HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Today marks the 1-year Anniversary of THE MATCHBAKER!

Happy Birthday to my favorite book!! 🙂

Happy Anniversary MB

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Release Day: THE MATCHBAKER!!!

It’s here! It’s here! At long last it’s HERE!! Go forth and buy The Matchbaker!! 🙂

And if you love it, please consider leaving a review!

 

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Getting to Know…THE MATCHBAKER

TM_667x1000My dear friend and crit partner, Julie Johnstone, tagged me in a blog hop and only after I’d filled out this entire thing did I realize it was supposed to be for a Regency novel. So, I’ll do another tomorrow, but for now…here are some fun facts about my upcoming release, The Matchbaker…

1: What is the working title of your book? The Matchbaker

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? Dagnabit, it’s been so long, I can’t remember exactly! Cupcakes and magic are two things I’ve always loved, so it’s not that surprising 🙂
3: What genre does your book come under? ChickLit (or Women’s Humorous Fiction, to be PC)

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Rachel McAdams as Candy, Candace Accola as Holly, Ryan Reynolds as Joe and James Marsden as Colin

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Just when Candace Cooper is on her way to being a hot shot executive, her life takes a drastic and unexpected shift from NYC back to her sleepy hometown of Sagehaven, CT, where she’s forced to trade in her Manolos for an apron and succumb to a generations-old curse.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? Pubbed under the Night Shift umbrella.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Phew! 3+ years, off and on!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’d *like* to compare it to Sophie Kinsella’s novels, though I, of course, bow to the Queen of Chick Lit, and pray that this book is at least half as good as hers.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Cupcakes and Magic! Didn’t I already answer this?

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s hilarious. At least, my hubby and I think it is. And it’s got magic. Oh, and cupcake recipes! I’ve got several bakers/bakeries contributing very special recipes for the book so you can bake along with Candy!

Here’s an excerpt:

Holly and Colin are sharing a good laugh now. How nice. I smile, trying to be a good sport, but really, this isn’t helping at all. Considering I’m going to be the primary baker at Candy’s Confections, I don’t find this memory particularly amusing. It’s frightening, actually. What were my parents thinking?

What am I thinking?

Once they calm down, Colin takes another sip of his drink, and then turns to me. “So, I assume you’ve learned to bake since then, right?”

They’re both staring at me, so I force a little laugh and say, “Sure! I mean, it can’t be that hard, can it? It’s not like I’m a mindless teenager anymore, anyway. I’m sure I can follow recipes a lot better than I used to be able to.”

Colin raises his eyebrows. “You mean, you don’t actually know how to bake now?”

I roll my eyes, trying to play it off. “Well…not in so many words, but it’ll be fine.”

“If you don’t know how to bake, then why are they insisting you…bake?” Colin looks just as confused as I feel right now.

I want to answer him honestly, but if I start talking about the change he’ll probably try to have me committed. I’m considering that option myself. At least it would get me out of all this.

I fish for another reason, but my mind is blank.

“Because she’s the oldest!” Holly puts in and I can see by her smile that she’s proud of her fast thinking. “It’s family tradition, apparently. So Candy just has to learn.”

Adventures in Montreal: Part Deux

E and me getting ready to party!

If there is one important fact you must know before you visit Montreal, it is this: it is a party town! These people have a party ethic like none I’ve ever seen. Admittedly, I wasn’t at Sodom or Gomorra, but I imagine it’s similar. After 4 straight nights of partying like rock stars, a day of sight-seeing, and two days of travel home (we had to stop over in CT to pick up the baby), I am pooped!

But let me back up and recap some of the highlights of the trip…

Food

Montreal, like New York, has a ton to offer in the food department. And it just so happened that my picky, non-adventurous hubby all of a sudden decided that his palate was ready to try all kinds of new things. The best meal we had was at this amazing restaurant in Old Montreal called Bar & Boeuf, but since we recently started eating fish, we decided to call it Bar & Boeuf & Pesche. And that’s what we had that night – the most amazing halibut dish with spatzle and some other stuff that I was too drunk to remember.

