The Darkest Lie

The Darkest Lie Release Blitz | Pintip Dunn |

I’m so excited to be part of the Release Blitz for Pintip Dunn’s THE DARKEST LIE! Check out the book’s details and teaser, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

The Darkest LieThe Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn | A Book and a Latte |

Publisher: Kensington YA

Publication: June 28, 2016


“The mother I knew would never do those things.

But maybe I never knew her after all.”

Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

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Excerpt from The Darkest Lie

“I’ve been researching the story of her suicide,” Sam says. “And I came across something in my research that nobody could explain.”

“What is it?” I say dully, even though I can probably guess. I mean, there’s lots that’s inexplicable about my mom’s behavior. Tons.

Like: How could a grown woman be sexually attracted to a boy? Or more importantly: Why would she act on it? And my personal favorite: Did she have any kind of moral fiber—even a few lost threads—at all?

But Sam bypasses all the obvious questions and picks up a lock of my hair. I feel the slight tug all the way to my roots.

“Her hair.” He rubs my strands between his fingers, and I suppress a shiver. “It was chopped off, jagged. One article said it looked like it was lopped off with a butcher knife.”

I shrug, but even that simple movement is infused with the awareness of his touch. Still, he doesn’t let go.

“They said she was crazy,” I say. “Out of her mind. Maybe she was disfiguring herself as a sign of her shame. Who knows what motivated her actions?”

But even as I repeat the explanation the detectives gave for just about everything, my dad’s words echo in my mind: I knew your mother. She wasn’t capable of those things. I don’t believe she did any of it.

All of a sudden, my excuses sound exactly like what they are—easy, surface-level assumptions designed to make it easier for the detectives to close the case.

Sam frowns. “I guess I could buy that if I hadn’t seen the interview with her hair stylist in one of the local papers.”

Oh. One of those. Every newspaper in a fifty-mile radius went berserk when my mom committed suicide. Every day, there was a new article, featuring interviews with her fellow teachers, former students, even our lawn guy, for god’s sake. If there was a story on her hair salon, I must’ve missed it.

“The stylist kept saying your mom’s haircut was inconceivable, and I couldn’t understand why. So when I was scooting past Cut & Dry the other day, I stopped to talk to her.”

“Did she confirm my mom was a natural redhead?” I raise my eyebrows. “Reveal the exact color of dye she used to cover her silver sparkles?”

“Not at all,” he says, and something about his tone stops me. The chill begins at the base of my spine and crawls its way up, one long spider leg at a time. “The stylist said she’s been cutting your mom’s hair for two decades. And in all that time, your mother never let her cut more than half an inch. In fact, she came into the salon two days before she died, and they had the exact same argument. The stylist tried to talk her into a bob, and your mom adamantly refused.”

Abruptly, he lets go of my hair, and the strands swing back over my shoulder, loose, unencumbered, and very, very cold.

Sam’s eyes pierce right into me. “So what I want to know is: What could’ve happened in two days that made her change her mind? Unless . . . she didn’t.”

Pintip DunnAbout Pintip Dunn

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, is a finalist in the Best First Book category of RWA’s RITA® contest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at


There are 2 prizes! One winner will win a signed copy of THE DARKEST LIE (US only), and another winner will receive a $50 gift card to Amazon or Book Depository (international)!

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My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind, Blog Tour and Giveaway!



What happens in Aspen is definitely not staying in Aspen . . .

A girls’ trip to Aspen was exactly what Shay needed to forget about her toxic ex-boyfriend. She’s got her girls, pristine slopes for skiing, and hot guys everywhere. Of course, her epic self-rediscovery goes completely to hell when a wild (and deliciously hot) skier knocks Shay on her ass . . . and war is declared.

Kolton doesn’t know what it is about Shay that makes him lose it. Not just his cool—although she does have an unholy gift for that—but his restraint. When anger gives way to explosive chemistry, they’re both shaken with the intensity of it. But somewhere between lust and hate, Kolton and Shay realize they could have something real . . . if they don’t kill each other first.

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Get your hands on MY PERFECT MISTAKE:

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Enter to Win!

Want to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a signed copy of CHASING CRAZY by Kelly Siskind (US/CA only)? Enter via the rafflecopter below!

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About Kelly Siskind

A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.

She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group.

