The Matchbaker…Five Fun Facts :)

TM_200x300So, my first review of The Matchbaker came out the other day (it was great and she gave it 4 stars! Yay!) and the reviewer said there hadn’t been a lot of buzz around the book, so she didn’t know what she was getting into.

I was like, “Whaaaaa?” because this is the most buzzing I’ve ever done about a book! LOL!

But I guess with Regency Romance, you almost always know what you’re getting into, at least a little, so even if I didn’t “buzz,” people knew what to expect.

So, since there hasn’t been a lot of buzz and maybe people are wondering, “What the heck is this book??” here are five fun facts about the making of The Matchbaker…

Fun Fact #1 — In the opening chapter, Candy’s BFF drags her to meet with a fortune teller in Paris named Madame Antoinette. What you all might find interesting is that Madame Antoinette is real! She’s not French, and she doesn’t wear gawdy gypsy-style clothing, but she is a good friend of mine, who, by the way, does not know she inspired a character in my book. I suppose I should tell her before I post this 🙂

Fun Fact #2 — Madame Antoinette predicts that Candy will meet a handsome stranger in the fall and fall in love. This really happened. My own Antoinette (or Toni, as we call her) gave me a reading years ago. I was still with my ex-boyfriend, but she told me we wouldn’t be together forever. I was sure we were going to get married, so I thought she was totally heinous. She went on to say it was someone I already knew. Ha! I didn’t know anyone that I was even remotely interested in (shhhh…don’t tell my husband). So fast forward about 9 months to that fall, and lo and behold, I started to fall in love with one of my classmates…whom I had known for several years already. We’ve been together almost 13 years 🙂 (To get in touch with Toni for your own reading, visit http://www.astrology-source.com)

Fun Fact #3 — The Mac & Cheese Candy eats on her date is based on my all-time favorite Mac & Cheese from a place in Jersey City, NJ called Amelia’s. It. Is. Heavenly.

Fun Fact #4 — A certain character talks about having moved to Florida to a seaside town. That town is called Stuart and the coffee shop he worked in was the Stuart Coffee Company. It’s an adorable town, with lots of character, that we love to visit on a nice weekend afternoon.

Fun Fact #5 — Candy mentions her spin studio in Manhattan briefly (though there used to be a whole scene with her spin class). That spin studio is called Soul Cycle. My hubby set up their computers years ago, and a friend from college is an instructor there now. It is THE place to spin if you live in Manhattan!

So there you have it…buzz! I’ll be creating more buzz as we countdown to the release of The Matchbaker! If you own a Nook, you can already get it for pre-order. If not, you have to wait till August 27th! Mark your calendars!

And if you haven’t signed up for the HUGE GIVEAWAY, go NOW!

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Finding Hope…

This past Saturday night, my husband and I met up with some good friends and joined thousands of other New Yorkers for an evening of Kelly Clarkson at Radio City Music Hall.

Now, we’ve been long time fans of Ms. Clarkson. We watched her on American Idol and voted hundreds of times every week so that she would make it into the finals. When we missed her Breakaway tour at Jones Beach, we vowed we would never miss her again, and therefore, we’ve seen her My December, All I Ever Wanted and, now, her Stronger tours.

And while both of the previous concerts were amazingly mind-blowing, this one meant something more to me…something different.

I had just received another glowing (read sarcasm) review on one of my books a couple days before the concert, and as a result, I was having trouble working on my newest project. Doubt wasn’t simply creeping in — it had pitched a permanent tent in my head, and it wasn’t letting go. And the harder it became to write, the more I started to think of myself as a failure. I know, ridiculous based on one bad review, but that old adage about sticks and stones…it’s crap. As a writer, I know the power of words, and they have a lot of power.

So anyway, I had put it from my mind (I’m not the type to wallow, but I am the type to walk away, so this could have been the end of my writing career) and went about my merry life with my family. And went on my way to the concert Saturday night with all the enthusiasm of a 5-year-old kid on Christmas morning.

Before the concert, we grabbed some drinks in the upstairs lounge and as we sat there talking, I couldn’t help people-watching a bit too. And I started to notice a trend…the vast majority of the concert-goers were either homosexual or overweight. This struck me as interesting before the concert, but as soon as the concert started, I had a revelation.

Kelly opened the concert with the song “Dark Side” and she sang it behind a massive screen upon which were displayed article clippings of nasty things people have said about her in the media over the years, and accented with words in giant red letters like FAILURE and FAT. The recurring lyric, “Please remind me who I really am” struck me so hard that I was already tearing up a mere couple of minutes into the show.

