As our fourth International Chick Lit Month ends, we’d like to thank all those who took part.

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To all the brilliant authors and dedicated bloggers who shared posts:
Ads (Bookabulary), Ananda (This Girl Reads), Stacey Ballis, Hannah Beckerman, Anna Bell, Rosie Blake, Alexandra Brown, Evelyn Chong, Rowan Coleman, Poppy Dolan, Aven Ellis, Liz Fenton, Jonita Fex (The Book Chick), Janey Fraser, Nicole Haddow, Emma Hannigan, Carmel Harrington, Caroline Hogg, Anita Hughes, Sara Jade-Virtue, Brenda Janowitz, Laura Kemp, Anita LeBeau (Anita Loves Books), Kirsty Maclennan (Love Of A Good Book), Juliet Madison, Samantha March (Chick Lit Plus), Erika Marks, Holly Martin, Zoe Miller, Megan Milliken (Reading In The Sunshine), Marci Nault, Katie Oliver, Georgina Penney, Ollie Quain, Katy Regan, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jimmy Rice, Kaira Rouda, Meredith Schorr, Lori Nelson Spielman, Lisa Steinke, Kaley Stewart (Books Etc), Victoria Stone (Victoria Loves Books), Samantha Stroh Bailey, Laura Tait, Tilly Tennant, Paige Toon, Karen Waskewich (Bookalicious Mama), Tamera Welch (Traveling With T), and Allison Winn Scotch.

And of course thanks to everyone in the chick lit community who took the time to visit the site and share their comments.

See you on May 1, 2015 … and remember until then, you can check out all the latest chick lit news at the four organising websites – Chicklit Club, Chick Lit Central, I Heart Chick Lit and A Novel Review.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Novel

by Caroline Hogg

CHoggBeing an editor is a lovely, sociable business: you meet all sorts of interesting people every week, you discuss ideas and experiences, you occasionally have some tasty lunches and a few glasses of fizz… But conversely, being an author – and authors make the publishing business go round: they are at the heart of everything we do – can be a very solitary pursuit. In the hard slog of writing 90,000 words or more it’s sometimes easy to lose motivation or question whether you’re doing the right thing. If you’re truly committed to what you’re writing you will push through. Quite simply: if you don’t write it down, it will never be a book. Your only real obstacle is yourself. Every author writes differently but the one thing they all have in common is that it is work, hard work and they keep at it until it’s right.

Here are some very general Dos and Don’ts that I hope will keep you at your laptop, happily bashing out chapter after chapter (rather than playing your 73rd game of Solitaire!). There are no hard and fast rules, and each author has to find the technique that works for them, but some of these might help you through a hair-pulling moment…

 Do
* Enjoy it. Write the book you would love to read. If it’s entertaining you, surprising you, delighting you then you have a better chance it will have the same effect on a reader.
* Write regularly. Your writing skill is a muscle and needs to be flexed! Even if you start your session by writing a character description, a blog post or even a shopping list, it will warm you up for your prose. You won’t come across a published author who says, ‘Whenever I have a few spare moments, I sit on the sofa.’ Write whenever and as often as you can.
* Talk to other authors. Whether it’s via Twitter or a local writing group, talk about and share your experiences. You might find like minds, new perspectives or opportunities to develop your writing; you will certainly find some great new friends at the very least.
* Read. Read the kind of books you write. Read very different books. Read anything. Because when you’re reading, you’re absorbing – how stories are effectively written, what impresses you, what bores you, what’s been done before.
* Finish the thing! Even if you’re not happy with your first or third or twelfth draft, don’t stop till you reach ‘The End’. Not finishing your novel means you have the perfect excuse to leave it in a dusty drawer, so be tough on yourself and set goals and deadlines to finish it and share it with early readers.

