Author Interview with RelationshipsAreComplicated.com

I love to write complicated relationships, and the lovely folks at Relationships Are Complicated interviewed me about my characters’ bonds HERE. I mention my sports romance and romantic suspense novels, as well as some past dating complications. 😀

Image by Juan Fernando Yeckle from Pixabay

Do you have relationship questions? Check out https://www.relationshipsarecomplicated.com !


Masquerade: Oddly Suited Blog Tour Interview

Today my pub sister, Nancee Cain, interviews me about Behind the Catcher’s Mask, my story in the Masquerade: Oddly Suited anthology!

Check out the interview HERE.

Stories Featured

Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.
Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?
The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.
The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?
A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?
Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life’s price of servanthood could be changed?
Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?
Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?
Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?
Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?
You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.


The authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one winner. To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open internationally from 12:00 am GMT 17th March to 12:00am GMT 6th May.

Tour Schedule

Visit the other blog tour hosts below to find out more about the stories and authors featured in Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

About the Anthology

Title: Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Release date: April 30th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction: Romance – General / Paranormal / Contemporary
Print ISBN: 9781939844644
EBook ISBN: 9781939844651

MISSING MELISSA by @AlrethaThomas : #Review #Interview & #Giveaway

Welcome to author Alretha Thomas! I enjoyed her recent release Missing Melissa–check out my four star review. Then I interview Alretha, and end with a giveaway.

Missing MelissaMissing Melissa by Alretha Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Missing Twin Haunts Her Sister’s Dreams

Maddie is a gorgeous blond twenty-two-year-old about to start her career in broadcast journalism when she has a dream. A disturbing dream. She dreams her twin sister, who went missing when they were three years old, is still alive, and needs Maddie’s help.

Her parents don’t want to re-open the case, fearing they will crack open old wounds. But are they hiding something?

I thought this was a well-written mystery. Where is Melissa? Is she alive? Has she been hurt? There’s misdirection that prevented me from guessing the ending.

Maddie’s surrounded by some fun, opinionated characters, like her best friend Ruby and her dog Pepper.

I wish I didn’t have a missing sister. I wish everything was normal. But Ruby says normal is a setting on a washing machine and not what our lives are supposed to be.

Amen, Ruby! And I love Maddie’s dog Pepper. That dog’s got a lot of sass.

I remember when my parents surprised me with Pepper five years ago. He was a baby, so small and cute. I wanted to dress him up, too. I’ll never forget approaching him with an adorable pullover sweater. He snatched it with his teeth and ripped it to pieces. That was the end of any ideas about dressing up Pepper.

Ha! Maddie meets Detective Sam while pursuing her missing sister. He’s a hottie who’s sweet and steady.

”Well, one good thing has come out of all of this,” Ruby says.

“What’s that?” Sam and I ask at the same time.

“I finally got to meet Sexy Sam.”

I narrow my eyes at Ruby and try to change the subject. “So, where do we go from here?” I ask.

“No, not so fast,” Sam says. “What’s this Sexy Sam all about?” he asks, laughing.

While I loved the plot, I didn’t find the dialogue realistic. It seemed dated and cheesy to me. Characters speak in long paragraphs, and call each other by their full names to chastise each other ”Madeleine Louise Patterson!” 

I am glad I had the opportunity to read this page turner, which ends on a hopeful note.

View all my reviews

And now for the interview:

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Alretha, Many of us are fascinated by the special bond between twins. What drew you into writing a twin story in Missing Melissa?

Alretha Thomas (AT): Thank you for this opportunity, Jennifer. Like a lot of people, I also have had a fascination with twins. It started in childhood. My mother and aunt looked so much alike, I would have sworn that they were twins, and I was terribly disappointed when I learned they weren’t. I was thinking about this around the time the idea to write Missing Melissa came to me. I was also reflecting on my mother’s untimely death. My mother passed away at the young age of 36. I was 14. My cousin told me that my aunt was devastated when my mother died. So those two thoughts inspired me to write Missing Melissa. I wanted to explore how the loss of a close sibling can affect the surviving sibling.

JL: I’m so sad to hear about your mother’s death at a young age. One of my favorite characters is Pepper the dog. Do you have a dog? Other pets?

AT: Jennifer, I am so glad you like Pepper! I love Pepper. When my husband read the opening to the book he felt Pepper had too big of a role, no pun intended (he’s a mastiff). I purposely made Pepper somewhat of a secondary character because in a way he filled the hole that was left by the missing twin. Ironically, I didn’t grow up with a dog and I’m allergic to cats. My husband and I have been vacillating about getting a dog. No one wants to do the clean-up (smile). But we both love dogs and think they’re adorable. For the past month, my husband’s been feeding a bird that comes by from time-to-time and even the neighborhood Bobcat. I think we’re inching our way to getting a pet! BTW we have a ton of stuffed pets—turtles, rabbits, bears, and even a Kangaroo!

JL: I also loved the character of Ruby, Maddie’s sassy best friend. How have your real-life friendships become part of this fictional relationship?

AT: Yes, Ruby is one of my favorites as well. I love the relationship she and Maddie have and yes, friendships I’ve had over the years did influence Maddie and Ruby’s relationship. Like Maddie, I’ve only had one best friend at a time. I’ve never had a group of girlfriends. That’s probably why Maddie only has one close girlfriend. Writing the two of them was somewhat nostalgic because their relationship reminded me of a fourteen-year relationship I had that went awry right after I got married. Like Maddie and Ruby, we were close and the feelings we had for each other were unconditional. Actually, this friend was there when I meant my future husband. I truly believe that I may not have given as much as my friend did in the relationship at the time because I was going through some challenging times. I believe I may have drained her. But by the time I realized this it was too late.

