Friday, September 08, 2006

This is Chick Lit edited by Lauren Baratz- Logsted

The genre of fiction known as "chick-lit" has been a lightning rod for debate in the world of literature, raising questions such as Is chick-lit really literature or just harmless fluff? Is this really an accurate portrayal of the lives of modern women? Eighteen renowned authors--including Jennifer Coburn, Raelynn Hillhouse, Harley Jane Kozak, Cara Lockwood, and Rachel Pine--weigh in with the best of chick-lit--proving that this genre deserves as much, or more, respect as any other. In addition to their story, each author elaborates on her feelings about the 'chick-lit' label, and recommends literary fiction writers that have inspired them.

Some time ago a book titled "This is not Chick-Lit" was published. Well not much of a surprise to me, but quite a few authors of Chick-Lit were upset. Well the finished product of some up in arms Chick-Lit authors? A great book titled "This is Chick-Lit", and I've had the honor of reading this book (or most of it) and posting this review.
This book is a combined effort of 18 different authors. Each of them writing very different stories, each their own. At the beginning of each of their stories they give a brief description of what Chick-Lit means to them. Not only that but there is also a portion of this book, in the back, called 'Reaching Across the Aisle' which is each author recommending a book by a literary author they think their readers would enjoy. I love this!
I've only read 7 of the 18 stories so far, but I though maybe since there are so many stories I would break up the review to a two or three part thing. Sound good? Great! Okay, here we go.
Some I liked, some I didn't, lets be honest no matter what genre you read your never going to like it all.

Two Literary Chicks by Jennifer Coburn

(I won't be posting what each author wrote about Chick-Lit, but as I think this author summed it up perfectly I'll just post her thoughts.)

"As a feminist, I find the attack on chick-lit more than a bit disheartening. Is this where we are-one group of women writers mocking another, deeming it's work irrelevant? Are women really criticizing each other about what they read?! And author recently commented that the term chick-lit sounds as if the writing is about, for and by women, nothing more. Nothing more?! Why isn't that enough?! I love chick-lit and am proud to be associated with this genre. People who don't appreciate it should stop moaning about the relevance of chick-lit and simply spend their time reading what they like."

Very good story. About two women who were in a writing group together in college, neither really liking the others work. Years later they cross each other on the street and make some small talk. One is a published author of a very successful book the other has a great book written but is struggling to get it published. Through different events they end up getting to know each other better and liking each others work. As well as helping.
Although I think it was well written and a good story I also felt it was inconclusive. Your left wondering about Marley at the end to much. I just wish it was tied up a little better in the end.
But I will definitely read this author again.

The Infidelity Diet by Harley Jane Kozak

Gripping. I really enjoyed this one and it was ended very well for a short story.
About a woman that starts to wonder about her husbands faithfulness to her. She's been married for quite awhile, and they've just both grown so comfortable. Long nights at work and some thoughts start to crowd in. Looking for advice from all different friends make for an entertaining view on woman's thoughts on cheating men. I'm not totally sure what we were meant to think of Christopher (husband) in the end, but I would love to read more of this author.

Confessions of a Three-Eyed Freak by Arielle Papa

Okay not one of the ones I liked. A story about a woman uncomfortable with a birthmark on her neck and goes to get it removed. She ends up waking up with an eye where the mark was on her neck. Okkkkaaay..... I kept thinking she was going to wake up and it was a weird dream. But no, it was real. She grew to like the third eye and was obsessed with it. Only when the eye started looking at different men did she go to have it removed. The eye was getting out of control. Ummmm......need I say more???? And the woman in the story had the same name as the author. That's just weird to me. This entire one was strange.

The Commitment Phobe by Cara Lockwood

Loved this one. Soooo cute! About a woman and man that are dating and of course she's ready for the next step, marriage, and he is content the way they are. He isn't against marriage it just seems like something they'll do eventually. Well she shakes some things up and gives her man a wake-up call. He is so cute, how much he loves her. Adorable read. I am all kinds of excited to find more work by Cara Lockwood!