Don’t
* Expect perfection. I can guarantee you’ll have to do many rewrites, simply because every author does, whether they have published 1 or 101 books. No one gets it right first time. So don’t beat yourself, but do keep working at it.
* Rush. Take your time not just in crafting your novel but in honing your approach to agents and any other publishing professionals. Do your research, triple check your submission emails, be patient and calm. Your first impression really counts!
* Bad-mouth anyone. It sounds obvious, but don’t start any email with a complaint about a bestselling author you think isn’t up to scratch or someone within the publishing industry who has turned you down. Not only does it show bad manners, but publishing is a small world and you might be email their former editor/best friend/spouse!
* Be disheartened.  If you receive rejections or less-than-glowing-reviews of your work, it’s natural to feel upset. But take a deep breath, shake it off and dive back in. For every story of an author being signed up on their first novel, there are countless others where the author kept trying until their 12th novel broke through.
* Jump on a bandwagon. It’s very easy to pick out the novels that have been written to ‘cash in’ on a market trend: they usually feel unconvincing and a bit hollow. Always write what you love, because that passion translates into a genuinely good read.

Caroline Hogg is the Senior Commissioning Editor for Women’s Fiction at PanMacmillan. Feel free to tweet her at @CarolinePanMac.

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Let’s Talk About Embarrassment

Not in Front of the Family
by Janey Fraser

It wasn’t until I first got published, that I realised how carefully other people read your books. Especially if they know you. “Is that woman meant to be me?” asked my sister indignantly after my first novel came out. Of course not. Just because they both happened to speak in the same way and had similar careers doesn’t mean I based my character on her. Honestly.
janeyfraser But the fact remains that there’s a certain vanity – or maybe paranoia – in some people that makes them convinced they are in a book that’s been written by a friend or relative.
From an author’s point of view, it’s hard sometimes to separate fact from imagination. When I dream up my characters, they tend to be what I call a ‘pot pourri’ of quirks, looks and behaviour. The latter is often garnered from sharpish observation on my part as well as a dollop of fantasy.
So if you happened to have been sitting on the Circle line, three years ago, with a bottle of beer in your hand and whispering loud sweet nothings into the ear of your tattooed girlfriend, you might well find yourself in my next novel. Yes. I confess here, hand on heart, that I found myself writing about this character out of the blue: presumably because he made an impression. However, in my book, he’s an accountant by day and a raver at night. That’s where my imagination comes in.
So if you think you are the hero or heroine or the villain in a novel, you may well have contributed. But only in a bit part. Sorry.
Right! Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s address the issue of embarrassment. In fact, I’m going to spell that with a capital E because that’s what it is to the author when he or she knows that their nearest and dearest are reading their sex scenes. You see, when you write about romance or lust, you do so in the heat of the moment. You forget that one day, with any luck, it will be published and that all your friends (and husband) will promptly assume that you have a sex life that rivals Casanova.
The result can be mortifying. “I didn’t know you wrote those kind of books,” said a friend’s husband the other day at a dinner party with a wide grin on his face.
“I don’t, really,” I spluttered, going red and feeling horribly Judas-like.
“So you don’t write them,” he persisted. “You get someone else to do the sex bit for you?”
“Of course not.” I was indignant now. “It’s all from my imagination.”
He wasn’t giving up. “So it’s nothing to do with your amazing love life then?” He winks across the table at my own husband who is trying not to listen.
“Writing,” I try to say without choking on the prawn mousse, “is a mixture of real and fantasy.”
Then – would you believe it – he actually touches my knee. “I think you’re amazing. Yes. Really.”
Maybe that’s why we haven’t had a repeat invitation to dinner.
afterthehoneymoon.original-1Still, that’s nothing compared with the response from my children. They’re now of an age when they probably know more about sex than I do. There’s nothing that embarrasses them more than when a sex scene comes on the television and I’m in the same room. Actually, there is. It’s when there’s a sex scene in my book. “I can’t read your stuff any more,” announced one of them the other day. “Sorry.” She flashed me a prudish look. “But it makes me feel weird.”
The awful thing is that I can see what she means… Still, recently, I’ve decided to adopt another approach. The ‘write it and don’t care what my family and friends think’ one. After all, it’s my book and my life. In fact, there are some rather juicy scenes coming up in my new novel After the Honeymoon. Both sexy and otherwise.
Before you ask, they don’t feature you – although they could do in my next novel. It just so happens that I’ve been approached by a cancer charity which is auctioning the opportunity for readers to have their names in authors’ books. It’s for a great cause. So if you want to be featured, please email me at janeyfraser@gmail.com.
Meanwhile, I’m off to write another sex scene. Just to embarrass the kids. Funnily enough, my husband doesn’t mind. Between you and me, I think he rather likes it…