JL: I notice Missing Melissa is your eighth novel, and your other books include a contemporary romance series staring with Married in the Nick of Nine. What’s next for you?

AT: Missing Melissa is my debut Mystery novel! Yes, I started out with a romance series that I call The Cass & Nick series: Married in the Nick of Nine, The Baby in the Window, One Harte, Two Loves, and Renee’s Return. I had a blast writing those books. I hope readers have an opportunity to check them out as well. That series is complete. Depending on how well Missing Melissa does, I’d love to write the sequel and I have some ideas percolating. Of course, all the main characters will return, including Pepper!

JL: Wow, I would’ve never guessed it was your first mystery. Thank you for stopping by and best of luck with your writing!

AT: It’s been great speaking with you Jennifer. 


Alretha has generously offered to gift two readers with e-copies of the first book in the Cass & Nick series: Married in the Nick of Nine.

To enter, leave a comment on this post with your email address.

Beside Your Heart by @WordyMary #Review #Interview #Giveaway

It’s time to celebrate The Heart Series by Mary Whitney! I loved book one (Beside Your Heart) as you can see in my review. Stick around for the interview and generous giveaway.

Beside Your Heart (Beside Your Heart, #1)Beside Your Heart by Mary Whitney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Beginning of Across-the-Pond Romance

I’ve had my eye on this series for some time and I’m glad I finally read book one.

When political operative Nicki Johnson googles her high school love Adam Kincaid, she finds out he’s dating an English aristocrat named Muff.

I gaped at the photo. I’d never seen Adam dressed so well. He wore a dark gray morning coat with tails, a vest, tie, and striped trousers. Next to him, Mary or Muff or Twat — whatever her name was — wore a pale pink coat dress.

The discovery fuels a sense of longing as well as many memories of the past. Beside Your Heart explores how Nicki and Adam meet in high school. I seem to enjoy New Adult more than Young Adult these days, so I think I’ll enjoy the next two novels about their adult romance better.

Nicki’s younger sister died in a harrowing car accident, and she is mired in grief throughout the story. Coupled with what happens to the relationship between Nicki and Adam, a sad tone pervades the novel. But Adam is lovely in how he helps her through her grief.

Her grandmother explains grief well:

“At times, your grandfather’s passing is as hard for me today as it was the day he died, but the pain isn’t as constant anymore. I can go days and even weeks of going along in my life with nothing. The it can hit me out of the blue, and I feel the grief all over again. Other times, you know when a bad patch of pain is coming…birthdays, holidays.”

I loved all the Englishisms, like shagging, snogging, and spotted dick, hehe.

Overall this is a well-written story about first love.

View all my reviews

And now for the interview with Mary Whitney…

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Mary! As you can see, I truly enjoyed Beside Your Heart. What were some inspirations for this story?

Mary Whitney (MW): Well, thank you! You’re a doll.

It was triggered by an old memory. I’m old enough to remember when ecstasy was legal back in the 80s, and I remembered going to a party the night before it was made a controlled substance. The funny thing was that no one was on X. They were all drinking. I was telling the story to a friend one day which sort of mentally sent me back to high school. My mom had also recently died, so I’d been wanting to write something to explore grief. Beside Your Heart isn’t autobiographical at all, though. Sadly in my high school, the male exchange students from overseas were never good looking!

How does your law degree affect your writing?

MW: You can say people write about what we know. I’ve never wanted to write about laws, but I think people involved in law, law enforcement, and politics can be interesting – sometimes even in their boringness!

JL: I’m also drawn to writing about politics, especially romantic partners who spar over opposing beliefs. Tell us about your political romances and how politics might play out in books two and three of The Heart Series.

MW: I love a good debate, so romantic banter is just fun for me to read and write. With Nicki and Adam, their banter is driven by their differing cultures, though their political leanings are pretty similar. In my book, Compromising Positions, it’s a Republican and a Democrat, which makes for meaty, but playful conversation.

JL: I see in your bio you’ve lived all over the US! What’s been your favorite location?

MW: Honestly, I think there are great things and bad things about every place I’ve lived. Right now, I live in northern California which is pretty awesome, except for the drought and earthquakes.

JL: What are you working on now?

MW: I’m finishing up my next book, Attached. It’s true New Adult so it will be a departure for me. I’m also working on the audiobooks for No Ordinary Guy and Compromising Positions. David from Beside Your Heart is the main character in No Ordinary Guy. He’s Adam’s cheeky cousin, so the narrator is also a Brit. Compromising Positions is dual narration for both male and female POVs. Everything is out in June, so things are busy right now!

I can’t thank you enough for this interview. I’m always tickled when people want to chat! Thanks again!

JL: Thank you for stopping by, Mary, and good luck with your writing.


Mary Whitney is giving away an ENTIRE EBOOK BOX SET of The Heart Series (Beside Your Heart, Disclosure of the Heart, and Forever Your Heart) to a lucky winner!

And another winner will receive an ebook of No Ordinary Guy

To win, comment on this post and leave your email address. If you don’t want to write your email address, contact me at jenniferlanebooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Finally, I hope you had a Happy Easter for those who celebrate. I got my Pinterest on and made this Easter Bread Bunny–so fun!

Seven for a Secret by @RumerHaven #Review #Interview #Giveaway

Today I’m psyched to have author Rumer Haven to the blog! I loved her ghostly historical romance Seven for a Secret. After my review, stick around for the interview and giveaway.

Seven For A SecretSeven For A Secret by Rumer Haven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secret Lives, Secret Deaths

“There’s souls not at rest here. It’s a troubled place, this.”

A historical romance set in Chicago, one of my favorite cities? Sign me up! The classy cover also drew me in.