So many thoughts were going through my head in that moment, as I reminded myself of who I really am. I’m not my novels. And I’m certainly not my reviews, good or bad. Deep down I know that I am a human being, flesh and blood. I’m defined first and foremost by myself, and secondly by those who know me and love me. In the list of things that I am — wife, daughter, mother, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, friend, employer, philanthropist — writer is waaaaaay down the list. It’s a chosen career. Something I enjoy doing and have been fortunate enough to make money at…but by no means does it define who I am.

And then it made sense why so much of the audience consisted of people who, in some cases, might be ostracized by society. People who have self-esteem problems or who are told they aren’t entitled to the same rights as the rest of us. They can look at Kelly Clarkson and see that she has been hurt and torn down and publicly humiliated, and that eventually, she gave a big giant finger to those who said “you can’t” or “you’re a failure” or “you’re fat,” and then made herself into something beautiful and poignant.

Besides the fact that she delivered some of the most stunning live performances I’ve ever heard, she also delivered something a little less tangible: hope. And not just to struggling 20 and 30-somethings in New York. She’s also giving hope to millions of orphans in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Halfway through the show, we got to see a video montage of the children Kelly visited on her trip to Africa. Hearing about the 1.9 million orphans in South Africa alone was enough to have me bawling again, and yet another reminder of how insignificant my little Amazon review is in comparison.

So, in honor of my new found hope and my redefinition of who I am as a person, I’m going to donate $5 for every unique comment that’s left on this post to Houses of Hope Africa. All you have to do is comment!

Now go forth and be the best person you can be today 🙂
Jerrica

RWA Nationals: Must-Have NYC Apps!


Though I write historical romance and sometimes wish I lived in the 1800s, I’m incredibly grateful that I live in the year 2011 and have such amazing tools at my disposal, such as a smart phone. Whether you have an iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile or Blackberry, these little babies can really come in handy, especially when you’re about to embark on a trip to a new city.

Since Nationals is in my hometown of NYC this year, I’ve scouted out a few important apps for all you iPhone users that you won’t want to leave home without! (Some of these are also available for Android, but I’m not sure about the others. You may want to search for something comparable in your phone’s marketplace, though!)

Up first…NYC Way

This is a pretty neat app, and it’s free! This is kind of one-stop shopping for lots of different things around the city. It uses your location (click Allow when that warning pops up) to locate you and then when you click on, say, the Restrooms button, it will show you the nearest restroom to where you are. They’ll show you coffee shops, dining options,Wi-Fi hotspots, banks, transit, local attractions, and more! Definitely a great app to have when you visit the city!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nyc-way/id343208275?mt=8

NYCupcakeGuide

Okay, so maybe you’re not aware there’s a cupcake craze going on in this country, or maybe you’re glued to the TV every time Cupcake Wars comes on the Food Network, but either way, you’ll want to have this app at your disposal. The City’s 50+ cupcake bakeries are listed by neighborhood, so hop from one to another in an afternoon. It’s a great way to see different neighborhoods while checking out the fun and unique cupcakes the city has to offer. It also has reviews, Editor’s Picks, up-to-the-minute cupcake news, Facebook and Twitter integration, as well as the ability to comment on the bakery and star your favorite spots.

Oh, and did I mention it was created by Yours Truly? That’s right! My husband and I embarked on a cupcake marathon tour last summer and we’ve released the app just in time for Nationals! It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was well worth the wait! Available for both iPhone and Android AND it’s on sale for Memorial Day! You have until 11:59pm tonight (5/30) to get it for $0.99!…

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/new-york-cupcake-guide/id435741287?mt=8&ls=1

https://market.android.com/details?id=nycupcakes.com.swebapps

And last, but not least, Beer Gardens NYC 


I bet you didn’t realize that so many RWA members were whipping up useful iPhone apps, but here’s yet another must-have app for NYC…

For multi-published romance author, Hope Tarr, Beer Gardens NYC was a true labor of love. She and her real life Prince Charming, information architect Raj Moorjani, spent six weeks visiting their initial pool of 50 New York City beer gardens before launching on the App Store in September 2010. Within one month from launch, they received press coverage in The New York Times, The New York Post and Gothamist. Appolicious named Beer Gardens NYC as one of its six “Best iPhone Apps for New York City.” The suds-loving duo recently launched a 2.0 version that includes Foursquare integration, GPS functionality, and even more city beer gardens!

