Wednesday, December 11, 2013

10 Great Chick Lit Novels to Curl Up with This Winter - The REAL List

I recently read an article that claimed they had a list of the 10 all-time greatest chick-lit novels to curl up with this winter. I did not agree... with most of them. 

(For the original article click here:

To be honest, I haven't read all of the books on this list. However, if I am to judge them by the ones I have read... well I'm not so sure I will be adding the other ones to my to-be-read list on Goodreads. 

Let's break it down. Obviously Marian Keyes and Helen Fielding are a must. Sophia Kinsella as well... but The Undomestic Goddess? While that was a pretty good book, it does not even come close to the gems that are Can You Keep a Secret and I've Got Your Number. Then there are How We Met (Regan), The Memory Keepers Daughter (Edwards), She's Come Undone (Lamb), The Help (Stockett), and The Lovely Bones (Sebold). All not chick lit. And don't get me started on One Day (Nicholls). 

I'm not entirely sure if the author of this article even understands what chick lit is. In my opinion, chick lit is humorous, fun, and an escape. It can have an element of whimsy and can also be a bit predictable. But most importantly, it has a happy ending. Some of these don't even have happy beginnings or middles. 

So because of this article, I feel it is my duty to post a list of 10 great chick lit novels to curl up with this winter. Are these the greatest? Of the ones I've read, they are. There are so many out there that I still need to read myself (so many books, so little time). These are some of my top favorites, though (in no certain order). Here goes. 

1. Can You Keep A Secret - Sophie Kinsella
    I loved, loved, loved this book. It has all the elements that make up true chick lit. Great premise, witty           banter. Love it.

2. Asking for Trouble - Elizabeth Young
    The movie The Wedding Date was based on this. Horrible movie, wonderful book. 

3. The Other Side of the Story - Marian Keyes
    I read this book years ago and the story still sticks with me, but in a good chick-lit-y way. 

4. Bet Me - Jennifer Cruisie
    Adorable, sexy, funny. It's been a while since I read it. I may have to read it again after I'm done with this     list. 

5. Jemima J - Jane Green
    By far, one of my favorites. Jemima's journey from ugly duckling to swan is a perfect escape book.

6. I've Got Your Number - Sophie Kinsella 
    She is practically the queen of chick lit, she needs to be on here twice. Adored this book. 

7. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

8. You Had Me At Hello - Mhairi McFarlane
    A newer book - the story bounces back between present and past. One of my favorites for sure. 

9. Something Borrowed - Emily Griffin
    Great book - I even liked the movie (surprise, surprise).  

10. Austenland - Shannon Hale
     I did not expect to like this one, but I really really did. And if you like chick-flicks, this is also a must.

So this Winter season when you curl up to read, grab yourself a real chick lit book. Escape, enjoy, and bask in your happily-ever-after endings. There are too many not-so-happy endings in real life. Why pick fiction with the same thing? Escape my fellow chick lit readers, escape. 

Got any other books to add to the list? Post them in the comments. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Buttercream Frosting to Die For

In my debut novel, Thirty-Two Going On Spinster, my main character likes to bake. So today I'm sharing Julia's buttercream frosting recipe. Trust me, you're gonna want to save this one to your favorites. 

Julia's Buttercream Frosting

1 cup of SALTED butter (softened to room temperature)
1 teaspoon REAL vanilla
4 cups of powdered sugar
Cream or milk to thin

**The key to this recipe is in the butter and the vanilla. The butter must be softened to room temperature only - no cheating with the microwave. Good vanilla and salted butter make all the difference.**

In mixer beat butter on medium until fluffy (approx 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and mix again.

Add sugar, one cup at a time, mixing in between until smooth. If desired, add food coloring at the end and mix in.

Use cream (will be very rich) or milk (not quite as rich) to thin it out to desired consistency. Do 1 tablespoon at a time as to not thin out too much

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups of frosting

Almond Buttercream Frosting: Omit vanilla, add 1 teaspoon of almond extract

Lemon Buttercream Frosting: Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon (will need less milk because juice will thin it out)

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting: Omit vanilla, add 1/2 cup of finely crushed peppermint candy and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Coconut Buttercream Frosting: Omit Vanilla, add 2-3 teaspoons of coconut extract

Tip: For a thicker consistency, useful for piping designs, use 1 heaping tablespoon of Meringue powder sifted in with the powdered sugar.

Feel free to set aside a bit of this and eat it with a spoon. I won't judge you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

There’s this epidemic going around. When it comes to the internet, somehow etiquette, politeness, and the Golden Rule have all gone out the window. It’s as if it has become okay for people to become rudely, brutally, and unnecessarily mean just because they aren’t actually saying it to your face.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen victim to this. In a rage-filled PMS moment, I sent a very tersely worded e-mail to some poor soul whose only fault was working for some company that ticked me off. Why would I do that? In what situation would Miss Manners herself, ever deem this behavior acceptable?  The answer is: she wouldn’t. 