In the year 2000, 25-year-old Kate moves into Camden Court, an apartment complex that used to be a 1920’s hotel. She meets a cast of quirky elderly neighbors who report they didn’t find the former tenant Olive in Kate’s apartment until three days after her death. *shudders* Then Kate gets locked in her bathroom, and it feels like she’s not alone. Eek!

Kate works at a museum with her boyfriend Dexter. While Dexter is sweet, he’s no Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles. (The 80s and 90s references made me happy.) Kate also feels intrigued by her hottie neighbor and wants to take a “break” from her relationship with Dex. (Anyone who knows the Ross/Rachel saga from Friends worries this won’t turn out well.)

As Kate gets to know spunky Vera and kind-hearted Leo from the geriatric crowd, they tell her more about the ghostly Olive and her older sister Eva from the well-to-do 1920’s Hughes family. The story then travels back through time to the scene of a decadent house party, full of flappers and moonshine. Bachelor Lon meanders through the crowd with cynical distaste, until he comes upon an “exquisite nymph” of a woman, Eva.

Lon first notices Eva’s eyes:

They burned with a jade green he’d once seen in a great bonfire, the hottest of flames devouring all they came into contact with.

A bit of foreshadowing, perhaps? Sadly, Eva is betrothed to a man from another of Chicago’s socially elite families. But Lon won’t give up easily.

The historical romances in the 20s and 00s gradually pulled me in deeper to the point that it felt like I lived in Camden Court myself. The descriptive writing style authentically captures the proper debauchery and impending sense of doom from the twenties. This is a long novel, which allows both stories to unfold at their own pace (unlike my dissatisfaction with jamming two stories into one in Ugly Love).

One story has a happy ending and the other ends on a tragic note, but a common thread woven throughout is the search for love with the right partner, no matter how tangled the threads (or bonds) of life become. Kate’s friend Blair tells it so well:

“Kate, trust me. When a guy’s genuinely into you, the rules don’t apply. Real love isn’t a game, and that’s how you’ll know it when you see it. You’ll recognize The One when you aren’t overanalyzing him. You’ll just … be, and it’ll play out organically.”

And Kate responds:

“Why do I always feel like Enya should be playing in the background of your advice? I can almost smell herbal incense spraying out of my phone.” Hehe.

View all my reviews


And now I interview Rumer:

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Rumer. I loved the uniqueness of Seven for a Secret. What sparked the story for you?

Rumer Haven (RH): Thanks for inviting me over, Jennifer! I’m so delighted that you enjoyed Seven for a Secret and am honored to be at your blog. 

While there were an assortment of inspirations along the way, I suppose the real foundation for this story was a quite literal brick-and-mortar one. I modeled Camden Court after the Hampden Court apartment building in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, where I lived a decade ago. I loved the atmosphere of its vintage interior and exterior, enchanted by the idea that so many different lives had dwelled within those same walls for almost a century, and how so many separate lives continued to coexist in the building—the crowded isolation of people living within feet of each other, vertically and horizontally, hearing each other through walls or seeing each other through windows, yet rarely actually meeting in person…the idea of being both alone and surrounded by people…and the bizarre circumstances it might take for these otherwise parallel lives to intersect. Oh, say, like getting trapped in a bathroom and having to call for help out the window (that happened to me) and an old woman dying in her apartment, which freed the unit for another tenant, whose cat then pawed at the empty air inside it (that happened, too). That last bit was all the encouragement I needed to make this a ghost story. But in general, I gravitate toward stories with a strong sense of setting, so Hampden Court became Camden Court, which in turn became my big ol’ cauldron to fill with characters and bring to a boil.

JL: I also love Chicago! What made you choose the Windy City for the setting?

RH: After relocating from Chicago to London and first writing a manuscript set in the UK, my imagination itched to return home. Without question, Seven for a Secret is my Valentine to Chicago. Not just the 1920s but my twenties there—living in Lincoln Park, working downtown, volunteering at the Adler Planetarium. In addition to its sentimental value to me, its amazing history and architecture provided an ideal framework. So many iconic establishments from the Capone era still stand and serve one function or another, so the city couldn’t have been more perfect for a dual-time-period story. Like London, Chicago is living, thriving history. The past so strongly coexists with the present there, and I couldn’t help but write about it.

JL: You’re an editor and an author. Which started first? What is your favorite thing about both?

RH: I started writing first and became an editor on the heels of completing my first novel-length manuscript. Working on both sides of the publication fence has certainly been interesting in many respects, but I’d say my favorite thing about editing is working with other authors and being a part of their creative process. I used to be an English teacher, and while there’s so much I miss about the classroom, I still get to instruct as an editor—not only with regard to writing but in recognizing people’s potential and helping them reach it. That is hugely satisfying and provides an important balance, I think. Because while my favorite thing about writing is losing myself to another place, time, and situation—basically, my favorite thing about reading, too—it’s a solitary practice that can make me overly introverted. So though it can admittedly get frustrating whenever more of my time and creative energy goes to someone else’s manuscript and leaves me depleted for my own, I’m grateful for that push to get outside of myself and help other writers realize their dreams. I don’t have to do both; I choose to and feel like the luckiest gal in the world that I even have that choice.

JL: What is one thing about publishing that has surprised you?

RH: How much authors have to market their own books! So much momentum goes into writing a book, revising it, then releasing it, and then all of a sudden, it’s like…Okay, now what? It’s out there, but how do I get people to know that?? With social media, there are so many ways to interact with readers, which is awesome and fun. I can be social. But I’m not particularly skilled at marketing, nor keen on self-promotion, so when lovely folks like yourself take the time to not only read my book but review it and share it with others, I am genuinely appreciative and content knowing that someone other than me (and my mom, who’s obligated) has enjoyed it.

JL: What are you working on now?