What the pho?!?! 😉

We also ventured into Chinatown and had Pho (pronounced FUH, contrary to popular belief) for the first time! But it will certainly not be the last, and now we’re preaching of its goodness to all who will listen. So light and yummy, it’s practically the perfect food!

Our final night in Montreal, we strolled through the streets, debating what to eat, when the Portuguese waiter at the Portuguese restaurant started talking our ears off. We decided we might as well eat while he chatted us up. It had been almost 12 years since I had eaten Portuguese food, and it was just as good as I remembered. Wood-fired chicken with rice and french fries, followed by my all-time favorite dessert, uma nata. Natas are little custard cups – almost like having a creme brulee inside of a croissant. You really couldn’t dream up a more perfect dessert, in my humble opinion.

Savoring the carrot cupcake…mmmm...

We also went back to that adorable cupcake shop and scooped it for the NYCupcake Guide. True to the name, the cupcakes were “d’liche.” Plus we got to hang out with the owners and “talk shop.”

Culture

I’m sure many of the things I’m about to talk about are also part of our culture here in NYC, but for some reason, it just felt different in Montreal. With their influences coming from American, French and Canadian cultures, they simply have the coolest melting pot of…stuff!

Sunday was the day we really got to wander around, and our wandering took us to Park du Montreal where we heard there would be a famous drum circle on Sunday afternoon. Indeed there was…and it was pretty great. At least 20 drummers gathered in a semi-circle near the giant monument, banging out primal rhythms for a large crowd. Women and children danced in the middle and an old lady in red clicked her castanets like there was no tomorrow. It was an “anything goes” feeling – so free, so fun!

We decided to walk further into the park where we found hiking trails (which I scaled like a spider monkey) and then…we found them. LARPers. That’s right, people, real life Live Action Role Players. With costumes, swords, shields, armor…they were gearing up for what we assume was going to be some kind of battle later in the afternoon. When we found them, they were divided into their camps, scattered about the lawn, some sparring for practice, some napping on their shields, resting for the battle that was to come. I had only heard tell of these people, and occasionally seen them in movies, but seeing them in the flesh was quite a treat.

As our walk through Montreal continued, we enjoyed a New Orlean’s-style jazz band playing on the street while we had lunch, an entire block cordoned off for performance art, unique shops and, of course, Montreal’s famous graffiti’d buildings!

Throw in all that good food and you have the recipe for a fantastic work/play vacation! I hope you’ve enjoyed my Adventures in Montreal. I put together a super short video of some clips I took of the trip – it starts with the big, blow-out party of the week (that’s an office, people!!!), drum circle, LARPers, Castanet Lady and the jazz band 🙂 Enjoy!

Adventures in Montreal…

Well, we’re finally here, and I’m finally settled enough to sit down and write a blog…for the first time in a couple weeks! Preparing for a trip is a nightmare for me, so most things get put on hold while I contemplate things like packing and travel arrangements.

But now I’m here! And it’s wonderful! The baby is with Grandma and Grandpa, so I’m free to live in my own little (Regency) world for a few days.

Since it was cold and rainy yesterday, I spent most of the day in my hotel room, staring out at the rain while reading Regency Christmas stories for the upcoming Danby Christmas Summons anthologies. To say these stories are putting me in the mood (and by mood I mean Regency mood…get your mind out of the gutter!!) would be an understatement. I’ve felt so whimsical and romantic these last couple days – a feeling I don’t get to feel very often with a 20-month-old underfoot at home.

Last night, I donned my new empire waisted top, (all flowy and chiffon-y, but cut to make “the girls” look like a million bucks) and I couldn’t help but think of myself as a Regency heroine, mingling at the ball, dining with handsome lords, but having eyes for only one, of course 😉 I ate too much and drank just enough to make me say something scandalous. Okay, fine…almost everything out of my mouth was scandalous. I know, I’m such a rebel.

