National Readathon Day: Make #timetoread


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Today’s Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Today’s Topic: Book Event Inspiration & National Readathon Day It’s Wednesday – Happy Hump Day. We’re halfway to the weekend and that’s something to celebrate! Today, I’m talking about book events. Specifically, the first … Continue reading

100+ Pins On My “2015 Reading Challenges” #Pinterest Board


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Today’s Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (First Wednesday in 2015 – How cool!) Today’s Topic: 2015 Reading Challenges Q: What day is it? A: It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. Great day to talk books, New Year’s resolutions, and 2015 Reading Challenges! … Continue reading

Blog Roll – Writing Process

One of my favorite writers, Janis Thomas, author of SOMETHING NEW and SWEET NOTHINGS has invited me to participate in something called a blog roll, which is similar to a chain letter, in that if you choose to take part, you invite three more authors to participate and so on and so forth. Everyone answers the same five questions about our writing processes, giving readers an opportunity to discover new authors and the unique ways in which we write.

I’m so grateful Janis tagged me for this blog roll. Thank you, Janis! Read what Janis had to say about her writing process HERE.


I’m working through the final draft of the first book in a group of books I’m developing under a series titled: Village of Primm. I’ve made a complete mess of my writing studio/craft room with an enormous story arc map and extensive developmental notes. Some of my notes are typed and printed then taped to the wall, other notes are on yellow stick-ums or written in the margins of the pages of the manuscript. It’s a beautiful mess – one that energizes me every time I walk into the room.


My books would snuggle nicely on the Contemporary Women’s Fiction bookshelf, play best with the Mom Lit titles, and speak to readers who enjoy both humor and an underlying “Southern” voice and tone. But my books are a bit different because in certain places and at certain times in the narrative, I intentionally turn up the volume by 10% to underscore something I want to say about the social structure within the mom world.


I want to make moms laugh.

A mom’s job is dang hard and everyone keeps mucking it up on us. We deserve a break and the chance to laugh at ourselves and this zany life we’re living in.


Usually, when the husband and kids are fast asleep, I’ll head up to my writing room with a cup of tea and start writing. It’s not unusual at all for me to start writing around 11 o’clock at night and then not stop until I have to wake everyone up at six o’clock the next morning. I know that sounds crazy and believe me, I pay for it with a mild fatigue headache the next day that I nurse with lots of fresh water and a two-hour nap mid-morning. But knowing that I got something done the night before on my own writing energizes me like a heavy dose of caffeine and I somehow make it through the day.


Well, for one, it sure interrupts a good night’s sleep!

Who’s Next:

Posting early next week, the lovely Lynn Marie Hulsman, home to the States from her whirlwind author’s tour of Ireland. And Marissa Stapley, whose book, Mating for Life released this month.


“Pizza, oh pizza, I love you.”

HUMPDAYLOWRES Q: What day is it?

A: It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. We’re halfway to the weekend. Woo-Hoo! Now that’s something to celebrate.

Let’s talk books. No. Let’s talk PIZZA and friends who write books.

But first! The author of the poem in the title of this blog post? My daughter, Noelle (now 14), written when she was in the third grade.

oh pizza
I love you

I know, I know. She’s amazing.

Quick note: Next Wednesday (June 25th) is the last Hump Day of the month and you know what THAT means. Time for the Hump Day Blog Hop! Link-up and stay connected with bloggers in the blogosphere. Why? Because it’s fun! (And the connections you make just might lead to a pizza party!)

