Georgia Bockoven's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Carly's Gift book coverToday's guest: Georgia Bockoven Why we love her: We love the way she writes. Her novels pull you in and hold you tight!

Her latest: Carly's Gift

(Out September 17th!)

The scoop: What's in the past is over and done with . . . or is it?

Sixteen years ago Carly Hargrove made a decision that would irrevocably alter her life. With little comprehension of the life-long consequences of her actions, she trades her own future happiness to protect the man she's loved since kindergarten, David Montgomery.

With an ocean separating them, Carly builds a life for herself without David. She's the mother of three, lives in a beautiful house, and is married to a man who comes home every night—even if most of those nights he drinks too much. What more could she want?

Her answer arrives on a cold fall day when David shows up at her door. In town for his father's funeral, he has come to see Carly one last time, hoping to rid himself of the anger that still consumes him.

Instead, he is drawn into a web of secrets that rekindles the fierce need he once felt to protect Carly. He becomes caught up in her life in a way he never could have imagined—a way that will bind him to her forever.

Our thoughts: A beautiful story!

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winner on Sunday, September 15th after 12pm PST.

Where you can read more about Georgia: Her website and Facebook.


Georgia Bockoven author photo


DO--hug a tree. I don’t mean this as flippantly as it sounds. If you do it right, you’ll be there long enough to hear a songbird calling, or a breeze rustling the leaves. You’ll feel the texture of the bark against your cheek and smell a woodsy fragrance that, for a moment, sends you back to a childhood where climbing trees made perfect sense. If you’re a writer, and the day ever comes that you write about a young woman fighting to keep the city from cutting down the tree her father planted the day she was born, you can draw on the feelings you had the day you hugged your own tree.

DO--avoid reflective surfaces on a bad hair day. Why would you want to be reminded of something negative that you already know and ruin a perfectly good day? This can be adapted to fit a lot of situations--like deleting from your address book all those crazy-making people who drag you down. Where is it written that you have to spend time with the crazies when you hardly have time for the friends who brighten your day?

DO--expose yourself . . . to new things. (With your clothes on, preferably.) I thought I didn’t like country music until I wrote a book about a country music singer and spent almost an entire year in that world. I was convinced I hated brussel sprouts without ever having tasted one. Come on--a vegetable that looks like a mini cabbage and makes the house smell like dirty socks when it’s cooking? How could this be a good thing? It was, and is.

DO--buy the orchid you saw in the grocery store. If you’re having trouble rationalizing the indulgence, run the numbers. Fifteen dollars over three months works out to sixteen cents a day. A bargain! This works with other purchases, too, like shoes, and jewelry, and for me, cameras.

DO--venture out of your comfort zone. While there’s no way I’m going to take up tight-rope walking--I was born with a really poor sense of balance--I will never forget sitting in the middle of a herd of forty wild elephants, some of them less than ten feet away. Gift yourself with an adventure. Explore. Make a new friend. Live, don’t just exist.


I think Maya Angelou has this one down pat. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Thanks, Georgia!

Brenda Janowitz's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

recipe for happy life-final copyOur guest today: Brenda Janowitz Why we love her: Check out her answers below--how can you not love her?

Her latest: Recipe For a Happy Life

The scoop: Hannah Goodman doesn't grow up like most kids on the Upper East side. Her mother, Gray, is an award-winning photojournalist with little time for the banalities of child-rearing, and when she's not jetting off to follow the latest scoop, she's camped out at the Hotel Chelsea. The closest thing Hannah's got to a traditional matriarch is her grandmother—a glamorous widow six times over with a sprawling Hampton’s estate. But Gray is determined that her daughter resist the siren song of the trust fund set, and make her own way in the world. So Hannah does just that—becoming a successful lawyer in New York City, and dating a handsome musician. Hannah has it all, or so it seems, until one hot June day the carefully constructed pieces of her life break apart. When she throws it all in and seeks solace at her grandmother's estate, she discovers that where happiness is concerned, you don’t have to stick to the recipe.

Our thoughts: You'll be very HAPPY if you treat yourself to this charming novel.

Giveaway: Two SIGNED copies!  Just leave a comment ans you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners after 8am on August 3rd.

Fun Fact: Smarty Pants alert!  Brenda is also an esteemed attorney!

