Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What If You Made It Up? By Kathleen S. Kolze

What if You Made It Up?


It was a painful habit, living with bad choices when people thought she was the epitome of success. But when hiding her misery from a probing life coach proved futile, Eva Karlsen ditched her lucrative corporate career and rebooted, making up a new life with her own life coaching practice in the shadows of the Gros Ventres, Bear, Wyoming. Opening herself up to relationships and community was not what Eva had in mind, but the small-town residents didn't get her memo. The dramatic Heidi, effervescent Jana, sage Grace, and boisterous Marlo unwittingly pull Eva into a luxury she had never allowed herself-friendships with women. Add the mysterious transplant Sander, the entrepreneur Gianni, and the masculine Steve Mason, and the community of Bear gets spicy. Suddenly Eva's involved in the adventures of her new friends as they unravel an international caper, open a new Italian restaurant, uncover a long-lost family legacy, and negotiate their unpredictable environment. Between daily walks with her retrievers, moose watching, life coaching, and new love, Eva finds herself flourishing in a life she never would have expected for herself a few years earlier. All she had needed to do was simply make it up!



This is the debut novel by Kathleen Kolze and I have to say I look forward to further work from this author. The story is entertaining and the character development is impressive, not only with Eva the main character, but with her friends and clients as well. I like that the story has the message that you can do what you want to do even if at first it seems that it is too late. I felt inspired by the end! I think anyone who enjoys well written women's fiction will enjoy this new book. Besides it has a bit of everything; romance, mystery, friendships, and fun!

Kathleen was kind enough to take some time out of her very busy schedule to take part in the Mommy's Reading Too Author Interview. So here she is in her own words ......


Tell us about yourself.

I'm a wife to Bob, for over 24 years, and a mother to Kent (19) and Claire (17). I work full time - and have been fortunate that the last 10 years have been from a telework office - which includes intermittent global travel. I'm also a certified and credentialed coach.  This came after a career change I made to talent development from information technology, where I had roles from analyst to Chief Information Officer -- my degree was in Computer Science and Mathematics. I work in a very culturally diverse company, which I love.

Travel keeps me motivated. I always try to have a trip in mind, or in the works. This started in my youth when I lived in Brussels, Belgium from the ages of 10-16. I've also lived across the American Mid-West and Northern California. I'm an avid walker, quilter / art quilter, and a devoted student of ballroom dance. My husband and I take classes together and have been dancing for 4 years - we do everything from  American Smooth - waltz/foxtrot/tango/quick step - to Latin dances and Swing. He's even posted us dancing on YouTube which makes me crazy! I love good food, I suppose we all do, and when I can, I like to cook new dishes and continue to work on Italian fare with olive oil and garlic!


Tell us about your writing experience.

Twenty years ago I took a "Writing Fiction" course at a local community college and still have the encouraging notes from the instructor! The particular story I was working on at that time has not come to full fruition, but I may have to dust it off! Throughout my corporate career I have been writing articles on my work-based topics for newsletters, communication to internal clients, technical manuals, and more recently articles for internal social media sites and blogs. This is something I do on a weekly basis.

I starting writing about Eva when my company was sold to another firm back in 2007...just in case things didn't work out for me!  I ended up gainfully employed, but kept on writing. What I love about this medium with my busy life is that you can add to it any time. It keeps getting bigger. I can write when I have the time and the inspiration -- and before I know it, there is a chapter, and another -- and then a complete story!


What lead to you coming up with this book?

The first idea I had for a book was to share how I changed careers, the ups and downs, the people, the training and transformation that I had to make it work. A change from technology to talent management and coaching is a big swing. The book bored me (and if I was bored...no one else would want to read it!) and I knew the message has been delivered by other authors.  One of my goals was to share the impact of life coaching. I realized this didn't have to be a personal memoir, so that's when I created Eva, and Bear, Wyoming -- weaving coaching into the plot.  Having the vignettes of coaching calls gave me a chance to show rather than tell what is life coaching.  I love the outdoors and being in Wyoming, so that locale seemed a natural place for Eva to live. I got to dream of being there every time I wrote about it -- from my memories, research and imagination.

What If You Made It Up? unraveled over four years of early Saturday mornings until it became a full length adventure of Eva and the town of Bear. I mostly kept my writing private, wanting to make sure I finished the novel and didn’t distract myself from my "real" job. I didn't share it with my husband until I had 100 pages written.  Most of my friends and family didn’t know I had written the novel until it was in the final stages of publishing - so I surprised a lot of  people! Now, there were a few girlfriends and one of my sisters who were very intimately involved along the way


What led to your decision to self-publish?

After trying to find an agent, I was concerned that the months were clicking by and I didn’t want the story to get stale. There were a few “asks” for more information, but the process was long and arduous, and most just politely rejected me. My working and traveling didn't help, so time was an issue for me. That is what led me to investigate the process of self publishing.