So I didn’t have room in last week’s post about my trip to New York City to attend BookExpo America (BEA), BookBuzz, and uPublishU to tell you about the fabulous time I had at a Friday night pizza party with a great group of writer friends. JulieFrancine That’s me on the left with the very wise and very zany Francine LaSala, industry veteran, ghost writer of a ton of books and author of THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH, & EVERYTHING and RITA HAYWORTH’S SHOES. (Wanna read my review of THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH, & EVERYTHING? Okay, here you go: Click here.) Francine’s got a not-so-secret life that you can read about by visiting her not-so-secret website: Francine LaSala Productions. Together we shared a most delicious beet salad (oh my gosh, so yum) and a Popeye spinach pizza (also yummy). In our social (and professional – but mostly social) circle, Francine is the go-to person for all questions. All questions lead to Francine who ALWAYS, ALWAYS has the correct answer. She’s so wise. So unbelievably wise. And when I’m with her, I feel like I’ve known her all my life. Not because I’m wise, but because, well, I dunno. Maybe we were Samurai warriors together in a previous life and I like, KILLED someone to protect Francine and she somehow senses it and is nice to me in this life. Hey, it’s possible.EileenMeredithIn January, Francine and I joined some other women from the night’s pizza gathering to party at Eileen Goudge’s oceanfront California beach house (Eileen’s on left in the photo above). I mention it now because I never managed to get a post up last January to tell you about my trip. Eileen’s a New York Times bestselling author of a gazillion books. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. She’s written a gazillion books. I think like . . . more than 20 or something. Some amazing number. Her talent and productivity are an inspiration. If my memory serves, it was Eileen that floated the idea of a pizza party and I’m so glad she did. She is a warm, generous spirit and is funny, funny, so-freaking-funny, and such a valued source of information about writing and publishing. Her latest novel, Bones and Roses, the first book in her new Cypress Bay mysteries series, is available now on preorder. You gotta check it out.

With Eileen in the photo above is Meredith Schorr, the sweetest writer in all of New York City. I’ve read and reviewed two of Meredith’s novels on my book blog (A State of Jane and Blogger Girl) and loved getting to know her better on that beach trip to California in January where we filmed a very silly book trailer for a boxed set she released in February. Meredith, Francine and Sam (on right in the next photo) organized the wildly successful BookBuzz event the night before so I know they were happy to unwind and relax over a glass of wine and great food.


In the above photo (on the right) is Samantha Stroh Bailey, one of the co-organizers of the Thursday night BookBuzz event and writer extraordinaire of the beloved FINDING LUCAS (4.6 out 5 stars after 91 reviews on Amazon). If you want, you can read my review of FINDING LUCAS here. Sam is an absolute stitch. That’s Southern talk for someone who’s so flippin’ funny she keeps everyone in stitches. (She lives in Canada so I have to explain that ‘stitch’ thing I just said.) Sam was on that California beach trip last January and kept us laughing the entire time. When she’s not lighting up the room with her contagious energy, she’s hunting for typos and those pesky -ly adverbs as owner of Perfect Pen Communications, a full service writing, editing and proofreading company that has recently added English to French writing translation services. She also collaborates on projects with Francine LaSala, mentioned above as the beet-salad-loving woman with the not-so-secret life. Because Sam also holds a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics, I’m going to embedd a typo in this paragraph to see if she can find it and leave a correction in my comment section. Smarty pants.

With Sam, but on the left side of the above photo, is the lovely Sheryn MacMunn, author of FINDING OUT. After a great time at the Friday night pizza party, Sheryn and I spent all day Saturday together at uPublishU where we learned a ton and traded notes in some mind-blowing publishing seminars. Some of Saturday’s seminars we attended:

  • Congratulations, Author: You’re Promoted to CEO
  • Build Your Author Platform & Publish Successfully
  • Engaging Readers: Getting Your Book Discovered by Readers
  • Marketing a Series: Tips & Tricks from Those in the Know
  • Hit the Bestseller List with E-book Preorders: Preorder Strategy A-Z
  • 5 Easy Ways to Get Discovered: Advice from Metadata Gurus
  • Social Media 201

The lunch we spent together on Saturday was absolutely amazing with Cindy Ratzlaff, president of Brand New, Brand You, Inc. Her keynote luncheon topic: Brand YOU: Creating a Rock Star Personal Brand for You and Your Books. So glad I got to hang with Sheryn at BookBuzz on Thursday night, pizza on Friday night, and uPublishU on Saturday. Sheryn rocks.