After the Honeymoon by Janey Fraser was published on May 22. She is also the author of Happy Families, The Playgroup and The Au Pair, all published by Arrow, Random House.

www.janeyfraser.co.uk

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Following Ronan’s Advice

A Letter To My Unpublished Self 

By Tilly Tennant

Dear Tilly,

Listen up! I know you have this grand delusion that you’re going to be a famous singer but, really, nobody wants to hear it. You think you open your mouth and you sound like Mary Poppins. The reality is that you crack mirrors, dogs howl and small children flee. Ditch the warbling.

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Have you thought about writing books? You love reading, right? You love wordplay and humour? You love happy ever afters? Sometimes you get grumpy that the story you’re engrossed in doesn’t turn out the way you want it to? Well, hold the phone, because if you’d written it, it would have been exactly the ending you wanted to see.

I won’t lie to you; it’s going to be tough. Possibly tougher than one of your Sunday joints. Almost certainly tougher and less financially rewarding than singing (at least, other people’s singing).

You will have to hold down about fifteen jobs for a while. You will have to work late into the night and get up at the crack of dawn to start all over again the next day. You will sit in darkened rooms on the sunniest days of the year when everyone else is out leaping in fountains and eating ice-cream because you have a deadline.
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At times your kids will think you’ve left home when you’ve actually been holed up in the loft for three days crying over a plot that won’t work. There will be times when you want to throw the laptop from the nearest window, times when your characters will misbehave, times when it seems that nobody wants to buy the rubbish you’re peddling and when they do they only have bad things to say about it. But one day, one glorious, heavenly-choirs-massing-in-the-clouds day, someone will love what you do. Enough to hand you a contract and take you under their wing to nurture what grain of talent you have. One day, you’ll publish that book.

That’s when the adventure really begins. And in the words of a wise old(ish) Irishman: Life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it.

That’s my advice. What you choose to do with it is up to you.

Love from Tilly xxx

Tilly wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She lives in Staffordshire with her wonderful family. Her first novel Hopelessly Devoted To Holden Finn was released earlier this year. 

tillytennant.com

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Finding Your Calling in Life

A Writer By Chance 

by Emma Hannigan 

Unlike many wonderful authors I have the privilege of knowing, I didn’t realise I wanted to be a writer until quite late in life. I knew I hadn’t found myself. I knew I was hopping from one job to another looking for my calling in life.

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My epiphany came when I lay in a hospital bed having been diagnosed with cancer for the first time back in 2008. This should’ve been the darkest moment of my life, but there was a little chink of light shining through. I believe things happen for a reason and I believe things happen at the right time. Most of all I believe someone was watching over me during that time.

I began to log what was happening to me, as a spleen-venting exercise. The comfort and pleasure I derived from pouring my heart and soul onto a computer screen was incredible. Even though I was in hospital enduring surgery and chemotherapy, I felt safe and comfortable. My body was going through hell, but my mind was on a completely different journey of discovery.

I decided to turn my story into a novel. As my word count increased so too did my enjoyment of writing. My newfound skill was rewarded in the most amazing way possible when in 2009 my first novel Designer Genes was released.