I went this direction because I loved the characters and the story (can I even say that? it’s true... they even make me cry/laugh at certain parts). I needed to share Eva, Bear, her friends and coaching with readers out there! I couldn't give up.

I also knew the manuscript was in desperate need of a REAL editor before any publishing could happen.

That being the case --- I talked to my high school girlfriend who knows everyone. She knew someone from our high school class who was an editor. I emailed her -- and she emailed back within an hour. We only knew of each other in high school. She is now one of my favorite people, such a generous, kind, and smart soul.

“Yes” she said she’d love to edit a novel after all the heavy non-fiction she’d been editing! YEAH. I was so thrilled I couldn’t sleep. I sent my manuscript - electronic of course - - and the rest is history. She’s a master. It took us a year almost exactly for editing through design and printing.

An interesting note: As a result of my novel, she started her own self-publishing company.  I was her first client.


What obstacles did you come across in the process?

Because of this point that my editor became my self-publisher, I didn't have as many obstacles as most people. She is amazing, and her company, Diligent Editorial, is one I would promote to any author who wants to self-publish. I completely trust her. She is absolutely diligent and really, really good.

The obstacles I have now are  with trying to keep track of the different venues that carry my book. This includes Amazon, BN, for both paperback an ebook (Nook, Kindle, for iPad...).  I have a website, www.kathleenkolze.com, that people can visit and it will take you to the links to purchase the book online.

The other obstacle I have is spreading the word. This is tough without an agent. So am trying to work through my list of ideas. Word of mouth and social media will be best - and I hope to get response in these areas. There are reviews on Amazon, which is exciting --- and the best part, some of those people are not people that I know! Of course I appreciate my friends honest reviews, but a review from people who only know me due to writing, is very rewarding.


Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?

I have two other novels in the works that I would like to self-publish if I can cover the costs of the edit, design and publishing process. Actually, three books. They are:
Tango in Tazewell County.  This is about a seasoned city girl starting a ballroom dance studio in the Heartland... and all the drama, change and passion that comes with dancing, dance instructors, and putting eclectic people in one place!

A Wife: Conversations with Myself
This is a story woven around all those things that "this wife" thinks to herself but never says ... it opens up raw truths with the thoughts and actions of what appears to be an ordinary wife and mother. Who said anything about ordinary?

 I would like to write a  travelogue, To France With Claire, after spending eight days in France with her last month on Spring  Break -- just the two of us. We had a dream vacation. She is a senior and off to college in August.We journaled during the trip and have an idea to co-write a book that shows our different  perspectives of the trip. 

If you go to my website -- the  top picture on the home page is me holding my book (this part is cut off) in front of the historic Shakespeare and Co, an English bookstore in Paris. It was exciting... I left a copy of my book on the stacks! :-)

A big thanks to Kathleen for visting Mommy's Reading Too and another big thanks to Patti Bower at Diligent Editorial and Book Production Service, who first got me interested in reading What If You Made It Up? .

To get your own copy go to
http://kathleenkolze.com/novel-what-if-you-made-it-up.html

Saturday, April 14, 2012

At The Corner Of Wall And Sesame By Wendy Levitt

At the Corner of Wall and Sesame


V Skyler has it all. Fantastic career, amazing husband, and an unbelievable view from her apartment on Central Park West. Her whole life is wrapped up with a big silver bow, and she is sure it will be no problem to tie a rattle to the end of it. But problems start even before Baby Madison arrives. V wants to schedule a Friday delivery, but her water breaks in the middle of the board room. At the hospital, a resident cuts off her frantic e-mailing. And the head nurse won’t give her a private room for her 3:00a.m. conference call with Asia. V is determined to get back to business, but Baby Madison has other plans. She can’t even get through voice mail without splitting an eardrum or getting covered in goo, poo, or some other “oo” that has no place in the corporate world. Even as she fights to get back to "normal," V is drawn into the world of the Stay at Homes. By the time her maternity leave is over, she's no longer positive which path she wants her life to take. For ten months V bounces between her two lives like a super ball in a fun house. At home she faces mothers who can’t figure out why anyone would ever think about leaving their child for eighty hours a week. At work her colleagues whisper every time she leaves the office before 8:00. And to make things worse, Jason has a definite opinion as to how V should handle the tug of war that has become her life. Pushed to the brink of losing everything, V knows she's going to have to take a stand. She just hopes it is one she can live with.


I am just going to say it .... I loved reading this book! I laughed and I stressed out with the main character V throughout the book. I felt her roller coaster of emotions as she tried to be a perfect high power exec and a perfect new Mom and just do it all! I too once thought that I could do everything and sometimes still do ... and the author has managed to show that it is okay not to be perfect in every aspect at all times. Because the reality is that something has got to give and that does not mean you are a failure, its just life! I was entertained and empowered as a woman, at the same time. Especially as being a SAHM doesn't always get the credit it deserves! I recommend this to all Mom's and to all who know a great Mom!