Where to read more about Brenda: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


GCC-Brenda-Janowitz-official-headshot-710574I’m so thrilled to be here!!  I’ve been following your site for a while now, but I just needed a new book (ahem) so that I could come on and chat!

It’s been five years (five years!) since my last book came out, and I’m so delighted that RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE is finally on bookshelves.  A lot of people have asked me about the title.  They want to know if it has anything to do with cooking (it does not), or if I can tell them the secret to a happy life (I can try).

As I imagined the grandmother character and the advice she would give to her granddaughter, I wanted her to be non-judgmental and focused solely on her granddaughter’s happiness.  The phrase “that’s not the recipe for a happy life” just came to me, and so it became something that Vivienne says to her granddaughter often. 

Since one of the themes of the book is finding happiness, it was a perfect fit for the title.  And I think it encourages a dialogue—what is the recipe for a happy life?  How can we find it?  Did any of the characters in the book find it?  Can we choose to be happy?  I’ve spent hours debating with friends the question of whether or not we can choose happiness.  (I think we can.)

With that, here are my 5 Do’s and a Do over: Happiness Edition

DO:  Choose to be happy.  You can either approach the day with a big smile or in anger.  Choose the smile. For me, I think that happiness is a choice. Yes, there are major life events that make choosing happiness impossible at times. When my mother had emergency open heart surgery, there was no happiness to be found until I knew she would be okay.  But what I’m talking about is regular day-to-day life. You can either be doing your work, at the supermarket, or picking up your kids with a smile on your face, or you can choose not to make the conscious effort to be happy. When the day gets you down, you can either get angry or laugh it off.

I’ve noticed that when I approach the day with a big smile on my face, it encourages me to be happier. And it makes those around me happier.


DO:  Find the things that will make you happy. Writing for me isn’t something I like to do—it’s something I need to do.  Writing is the way I figure out what I think of the world, the way I process things.

About a year ago, I was talking about some personal problems I was having to an old friend of mine (you know that sort of friend you’ve known since you were 18 years old?) and she listened and then asked: have you been writing?  And I had to admit it to myself and to her—I had not.  I told her so, and she looked back at me, no judgments, and simply nodded her head.

Writers need to write.  And when you’re nurturing yourself, allowing yourself to do the thing that you need to do, that always makes you happier.

What’s the thing that you need to do that makes you happy?

DOLaugh a lot. I laugh all the time.  Always have.  When I was in nursery school, my teacher told my mother that there was something wrong with me because all I ever did was laugh.  My mother promptly had that teacher fired.

And I’ve never stopped laughing.  Why not?  I always try to find the humor in everything.

DOTreasure wonderful friends and family. It’s so hard to find special people in your life.  When you do, grab on and don’t let go.  Nurture the important relationships in your life.  As I get older, I realize how important friends and family are.

DO Enjoy the tiny moments in life. So often we’re looking for that big thing.  When I get that promotion, I’ll be happy.  When I finally get married, I’ll be happy.  When I get my book deal, I’ll be happy.

What I’m suggesting is that we embrace the little moments—really soaking in that adorably crooked smile your hubby or boyfriend or crush gives you for no good reason, taking in the moment when your child does something adorable, appreciating that friend who buys you a cupcake one day just because.  It doesn’t have to be anything big—just appreciating life’s little victories, life’s tiniest moments of happy is important.  So, the next time someone complements your outfit out of nowhere, or you see a really beautiful flower, or the cashier lets you use an expired coupon, reflect on it for a second and remember: you have to enjoy the happy moments, no matter how itty-bitty.


It’s so easy to look back at mistakes you’ve made and beat yourself up over it, isn’t it?  Well, I say: look forward.  Sure, learn from those mistakes, but never dwell on them.  Say your apologies and then move on.

After the lesson’s learned, the only important thing is to move forward knowing that you’re smarter and stronger from the experience.  You’ll do better next time.  (And if not, the time after that!)

Thanks, Brenda!





Susan Wiggs' 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Our guest today: Susan Wiggs Why we love her: Her books make us swoon!

Her latest: Return to Willow Lake

The scoop: Sonnet Romano's life is almost perfect. She has the ideal career, the ideal boyfriend, and has just been offered a prestigious fellowship. There's nothing more a woman wants—except maybe a baby…brother?