2015 Golden Heart® Finalist

Connect with Kelly Siskind

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

On Writing Three Books in a Year: An Interview with Kelly Siskind (p.s. we talk about sex scenes too)


Kelly Siskind is one of those rare people you meet in life, that with one single conversation you know that they are doing in life what they were meant to do. When Kelly mentored me in Pitch Wars, we had a few telephone conversations. During one, she suggested a change in my main male character’s motivation. But I was concerned that his behavior in another scene would no longer make sense. Without a moment’s hesitation, she was able to explain what drove his every decision. Kelly Siskind is a great writer because she understands human behaviour, what pumps your heart faster at the sound of a car door slam, or what makes a woman want to go from punching a smirk off a guy’s face to sucking it off with a searing kiss faster than you can take a shot of tequila.

It is a gift.

But I wanted to get a glimpse into the steel cables that guide the gondola of her thoughts (a reference to her next book release). Today, in my interview with Kelly Siskind, we talk writing process,  character development, and of course, hot sex.


  1. You’ve written three books in the last year. That’s very impressive. What is your writing routine or schedule?


My husband and I own our own business, so I write whenever I can. If I have half an hour in the morning, I savor those minutes. If I have free time in the afternoon, I dive in. Mondays are my full writing days, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Other than that, it’s about making the most of the time I can eek out.


  1. How long does it take you to complete a manuscript to the point where you give it to CPs for feedback?


It takes me about two and a half months to draft a manuscript. I work with one critique partner during that time, who reads as I go. This process allows me to catch issues before they get out of control. The continued feedback helps me develop the story. Once it’s done, I work with two or three other CPs to revise and a couple of Beta readers afterward.


  1. Tell us about your writing process from outlining to drafting.


I’m a plotter. To begin, I write a short blurb to define the story, like what you’d find on the back cover of a book. Then I flesh that out into a synopsis, usually two to three pages. Then I write chapter outlines. These outlines consist of the purpose of each chapter as well as the scenes that make them up. As I write, I stray from the structure at times, but having it in place helps keep me on track.


  1. How long does the plotting process take you before you’re ready to start writing the MS?


About a week.


  1. Where do you get your inspiration from?

This changes for me. When I wrote CHASING CRAZY, I had just finished drafting a novel with a very snarky main character. I wanted to push myself in the other extreme with Nina, making her more shy and awkward. I’d also backpacked to New Zealand a lifetime ago and wanted to relive that experience through my writing. Similarly, the first book in my Over the Top series—MY PERFECT MISTAKE—begins in Aspen. The idea for the novel sparked while on vacation there.


  1. Chasing Crazy made me laugh out loud and swoon. Sam and Nina had tremendous depth and were so relatable. I felt I was on the journey with them. How do you develop your characters?


I don’t fill out questionnaires about my characters the way some authors do, but I do jot things down on a page. Some basic background information. The rest develops as I write. I try to work snippets of their history into their inner monologues to give readers insight into who they are and why they make the choices they do.


  1. In my last post, I asked Brighton Walsh about things to avoid when writing sex scenes. What is your advice to authors about writing an effective and hot sex scene?


Writing hot sex, for me, is about injecting emotion into the scene. It’s not a paint-by-numbers exercise where you describe the actions; it’s about moving the plot and emotion forward. My aim is to inject elements of my characters personalities and struggles into the intimacy of the moment.


  1. Tell us about your next project.


I am so freaking excited about my next project! As it is a secret, I can’t divulge too much, but I will say that the first novel in the series has a cringe-worthy event that starts it off with a bang.


Head Shot Color High-res SMALLER
Kelly Siskind


Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY and the soon to-be-released Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.


Chasing Crazy

2015 Golden Heart® Finalist


Chasing Crazy is an entertaining and compelling story about owning who you are. With an endearingly awkward female protagonist, a swoon-worthy male love interest, and Siskind’s superb storytelling, this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances I’ve read to date.” ~ USA Today Bestselling author, K.A. Tucker


Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I’m going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both.


At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime’s worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going—across the globe to New Zealand. There she faces what she fears most: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina’s next mistake.


Once Sam’s life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world has tipped sideways. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self resurfacing.


Now traveling together, Nina and Sam fall fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret—and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.