Mama Knows Best by Kayla Perrin

Short, sweet and kinda funny. Yeah this one had me laughing a bit. Sometimes when you read a book about a black couple all you hear about is the color factor. You only hear it once or twice in this story, and not in a way to draw attention to the fact. Just in regular description like any other person or story. It really was a good read. A woman dumps her fiance the day before (or is it the day of) their wedding when she found out he cheated with a stripper. Then on a girls night out her ex is there with a Tyra look a like. Taking a deep breath she pretends to be there with a hot guy that happens to be sitting next to her. After a perfect performance she apologizes to the hot man and kisses any chance of actually talking him up now that he probably thinks she's a crazy. But surprise surprise who is her mama setting her up with the next night???

Nice Jewish Boy by Karen Siplin

Absolutely no point to this story. It's about two women, best friends since high school. They go to a friends baby's party, Jewish friend. One of the girls is Jewish on is black. The story is mostly about how the black girl stands out in the crowd of Jewish people. And then how all the Jewish mama's wonder if she is a mother herself even after she told them she is single and living with her parents. It's made out to be like every black woman is supposed to be a single mom. Sorry but I don't make that assumption or a normal basis! The the other girl gets propositioned for an affair with an ex that is married. Well I have no clue why she is only wearing the skimpiest outfit ever. So basically it's two mid-30's women that both live with their parents and wonder why nobody takes them seriously.....hmmmm, I don't know I just can't figure it out. Oh and did I mention neither of them drive so the parents still drive them around....oh and the 'nice Jewish boy'? Yeah that's a 15 yr. old that hit on the black girl. No more to say.

Dead Men Don't Eat Quiche by Deanna Carlyle

Started this story thinking it was kinda cute. A girl living in France her parents coming to visit. Blah blah blah. They tour the city have fun, of course she is dragging her feet. Then we find out her ex was murdered and she was a suspect. Oh but wait she figured out the true killer and cleared herself. So they go out to the restaurant that her mother made reservations at and there is a mix up. No availability, they lost the reservation. The mother is yelling (and don't ask my why the daughter was embarrassed, I would have been yelling too!)Basically a man comes and says they can join their private party. They flirt all night, have a private bathroom get together. Next thing we know the guy ends up dead in the bathroom with a fork in his neck. Again the heroine is a suspect and again clears herself. Not a great read, not bad either. Kinda Meh...

So ladies. Like I said, some bad some good. Do I think you should run out and grab this book? Yeah, it's a nice book to have when you have a few minutes for a short story. It's nice cause they are very short and mostly interesting. Also introduces us to many new authors that we may not have otherwise read. I love the purpose behind the book!

Grade~ B-

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Author Interview: Kelley Vitollo

Did she find me? Did I find her? Honestly sometimes it’s just too much to remember. What I do remember, however, is going to a blog called, simply, “Kelley Vitollo Fun, Passionate & Heart felt Romance”, and really … with a name like that you know I was hooked! As I dug through her posts eager to read all I could, I stumbled across the fact that Kelley was indeed a writer, a romance writer. What did I do? What do I always do??? Questions, questions and more questions...What are you writing? Are you published? Do you have tid bits of your stuff here? Can I get a sneak peek?

I'm sure an eager gal, especially when it comes to new authors. There is something so exciting about finding a great new author, anticipating a first book with her. And that’s what I'm going to do here today! I'm going to get into Kelley’s world. What she loves, what makes her tick, what got her writing and what we can expect from it.

Through some emails and chats, I convinced Kelley to let me have the honor of interviewing her and giving all of you faithful readers a head start on getting to know the author and her new book.

Kelley’s first short story, titled Dream Man, is being released next week from Forbidden Productions. And this is just the beginning of Kelley’s journey as a romance author. She also has a trilogy in the works. So far, two of the books are finished. They’re about three best friends, and them finding their happily ever after. And when she is done with that? She is dedicating her time to her full length novel, which we’ll hear more about a little later.

But before we go there, I want to give you a little info on our new author….

Kelley has been with her own Dream Man for 8 years now and they have a beautiful two-year-old little girl named MacKenzie. They live in Southern California with their two new kittens Pepper and Daisy.

Her comfort food is Chocolate, surprise surprise ladies, and she basically loves any type of food that isn’t good for her. Her favorite movie is The Notebook. Her favorite color is the same as mine, Red. And even more her favorite song, All My Life by Kci & Jojo is none other than my wedding song. Oh and we can’t forget that she loves The OC, a woman after my own heart.

