persona even if they were originally based on someone.

What are you working on now?
I’m tossing up whether to go back and edit my third story The Taming of the Bastard or start a whole new story. It’s a love story based on the Dire Straits song ‘Romeo and Juliet”.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I absolutely love the scene in Heart of Glass where Bella tells Ben to set her free. It was originally set to the lyrics of Don’t Throw it All Away by Andy Gibb but I had to remove them because of copyright.

We looked at each other. His blue eyes were darker than usual. His hand trembled a little as he lifted his glass. “I didn’t cheat on you. You know I didn’t.”
I sat silently. I did know it. It was there, in his eyes.
If he says he wants me back, I swear, I’ll throw my drink in his face, I thought.
“I don’t know what else to say.”
My hand twisted at the tablecloth. If he says he still loves me I’m going to deck him. Truly.
“I love you, Bel’.”
I looked into his eyes. They were melting the ice block I’d built around my heart. I wanted to tell him I still felt the same, no matter what he had done.
“Well… I guess that’s all I wanted to say,” he said.
Sitting straight as a rod, I took another drag on my cigarette. Don’t let him see your pain; don’t let him know it hurts to have him near. “When are you going back to Melbourne?”
It sounded so final. Tomorrow. It was always over so suddenly, never any time to become used to the idea.
“Will you dance with me, for old time’s sake?”
Oh, to have him close again, the way it used to be.
He took my hand, and led me to the dance floor. The band was playing “Don’t Throw it All Away on Love”, drawing the older guests up from their seats. The words of the song rang in my ears, bringing tears to my eyes, like something I’d forgotten long ago and needed to remember.
Taking me in his arms, Ben guided me around the floor and from the corner of my eye, I could see Prue and Lucy, their faces glowing, thinking they had performed their job of matchmakers well. If only they’d known what it was doing to me. A double murder wasn’t out of the question.
Content to let him lead, I let my mind drift as I listened to the music and we floated together around the room. I’d forgotten what a wonderful dancer he was. I’d forgotten how good it was to touch him, to feel his warmth and strength beneath my fingertips. Instinctively, my head fell to its natural resting place against his chest. I breathed him in, every inch of him. He’d always smelled so good.
Ben sighed as my body relaxed against his. He must have sensed the change for he pulled me closer, holding me in the circle of his embrace. His cheek came down gently, to rest upon my head as we danced and the tears dripped down my cheek.
“Do you forgive me?”
He could feel in my body. He knew I’d forgiven him. I’d forgiven him but I could not forget.
“Oh Bella, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I keep hurting you. All I ever wanted was to love you.”
And all I wanted was to be loved.
Lifting my head, I examined his face, looking into his heart, trying to read his mind. I knew he wanted me back but I couldn’t bear to hear him say it. I felt it too, but I couldn’t give any more. The pain inside cut too deep.
Please don’t ask me to love you again Ben, my eyes begged, beseeching him to release the chains that held my heart and let me go free. I can’t do it, it’s too hard.
It was too late. It was over.

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
Heart of Glass is self-published. I presented it to a number of different people but the all told me it didn’t fit into the mould enough to be mainstream.

Perhaps… Perhaps is going to be released by Night Publishing, a small independent group with some very talented authors and I’m very happy to be one of them.

Who is your publisher, or who do you self-publish with?
I SP’d through a company in Australia, just near where I live – SelfPublish Australia. They are a division of Fontaine Press. I’m very happy with the quality of the books they’ve produced for me.

Would you SP again?
Yes, but its very hard to get sales without a fan base. Building a platform is crucial if you SP.

Thoughts on SP?
Now that so many options are open to us in regards to getting our work out there, its very easy to SP. Its also easy to get caught up in a rubbish product. For SP authors, editing and checking every last detail in production is so important. I got a book from the net the other day with so many typos, it was ridiculous and the formatting looked so unprofessional. If you SP you have to make your book look just like it came from a bookstore.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I only write in the evenings and when I get spare minutes. Heart of Glass took about 18 months and the same with Perhaps… Perhaps.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Usually both in tandem but the plot often changes as I write depending on where the characters take me.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
No, but when I was at Uni I found essay writing very easy and I loved reading. I wrote some poetry and short stories then but never thought about it as a career.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Thinking that the first draft is good enough. I don’t know anybody who could be that good. And giving up too easily. Writing is fun but it’s not always easy and sometimes it’s very frustrating.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Network, network, network. It’s amazing what you learn just by being online and talking to like-minded people. Other writers are always willing to share and help you.
Join a writers group for feedback.
Don’t give up.

Yipeeee I’ve finished my latest novel.

Honestly, it’s taken less than a year to write but over a year to edit the blooming thing! I’ve named it A Proper Charlie. It’s a chicklit about a woman who generates a bubbly image, and in the past was happy to live up to it. She’d been brought up in a children’s home and subsequently longs for a family; someone to belong to and for someone to belong to her. She wants to be loved basically. Trouble is her current boyfriend is a complete tosspot, and her job becomes unstable when another firm take it over. Things seem to all be going wrong.
Her new boss is heartbreakingly good looking Ben Middleton whose sister has gone missing. He hires a private investigator who finds some of her possessions with prostitute Sally Readman, and Ben is worried that his sister is in trouble, especially as a serial killer seems to be targeting prostitutes!
Charlie thinks she can impress her new boss by researching the red-light area for the story; only she thinks she’d get better results if she pretends to be a prostitute.
Of course Ben and Charlie meet. Charlie thinks Ben is the murderer, and Ben thinks Charlie is a prostitute with hilarious results. 
A Proper Charlie is outrageously funny, and follows Charlie and Ben on a journey to discover true love.
It was fun to write, and I think I’ve found my “niche” in my writing career. Comedy is something I want to excel in. I hope A Proper Charlie finds a publisher soon, because MISS ANTHROPE ONE NIGHT STAND OR TWO is coming up to its editing stage (which will probably take a year to perfect) and that was easier to write than Charlie.

You can see the first two chapter on site but download isn’t all that brilliant though, and the book WILL have indents etc!