I will never forget the feeling of pride and elation as I saw it on bookshelves for the first time. Since then I’ve penned six novels and my memoir Talk to the Headscarf.

Cancer has been snapping at my heels. I’ve just finished treatment for my ninth diagnosis. But I feel utterly blessed. My new novel The Summer Guest is in stores across Ireland and the UK. I am currently finishing my next offering, which will be out in time for Christmas 2014. So life is good.

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Writing has been my saviour. It has been my coping mechanism, my therapy and the best form of escapism imaginable. Just as readers are transported to a different set of circumstances while delving into a book, so too is the author. I adore the fact that I can sit at my computer and allow my imagination to take over.

The best part about being a writer is that nobody knows if I’m ill or healthy while I work. I can be in a hospital bed or at my desk in my office, in a smart suit or my pyjamas the results are the same!

Writing affords wonderful freedom of mind and spirit. Fiction writing can be so cathartic. I have the ability to create characters and control their destiny. I can decide where they go, what they do and whom they meet along the way. Writing is a craft and takes years of development and learning to hone in on the best way to get a story across, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Each author has his or her own voice and that’s what makes each writer unique.

I am honoured to have lots of readers who constantly write to me telling me how much they enjoy my stories. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the tsunami of warmth support encouragement and kindness I’ve received over the years. I know I’m extremely lucky to have found my calling in life! I hope to bring continued joy to many more readers for years to come.

Love and light

Emma x

Emma lives in Bray, Co Wicklow with her husband Cian their son Sacha and daughter Kim. Her latest novel, The Summer Guest, is out now. 

www.emmahannigan.com

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Keep Writing, Me

Letter to My Unpublished Self

by Rosie Blake

Hey Dude,HTGALL

So you are probably sitting at your desk, OK fine, on the sofa covered in crumbs, your tears merging with the cold tea you have just sipped at and wondering, “Will it happen? Will people love my writing? Will they LOL and ROFL like I want them too?” And I’m here to tell you Rosie my old pal, my old me, it is going to be alright – you ARE going to get there, that phone call IS going to come and people will write you really nice tweets in the future saying things like, “Your book is funny!”

So how did you get there you are probably asking as you wipe your front, make a fresh pot of tea and sit up straight. Well Rosie you learnt stuff that you started applying to your writing. You learnt things like:

A)  You will stop spending half a day researching obscure pieces of information that get crow-barred into your book because you can’t bear NOT writing them because they took you SO long to find and they signal PROPER RESEARCH. They don’t my move the story on my friend so you press that ‘Delete’ button and you move on.

B)  You read books that contained HOT men so that you learnt how the authors did it, how they made you fall in love. You will look out for moments where the two characters interact and you will note down what happened and at which moment your heart went “ZAP”. Then you will apply to your own book.

C)  You will get out and about on a Twitter and FIND FRIENDS. Some of these friends will be encouraging and will make you laugh and you might even share your work with them and give each other feedback and you will enjoy it all and feel happy that others are in the same boat as you.

So Rosie my pretty keep going, keep writing, keep your chin up and it will happen for you and when it does it will be as ace as you imagined and you will love it,

Rosie x

Rosie Blake is the author of How to Get A (Love) Life, published earlier this year by Novelicious Books. You know what would make her day? Giving her a massive Black Forest cake. Or maybe you could just say hi to her on Twitter (@RosieBBooks).rosie-blake

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Doing lunch with Stacey Ballis…plus a book giveaway

staceybIntroduction by Melissa Amster

From the moment I started reading The Spinster Sisters, I knew Stacey Ballis was going to become a favorite author of mine. After I finished, I immediately went out to get her other three novels that were available at the time (back in 2007). Then I had to wait a few years for Good Enough to Eat, but it was well worth it! To date, she has not let me down and I still expect only greatness from her going forward. She mainly writes about Jewish women living in Chicago (sometimes with really cute dogs) and cooking up delicious feasts for the men they want to date. At least that’s the pattern I’ve been seeing. All her characters are relatable in one way or another and she’s not afraid to put their flaws on display either.  Her latest novel, Out to Lunch, is a real treat. I devoured it last year (see review) and especially loved the geek humor.  Luckily, Stacey has a copy for one reader in the US or Canada.  