At Escape with Me, I love finding new authors to read and I'm excited something fierce to read Dream Man so mark your calendars along with me, September 8th is the big day! Be sure to get you a copy and enjoy.

Now, I asked Kelley a bunch of questions about books, writing, and her life in general. So without further adieu, the interview.

“Sadie has the same dream every night. She dreams of a man with black hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and magical hands. When dream becomes reality and she comes face to face with her dream man, will he be everything she imagined, and more?”

Nicole: Dream Man is being released in just a week; tell us what we can expect?
Kelley Vitollo: Dream Man is short, sweet, and to the point. These two characters aren't taking their time if you know what I mean :). I think the story has strong emotions that pull the reader in. At least I hope it does.

N: When did you realize you wanted to write books for a living?
KV: I've loved to write for as long as I can remember. I won my first writing contest in second grade and I think that is when I realized writing was for me. I always thought I would write children’s books. I tried on numerous occasions but I couldn't come close to finishing a story. I was discouraged and thought maybe writing wasn't for me. About two years ago I picked up my first romance novel and fell in love. I wanted to try my hand at writing one but I was discouraged because in some ways I thought I had already failed at writing. Finally I pushed my fears aside and started trying to write a romance. By the time I finished my first chapter I KNEW I'd found what I was meant to do. My passion for writing was alive again in a way I had never experienced before.

N: How hard was it to get your first book published? And how did you react when it happened?
KV: So far my only publication is Dream Man which is a short story. It is the first story I finished and the first story I submitted. I guess I got lucky. When I first read the email I cried. Then I told my hubby who was excited as well and called everyone I know. I was on cloud nine.

N: How long did it take you to write your first book?
I have yet to finish my first full length novel. My short story took about a couple days to write and my two novellas each took about three weeks to a month. That’s just for the rough draft though. That doesn't count editing and polishing the story up.

N: What inspired you to write a 3 book series of 3 best friends?
I'm a series kind of girl. I love getting to know characters and then revisiting them in other stories. I wanted to do one about best friends because I enjoy highlighting not only romance but the special bonds you can only share with your girlfriends.

Talk about my kind of author! Series? About Best Friends? I'm all ears!

N: What about Getting Lucky with Luciano (first book in trilogy) and Unexpected Mr. Right (second book in trilogy), what can we expect from them?
I think these two story's are both really fun. Nico is the flirtatious, sarcastic hero but you learn there is more to him then meets the eye. You catch glimpses of him in GLWL but his story is told in Unexpected Mr. Right. A friend of mine read over Getting Lucky With Luciano and she said it had her really laughing. I hope everyone else will feel the same.

N: Of the three stories that you've written so far (well and the fourth book that you're writing now) which book is your favorite?
I think Getting Lucky With Luciano is my favorite so far, but they all hold a special place in my heart. The heroine from that story, Kaylee, is like me in some ways. Dependable, always on time, responsible, (can also be known as a stick in the mud :). GLWL is also the first longer piece of writing that I have finished so I feel much attached to that story. I'm hoping to find a home for it very soon!

N: Who's your favorite hero that you've written so far?
That’s a hard one. I think I'm going to say either Nico from Unexpected Mr. Right or Chase from On My Own (my novel WIP). I have a feeling Nico is going to be a lot of ladies favorite! UMR is the second novella in my three novella series.
Chase from OMO is just a sweetheart. Hot, romantic, and knows how to love. What woman wouldn't love a man like that?

N: After the trilogy is done, what's next on your writing plate?
After my trilogy my main focus will be on my novel. On My Own is my baby. I feel I have to nurture the story to help it grow the best way possible. I really want to focus on giving the book the time and energy it deserves.

N: Where do the ideas for your stories come from? Are they things that happened to you in your personal life that you've expounded on or are they purely made up and totally from your imagination?
My current novel which is yet to be finished has bits and pieces of my life in it. I took little truths and created stories from them. So far that book is the only one that has any pieces of my life in it. The three novellas I am working on literally popped into my head one day. I never believed people when they said that happens but its true. The littlest comment, commercial, guy walking through the mall ect can spark the idea for a story. It’s truly amazing. I have a notebook with future ideas for books. I make sure to write them down so I don't lose any of the ideas.