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On Sex and Writing: An Interview with Brighton Walsh

I’m thrilled to bring you this interview with the incredibly talented, Brighton Walsh. In addition to writing sexy romances, Brighton is a Pitchwars mentor. She mentored Kelly Siskind in 2014, who then mentored me in 2015. So that makes Brighton my grand-mentor. Through her and Kelly, I’ve learned a wealth of things as they relate to writing and all things sexy (if you don’t follow Brighton on Twitter, you’re missing out. She has considerably broadened my scope of “peen” knowledge and makes me laugh every day.)

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  1. During Pitchwars you Tweeted and encouraged Pitchwars Mentees to use beat sheets. Does this mean that you’re a plotter?

Yes, I’m an extensive plotter. I tend to freeze up and not be able to produce if I fly by the seat of my pants (which I’ve tried exactly once). Outlining, doing character questionnaires, and planning all my scenes makes it so I can draft in about 5-6 weeks.


  1. Tell us about your writing process from outlining to drafting.

I usually get an idea for two characters and I figure out how I’m going to get those characters together. I brainstorm with my Plot Whisperer, then I start on the character questionnaires (this consists of, I think, about 200 questions for the hero and heroine to give me a better idea of who they are and their history). Once that’s done, I figure out my pinch points—meet cute, inciting incident, turning point, the beginning of the end, the black moment, and the resolution. Then I can fill in the remaining parts between each of those. I do everything in Scrivener, so my outline is right with my character questionnaires and both of those are right by my chapters. Once I have everything outlined, I start drafting. Best case scenario, I draft in 4 weeks. Worst case is about a year, but remember that one book I told you I tried to pants? Yeah. Generally, though, I average about 6 weeks with a draft.


  1. How long does it take you to complete a manuscript to the point where you give it to CPs for feedback?

I’m a clean writer, so if I draft in 6 weeks, I’d probably take a week to edit, then hand off to CPs.


  1. Paige in Progress is your third stand-alone novel in the Reluctant Heart series. The first two were published by Berkley, but you’re self-publishing this one. Can you tell us what led to that decision?

I was excited to get this story out there. It was my favorite one of the bunch, and one readers were asking for, and I wanted to give it to them! Being a hybrid author has always been in my game plan, because I think it’s important to see all sides of the equation so you can make better, more informed decisions with your career moving forward.


  1. You write some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. What are common pitfalls in writing sex scenes and how do you avoid them? Do you find it challenging to keep each sex scene fresh?

Well, thank you! I find writing sex scenes to be the easiest ones to write. I always joke that if I’m stuck on something, I just need to toss in a sex scene to get over it. As for common pitfalls—I’d say probably awkward movements or cringe-worthy dialogue. For me, avoiding them means being realistic in my writing. And, yes, I find it difficult to keep them fresh, because there are only so many ways to write Peg A Goes Into Slot B, but I think the characters help with that. They sort of take the scene where they need it to go based on their journey.


  1. With the introduction of Paige’s brothers in this book, I wonder, are there plans for more books in this series?

Hmmm…I wonder! LOL I will say I would love to write both Tanner and Dillon, and I may or may not have started character questionnaires…


Brighton Walsh



Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at

Young couple during romantic evening

Paige in Progress:

She wanted a one-night stand…and then he moved in next door.


Paige Bennett is more than content with her life and what she does—and does not—have in it. She’s got a supportive family, a great apartment, and the best friend a girl could ask for; so what if her relationships expire faster than a carton of milk? After a disastrous detour courtesy of poor judgment in the boyfriend department, her plan is back on track and her dream job is finally within her grasp. Nothing can make her lose focus now. Well, nothing except the one-night stand she had with her best friend’s surrogate brother. The one-night stand she can’t stop thinking about.


Adam Reid has always been reliable…the responsible son, the loyal friend, the steady boyfriend. Two years ago, he graduated Magna Cum Laude and is well on his way to making a name for himself at an accounting firm in Denver—a far cry from working as a helper in the Mom and Pop store his parents own in Michigan. But when said store starts failing, he’s the only one who can step in and help. So reliable Adam does what he always does, and he comes to the rescue.


Paige thought Adam was a safe bet because he lives halfway across the country. But then suddenly he’s moving back to their town, and then into her apartment building, and soon he’s worming his way right into her life. If she’s not careful, he might sneak his way into her heart, too…

Sexy young couple kissing and playing in bed.