A little birdie (or doggie, in this case) told me that Stacey recently celebrated a birthday. Help her celebrate another great year by checking out her books (if you haven’t yet) or telling all your friends about them (if you love them as much as I do).

Stacey is here today to tell us about a friend date she’d go on with one of her characters. If you’d like to become friends with Stacey too, visit her at her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

A Best Friend from Beyond

lula I think for me, I’d most like to have a “friend date” with Aimee from Out to Lunch. Since Aimee has already passed away when we are first introduced to her, and since we only get to know her through Jenna’s imaginary conversations with her and other characters’ memories, it would be fun to meet her in person and really get to know her a bit! I think for sure we would hang out at The Larder Library with the gang, and have lunch at Lula Café with Jenna. I think Aimee and I are much more alike than Jenna and I, so I think the day would be easy and fun. We’d probably do a little bit of shopping, maybe at Art Effect in Lincoln Park, or perhaps some antiquing, looking for treasures. I’d probably have to take her to see her statue at University of Chicago, and I think it is entirely likely she might deface it in some way! And then I think the best part arteffectof the day would be to have Aimee and Wayne, along with Jenna and the rest of the Larder Library staff all come over for a dinner party with me and my husband. I would love to watch everyone interact, since they are like a tight-knit family. (Of course, I’d have to hide all the breakables if Wayne was coming over!) Despite Wayne’s newfound willingness to explore dining options outside his comfort zone, we’d keep it simple. Throw some tomahawk steaks on the grill, roasted potatoes, some steamed green beans or asparagus, and then something over the top for dessert…maybe Benji’s crepe cake!

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My house

We’d drink some old burgundy with dinner and then settle in the living room with some port or Madeira and tell stories and laugh. I can see the six of us just hanging out till after midnight, talking about food and filling Aimee in on everything she’s missed. Something tells me that she would even exceed my expectations of her.

Thanks to Stacey for taking us on her friend date and for sharing her book with our readers.

 

 

 

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Allison Winn Scotch reflects on her characters…plus a book giveaway

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When we asked Allison Winn Scotch to take one of her characters on a friend date, she couldn’t choose which one to hang out with. She has such love for her characters that we asked her to list her top five favorites instead. And even there, she took some liberties…

Allison was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, grew up in Seattle, and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Honors History and Concentration in Marketing from the Wharton School of Business. After various stints in the PR, marketing and internet worlds, Allison discovered that there’s nothing finer than a) working for yourself, b) working from home and c) getting paid to write full-time. She spent the next eight years as a freelance magazine scribe for every title you could think of, from Glamour to Shape to Men’s Health to Family Circle to Bride’s to Parents. These days, she primarily focuses on celebrity interviews and profiles, which indulges her pop culture obsession and allows her to read junky magazines and watch lots of TV. (Melissa A. wants to know where to sign up for this job…)

Her main source of pride, aside from her husband, children, and dogs, is the publication of her novels, The Song Remains the SameThe One That I WantTime of My Life, The Department of Lost and Found, and The Theory of Opposites, which is being made into a movie.

You can find Allison at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. She has a copy of The Theory of Opposites to share with one lucky US reader!

My Top Five Favorite Characters (and Why I Love Them) 

1. Nicky from The Theory of Opposites: Nicky is my protagonist’s 11-year old nephew by marriage and a 9/11 baby. Initially, I started writing him as a toddler, and then I realized: Aren’t pre-teens so much more interesting? Indeed, they are. Writing a character just on the brink of adolescence/puberty allowed me to give him an edge, and he was always the most honest, most abrupt, most hilarious part of the family. To watch his transformation from jaded kid who felt lost in the world to still semi-jaded kid who felt more comfortable in his skin was and is one of my favorite parts of the book. Also, I let him say some pretty snarky things, which is fun as a writer!