RH: I’m revisiting my first manuscript. It’s similar to Seven for a Secret in certain ways but with a much stronger paranormal element and London setting. It shifts between two time periods, too (present day and Victorian era), but takes place mostly in the present and is somewhat darker, more psychological. A ghost story with a philosophical twist. 

I’m also outlining a new story set in one house over the course of one night, which I’ve always wanted to try, though it’ll be a challenge for sure to keep that interesting! A rom-com dinner party with a little Agatha Christie and Ghost Hunters thrown in the mix. But aside from crazy chicken scratchings all over the pages of my notebook, I’ve only written a chapter for that one so far.


Rumer and Omnific Publishing offer an ebook of Seven for a Secret to a lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment. You can choose to answer this question: Would you rather live in the 1920s or 2000s?

#Interview and #Giveaway of Shadow’s Dangers by Cindy Mezni

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming awesome reader friend Mitsy Princell to the blog, to interview creative storyteller Cindy Mezni about book one in her Last Hope series: Shadow’s Dangers.

Get it HERE for only $.99.

Appearances can be deceiving…

Losing a loved one is never easy. Although Deliah learned to live without her parents when fate took them from her as a young girl, history repeats itself and causes her to face even greater challenges when Tess, the woman who raised her and was like a second mother to her, passes away. But even worse than dealing with her loss is the coinciding arrival of inexplicable nightmares that haunt Deliah’s nights.

She becomes consumed with images she didn’t understand and a recurrent dream about her parents’ car accident. Oddly, this dream details different versions from what she had always been told about the accident.

But when a new family, The Wates, arrive in town and begin to pay close attention to her, even stranger events follow. Now, Deliah must not only face her nightmares, but the possibility that a world she never suspected exists. And this world may cost her everything.


I met Mitsy on Goodreads and she’s a wonderful supporter of authors. Mitsy is super excited about Cindy’s work, and wants to share her love of Shadow’s Dangers with YOU. And onto the interview–take it away, ladies!

Reader Mitsy Princell (MP): How long did it take you to write Shadow’s Dangers?

Author Cindy Mezni (CM): Writing the first draft took me between 3-4 months. It’s modifying and rewriting some scenes and even some chapters that took a lot more time.

MP: Where did you get the idea? It’s so completely different and imaginative.

CM: I’ve always been a fan of paranormal books and I really wanted to write my own but I didn’t want it to be another vampire or werewolf story. And then, one day, I heard about polymorphs and after that, it didn’t take long for me to develop the story of The Last Hope series.

MP: How many books are going to be in the series?

CM: There will be four books in The Last Hope series. Book 2 is written but I still have some changes to do on the story and book 3 is partly written.

MP: When is book two coming out?

CM: There’s no release date yet but as soon as I have one, I’ll post something about it to let everyone know.

MP: On Facebook, your profile is all in French so are you writing your books in both English and French? First author I’ve ever known that could write in both languages. Impressive. 🙂

CM: In fact, my profile is in French – and sometimes in English, even if I had another Facebook page for my English-speaking readers – and yes, I’m writing my books in both languages. Actually, I first write them in French and then, I translate them in English. And thank you for the compliment and for the interview 🙂

Giveaway! Cindy is offering an ebook of Shadow’s Dangers to an international winner. To enter, simply comment on the interview and please include your email address in the comment.


Review and Interview: Ex Factor by Elisa Dane

Today I welcome awesome author Elisa Dane to the blog! First I’ll review her Young Adult romance Ex Factor, then I’ll interview her. Stick around for the giveaway at the end.

Ex-Factor (Diamond Girls, #1)Ex-Factor by Elisa Dane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Truth and Consequences

Teenager Nev is a former gymnast whose life has undergone startling transitions. She gets uprooted to live with her aunt and cousin in northern California when her father dies and her mother succumbs to a debilitating illness. Not only is she disoriented in this new place, but she’s also overwhelmed by guilt. Just what secrets hide behind that guilt?

Nev’s cousin Livvie is on a competitive cheer team, X Factor, and Nev’s tumbling expertise makes her a shoo-in for the team. At first Nev balks at joining the Diamond Girls squad because tumbling in a gym sparks painful memories of her mother. But by flying through the air again, she slowly finds her footing, and her recovery is a beautiful thing.

It’s cool to catch a glimpse into the world of competitive cheer — a world the author clearly knows. The cheer coaches are so demanding and vulgar that I thought they were football coaches:

“Flyers! Pretend you’ve got a dollar bill stuck between your butt cheeks, and squeeze it ’til it screams!”

“I don’t care if you rip your pee pees, I want those toe touches up past your ears!”

Ew. LOL. Luckily the coaches have a soft side, and Nev forms some close friendships with her teammates.

Nev’s first encounter with a boy is charming playah Eli. Although Eli is supposedly dating Nev’s new friend Erin, Eli hits on Nev non-stop. Nev doesn’t want to hurt Erin’s feelings by telling her, but is also uncomfortable keeping his skeezeball behavior quiet.

Another boy, Bodie, is cold and rude to her. Too bad she tingles with good feels every time he’s around. But Bodie also has a checkered past, and maybe he is more attracted to her than he seems. I love how they share pieces of themselves, gradually unfurling their truths as they both face the consequences of their actions. They both feel damaged beyond repair.

For a minute, I was just a regular girl, he was just a regular boy, and we were both enjoying the moment.

Nev has a biting sense of humor:

I was pretty darn sure he had a thing for my hair, and there was a good part of me that wanted to pull a Marcia Brady and never wash the stuff again because he’d touched it.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Nev’s attempt to heal, supported by Bodie, also packs an emotional punch, and I found myself tearing up in parts.