When Sonnet finds out her mother is unexpectedly expecting, and that the pregnancy is high risk, she puts everything on hold—the job, the fellowship, the boyfriend—and heads home to Avalon. Once her mom is out of danger, Sonnet intends to pick up her life where she left off.

But when her mother receives a devastating diagnosis, Sonnet must decide what really matters in life, even if that means staying in Avalon and taking a job that forces her to work alongside her biggest, and maybe her sweetest, mistake—award-winning filmmaker Zach Alger. So Sonnet embarks on a summer of laughter and tears, of old dreams and new possibilities, and of finding the home of her heart.

Our thoughts: We think you'll love this one!

Giveaway: THREE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, September 23rd after 3pm PST.

Fun Fact: Susan was a pioneer-she "self published" her first book when she was eight!

Where to read more about Susan: Her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


1. Do follow your bliss, when it comes to work. If you engage in work you’re passionate about, the rewards will follow. Note that I said rewards, which may or may not be money. It’s quite possible that the work that brings you pleasure might not lead you to financial stability. If it doesn’t, at least you spent your time doing something you love, and that’s never wasted. And this probably goes without saying, but do your best. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

2. Do get up off the couch. Take a walk, go for a swim, row a boat, practice yoga, dance around the room. You’ll feel better and have a more positive attitude. Plus you get to have dessert more often, which in my case is the whole point of a fitness program.

3. Do share. Share your thoughts, your feelings, your good fortune, your bad days. Share with those who have less than you–indigent people in your community, homeless pets at the shelter, the harried waitress who brought you that extra hollandaise sauce for your eggs benedict this morning, the local library struggling to meet its get the idea. Sharing opens your heart and your life.

4. Do read “up.” Don’t read books that make you think, “I can do way better than that!” Read books that make you gasp in wonder at their cleverness, the beauty of a well-turned phrase, the freshness and aptness of their metaphors. Reading time is so precious–make sure your nose is stuck in a book you love.

5. Do keep your promises–to the children in your life, to your significant other, to people with whom you make contracts–publishers, for instance.


I would like to have a moment back, a moment when I was apologetic and didn’t need to be, a time when I didn’t think I was entitled to something, a moment when I bought into unwarranted criticism. In those moments, I want to tell myself, Don’t apologize. You deserve this.

Thanks Susan! xoxo, L&L

Erin Duffy's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Today's guest: Erin Duffy Why we love her: She wrote one of the juiciest books of 2012. Speaking of...

Her latest: Bond Girl (Out in paperback now!)

The scoop on it: While other little girls were fantasizing about becoming doctors or lawyers, Alex Garrett dreamed of conquering the high-powered world of Wall Street. Now she's grown and determined to make it big in bond sales at Cromwell Pierce, one of the Street's most esteemed brokerage firms. Though she's prepared to fight her way into an elitist boys' club, she starts out small, relegated to a kiddie-size folding chair with her new moniker, "Girlie," inscribed in Wite-Out across the back.

Always keeping her eyes on the prize (and ignoring her friends' pleas for her to quit), Alex quickly learns how to roll with the punches, rising from lowly analyst to slightly-less-lowly associate in no time. Suddenly she's being addressed by her real name, and the boys' club has transformed into forty older brothers . . . and one possible boyfriend. But then the apocalypse hits, and Alex is faced with the most difficult choice of her life: to stick with Cromwell Pierce as it teeters on the brink of disaster . . . or to kick off her Jimmy Choos and go running for higher ground.

Our thoughts: We loved it just as much the second time around. Click here for our thoughts when we hosted her on our site when Bond Girl was released in hardback. (Then add even more gushing and oohing and ahhing!)

Giveaway: 5 copies of the paperback! Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners after 3pm PST on Sunday, August 5.

Fun Fact: Duffy used to work on Wall Street and wrote Bond Girl after being laid off after a decade long career. Way to make a come back!