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2. Jillian from Time of My Life: I have a lot of fondness for this book because it changed my career, but also because I heard from a lot of women who just understood Jillian. And I think in some respects, I feel the same way. Jillian is a stay at home mom who feels dissatisfied with her marriage, her husband, her station in life, and as such, finds herself questioning…everything. While I don’t really have that much in common with her on the surface,  she gave voice to the “what-ifs” that we sometimes can’t help but consider, even if our lives are pretty dang charmed. For that, I’ll always love her, and really, as weird as this sounds, have come to think of her as a dear friend.

songremains23. Anderson from The Song Remains the SameI had such a blast writing Anderson, the movie star who survives a plane crash with my heroine, Nell. It’s no secret that I love pop culture – and in fact, spend another part of my career interviewing celebs for magazines – so I loved getting inside of a B+-lister’s head. I gave myself some liberties to just have fun with him, to indulge his narcissism but also portray his humanity. I admit to also developing a small crush on him by the end of the book. :)

 

 

theory4. The entire Chandler family from The Theory of Opposites: I know it’s kind of cheating to throw the entire family in as my favorite characters, but I can’t choose!! I adore my heroine, Willa, because she is so off-kilter and makes terrible decisions, and as a author, that’s super-fun to write. I adore her famous yogi-brother, Oliver, because he allowed me to mock all of these silly stereotypes while also eventually grounding him. And he was honest with everyone else but not so honest with himself. Again, fun writing. And finally, oh my gosh, her sister, Raina: a control-freak, xanax-popping lawyer with four kids. I mean, come on. With her sharp tongue and ability to mentally blunt herself with pills, how could any author not love that?

 

bookcover-DEPT5. Natalie from The Department of Lost and Found: Natalie was my very first heroine and not a particularly likable one out of the gate. But that’s okay. What I love about Natalie is that she is so human. She screws up and is selfish and is overly ambitious and doesn’t consider everyone around her, but she is also kind and loyal and scared and fallible. And as her life falls apart, both via cancer and via a lot of other things (I won’t spoil it – read the book!), she not only grows to be likable, but she also grows into herself, in ways that we’ve all had to. She’s ballsy and real, and for those reasons, she’d also be my friend. (And for those reasons, I also loved writing her.)

Thanks to Allison for sharing her love for her characters with us and sharing her book with our readers.

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Posted in Allison Winn Scotch, Chick Lit, Chicklit Authors, Giveaways, Guest Blogs, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Book Boyfriends by Tamara from Traveling With T

Hey everyone- I’m Tamara from Traveling With T and I’m so excited to be guest posting about Book Boyfriends as part of International Chick Lit Month. When Laura emailed me about this and told me that book boyfriends was my topic- I did not have to think long about who I would write about (even though the term book boyfriends is relatively new to me!) me (2)

What makes a good book boyfriend? Is it his sexy ways, a knowing smile, or the hard, chiseled body? Maybe it’s his boyish charm or the slightly arrogant behavior he might show? Or, could it be a British accent? Do you like your book boyfriends to be cowboys? Military men with a heart of gold? Or a businessman? How about a FBI agent? When thinking about your book boyfriend- what is the most attractive part about him- his looks or how he takes care of his leading lady?
My book boyfriend, the one that I can enjoy reading about again and again… again, is an oldie, but a goodie. He is Luke Brandon of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series fame. Why did I pick Luke? I mean surely since Luke was introduced as a character in the early 2000’s and this is 2014- I mean surely- there is another, more current book boyfriend that I would wax on poetically about? I’m sure there is (No offense to other chick lit writers, but for me, when Sophie Kinsella created Luke Brandon- well, that was it. No others need to apply.)