The story has a solid message about the dangers of drunk driving. My one complaint was Bodie’s term of endearment for Nev: Doll Face. It got a little repetitive for me.

Ex-Factor is book one in the Diamond Girl series, and thankfully book two: Unbreakable is also available. Roundoff-back handspring-double full!

View all my reviews

Jennifer Lane (JL): Ms. Lane welcomes Ms. Dane to the blog! I loved Ex Factor and look forward to Unbreakable. What inspired the series?

Elisa Dane (ED): Thanks for having me! I’m so glad you enjoyed Nev and Bodie’s story. I’ve wanted to write a contemporary YA involving cheerleaders for quite some time. All three of my girls have grown up in their cheer gym, and their dedication and passion for their sport inspires me daily. After attending the Every 15 Minutes mock crash and assembly during my oldest daughter’s senior year, I knew I had a story to tell and the series took off from there.

JL: What made you take Ex Factor in an emotional, dramatic direction?

ED: I was moved to tears by what I witnessed during the Every 15 Minutes assembly at my daughter’s school. The program that year was especially moving as the class lost one of their own to drinking and driving. Listening to a big, tough man weep over the senseless loss of his son marked me, and I knew if I felt as deeply about the subject, others would too. Drinking and driving is a HUGE problem, as is the invincibility complex most teens seem to struggle with. It’s always been my hope that Nev and Bodie’s story would make an impact on the reader and maybe keep them from making a fatal mistake.

JL: What are the biggest misunderstandings about competitive cheer?

ED: Oh, Lordy! There are quite a few. I think the biggest burn comes from those who say that All Star cheer isn’t a sport. I mean…c’mon! The  International Olympic Committee recognizes the game of chess as a sport. Chess! Competitive cheer involves two and a half minute routine filled with running tumbling, standing tumbling, jumping, dance, and a mixture of daredevil stunts. The athletes train for countless hours conditioning and perfecting each of the required skills. My middle daughter made an all-girl level-5 team this season. That’s the highest level you can compete at before moving into the college cheer category. She trains five to six days a week for a minimum of four hours. Some days she’s at the gym in the morning, and then goes back for another practice in the afternoon. Competitive cheerleaders are athletic BEASTS and should be recognized as such. Well, in my opinion, anyway!

JL: How did your daughters get involved in cheerleading?

ED: This is our tenth year with our gym. Honestly, we’ve been there for so long, I’m not sure how we started! I’m pretty sure a mom from one of my daughter’s play groups told me about the gym, and things rolled from there. Our cheer gym has become a permanent part of our lives 🙂

JL: I’m one of three daughters. (Youngest children RULE!) What have been the joys and challenges of parenting three girls?

ED: Ha! My youngest daughter would agree with you! Raising three girls can be a challenge for sure. Especially when two of them cycle together. Eeeep! Despite the squabbling that sometimes occurs over misplaced articles of clothing and the like, I find raising three girls to be extremely rewarding. I love watching them mature and make good decisions. I love watching them succeed and school and at cheer. My girls are my biggest accomplishment.

JL: You are quite tech-savvy (thanks for your help with Instagram!) What helps you stay current with technology?

ED: Thank you! I’m always happy to help! Oh goodness… Desperation, maybe? Just kidding! I’m always on the hunt for ways to connect with my readers. I’m on pretty much every social media platform out there, however some I enjoy more than others. I LOVE Instagram and Youtube. The reach is huge and I feel like I  really connect with people on those venues.

JL: Thank you for visiting the blog, Elisa! What’s next for you?

ED: Thanks for having me! Book #3 in the Diamond Girls series is currently with my editor at Swoon Romance. I can’t wait for you all to meet the hero, Ryker Vaughn! He’s a broken
fighter, and the perfect match for sassy Claire. Readers will need a box of tissues for this story as well 🙂

READERS: Enter the giveaway for an ebook of Ex Factor by leaving a comment with your email address.

LISETTE BRODEY: Review and Interview

Today I’m stoked to have author Lisette Brodey to the blog. I loved her spunky story Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! And I look forward to reading more from her. First is my review, then an interview.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! by Lisette Brodey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Molly Hacker is Too Appealing!

As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn’t until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brodey when she interviewed me at her Author Chateau that I bumped this story to the top of my list. And what a funny, clever story it is.

Molly Hacker is a 32-year-old newspaper reporter whose single status seems to be of great concern to her friends and family. “Just settle down with a husband!” they say. “Stop being too picky!”

But Molly doesn’t want just anyone to be her partner for life. (Smart woman!) She’s looking for a guy who’s cute, interesting, and funny. A guy just like her ex, Leo. Their breakup broke her heart and her trust, and now her mantra is “I must, I must, I must begin to trust.”

I REALLY relate to Molly. She is an independent writer, won’t settle for just any guy, likes Coldplay and Maroon 5, has a hilarious gay BFF and a misbehaving cat, and even wishes she could’ve been a psychologist (my career). However, she’s more neurotic than I am (I hope). And I’m so thankful people don’t get on my case about being single. Poor Molly has to endure meddling friends and family.

When my aunt Pauline asked me why a pretty girl like me couldn’t have brought a man to the wedding who wasn’t attached to someone else, I asked the thrice-divorced sister of my mother to explain to me how settling for three Mr. Wrongs had enhanced her life.

She’s certainly not a shrinking violet! Molly is a lot funnier than me, too. Her insights crack me up, like:

I was feeling like the rock star’s girlfriend. I liked that, but then my lips started forming the word “groupie”, and I didn’t want to be considered one or to fend off their overzealous affection for my man. My man? I needed to regroup. Or did I need to regroupie?

“What does ‘cute as a button’ mean, anyway?” I asked. “I mean, how did buttons ever become the poster children for cuteness?”