Where you can read more about Erin: Facebook


Well this is a first for me! It’s not often that I get a forum to blog about Dos and Do Overs, mostly because no one seems to ever really care what I think about, well, anything. Typically, when I give my thoughts to friends or family I’m greeted with polite smiles, not-so-polite eye rolls, and then I’m entirely ignored. It’s hard for me to be surprised by this, because Lord knows, I never really take my own advice, either, so I guess I can’t blame them.  I will say though, that I’m beginning to wish that I could sit down with the younger version of me and smack her in the face before imparting these brief words of wisdom. Writing Bond Girl has been an amazing experience, proven by the fact that I get to be on Chick Lit Is Not Dead! I don’t know that writing it makes me qualified in any way whatsoever to give my thoughts to other people, so I promise if you all want to skip over this entry, I’ll forgive you. But, as I’m trying to think more positively these days, I’ll at the very least give it a whirl. In no particular order, here they are!

1. DO save your money. I’m thirty-four now and I wish I had been a bit more frugal in my twenties then I was. Here’s the thing about recessions: you don’t really appreciate what the word means until you live through one. Maybe you lose your job, or maybe you take a pay cut, or maybe you watch friends struggle to find work month after brutally long paycheck free month, but whatever is, you realize you’re your money can dry up fast! I myself have yet to find my money tree (but I’m still looking, really hard, and I’ll report back if I find one), and I want to kill the younger, dumber Erin for taking a steady paycheck for granted. If I had gotten up a little earlier and had time to take the subway to work instead of a cab over the years, I’d have more money saved and maybe wouldn’t worry quite as much about having to move home to my parents to avoid paying rent. Basement living isn’t really my thing. And at thirty-four, if I’m going to cohabitate with someone,  I really prefer it not be with my mother. No offense, Mom.

2. DO think long and hard about dating guys who already have loads of baggage in their twenties. Relationships are hard enough when both people’s crazy quotients are within the realm of reason. I can’t tell you how many girls I know who invested years of their lives with guys who due to any number of unfortunate life events, were simply too crazy to possibly be considered good dating material. I can’t think of a single instance in this case where things ended well, or where the girl wasn’t left saying to herself, “what was I thinking?” The answer is, she wasn’t, (and in the interest of being honest, yes, ladies, I’m one of them), so this one I would like to stress. I’d put this whole paragraph in capital letters to prove that point but then it would look like I was screaming at you.

3. DO spend quality time with your girlfriends. One of the worst parts about getting older, aside from wrinkles, sagging boobs, and a slowing metabolism, is that your friends will inevitably get married, move away, have babies, and begin their own busy lives. It becomes harder and harder as time goes by and life gets in the way to maintain those all important female ties. Sometimes, it seems easier to let weeks go by without checking in, but thanks to facebook, emails, texts, and various other forms of electronic communication, it’s infinitely easier than it used to be. You will need your girlfriends at times in your life, and when you do, make sure you know where to find them.

4. DO take time to take care of yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up jobs, families, friends, ect that we can forget to take a few minutes to make ourselves presentable to the outside world.  I once went an entire week running around like such a lunatic that I actually managed to go four days without brushing my hair and the resulting self-loathing was strong enough to crush an elephant. Now, let me be clear here, no one is talking about being Marcia Brady and brushing your hair 100 strokes a day while gazing fondly at your appearance in the mirror, but a multitude of sins can be cured with a hairbrush and a hot shower.  If nothing else, it will help your mental state to know that worst case scenario, if you do end up in the emergency room somewhere, your mom will be proud to know that you are, in fact, wearing clean underwear.

5. DO take some chances in life. I worked in finance for twelve years before I published Bond Girl, and sure, there are days that I am terrified that switching careers was maybe a bad idea. The truth is, if you don’t at least try new things, and work hard at something that you love, you’ll never know what you are capable of achieving. No one is saying to start walking tightropes over highways or swallowing fire or anything, but a few well thought out risks in life will make you a braver, and I’ve found, happier person. And hey, if things don’t work out, you probably will at least have some really funny stories to tell your kids one day.

And last but not least, here is my do over…drum roll, please? Thank you.

DO NOT beat yourself up over every mistake you make. There are enough people in this world who will relish the chance to make you feel like an idiot at every possible opportunity. You don’t need to join them, they’ll do just fine without you, trust me. I wish I had been a little easier on myself at certain times over the last few years, and didn’t punish myself whenever I failed to do something perfectly. (Or at least, as close to perfect as I can possibly be. The truth is, I’ve accepted the sad reality that perfection is something that will elude me for the rest of my days on this earth.) I don’t care what Dr. Oz or anyone else says, ladies, if you ask me, sometimes it’s okay to lie on your couch, eat pizza, and watch bad reality TV for eighteen hours a day. Think of it like a reboot for your system. I think there’d be a lot less neurotic people running around out there if they would just take a day to chill out!

