Happy Book Birthday to Special Interests

IMG_0009

According to Facebook’s anniversaries, Special Interests released three years ago today. It’s been a rough week for me writing-wise, but this anniversary feels significant. I’ve talked before about how the theme of the series is having your life not go according to plan and trying to remake yourself, to imagine your life differently, in the face of that. It’s optimistic about self-growth, an idea I find even more relevant and encouraging today.

Advertisements

Happy Holidays

plate of cookies, cocktail, and Christmas tree

butter crispies and cocktail

The fictional people in my head tend to stick around even when their books are published.

Like today, I suspect Millie and Parker would host a Chrismukkah event with Alyse and Liam and Lydia and Michael. They’d drink a lot and debate the election and laugh and cry and open presents and watch their children play. (And then Lydia and Michael would go home and toast their child-free state.)

I suspect Christmas would be a big deal for Joe and Frances given their pre-Christmas engagement. (Ditto for Greg and Betty with New Year’s Eve.) Joe would give Frances a new diary and they’d listen to Perry Como. Anne-Marie would cook something elaborate, and Margie Dunsford would throw an epic holiday party with lights on her tiki torches and green and red drinks and a Jello mold.

I’ll have a proper year end wrap-up post soon, but wherever you are and whatever you’re celebrating, I wish you joy in 2017.

Happy Fourth!

IMG_1917

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends and readers! (And happy treason day to everyone else?)

I imagine Millie, Parker, Alyse, Liam, Lydia, and Michael (from The Easy Part) would probably grill and watch their kids play and snark about the election. And all the astronauts, engineers, and other folks from Fly Me to the Moon would cook out at Margie’s and perhaps eat a Jello mold like this one.

If you want to replicate it on your own, I used this Sparking Summer Berry Jello recipe. I omitted the rum and scaled it up for this 10-cup mold which belonged to one of my grandmothers. It did not turn out perfectly, but it’s certainly festive and dramatic.

I’m in my writing cave at the moment, but I’ll be back soon with new words. Happy summer!

My Favorite Bits: The Easy Part

Two and a half weeks ago, Party Lines released. In the push to get the book out and recover from the holidays, I don’t think it hit me that I wrote a series–three loosely connected books. And edited it. And now it’s all out.

The Easy Part books can be read in any order but they explore the same theme: the characters have reached the outer edge of young adulthood and are realizing they are unsatisfied with their lives. They are smart, ambitious people who want to change the world, but they haven’t yet and, frankly, they’re unlikely to. But that knowledge is freeing. It permits them to redefine what success means and who they want to share it with while they work to pass a federal budget (Special Interests), expose a corruption scandal (Private Politics), and get someone elected president (Party Lines).

I’d definitely do some things differently if I could have the first books back, but I’m fiercely proud of all three novels.

So as a thank you to everyone who’s read the books and reviewed them and talked with me about them, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite moments.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Party Lines: Opening Chapter

If you live in the United States, it’s Election Day, so you should vote. And when you’re done, I have a reward for you: the opening chapter of Party Lines, the final book in The Easy Part series. (Non-Americans can just read the chapter.) Party Lines is smart, sassy, and steamy–and it has the best opening chapter in the series.

I’m nervous about this book. It was hard for me to write and it’s different structurally than the first two. But I love it so much and I want you to love it too.

Warning: this chapter contains very minor spoilers for Special Interests and Private Politics, major banter, and a few adult words.

Continue reading

Private Politics Release Day

A year ago, I was finishing the first draft of a book. A book about a snuggly blogger hero and the socialite fundraiser he loves from afar. About a scandal and money and influence. About finding yourself and shattering others’ expectations. And about shoes–lots of shoes.

Private Politics Cover

That book, Private Politics, is now out! And you can buy it at cool places like AmazonB&NCarinaiBooksKoboAll Romance, and Google Play or add it to your Goodreads shelves.

I had to write Special Interests, the first book in the series. Millie and Parker wouldn’t leave me alone. Writing was an attempt to excise them from my head. That translated into the intense chemistry between the characters.

Alyse and Liam were different. Writing their book was scarier because my publisher had bought it on spec and I was worried about living up to their expectations. But it was also the first thing I’d written where I felt confident about myself as a writer–where I thought about myself as a writer at all. And for that reason, it’s a very special book to me.

To celebrate its release, I’m going to gift three (3) copies to lucky winners. In fact, the winners can decide if they’d prefer Special Interests or Private Politics, in case they haven’t yet dipped their toes into the world of my sexy, smart, overworked, and frequently hilarious political aides.

So enter today. As Rafflecopter and WordPress don’t get along, here’s the link.

And, to whet your whistle, a third and final entry in The Easy Part series will be released on January 12, 2015: Party Lines. Because if you thought DC was fun, you haven’t met the campaign trail.