But her coworker friend Randy steals the show with his cleverness:

I just stared at Randy, noticing his face had a strange orange glow to it. “And your face is orange because … ?”
“Okay. Self-tanner. Put on too much for too long. Tried to impress. What a mess. I confess. Now I digress. What’s up with you, or should I guess?”
“Give it a rest,” I chimed in…
“I hate men,” I said, glaring at him. “ALL of them.”
“Molly Rose, how irrational. What has gotten into you? Why so blue?”
“If you can be orange, I can be blue!” I said.
“Such colorful banter,” he said.

Ha ha! Then, when invasive socialite Naomi shows up unannounced at Molly’s office, Randy has some fun:

To complicate my ever-complicated life, nothing ever got past Randy, who had taken from his desk drawer a Scream mask (derived from the famous Edvard Munch painting), put it on his face, and proceeded to stand three feet away from the threshold of my office door, mocking every move Naomi made behind her back.

Molly encounters quite a few suitors throughout the story, including a rock star painter, her high school crush (who’s now getting a divorce), an older man who’s wealthy and suave, and an awkward yet endearing man. If she decides to choose one of these men, which one will it be? This mystery match-making element kept me turning the pages.

It’s clear that Molly Hacker is well-deserving of a wonderful man who matches her wit and style.


And now I have the pleasure of interviewing Lisette:

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Lisette. As you can see from my review, I loved Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! This was your first foray into chick lit, correct? What made you take the plunge?

Lisette Brodey (LB): Hi, Jen. Thanks so much for having me here today. First, I just want to tell your readers how much I loved the first book in The Conduct Series, With Good Behavior. I’m excited to read the next two. The characters are wonderful, and I’m dying to know what happens to them. Great job!
To answer your question, I really loved writing Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!, but quite honestly, at heart, I’m not a chick lit author. Before it was really viable to be an indie author, I was trying to get an agent for my first two novels, Squalor, New Mexico and Crooked Moon. I came very close many times, but it was frustrating. When I went to bookstores, it seemed to me that many of new books being featured were chick lit /women’s fiction, so I decided I would write one because it seemed to be what the market demanded.
After I wrote 65K words, it became feasible to publish independently, and I put Molly aside and went to work on publishing my first two novels. I then returned to Molly about a year later. It wasn’t easy to reimmerse myself in the nuances of her complicated life, but I did it. I even blogged for a year as the character (www.mollyhackercom).
So, just because chick lit isn’t my chosen genre, it sure as heck didn’t mean I didn’t have a good story to write. My muse introduced me to Molly, and the rest, as they say, is history.

JL: My favorite character is Randy, Molly’s flamboyant coworker. He’s a riot! Have you been blessed with humorous gay friends like Randy in your life? Certainly I’ve met funny heterosexual men, but some of my gay friends constantly make me laugh. What do you think makes him and some gay men so hilarious?
LB: Randy is one of my favorite characters ever. In fact, when I was done writing the book, I really wished I could bring him to life because he’s not only funny, he’s a loyal friend. Yes, I have known many gay men, hilarious and not so hilarious, but Randy is not based on any one person.
Gay men are as diverse as any other “group” of people. Randy, unlike some gay men, never had a problem accepting his sexual preference, nor did he have trouble being comfortable in society as an openly gay man. I believe it is this comfort that gives him the freedom to be hilarious whenever the mood strikes him. But there’s a lot more to him. He’s a caring friend, a compassionate listener, and has relationship insecurities like the rest of us.

JL: I also loved the feline character of Captain Jack. You captured the essence of disdain and mischief possessed by cats. Tell us about your experience with cats.
LB: I’ve had cats since I was 19. The cat I have now is my third. My second cat, Saki, was a very complex creature. I was always sure that she was meant to be mine. Just as I observe human behavior, I observe feline behavior. I’ve never had a cat that has willingly gone to strangers for any kind of attention. Ever. Captain Jack is very protective of his mom, Molly, and he doesn’t let things like good looks and hot bodies get in the way of sussing people out. And he is never shy about letting his feelings be known. I can’t think of any cat that is shy about that.
JL: You recently published a Young Adult paranormal novel Mystical High, the first in The Desert Series. What are your plans for the series?

LB: Thanks for asking. Mystical High centers on the lives of two teen girls, Jessie and Jinxsy, who live in a dying desert town in Southern California. Each has very real family problems, and their lives get very complicated when paranormal activity begins to escalate not only at their school, but also in their town, Mystekal.
My favorite character in Mystical High is River, Jessie’s 14-year-old brother. River is very smart, loves to use his extended vocabulary and says pretty much whatever he is thinking. But in other ways, such as in showing his feelings, he is shy and reserved.
In Book 2, River will be a senior, and the book will focus on him and another teen boy, Larsen. Again, the story will concentrate on real-life problems, such as bullying, but there will be new paranormal twists. Although each novel will work as a standalone book, there will be a whole lot in Book 2 that will give shocking insight into the story told in Mystical High. The final book of the trilogy will be the most romantic of the three, and the main character will be a girl readers will meet in Book 2.
JL: You’ve written in other genres too. What’s it like to genre hop? What are some common themes in your novels?
LB: I never really planned to genre hop. It just happened that the stories I wanted to tell all had different labels on them. My novel Crooked Moon is probably the closest to my true identity as a writer.
There are many common themes in my novels. Friendship is a strong theme in every story because I believe that friends are a huge part of most people’s lives. I know they are in mine. They are the family that we choose.
All of my novels have multiple story arcs, and people come together in ways you might not expect. I write this way because I believe that it mirrors real life. Our personal stories are not straight lines. Every one of us has sub-plots. I can’t write a linear story because I don’t see life that way. As we move through life, we meet people whose stories intersect with our own.
The keeping of secrets is another common theme. What you see is not always what is really there, and secrets have a way of coming out, often in explosive ways, and changing (and explaining) a lot.