The Edge of Nowhere Book Release




The year is 1992 and Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene—reviled matriarch of a sprawling family—is dying.

After surviving the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Victoria refuses to leave this earth before revealing the secrets she’s carried for decades.

Once the child of a loving family during peaceful times, a shocking death shattered her life. Victoria came face to face with the harshness of the world. As the warm days of childhood receded to distant memory, Victoria learns to survive.

No matter what it takes.

To keep her family alive in an Oklahoma blighted by dust storms and poverty, Victoria makes choices—harsh ones, desperate ones. Ones that eventually made her into the woman her grandchildren fear and whisper about. Ones that kept them all alive. Hers is a tale of tragedy, love, murder, and above all, the conviction to never stop fighting.



bloggingC.H. Armstrong is an Oklahoma native transplanted in Minnesota. A 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, “Cathie” is a life-long lover of books, and staunchly outspoken on the subject of banned and challenged books. The Edge of Nowhere is her first novel and was inspired by her own family’s experiences during the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl and The Great Depression.







An Interview with author (and fellow Calgarian!) Melanie Stanford

I know. I know. There’s been a bit of a lag in posting. I apologize. I truly do. My work/life balance has been horribly off kilter as of late and I’m struggling to rectify it. At work it’s “please talk, hmmm, for me?”, while at home it’s “please, stop talking!”. At the end of the day, when the silence finally comes, a face plant into the couch quickly follows.

Stolen moments have been found to continue querying. I know many of you are curious as to where I am in the process, but I want to maintain some professionalism and won’t reveal anything until I have an announcement to make. So please, be patient, it may be a while. (And thank you for your support and cheerleading!!)

Recently, I came across a tweet from Laura Brown regarding a cover reveal for a New Adult Romance, “Sway”. I clicked on the link and did a little happy dance when I read that the author, Melanie Stanford, was a fellow Calgarian! Someone from my home town, writing in the same genre as me, got a book deal! I wanted to know more! So, I requested an interview — and she was gracious enough to oblige.

Melanie Stanford

First, a little bit about Melanie:

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.

Melanie, what inspired you to write SWAY? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

SWAY was the second novel I finished. I’d previously written a YA time-travel book plus part of its sequel. SWAY is a modern-day retelling of PERSUASION by Jane Austen. The first time I read it, it really spoke to me more than her other novels (I love them too, though). I really identified with what Anne goes through and felt her pain. But it wasn’t until I was watching the 2007 ITV movie version of it (starring the swoontastic Rupert Penry-Jones) that I really thought it would make a great modern story.

From idea to completion, how long did it take you? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

The first draft took me about three months. I revised a few times and had 3 excellent critique partners and 5 beta readers who whipped it into shape. They really helped it go from blah to beautiful.

Can you talk about your query process with SWAY? How many agents or editors did you query? Was it an easy process for you, or challenging?

Querying is always challenging. I’d already shelved my first MS, which was heart-wrenching, so to start all over again wasn’t fun, and it was especially difficult because SWAY didn’t get the attention that my first had gotten- both with agents and contests. I sent 33 queries (three from Twitter pitch requests) and ended up with three full requests, one I never did hear back on. I decided to shelve it and work on book number four. I spent the next year going back and forth on whether I should query SWAY to small publishers or not. For multiple reasons, I finally decided it was a good move for me and for this book to give it a try, so I sent it to seven small romance publishers. I received two no’s, two I never heard from, and three offers! (That still shocks me.)

As Canadians, do you think it makes a difference in our options for publication or representation?

I don’t think it does, no. The only thing I’ve come across while researching small publishers is that there’s less opportunity of getting my book into the local Chapters/Indigo. Small pubs in general don’t do much distribution to brick and mortar stores (depending on the publisher, of course), but there are very few that distribute through Chapters/Indigo.

What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

Since I’m still here with you (I’m currently querying a YA UF, with a YA mystery waiting in the wings), all I have to say is DON’T QUIT. I know you hear it all the time, but all us writers need to be reminded of it on those days when it feels too hopeless to write a hundred more words, or revise one more chapter, or send out one more query.

Tell us about SWAY.

Sway by Melanie Stanford

Ava Elliot never thought she’d become a couch surfer. But with a freshly minted—and worthless—degree from Julliard, and her dad squandering the family fortune, what choice does she have?