I’m Writing About That?

A vague and random series of thoughts, for which I apologize in advance.

I was emailing with someone this morning about the final book in my series about political staffers, The Easy Part, and I realized that the series is about me. It’s not about me in the sense that any of the heroines is based on me; nothing that happens in the books happened to me. But it is about my experience as an older Millennial coming to political consciousness in the late 90s.

I’ve written before about how many of my early memories are political, but I think I’ve also been working through the later stuff. What does it mean to come to political consciousness during the age of Clinton? To vote for the first time in the election of 2000? (Which is both why I always vote and why I’m deeply cynical about the process.) To fall for a candidate–either George Bush or Barack Obama–and then to watch him either fail to implement the vision he articulated during the campaign at all or to seriously compromise his values?

I don’t think Millennials are unique in this regard. Surely younger Baby Boomers who voted for the first time in the late 1960s, witnessed Vietnam and then Watergate followed by the cynical 1970s had a parallel development among other generations. But the blend of hope and cynicism in all of The Easy Part novels and the looking for personal and professional compromise that occurs in all of those books feels of this moment to me in a way that I didn’t realize until now.

I don’t mean to be pretentious about my work at all. But now that I’ve finished a series and am starting to plan another one, I can see what I’m writing about in a way I couldn’t before.

My Writing Process

Thank you so much to Margaret Locke for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour!

1)     What am I working on?

At present, I’m finishing a contemporary novella, a romance between a good girl staffer and a bad boy rocker. It grows out of my series, The Easy Part, but it’s uncontracted so I need to get back to my other work in progress: the third, untitled book for that series. I don’t want to say too much about that project, other than it’s set on the campaign trail, the hero is a Democrat, and the heroine is a Republican. It should be out next year.

Oh, and I have a book coming out in April (Special Interests) and I cannot wait  for you all to read it. (Cannot wait! But also feel a little sick about it going out into the world. Now I need some chocolate.) And I’m on the cusp of edits for my second Easy Part novel, Private Politics, which will be out in September.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most of what I’m writing now is explicitly political. The characters fight about policy and their pillow talk is about fundraising. Other romance writers have considered ambitious, professional women in love (see James, Julie) and there certainly have been political romances (Unfinished Business, The American President, Strange Bedpersons, Fatal Affair)–but in general romance writers have been told to avoid such potentially controversial matters.

Beyond my sort-of-kind-of-different subject matter, what I have to offer is voice: fresh, smart, and witty.

I mean I hope. Jeez, I’m bad at self-promotion.

Continue reading

The Special Interests Playlist

There are times–entire weeks of my life actually–when I forget that I have books releasing next year. Two of them. And then I remember and minor panic attacks ensue.

What if no one reads my book? What if no one likes my book? How am I going to get people to read and like my book?

The book in question is the one formerly known as The Easy Part, now known as Special Interests. It will appear in an ebook store near you on April 4, 2014. And while the back cover copy, excerpts, etc. are forthcoming, this morning, in a fit of panic, I created a playlist for the book. Because that’s how you sell books: with an enticing playlist.

Regardless, if you use Spotify and want to listen to the most-played tracks from when I was writing the first draft a year ago, you can check it out here.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here having a panic attack.

True Favorite Words

The EndSo I lied when I listed my favorite words. You’re shocked, I know. But I left two off. My two favorite words are “the end.” Only when used together of course. They don’t much for me separately. But as a pair they are magic.

I spent NaNoWriMo last year writing a book that I’ve been calling The Easy Part (the title is going to change; stay tuned). Then I sold that book to Carina. I realize you’re probably not supposed to say this but it was a fairly straightforward book to write. I understood Millie and Parker so well. I understood the conflict between them. I understood so many of the major scenes. The book feels like a movie in my head, one that I needed to figure out how to pour onto the page.

That isn’t to say I always achieved what I wanted to in terms of the writing. Oh no. It fails in ways too various and sundry to list here. And revising that book was difficult and circular and I’m not half-certain I did it well. But my main concern in writing the first draft was always, “Am I achieving my vision?” Not “what happens next?” or “is that what he would do?” The problem, in other words, was one of translation.

This spring, I started the sequel to The Easy Part, which features two minor characters from it. I felt strongly that they should be together. But when I told anyone about it, the response was always, “Really?” Adamant, I strode out…only to get stuck in the mire.

This was not an easy book to write. Writing on a deadline was scary. Writing with a more limited sense of audience was scarier. Writing and revising at the same time was the scariest. But yesterday, I typed “the end.” Today I skimmed through it and finally felt the words. And at some point next year (or whenever it releases), you’ll be able to read through the crazy, scandalous, opposites-attract story. Please come back then and let me know how I did.