N: Are any of your heroes based on your hubby?
Not yet. Maybe little things here and there but nothing big. He tells everyone I get all my inspiration for my heroes from him. One way they are alike is that all my heroes are good guys and my hubby is the best.

N: How do you pick the "right" name for your characters? Do you browse through baby name databases, or do somehow come across the name and think, "yes, this name fits perfectly!"?
So far I haven't done any database or book name searches! I'm a name person though. I already have a list of names for future characters. I can just feel which name is right for which character.

I’m sure plenty of you have heard the same things I have…”it just comes to me”. But you know what? It must be true, since when I asked Kelley about her hero’s to her titles that’s the answer we got…”It just comes to me”. And she’s even admitted that to those of us that aren’t writers it may seem a bit crazy but that’s just how it happens.

N: Do you have any aspirations to write other sub genres of romance, like paranormal or a historical?
So far I only have plans to write contemps. That is where my heart lies and I have to stay true to that. Who knows what the future may hold though.

N: Do you have any advice for those lovely ladies who want to give writing for a living a go?
Read and write as much as you can. Never give up and never be afraid to ask for help. I've asked everyone I know for opinions in some way or another and it helps me find a way that works best for me. You have to realize that rejection is part of a writer’s life but there is almost always something to learn from it. If you keep believing and keep working, you'll get where you want to be :)

Just like me I'm sure you are dying to know all the little details about Kelley, like her favorite authors, what she does in her spare time, and heck, even who she thinks is the hottie of the moment. And would I hold out on you? Of course not, so lets go. Let’s start getting personal!

N: What was your first romance novel that got you hooked into this genre?
A Soft Place To Fall by Barbara Bretton

N: What book are you most looking forward to reading?
I just finished my very first paranormal. High Stakes by Erin Mccarthy. I really looking forward to the other two Vegas vamp stories.

N: Who do you think is the sexiest man in Hollywood right now?
I can only pick one?? Hmm...I don't know what it is about him but I'm really digging Jake Gylenhal right now. Believe me; the list could go on and on :)

N: Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
I like to scrapbook though I don't do it as much as I'd like.

N: If you didn't decide to become an author, today you'd be...
I used to want to be a child psychologist.

N: What are some of your pet peeves?
Being late, and when my hubby leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor instead of throwing them in the shoe box right by the door :) It’s so cute because my two year old will pick up my husbands shoes and throw them in the box. She knows where they go! I joke around a lot with my husband but I just have to say that he is such a wonderful, supportive husband. I'm very lucky.

N: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, you would be...
On vacation with my husband and daughter. I don't care where.

N: Quick, your house is burning down, the kids and hubby are outside but you have only enough time to save three authors books from destruction, which three authors are you going to save?
Lucy Monroe, Lori Foster, and Erin McCarthy

N: If you were Brad Pitt, would you have stayed married to Jennifer Anniston or left her ass for Angelina Jolie?
I'm team Aniston!

N: Do you sing in the shower? Yeah? What song?
Lol. I sing everywhere. I have a terrible voice but it doesn’t stop me. My favorite place to sing is the car. People who drive next to me probably think I'm crazy.

I want to thank Kelley for taking time out of her busy schedule to be here and talk with me! It has been so much fun getting to know her and finding out what we can expect from her books. But before we leave, just one more question....

N: How can readers get in touch with you?
They can email me at I'd love to hear from readers or anyone who has any questions about my writing. Please don't hesitate to write!

You can also keep up with Kelley through her by clicking here for her blog or here for her webpage.

Kelley has also generously offered an ARC of her first release, Dream Man, to the lovely ladies who comment here on her interview. That's all you have to do, just comment. We'll put the list of names in a hat and one lucky winner will be offered a download of her first release. Isn't that amazing? Don't be shy now! Comment away.

She also agreed to be here to answer any lingering questions for the rest of the day. You can either leave a comment here, or email her at

Don't forget to get your own copy of Dream Man, available September 8th from Forbidden Publications. Buy it here.