Tarr will be presenting her workshop, “Nobody Cares You Just Had a Muffin: Ten Tips for Using Social Media to Brand Your Books,” at The New Jersey Romance Writers’ annual conference on October 21-22, 2011. To learn more about Beer Gardens NYC, visit the web site at www.BeerGardensNYC.com.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beer-gardens-nyc/id389710211?mt=8

So there you have it, folks! These are my picks for the 3 best phone apps, whether you live in NYC or are just coming here for a visit!  For less than $4 (or $3, if you buy on Memorial Day!), you can have the city at your fingertips!

Twenties Girl…

Those who know me well know that one of my writing idols is Chick Lit maven, Sophie Kinsella. She has such a way with humor, and I haven’t read a book of hers that hasn’t had me LOLing throughout…unless, of course, I’m crying, because she’s brilliant at hitting you with the heart of the story when you least expect it.

I just finished her book Twenties Girl, and I absolutely loved it. My hubby is almost to the end now, too, and we have our little Chick Lit book club together to discuss what’s going on in the book. I love being married to a guy who’s willing to admit he loves Chick Lit!

Now, I’m not one to go into descriptions of books or write detailed reviews – those things you can find at her website or on Amazon. What I do like to do is share how books and movies affect my life and mood.

For instance, last night was date night for my hubby and me, and we chose a local, fairly new spot called Hamilton Inn. We had never been, but we’d heard good things and the menu was right up our alley.

We arrived at 6:30, right on time for our reservation, and the place was hopping! Despite the fact it’s small and dimly lit, it was packed, wall to wall, with locals and their kids. People in sweat pants, and others in their trendy best (us!) My immediate thought was that it felt like a London gastropub. And those that know me know that I L-O-V-E London gastropubs. One point for Hamilton Inn.

We sat down at a table for two, which was pushed up right next to another table for two where a casually dressed young couple sat eating their meal. They recommended the filet mignon sandwich, which sounded amazing, but we both decided to go different routes. Eric got the ribs (braised in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer!!) and I got the Chicken Bucheron (a fried chicken breast stuffed with pancetta, goat cheese and spinach, served with a side of the most incredible mashed potatoes I’ve ever had!)

Once we’d ordered I took another look at the drink menu. A list of prohibition-inspired drinks like a Fig Sidecar and Purple Knee High. I wasn’t planning to drink since Eric wasn’t feeling well, but then I thought What would Sadie do? Sadie being the co-heroine of Twenties Girl. I knew exactly what she would do. She would order a drink! So after consulting the waiter, I decided on Hamilton’s Sweet Tea Mint Tea.

Are you detecting a theme here? That’s right, there are southern influences majorly at play in the food and drink here!! So, yes, this southern-raised Anglophile was in heaven!

The drink came and not only was it brilliant, but by the time I was halfway through, I felt like I was a carefree flapper girl in 1925. Obviously I was under the influence of more than just a drink, but it was so easy to transport myself to that time and feeling as I sat in that restaurant with that drink and that food and that amazing man across from me. I’ll say it again, it was heaven. And I hadn’t even had dessert yet (I went with the pumpkin praline cheescake. H-E-A-V-E-N!!)

So am I going to recommend Twenties Girl? You betcha! And if you live in the NYC area, you must make the short jaunt to Jersey City to dine at The Hamilton Inn sometime. You won’t regret it!

Reviews…

I received my first review on Amazon today that wasn’t entirely glowing. It was only semi-glowing. The first paragraph was filled with all the things this person loved about my first book, A Gentleman Never Tells, but even as I read it, I knew there was something negative coming…they did give me 4/5 stars, after all. (Well, 3.5, but thankfully, they rounded up for the actual star rating :))

Rarely is it fun to read criticism of our work, but I found that I as I read the less-than-favorable comments, I wasn’t devastated. Actually, it hardly phased me what this person had to say. Perhaps it was because I could see where she was coming from – her criticism might not be totally unfounded. Or maybe it’s just because I’m used to it. And I’ve survived a lot harsher words than hers.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not inviting people to review me negatively. The book is done and published, so there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. But it was good to know that I could survive a less than glowing review and still want to keep writing and promoting my books. That hasn’t always been the case. Sticks and stones aren’t truly the only things that can break us, and I’ve succumbed to the woe-is-me-pity-party more times than I care to count as a result of something someone else said about me.

But the point I want to make is that we can’t control what other people say, only how we react to it. It’s unreasonable to think that every single person who reads our books is going to love, love, love them like we want them to. I know I don’t love every book I read. And there are books I adore that have garnered one-star reviews from other readers (insane readers, if you ask me! LOL!)

So, if you’re a published author, or plan to be, learn to take reviews with a grain of salt. Be grateful for the favorable reviews you get, and shrug off the rest 🙂