I woke up this morning after a great night’s sleep and decided, since it was a beautiful sunny day, to venture out into Montreal. Now, I’ve been here twice before, but we always stayed in Old Montreal, which I know pretty well. This year, we’re downtown. And I know nothing about downtown. Still, I was pretty confident in my navigational abilities as I set out on my walk.

I crossed the street toward the restaurant we went to last night and kept going, reading menus and window shopping along the way. I came to a cafe, but I wasn’t ready to sit and have another coffee, so I turned right toward what looked like a park. It was! I found the fountain in the middle and nestled onto a bench in the sunshine, opened my iPad and began to read the next story on my list. And that’s when the fun began…

The smoke of a particular herb wafted my way and enveloped me in its skunky goodness. I looked to my left and saw the culprits – two middle-aged men, totally strung out, toting that joint like there was no tomorrow. The older of the two departed for another bench where another middle aged man and a middle aged woman joined in the fun, while the younger man stayed near me. He walked around the fountain, stared into it as if it held all the answers to the meaning of life, took his shirt off, put it back on, took it off again…you get the picture.

And then, just as a gaggle of nursery school children came through the courtyard, tethered to their teachers, the police arrived. They left my weird-o guy alone, but the other three were thoroughly searched, cuffed and carted off. With the police gone and the strung-out guy still hanging around, I decided it was time for me to go.

So I exited the other side of the park and started walking…and walking…and walking…

Until I was certain I had no idea where I was. I didn’t have the convenience of 3G, either, since it would cost me $15/minute on data roaming, so I just had to keep walking.

I passed by some exciting things, like this cupcakery, which NYCupcakeGuide will certainly return to for tasting purposes. And some not-so-exciting things, like construction and slums.

But then, at last, like a shining beacon in the darkness (except it was broad daylight), I saw a map! Just a random map on the edge of the sidewalk with a large red arrow that said “Vous etes ici.” Okay, it didn’t really say that, but I figured that’s what it meant.

After carefully studying it for a few minutes, heading off confidently and then turning back once more to make sure I should be confident in my confidence, I turned left at the next street, walked a block or two and VOILA! Behold, the cafe I had passed more than an hour earlier, right near the hotel. Not only did they have coffee, but they had a bathroom, which I needed desperately.

Finally, I was able to return to the Regency Christmas story I was reading. *sigh*

I hope to have more adventures to report tomorrow!

 

Reviving the Chick Lit!

A year or so ago, I embarked on one of the funnest projects of my life: a chick lit novel called The Matchbaker. But things kept getting in my way — life, Regency novels, beach-themed novellas and short stories — so The Matchbaker took a backseat. Until now. I pulled it out the other night and decided I was going to revive it!

And, in light of my critique group’s recent discussion about the frustrations of weight gain, I’ve decided to post this excerpt from The Matchbaker…you don’t need to know anything about the book to enjoy this piece, so don’t worry about spoiler alerts :)…

I hope you enjoy!