How to stalk Lisette Brodey:


Hydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw: Review, Interview, #Giveaway

I love a book I can sink my teeth into, and Hydraulic Level Five is such a book. Check out my review, then hang around for my interview with Sarah Lachtaw, followed by a giveaway!

Hydraulic Level FiveHydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ride the Churning, Restless Rapids of a Second Chance at Love

What a rich and deep adult contemporary romance!

Kaye is in her late twenties and still in love with her childhood friend / ex-husband Samuel (even though it’s hard for “stubborn as super glue” Kaye to admit she still holds the candle for him). Kaye is an extreme sports enthusiast, and she and her friend run a PR firm in Colorado. Meanwhile, since the divorce, Samuel has shot up the bestseller charts as a famous author.

Samuel comes from a boisterous Hispanic family, and his sister Danita is about to get married. Naturally, Kaye is Danita’s maid of honor, and naturally, Samuel will be in town for the big wedding. Though Kaye and Samuel divorced six years ago, is it possible for them to rekindle a beautiful childhood love?

Kaye is quite a quirky character, and I wonder if the author is equally quirky. There’s also much sadness to the story about two broken people trying to mend themselves and each other.

I am so not a fantasy fan and at first I had trouble getting into the snippets from Samuel’s wildly successful fantasy series Water Sirens. But when Samuel explains why he wanted to write faerie tales for his little “firecracker” Kaye (cutest nickname ever), I fell for the fantasy completely.

Having finished his fantasy series, Samuel moves on to writing a memoir of his childhood love of Kaye, and excerpts from this story alternate with present events. It makes for interesting reading.

There are some humorous moments in the story, like the time Kaye’s attorney pretends to be her lesbian lover in order to make Samuel jealous, as well as:

The morning had been spent calmly arguing over the phone with a ski rental client about why “Going down with you since 1973” was not a family-oriented business slogan.

When we exited the theater after seeing Titanic, Hector shouted, “Hurry up, Kaye! There’s only enough cars in the parking lot for half of us!”

Kaye describing a spat between Samuel and his posh editor Caroline: There was tension in Versaceville

The characters develop in a gradual, satisfying way. Both Kaye and Samuel were young when they married, and have made plenty mistakes. Samuel comes from a troubled background that makes you want to hug him.

“I don’t need your pity,” he said gently, firmly. “I’m a grown man, Kaye — not that little boy anymore.”

“But it doesn’t mean I can’t feel pain for that little boy. Or that I love him any less,” I quietly added.

I like when Kaye says:

“Samuel, you have to get it into your head that when you shield people — me, Danita — from the big, bad world, you cause more harm than good.”

This was a touching story and I’m excited there will be a sequel titled Skygods.

View all my reviews

And now I welcome Sarah Lachtaw to the blog!

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Sarah! I found your debut novel to be a masterpiece. Please share your inspiration for the story.

Sarah Latchaw (SL): Wow, high praise, thanks! I believe in setting the bar high, then falling into the pits of despair when I can’t live up to expectations, like your average tortured writer (ha).

Inspiration is always a tough question to answer, because, as you know Ms. Lane, we find ideas in all sorts of places, from current events to life experience, to pure imagination. I wanted to accomplish several things with Hydraulic Level Five. One, to give readers a narrator and heroine they could connect with emotionally—feel her triumphs and hurts. Second, I wanted a love interest grounded in reality—a man with real flaws, but whom Kaye loves anyway. Third, I needed an epic love story that would resonate with readers long after they finished the final sentence. If readers can see something of their own love stories in Kaye and Samuel, then the characters find a home in their minds and hearts, and imaginations.

JL: Including excerpts from Samuel’s “work in progress”–a memoir about his childhood with Kaye–is definitely unique. What made you decide to write the story this way?

SL: Samuel’s betrayal of Kaye was so gut-wrenching, I knew he would be despised by readers if we didn’t get a glimpse into his mind. However, if I’d dipped into his mind via a third-person narration, we would have lost the mystery element that keeps readers flipping the pages—what is he thinking? How could such an epic love go so wrong? If I’d told the present-day story through both Kaye and Samuel, we also would have lost the first-person connection to Kaye, which would have killed the story.

I also wanted to weave Kaye and Samuel’s history throughout the story, but do it without a pile of flashbacks. Samuel is a writer, so why not have him write their story? As the mysteries of their past unfold through Samuel’s book like a sad little flower, the present-day tale becomes more poignant and dire.

JL: How involved are you in extreme sports?

SL: Ha! Not so much. I’ve kayaked and canoed here and there, even in some mildly treacherous whitewater. I even vowed to skydive for my thirtieth birthday, only to pass on it because I was expecting dear son. So while I find extreme sports fascinating, I have to rely on my Colorado contacts’ experiences when it comes to crazy backcountry skiing or class five whitewater rafting. I love being outside, just not risking my life while doing so.

JL: You are obviously familiar with Hispanic culture. What is your background?

SL: I don’t have a Hispanic background in my family. Several years ago, I spent some time in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, and wanted to learn more about their incredible heritage. Hispanic culture is everywhere, but I knew woefully little about my neighbors. In my opinion, it’s kind of underrepresented in fiction and when it is featured, its often as a punchline for cheap laughs. In my writing, I wanted to stretch beyond those tacky stereotypes we find in pop culture and show their beautiful traditions, emphasis on family, and accomplishments as truthfully as I could. So I used my experiences, researched and read my tail off, in order to portray the Cabral familia as accurately as possible.

JL: Have you pranked or been pranked anything like the characters in this story?