The lovely women in the above photo are Lydia Laceby and Deborah Schwartz. Lydia is co-founder of Novel Escapes, a crazy great and very influential chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction book blog and review site that I’ve been stalking for years. I recently read Lydia’s début novel, REDESIGNING ROSE and absolutely loved it. If you’ve got time, click here to read my book review and author interview. After the pizza party some of us took a walk and ended up at an Irish Pub to continue a night of lively discussion about writing, publishing, books, and family. One of the true gifts of my trip to New York was the late (late) night talk I had with Lydia and Lynn Marie Hulsman (in photo below). I wish both women didn’t live so far away… because I really, really connected with them.

With Lydia Laceby in the photo above (on the right) is the accomplished Deborah Schwartz, author of Woman on Top. After attending Tufts for undergrad and after earning her Master’s degree in History at Columbia by writing a thesis titled: “Prelude to Feminism in Eighteenth Century England” and after going to Boston University School of Law and spending 18 years as a healthcare attorney, Deborah truly became the ‘woman on top’ by reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011. Oh! And then she did that little thing called writing a novel. And guess what. She did that well, too. 4.6 stars out of 5 after 43 reviews on Amazon. Shesh! The nerve of her to be so accomplished. One more thing: She’s wonderful. Down to earth, funny, relaxed. An absolute gem. I can’t wait to eat pizza with her again and hope that day comes very soon.


Last, but certainly not least, a woman I adore, Lynn Marie Hulsman. She sat to my right and had the good sense to call the article of clothing I was wearing a ‘blouse’ and not a ‘top’ or ‘shirt’ – a choice of words that sparked a lot of controversy at the table and on Facebook and Twitter. Seriously, it generated 50+ comments on Facebook alone. (Francine, if you’re reading, IT’S A BLOUSE.) I put Lynn Marie last in this post because I didn’t have a good picture of us from the pizza party so I’m using a very crummy photo from the night before at the BookBuzz event. In just two and a half years, Lynn Marie scored an agent, co-wrote two books, ghost-wrote another, published an article, completed one novel, and started a second one. During that time, we connected over twitter and @LynnMarieSays became one of my most favorite people to tweet with, so yes, our relationship began with 140 characters but grew from a genuine sense that we had a lot in common and well, hey. We liked each other. So we tweeted a lot. I mentioned in my section about Lydia that one of the greatest gifts that came from my time in New York was the late night conversation I had with Lydia and Lynn Marie. We shared a walk back to our hotels where I actually banged my SHOULDER (of all things) on a sidewalk under construction while wearing very high wedges. (I hate those shoes. They even gave me blisters, dang them.) Lynn Marie writes lots of things like novels and cookbooks including Make Your Own Soda and a cookbook I especially have my eye on: The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook: More than 75 Rich Recipes Featuring Kentucky’s Signature Spirit. She also wrote Christmas at Thornton Hall covered in a Christmas blog post series I ran last December called “Elf on a (Book) Shelf – Countdown to Christmas.”

From the group of pizza lovers that also happened to meet in January at Eileen’s oceanfront beach house (remember that blog post I never wrote?) Eileen, me, Francine, Sam, and Meredith – there was one person missing at pizza night – Jen Tucker who we dialed up for a little FaceTime over dinner. Jen wrote the laugh-out-loud novels: The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt as well as two beautiful children’s books, one of which (Two by Two) I read to my son’s third grade classroom and they LOVED it. Jen was my beachie-keen roommate in California and her presence was really missed during our time in New York. We carried you with us in spirit (and on FaceTime, through texting and emails), Jen. We love you and kept you here with us at all times.

Okay, well. So. That’s it for today’s Hump Day Post. One crazy great night of pizza shared with some amazing women writers who I call friends.

My cup runneth cover. I’m drinking from the saucer.