Is this to say that we shouldn’t be honest? That we should never say how we feel? No, of course not. There are ways to say things, however, that can get your point across in a nicer, kinder way.

As a published author I have had my share of comments said toward me via the internet, which were rude, inconsiderate, and rather cruel. I know. Woe is me. I could tell you that I have thick skin and that I just let those mean-people-comments roll off my back, but it’s not true. Unfortunately I mull over them and have even shed a tear or two (or three).

I’m in good company, though. No author is free from these critiques. Even the most famous ones have been ripped a new one via the internet. E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey) had a one star review that said “if crap had an a**hole, this is what would be coming out if it.” So basically if crap could crap, this is what it would be. I know, I laughed too. But it was a cruel comment, and intentionally so.

Obviously, there is not one book that everyone loves. Even the classics haven’t been left out. I found this gem from Pride and Prejudice:  “I would rather endure a daily root canal than read this book again.”

We all have different tastes and likes. It’s what sets us apart from each other. It’s what makes us unique. It’s okay to not like something, and it’s okay to say it. But it should be done in a kind, considerate, and thought-out way. It should be as if you were saying it to the person directly, because you pretty much are.

I think with the internet, as a rule of thumb, we should just go back to what dear ol’ mom taught us: “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.” It’s a good way to think when you are making comments, leaving reviews, sending emails. I pledge to follow this rule and never let a bout of PMS guide my interactions ever again. Join me. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chick-lit: It’s Predictable

Every once in a while I get a review of my book that says it was predictable. Um… yah. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t all chick-lit predictable?

Essentially, there’s a formula for chick-lit. It varies from book to book and writer to writer, but it basically stays the same. There’s the heroine/hero, there’s the love interest, there’s the drama, and then there’s the happily ever after.

I wonder in their remarks that it was predictable, were they looking for something unpredictable? Maybe a not-so-happily-ever-after? Let me tell you what would happen if I wrote a book with a not-so-happy ending. Ten percent of my readers would think “huh, that’s different”, and the other ninety percent would throw the book across the room (unless it was on their kindle, and then they would very gently, but sternly, delete it from their files, never to be seen or read again).

I also wonder, if by unpredictable, are they looking for something more realistic? Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read, I’m not looking for “real”. I have enough “real” in my everyday life. When I read, I’m looking for an escape - a way to go on vacation, without actually having to go on vacation. So for me, I like the predictable. I look forward to it. I know that when I open Sophie Kinsella’s newest novel there will be a happy ending and that makes me want to read it.

After all, isn’t the joy in the journey? How will they get from A to B? How will the love blossom? How will they work through whatever drama will be thrown their way?

So is chick-lit predictable? Yes. And I would like to keep it that way, thank you very much. If you are looking for something less predictable, might I suggest a mystery, or a biography. Perhaps a dystopian novel would do the trick (I’ve thrown a few of those across the room). But let’s keep chick-lit the way it was meant to be: predictably lovely. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Writing While Raising a Toddler Stinks

I have a two year old. And she is evil. Not evil as in spawn-of-the-devil-type-evil (although, there have been times when I wonder), she is just… well… evil. She has two older siblings and they never acted the way she does. Well, perhaps they did and I repressed it. But, I digress.

In a perfect world, ideas and thoughts for writing would come to me only during naptime or when she goes to bed at night. But unfortunately, for me, ideas tend to form during awake time and/or tantrum time. Which for my two-year-old is pretty much the same thing (awake time = tantrum time).

This makes it difficult for me to write like I want to, which is all the time. I would love to write all of the time. But I am a full-time mommy, and so I must share my time with my love for writing and my three babies.  In truth, the raising of my kids is my most important role, and I work every day at making this my most important role… even when I sometimes would rather get in my car and drive far, far away.

This means that the bulk of my writing has to be done at night. When everyone is asleep. Namely, evil toddler. The only problem with this is now I have to ignore my husband because nighttime is our time together. Lately though, our time has been spent with him on the couch doing something work-related on his laptop, and me ten feet away writing in the office. Our conversations consist of yelling things back and forth to each other. It’s very romantic.

I sometimes dream about having a clone of myself who could spend time with my family, while I write. But then the real me would miss out on all of those wonderful things that happen while my babies are growing up. Things I can never get back. Like today when my evil toddler stripped down completely naked and went streaking through our back yard. That kind of stuff.

So for now, I will be a mommy during the day, a writer at night, and somewhere in there I will find time to be a wife too. I’ll continue to be haggard from the kids and sleep-deprived from the writing. It’s my life, after all. And it’s a great one. Even with the evil toddler.