SL: Yes…

I was well-educated in the art of the prank thanks to ten years of summer camp and four years of dorm life. The powdered milk thing is nasty and cruel, and please Lord don’t ever do it to anybody. That’s all I’m saying.

JL: There’s a sequel coming: Skygods (!) At what point did you know there would be a sequel? How is it coming along?

SL: Well, Hydraulic Level Five and Skygods were written as one big long story, then split into two parts. So the sequel was basically completed before Hydraulic was even published. Skygods is with Omnific editors right now, and I’m glad this came up because I need to ask them when we’re planning to release it.

Also, there is a possibility of a third book looming on the horizon…wink wink wink. I have my story maps done and am diving into the actual writing. Lyons, Colorado lends itself beautifully to the Hydraulic Series, and I really need to bring the story home for one more book.

JL: Oh, goody. *bounces* I love to hear it’s already written!

Now YOU can win an ebook of Hydraulic Level Five. Just enter on the Rafflecopter.

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Best of 2013 #Giveaway Hop

It’s time for the Best of 2013 Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mary from Book Hounds and Kathy from I Am a Reader.

One of my favorite reads of 2013 is Fix You by Beck Anderson. Stick around for my review, interview with the author, and generous giveaway!
Fix YouFix You by Beck Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fixated on This Story!

How does a woman move on after the death of her husband? Having two adorable sons and supportive parents helps. But what really does the trick is falling in love with a humble movie star who needs some fixing of his own.

So goes the romance of Kelly and Andrew, who meet when Kelly breaks down sobbing on a run. Andrew’s in town for a film shoot, and he feels sad to learn it’s the two year anniversary of Kelly’s husband’s death. They gradually get to know each other. Can a famous actor and a down-to-earth widow make this long distance relationship work? It’ll be tough, given Kelly’s lovable neuroticism, Andrew’s shady past, and initial exchanges like this:

He fishes his cell phone and sunglasses out of the car. “Can I get your number?”
“You don’t want my number.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t.” Seriously, is he kidding?
“Do too.” He shakes his head. “This is insane. Why not?”
“Look at you. Come on.”
He stares at me with those very blue eyes. “Don’t be ridiculous. Give me your number.”

I loved the unique setting of Boise (said with an “s”, not a “z”!) and the realistic characters. But what I loved most of all was the humor. MAJOR props for the mention of that Saturday Night Live skit “Master Thespian!” As well as these quotes:

Starting the first day I get little texts each day:
“Development meeting in 90210. Lady across from me has taken ‘bee stung’ lips to a horrifying new level.”

“You’ll fly down here. A quick visit. Now go, make the phone calls. Make it so.”
“I will see what I can do, Jean-Luc Picard. You’re a huge nerd.”
“You’re the one who knows the name of the captain.”

The salesgirl is done giving me the up and down. “Size six is the largest we go.”
“I’m sorry, I missed it. Did the sign above the door say Big Heads on a Toothpick R Us?”

If my life were a movie this’d be the part where the montage begins. You know, they’d play a kicky song like “Walking on Sunshine,” and there’d be shots of Andrew and me getting ice cream, riding bicycles through the park, playfully doing lots of things as a happy couple.

Ha ha ha!

The only part of the story I didn’t eat up was when Kelly reveals something about her deceased husband Peter toward the end of the novel. That part of the story didn’t quite seem to fit as essential, unless I’m missing something.

Kelly and Andrew admire Ernest Hemingway, and it appears author Beck Anderson does as well, evidenced by her short sentences and overall clean writing.

Spend some time with Kelly and Andrew and you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!

View all my reviews

And now onto the interview of BECK ANDERSON:

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Beck, and congratulations on the success of your debut novel Fix You! How did you get started writing?

Beck Anderson (BA): Thanks for having me, my friend! I came to writing through my family. When I was a kid, my dad was a magazine editor. I was following in his footsteps. I remember one of my first attempts at a story was “The Monkey Olympics” in first grade. Pure gold.

JL: I obviously loved Fix You…my favorite part of the story is the humor. What role does humor play in your life and your writing?

BA: So glad you liked it! Humor is the way I make my sadly awkward self feel more comfortable in lots of different situations. I’m also a pleaser. I like to make people happy. Humor is an easy way to do that! There are many times in real life where the old adage “If I weren’t laughing, I’d be crying” rings true, and I’d rather laugh.

JL: Any experience with real life widows or movie stars?

BA: Sadly, I do have a good friend who lost her husband very young. She had two boys, and it definitely crossed my mind, “how does a person deal with that?” I guess I thought it might be interesting to play with the premise that, well, best-case scenario, you’d meet someone new that was rich and famous. But what would that really be like?

As far as rubbing elbows with movie stars, not so much. My brother lives down in LA, so he runs into people all the time and is very blase about it. The last famous person I came close to was Bobby Flay from the Food Network. I saw him get into a cab in New York City.

JL: Tell us about your love of Ernest Hemingway. Who are your favorite authors? Where do you find inspiration?

BA: My main character Kelly and I have the love for Hemingway in common. I am into him mostly because I live in Idaho, and on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday, I did get to go inside his house, which was very eerie. He was a gigantic personality, and he was very obsessed with love and romance. His short stories rock.

Other favorite authors? I love classic American authors like Fitzgerald and Ralph Ellison. But I also love JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins because they are amazing story tellers and have brought so many people back to reading, which I think is awesome.

JL: What’s next for you, Madame Author?

BA: I am working on the sequel to Fix You, called Trouble Me. Hopefully readers want to know what’s next for Kelly and Andrew!

Thanks, Miss Jennifer, for having me! 🙂

Beck is giving away a signed print copy and an ebook of Fix You! Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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Then hop over to other participating blogs:

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