Well, it seems that that’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much ladies for letting me blog today, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I have to run, there’s a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon starting, and my pizza just got here.



Thanks, Erin!




Jen Lancaster's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We're pinching ourselves. Jen Lancaster on our site twice? In three months? WTF?

Last time Jen was here--celebrating CLIND's 3rd birthday and sharing the 5 things she'd tell her teen self--our website LITERALLY crashed (the most exciting thing to happen to us in a long time!) because y'all flooded it with over 600 comments about how much you CRUSH on her and LOVE her books.

Well, we're prepared (and weirdly excited) that it may happen again. Because she's baaaaack and of course giving away 5 copies of her latest- and if you ask us her funniest (we're Gen X'ers, it was a no-brainer)- Jeneration X and sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over, which, of course, are perfection. Check out #4- so amazing and makes us love her even more.

So leave a comment to be entered to win!  We'll choose FIVE winners on Sunday May 13th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

But first, here's the scoop on Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner: In Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster learned how to come to terms with her body. In My Fair Lazy, she expanded her mind. Now the New York Times bestselling author gives herself—and her generation—a kick in the X, by facing her greatest challenge to date: acting her age.

Jen is finally ready to put away childish things (except her Barbie Styling Head, of course) and embrace the investment-making, mortgage-carrying, life-insurance-having adult she’s become. From getting a mammogram to volunteering at a halfway house, she tackles the grown-up activities she’s resisted for years, and with each rite of passage she completes, she’ll uncover a valuable—and probably humiliating—life lesson that will ease her path to full-fledged, if reluctant, adulthood.


Greetings from the Jeneration X World (okay, National) Tour!  I'm delighted to be here at Chick Lit Is Not Dead again and so pleased to share this latest round of Dos and a Do-Over. Thanks, ladies - you rock!

Although I'm fairly prolific in telling people what they should and should not do, it's nice when my advice is actually solicited instead of, um... offered anyway. (Read: communicated from the front seat of my car by way of the horn and an obscene finger gesture.)  But seriously, if some kid feels it's imperative to post on Facebook while driving and thus endanger my life over a scintillating missive regarding her great distaste for Mondays, then it's MY job to set her straight.

Not just for me, though.

For the future of America.

The topic of the way things ought to be has been weighing heavily on my mind ever since I began writing Jeneration X, a guide to helping reluctant adults everywhere grow up!  (I realize it's difficult to take the great leap to maturity, but I've done all the hard work for you.)  This book is a bit of a throwback to my early work, meaning I've gotten a little too nice in my past few memoirs. But fear not... the bitch from Bitter is back!

And with that being said, here we go!

1. DO stop flying by the seat of your pants.  For the longest time, I let important things like writing a will fall by the wayside.  I didn't want to have to face the idea of my own mortality so I evaded the whole process.  In my head, I equivocated "no will" with "no untimely demise."  But after one particularly turbulent cross-country flight, it occurred to me that I needed more than a cocktail napkin declaring "I leave everything to my pit bull Maisy" if things suddenly went awry.  Didn't want to do one, but I did it anyway.  Now I'm not prematurely aging from the stress of having so many loose ends, which, clearly, is a priority.

2. DO believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but not in that "I've had zero formal training, yet I'm shocked I didn't make it to Hollywood on American Idol" way.  Dream big, but understand that success doesn't happen by accident.  Put in the effort to cultivate your talent and then you'll be unstoppable.

3. DO your homework when it comes to your bottom line.  Now's the time to take advantage of those lower interest rates, boring though the process may seem.  A quick caveat here - try not to get so wrapped up watching an internet girl-fight before you leave that you barely have enough time to get dressed and, thus, end up throwing on a bra that's too tight and spend the whole refinancing meeting quietly moaning about the shackles binding your chest.  And then also remember that the bank's reflective windows mean you can't see in, but they can see out.  So, when you remove your bra all Flashdance-style in the parking lot, you will have an unintended audience.  I realize this is a very specific example, but trust me when I say the new bank will not be impressed with applicants who strip in the parking lot.