Living with her old high school friends, though, has its own drawbacks. Especially when her ex-fiancé Eric Wentworth drops back into her life. Eight years ago, she was too young, too scared of being poor, and too scared of her dad’s disapproval. Dumping him was a big mistake.

In the most ironic of role reversals, Eric is rolling in musical success, and Ava’s starting at the bottom to build her career. Worse, every song Eric sings is an arrow aimed straight for her regrets.

One encounter, one song too many, and Ava can’t go on like this. It’s time to tell Eric the truth, and make a choice. Finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. If he can forgive her…and she can forgive herself.

Thanks for having me!!! 😀

Sway is due out this winter and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads bookshelf

You can find Melanie on:
Her website:

Her publisher is:

Cover Reveal: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Cover Reveal: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Cover Reveal: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

We’re dreaming of summer—feet in the sand, soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the pool—but what we’re most excited about this summer is the release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s third novel, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (on sale July 7, 2015). While we (impatiently!) wait for the book, today we’re giving you a first look at the gorgeous cover! Plenty more information below…


At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.

Hannah hesitates.

What happens if she leaves with Gabby?

What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books/Washington Square Press Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776880 | July 7, 2015 | $16.00

eBook: Atria Books/Washington Square Press | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776897 | July 7, 2015 | $11.99







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An Interview with Author S N Weddle


I am happy to announce that as part of his Blog Book Tour, S. N. Weddle, author of “It Starts With A Kiss”, has generously given his time to answer my questions about his journey from idea to publication, and the lack of middle-age female protagonists in modern novels. He also gives advice to those seeking publication. Please find my interview below the summary of his book.

Kiss cover _Layout 1

Summary of “It Starts With A Kiss” provided by Elite Book Promotions:


How many women wish they could be 21 again but knowing what they know now? How many women wish they had great looks, fabulous clothes, an amazing job and the choice of any man they fancy? Be careful what you wish for …….

Rapidly approaching 50, Jennifer Green is living a life of quiet despair following her husband’s confession of an affair. She is contemplating suicide when she encounters a mysterious, half-crazed tramp who appears to know more about her than she does herself. Thanks to the tramp’s magical powers, Jennifer suddenly finds herself 21 again, but this time with the figure and face of a goddess – and, what’s more, every millionaire in New York is trying to date her. “Beauty is the strongest currency in the world.” Even her own daughter doesn’t recognise the new-look Jennifer. She and her unsuspecting daughter become flatmates.

To earn a living, Jennifer takes up ‘honey trapping’ to catch cheating husbands, even checking out her daughter’s dodgy boyfriend along the way. Eventually, Jennifer’s killer combination of stunning beauty and mature wisdom make her a star on prime-time TV but, by then she is also beginning to wonder if there is sme bizarre connection between the tramp, a handsome stranger who nearly hijacked her wedding 25 years earlier and the rich, successful and impossibly gorgeous media tycoon who is currently sweeping her off her feet.

On one level, It starts with a KISS is a romantic, funny and sexy modern-day fairy-tale with a surprising ending – a great summer read! On a deeper level, this is also a complex novel, beautifully written, and exploring themes that will touch every woman: lost youth, beauty and image, marriage, female friendships, loyalty and envy, mother-daughter relationships and society’s attitude to sex. This is a book for any woman who wonders if others see her the way she sees herself – and it is remarkable that this intimate portrait of female insecurities has been penned (from a woman’s point of view) by a man.

IT STARTS WITH A KISS: An Interview with author, S N Weddle

  1. What was the inspiration behind It Starts With A Kiss

I’d just hit 50 having recently left my long term career as a TV Producer and was beginning to reflect on what I’d achieved so far, plus what might lie ahead of me in the years to come. And so I began to imagine what it would be like to live my life again, and whether I could avoid making the same mistakes second time around. And then it struck me how it would be even more amazing if I could be young again in the here and now, rather than going back in time, and be twenty one again in the 21st Century. So either I was having a nervous breakdown, or I had the basis for a great book – same thing really!!!

2.You chose the self-publishing route for your first novel. Can you tell us what led to this decision? What was the journey to self-publishing like for you?