I hop into the shower, trying to shake off the depression that’s setting in. I mean, I have no right to be depressed. He’s not mine, he never was, and to pursue him at this point would be absolutely reprehensible of me. Besides, there are plenty of guys out there, I just haven’t put any effort into finding one. I’ve been so career focused—and Colin focused—that I haven’t taken the time to even go out on a date.
That’s it! I have to start dating. I know my plate is pretty full with the bakery right now, but I can’t let that stop me. I’m going to get my butt back in shape and start dating.
I’m sufficiently cheered by the time I get out of the shower. So much so that I don’t even let the fact that Holly has sexy lingerie hanging in the closet get to me. It’s totally fine.
“Candy, what are you doing?”
I jump, startled by my sister’s voice behind me. “Holly, you can’t sneak up on people like that!” I shout, exasperated.
She ignores me. “What are you doing with my lingerie?”
Damn. She noticed. “Nothing,” I say as I pull it away from my body, where I’d been holding it against me and stroking the soft, pink satin. “I was just…trying to find something to wear.”
“I’m not sure that’s appropriate work attire.”
I give her a scathing look and roll my eyes. “I thought it was a camisole.”
She doesn’t believe me. I can tell.
Well, never mind her. It could very easily have been mistaken for a camisole. How tragic that my own sister thinks I’m a liar.
“Here, this should fit you.” She walks over pulls a mu-mu-looking top out of the dresser. I stare wide-eyed for two reasons: 1) I didn’t realize she had drawer space on top of having half the closet, and 2) I’m flabbergasted and down-right offended that she thinks the only thing I’ll be able to fit into in her wardrobe is a mu-mu. A mu-mu!
“Oh, well…” I turn back to the closet where there are a plethora of trendy pants and tops (my sister’s not one for skirts and dresses.) “I was thinking of these pants with this blouse. Do you mind?”
She looks dubiously at the articles of clothing I’m holding aloft, then she glances toward my waistline and raises her eyebrows. I don’t like to use the “B” word very often, but in this case my sister is being a huge B!
Well, I’ll show her. I can fit into this outfit just fine. I mean, it’s a size 6. I’m a 4 at most. “Do you mind?” I say, glancing toward the door.
Holly shrugs and leaves the room, closing the door behind her. I wait until I hear the latch click, and then I begin to get dressed. Thankfully, my bra and underwear survived the papier mache incident. I slip those on, then reach for the pants. They’re beautiful. The flat front has buttons down either side and then they flare out into a wide leg—a modern take on the sailor pant. The cream-colored blouse has tiny navy polka dots to match the pants and a ruffle down the front and on the cap sleeves. Frilly and girly, but still sleek and trendy. Maybe I’ll go sit at the coffee shop and pretend to read something smart while I’m really scoping out men. My dating mission starts today.
I put one leg into the pants, then the other, and hoist. Then I hoist again. But the damn pants won’t move past my hips. I seek out the side zipper. It must not be down all the way. I pull it and it moves. Hooray! I knew there was something wrong. Only, the zipper doesn’t move down quite as much as I hoped it would. A half-inch at most. But really, that should be plenty.
I hoist again, and the pants finally move over my hips. Ha! I knew that would do it. I put the shirt on next, since it needs to be tucked in. My arms slip easily through the armholes and I start to button it up. Only the top two buttons, the ones that button over my breasts, don’t come anywhere near the buttonholes on the other side. Shit. Something must be wrong. I mean, really. There’s no way my boobs have grown that much in the last two weeks.
I mash them down and let out my bra straps so they hang a little lower down, and finally, the buttons close. There’s a bit of a gap there, but I’m sure it will be fine once the pants are zipped. My hand reaches for the zipper and tugs. I suck in my stomach and hold my breath, and the zipper moves easily to the top.
Ah. There. Perfect.
“Candy, are you ready?” my sister calls from the other room.
“Coming!” I say as I grab my bag off the bed. “Do you have shoes to go with this outfit?” I emerge from the bedroom and ignore the look of dismay on my sister’s face as she gives me the once-over.
“Um, yeah…” She sounds a bit dismayed, but I can’t understand why. Obviously we’re the same size. It’s not as if I’m going to stretch out the clothes or anything. “Here.”
She hands me a pair of Kate Spade wedge espadrilles that have cream-colored crochet straps. They’re perfect for this outfit. I bend over to put them on, and all at once I hear two of the most horrifying sounds in the world. The sound of a pair of pants splitting down the middle, accompanied by the click of buttons hitting hardwood. Oh, my God.
I look up from my bent over position, afraid to move another muscle. Holly is staring at me, her eyes wide. Shit.
“Did you just…?”
Oh, God. What do I do? Do I play this off and blame it on sizing and fit models? Or do I let myself break down into tears, apologize profusely and promise to have it all repaired?
I’m desperate for Holly to make the first move. Maybe she’ll start laughing. I mean, it is pretty funny, me busting out of her clothes and all. Or maybe she’ll start yelling and say something horrible to me, at which point I can turn the tables on her and make it all sound like it’s her fault. Either way, I just want her to say something. Anything.
But she doesn’t. She just stands there, waiting on me. And then I can’t help myself. I burst into tears and wail, “I’m so faaaaaaaaaaaaat!”