If I could draw it out in flow charts, graphs, and all the cool paper with pretty ink, I would physically draw it all out why Luke is the perfect book boyfriend. But, that’s not possible (I mean ya’ll all can’t make it to my house to see my cool marker collection y’know?) So.. Here it is:

5 Reasons Why Luke Brandon Rocks My Socks Off As a Book Boyfriend
• Luke is good looking. No, make that great-looking. He takes pride in his appearance- always wearing dapper suits and looking marvelous in his business attire.
• Luke is scary-smart. He’s brilliant. He has an eye for business, a mind that won’t quit, and he is not intimidated by hard work.
• His British accent. British accents make me weak in the knees.
• The way he loves Becky Bloomwood. Yes, he does get annoyed with her at times in the earlier books (you can’t fault him there!) But, he loves Becky. He wants Becky to be the best possible version of herself and he’s there to support her, to help make it happen. He knows Becky’s faults and still thinks she is the cat’s pajamas.
• How Luke is not perfect. He has a lot going for him (rich, good-looking, intelligent) and yet, he has a past that hurt him, that made him into the man we readers meet. He’s perfectly imperfect.

Now that you know all the reasons that I enjoy about Luke Brandon- won’t you share who your book boyfriend is and tell why he’s the best book boyfriend ever?

Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

Tamara @ Traveling With T

t at Traveling with t guest post (2)

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Let’s Talk About Men, Baby

by Poppy Dolan3ad1872102b50a22d17b03.L._V359491868_SX200_.png

One of the greatest head-scratchers in women’s fiction is writing good men. Not good as in ‘white knight, put their coat in a puddle for you’ good but good as in real, believable and still loveable good. At the moment I’m writing a novel that’s half-told by a male narrator. He’s 34, into any kind of sport, emotionally stunted and in most ways still a teenager. So, a massive stereotype, right?  That’s my worry. But then again, I really actually know 30 something men who exactly fit that description. It doesn’t mean they sit around scratching their behinds and burping all day like pantomime villains, but they’re hardly metrosexuals in touch with their feminine side or even in touch with a Hoover for that matter.

I really want to write a guy who I could walk past in the street, or be introduced to at a party. Not one so two-dimensional and lame that he’d make you want to batter him with his own shoes, but also not one who’s so perfect and dreamy that he always says the right thing, brings you the perfect gift and is happy at a moment’s notice to fall on his romantic sword. To the point of being nauseating. Because that’s not real life either:  men are flawed, just as women are flawed. And all the great heroines of women’s fiction are flawed in some way, that’s what makes them so easy to identify with and imagine as a friend in real life.

So to me, the perfect romantic hero can be hopeless, can be lazy, can fly off the handle and only grumpily apologise. He is anything but perfect. Because in real life, you love someone despite their faults (Harry’s big New Year speech to Sally being THE definitive version of this) and if the perfect prince charming was delivered on a platter, where’s the fun in that? I love giving my characters obstacles, things to trip them up, personality flaws they need to iron out. So that when they do meet The One, they need to earn that romance and really work for it. So my male narrator will stay sports-mad and immature. Until it’s time for him to make his transition from frog to reasonably attractive prince…

TMTLTCPoppy Dolan self-published her first book, The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, in 2012 and was amazed that someone other than her mum bought it. It made the Amazon top 100 and no former boyfriends have since come forward to sue. Her second book, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes, was published by Novelicious Books in the autumn of 2013. It’s about baking, babies and not knowing when to grow up. When she’s not glued to her laptop, Poppy loves cooking, reading and getting emotional over reality TV. She is in her early thirties and lives just outside London with her husband. You can get in touch with Poppy on Twitter @poppydwriter and on Facebook at PoppyDolanBooks. She doesn’t bite. Unless you are a muffin.

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