I went through all the traditional publishing outlets but I just couldn’t seem to get anybody interested, even with my thirty years worth of media contacts. It felt like I was on the outside looking in at some charmed circle of wonder that was never going to allow the likes of me in. There must be a way, so firstly I paid to get my Book edited by a professional. One of the drawbacks of so many self-published books is that they haven’t been through the editing process, and suffer as a result. And I didn’t want to inflict a poorly thought out and badly executed story on any potential readers. In fact, my book has had four separate edits, ensuring that it’s about as professional as it gets.

Then I stumbled upon a great little outfit called Mereo Books, who are a proper publisher in every sense of the word, except that the author pays towards his or her costs. In every other respect Mereo have ensured that my book has been beautifully presented, properly copy edited and expertly distributed throughout the world. So although it might loosely be called self-publishing It Starts With A Kiss is a quality product that would compare favorably with any of the more traditionally published books on sale today.

3.What advice would you give to first time authors seeking to publish their novel?

First ensure that your book is as good as it can possibly be. Don’t submit something which you know in your heart of hearts isn’t really good enough. If it’s no good leaving you, then it won’t get any better when it arrives on the desks of publishers or literary agents. By all means try the traditional publishing houses first, and if you can get a literary agent to represent you, even better, as they will know exactly who to approach, and will be listened to by many of the top names in the industry. You might just get lucky, but if you shouldn’t, don’t despair as there’s a whole world of so called self-publishing out there. And don’t forget, one of the best- selling books of recent years, Fifty Shades of Grey, began life on the internet, and just look what happened to that. Publishing is no longer the preserve of a privileged elite, and it’s all the better for it.

  1. A romance novel from a female perspective seems an unusual choice for a male writer. Why did you make this choice?

I’ve always loved romantic stories, right from the time I first saw Cinderella in the theater when I was about seven years old. And when you think of it, most of the great works of fiction are love stories at heart, whether it’s Jane Eyre, Gone With The Wind or Great Expectations. So after I hit upon the idea for my story it slowly began to dawn on me that it might work better if the protagonist was female. It was a tale about somebody who gets to re-invent themselves, and as I began to look around me I started to notice that it was mostly my female friends who were getting out there and doing extraordinary things like starting businesses, organizing book clubs, learning foreign languages or running off with men half their age. Meanwhile my male friends were slipping comfortably into late middle age by taking it easy, happy to go down the sports bar to watch the big game on TV. And besides, women have a much greater emotional range than men and are more relaxed about expressing their feelings, which makes them so much more interesting to write about.

However, although I now had a female protagonist, I still wrote the first draft of Kiss in the third person as a kind of disembodied narrator, simply observing the story in a Jennifer did this Jennifer did that kind of way. It was only after sending my manuscript to a professionally qualified Book Editor that I even considered writing the story in the first person as the woman herself. The female Editor thought I was too distant from the main character, and believed I could become more connected if I wrote as Jennifer. So it took a woman to make me a woman, at least in a literary sense!

Strangely, once I started writing as Jennifer it really began to flow, and so far readers in the UK seem to agree that I have passed the being a woman test. I’ve always had female Editors ever since to keep my femininity intact, just occasionally highlighting what they considered to be some far too masculine words – men and women do speak very differently in their choice of language – or changes to a couple of sex scenes too, when mostly they wanted me to spice things up!

I do appreciate that it could have been a bit creepy, a male author pretending to be a woman – but I truly believe that hasn’t been the case, as I have genuinely tried to approach the task with a real sense of respect for my subject. You see, I do genuinely like and relate positively to women, and believe that comes over loud and clear in the book. Funnily enough, I was once told by a fortune teller that I’d always been a woman in all of my previous lives, and this was my first outing as a male. Maybe that’s the real reason why I’ve been driven to write as a woman after all! Who knows?

  1. At its heart, It Starts With A Kiss is a Romance. Is that a genre you most often read? What are some of your favorite books?

I try and read as widely as possibly when it comes to genres, and having been a member of a Book Club has really helped me to read outside my comfort zone. I’ve just completed The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan, a harrowing tale of Prisoners Of War captured by Japanese Forces in World War Two. And yet even within this grueling story set in the Burmese jungle, is a tale of love between the Australian soldier and the two women he has left behind him which lies at the heart of the Book.