To get this into your hands go to http://www.amazon.com/Corner-Wall-Sesame-Wendy-Levitt/dp/1466262265

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blog Tour Stop - These Girls By Sarah Pekkanen


Sarah’s website: http://www.sarahpekkanen.com

These Girls page on S&S.ca:


"In her third novel, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen examines the lives of three women working and living together in New York City and shows that family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance.

Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.
Cate’s roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other."



I was happy to be invited to this blog tour by Simon & Schuster Canada as this was a very enjoyable read. The author has been compared in other reviews to Sarah Dessen and Emily Giffen, and I whole-heartily agree with the comparisons. During my late teen years (MANY YEARS AGO) I had discovered a wonderful new writer Sarah Dessen, she was writing about my friends and I . Now in my early thirties I have found another new author (new to me anyways) who is writing about so many people I know, including aspects of my own ups and downs. The characters I enjoy to read about have grown up since my teen reading days, but they need to be just as real and likable in all there own ways (and they cannot never be the perfect woman). Sarah Pekkanen has done this for me in These Girls! I highly recommend this to anyone who likes contemporary women's fiction. I now have to go out and get her first two books as I am sure I will love them too!



I am so excited that Sarah Pekkanen took the time out of what must be a crazy busy schedule to do a short interview with Mommy's Reading Too! Thank you Sarah!



1. Could you please tell us a little about yourself.
Sure! I’m a former journalist who became a stay-at-home Mom after my first son was born (now I have three boys!) I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life, and I turned to fiction because when I left my job at a newspaper, I felt as if there was a gaping hole in my life. I loved being a Mom, but losing writing was like losing my best friend. So one night, I poured a glass of wine (for courage!) and went up to my computer and began to type. Those pages turned into my first novel, THE OPPOSITE OF ME. I live with my family and rescue lab, Bella, just outside of Washington D.C. I’m also a chocoholic. And, um, I watch more Reality TV than I should.

 
2. How did you first get into writing?
When I was a little girl, I used to write books on 3-ring binder paper and send them off to publishers. I can’t remember ever not writing. When I don’t write for even a few days, I feel jittery and unmoored. I think it’s the best way I have to process my emotions and feelings.

 
3. Could you please tell us a bit about how you first got published.
I spent a really long time writing my first book, and I took classes at a local writing center, and even read books on how to write a book! When I completed my fourth or fifth draft of my novel, I sent out a query letter to agents (a query letter Is just a one-page letter describing your book. The trick is to make it really interesting – it should read like the copy on the back jacket of a book you might pick up in a store and decide to buy). I heard back from a terrific agent, who immediately told me to rewrite the book. Twice. I did, and then we sent it out to publishers (my agent handled this aspect of it, while I helped by pacing and biting my nails). I couldn’t believe it when we got a publishing deal with my dream editor, Greer Hendricks, who also edits Jennifer Weiner and the authors of The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada.

 
4. What is the story behind These Girls? What triggered the story?
I loved the idea of writing a book centering around female friendships. My first book is about sisters, and my second is about a marriage, and it made sense for my third – These Girls – to focus on yet another important relationship in a woman’s life – friendship. I love the complexity in women’s relationships. It’s such a rich, nurturing, deep bond, and I wanted to show that even though we all might have some pain and complications in our families of origin, we can create another family for ourselves through the gift of friendship.

Thanks so much for having me here today, and If anyone would like to connect on Facebook or twitter @sarahpekkanen please come find me – I’d love to chat more!






Guest Author Post - Kimberly S. Lin


A little over a week ago I reviewed a great book "Recession Proof" by Kimberly S. Lin. 

Today I am excited that Kimberly will be a guest blogger here at Mommy's Reading Too!  I asked her to let us know the story behind the book.




Recession Proof started out as a way for me to express how I felt as a young twenty-something professional working in today’s economic landscape. I think there’s an incredible sense of fear and uncertainty when you’re in your twenties and for today’s twenty-somethings, it’s exacerbated by the Recession. So many times, people sacrifice their passions to simply get by. I wanted to create a contemporary “heroine” that experiences all these fears and challenges but manages to triumph and have a little fun along the way.


But for me personally, I was inspired by my mom to quit my job in corporate finance and pursue what I really love. After she retired, she was really honest with me and said that she couldn’t even remember what she loved to do after working in the corporate world for 25 years. I just decided that I didn’t want my life to start at 55. I wanted it to start now.


Truly, I don't regret my financial experience since publishing is still a business at the end of the day. But I always knew I was always really good at writing, especially story-telling. There’s a unique sense of fulfillment I feel when creating something out of nothing. And it makes me happy, plain and simple.

More About Kimberly S. Lin:  
Kimberly S. Lin, a California native, g raduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Economics. After college, she moved to Los Angeles and worked as a financial writer and hedge fund analyst but always dreamed of becoming a women's literature writer. Utilizing her experiences, she writes stories that are witty, heartwarming and relatable to the modern woman. She is the publisher of Minted Magazine, a career and lifestyle magazine empowering women and working on her second novel.