Romance is definitely my preferred genre as a reader though, drawn towards stories about feisty women who step outside what were the perceived norms of their time and then wrongly punished for their so called misdeeds. My all time number one book in this tradition is the classic French novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I am also a great admirer of Anne Tyler’s clever, funny and insightful novels, my favorite being, The Amateur Marriage, which I try and read every year. And it just seems to get better every time. Plus, more recently, I loved the truly twisted love story of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother. And when I want something a little less strident I do love a spot of chick lit too. I have even been known to read the amazingly prolific Danielle Steel, plus I’ve loved all of the Bridget Jones Diary Books by Helen Fielding, which I thought were both funny and touching.

  1. According to your author biography, you live in England. It Starts With A Kiss takes place in the United States. Why did you choose this setting?

My book is all about getting a second chance, and in my mind, if you want to go and reinvent yourself there’s only one place to do it, and that’s New York. Also, I do love American Literature, and there’s something about the snap crackle and pop of American style dialogue that I really enjoy writing. Weirdly, I now find it much easier to write as an American female than as a middle- aged Englishman. Plus I do love visiting the States. Also there’s something incredibly optimistic at the core of my story, and much as I love my country, I wonder whether It Starts With A Kiss would sit comfortably in the slightly cynical and pessimistic culture we have here in the UK. It’s part of our charm that the English always expect the worst, and it’s part of yours that you always expect the best. So that’s another reason why it had to be the States.

‘It’s never too late to be who you might have been,’ is the quote I use from George Eliot to preface my story, and that’s a sentiment more easily understood by Americans than most Brits, even though an English author first wrote it.

  1. Lisa Genova was quoted as saying that Still Alice was initially rejected from traditional publishing because ‘no one wants to read about a middle-aged woman…’ Yet, the majority of the readership today is women in this age bracket. Do you feel that there is a gap in the market for female protagonists in this age range? What has been the reception to your ‘middle aged’ female protagonist, Jennifer Green been like?

Definitely! Middle-aged women are the biggest single group buying books yet are shamefully neglected by the publishing industry when it comes to featuring them as major characters in novels. It is so incredibly dumb, especially when you consider the number of sexy, sassy and smart older women who inhabit our world and have fantastic stories to tell, yet are nowhere to be seen on the printed page, although maybe things are beginning to change. In my case, Jennifer represents what so many middle aged women are doing in the real world by reinventing and creating a more exciting life for herself, and if that should include an erotic encounter along the way with a gorgeous young man or two who is drawn to her allure, then why not.

  1. Are you a pantser or a plotter? That is, did you create an outline for It Starts With A Kiss, or did you start with a premise and begin to write?

A bit of both really, but more premise then beginning to write. I had certain key incidents already mapped out in my head but then I came up with the thought while writing of Jennifer unexpectedly meeting her daughter in a New York bar, which gave me my mother/daughter relationship sub plot. Plus there’s an additional twist late on which only came to me right at the very end of writing, yet it had been staring me right in the face from day one, only I hadn’t recognized it. I better not reveal any more, in case I give too much away!

  1. How long did it take you to complete It Starts With A Kiss?

Far too long! I first had the idea back in the year 2000, then did nothing about it, although it was probably bubbling away somewhere in my subconscious in between doing other stuff. I actually wrote the first draft just over five years ago and now four drafts later I’ve finally got an end product to all this dreaming. Did I mention it’s a fairy tale for grown-ups, because that’s exactly what it is.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m just completing a book of lightly erotic short stories, to be called either Bedtime Stories or Bedside Stories, about such diverse subjects as flirting, fantasies, fidelity, toy boys and does size matter, all from a female perspective again. Then talking of size, there’s my next full length book, a romantic adventure in the style of Romancing The Stone – if you’re old enough to remember it! – about a sassy middle aged woman who enlists the help of a dashing young man after they accidentally discover a state secret, and are forced to go on the run. Plus I have also mapped out a sequel to Kiss, as I’m certain there is at least one more story to tell about Jennifer Green, if not more.

About the author:

Publicity photos 3

S N Weddle worked as a daytime TV producer for the BBC. For much of his career he produced numerous make-over shows – and this gave him a fascination with questions concerning image, identity, beauty and the fashion industry. He remains intrigued by the insecurities that many women (and some men) feel about the way they look – and his first novel, It starts with a Kiss, explores the potential barriers of appearance and age that may prevent a person from following their dreams.




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