4. DO spread the love.  Over the years, I've learned that my favorite people are other authors.  You'd think that we'd all be ultra-competitive with one another so I was pleasantly surprised at what a supportive sisterhood I've found in wonderful writers like Caprice Crane, Karyn Bosnak, Stacey Ballis, Quinn Cummings, Sarah Pekkanen, Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch, Jane Green, and Beth Harbison (and many, many others.) Writing isn't Highlander in that there can be only one.  And this year, at Jen Weiner's suggestion, we're making it our job to champion up and coming authors because it's tough sledding out there for the new gals and we want to do what we can to help them reach larger audiences.

5. DO live in the moment.  I got my start as a writer when I was laid off ten years ago.  In that time while I was searching for a job, I never once just enjoyed the moment.  Granted it's hard to unclench when the wolves are at the door, but I feel like if I'd ever stopped for one second and thought, "For the next couple of hours, I should quit worrying and just appreciate that I don't have eleven bosses telling me what to do," then I probably would have been a lot less intense in my job interviews.  In retrospect, I am very happy with how it all turned out, but I wish I could have cut myself a small break now and again.

And finally...

DO NOT hire the cheapest accountant you can find.  Believe me when I say this is the most expensive lesson I ever learned. Ditto for doctors and lawyers.  These are instances where credentials far outweigh savings.

So... that's it!  Again, ladies, thanks so much for having me and don't forget, it's never too late to unarrest your arrested development.  I know I've crossed over to the dark side of adulthood, but it's clean and nice over here and we never run out of toilet paper...

Thank YOU, Jen!



To find out more about Jen Lancaster, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Robyn Carr's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We have to admit, we were a little sad when we put 5 Do's and a Do-Over on the shelf a few months ago. Not that we haven't enjoyed 5 Loves and a Dud- we have. It's just that 5 Do's and a Do-Over was one of our all-time faves and it will always have a special place for it in our hearts. So that' why you're going to see it pop up from time to time, starting with today. And who better to share her list than the fabulous New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr? She's only written like a gazillion books! We absolutely loved  Bring Me Home for Christmas--book #16 in her Virgin River series (and not just a book to be read at Christmastime, btw). Here's the skinny on Bring Me Home for Christmas:

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list: getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on. So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters. As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. An the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

Read an excerpt from Bring Me Home for Christmas.

So much fun, right? Well, we've got one copy to give away. Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll randomly select the winners after 6 p.m. PST on Sunday, January 29th.

Oh, and be on the look out for the launch of our next feature...coming very soon in honor of our THIRD ANNIVERSARY (woo hoo! Can you believe it? Three years already?!) brought to you with the help of a fabulous author you all love!

And now, without further adieu....


DO'S 1.    Do spend real money on nice under-things and pajamas – you never know when the ER will be staffed with adorable hunks in your age range.  Okay, we don’t want you in the ER, but while you’re at home just slaving away, nice unders will make you feel important; nice sleepwear will make you feel decadent and desirable. 2.   Do give up on reading a book that’s just not doing it for you.  Life’s too short and reading is one of the greatest pleasures.  Nancy Pearl, Uber Librarian, suggests giving a book 50 pages until you reach the age of 50.  Then you can subtract a page for every year over 50.  Ditch the guilt.  There’s an old saying – No two people read the same book; if it’s not for you, that’s all right. 3.    Do live with a glass half full; do vow to be relentlessly happy.  It’s a choice, that’s all.  Negative thinking and acting becomes habit forming and brings negative results.  Likewise, a positive attitude and looking for the silver lining in everything seems to bring good luck!  I remember saying to one of these positive gurus “Bad things do happen to good people, you know.”  And he said.  “Bad things happen to all people, and so do good things.”  Life can be tough.  It can feel less traumatic if you believe everything will work out as it’s supposed to. 4. Do go to your closet and find that one outfit that you loved on the hanger but has never looked good on you and get rid of it.  Pitch it.  Yes, you do have at least one – maybe something that was going to be perfect for you ten pounds from now.  Maybe a color you love but that unfortunately makes you look ill.  A style that never flattered you.  Let it tempt you no more!  Make it go away! 5. Do get a flu shot.  If you don’t, you’ll regret it.

DO-OVER? Can I please go back to the very first writer’s conference in 1980 at which I was actually a speaker?  Can I please make that Ladies Room run once more and pay closer attention and not tuck the back of my skirt in my panty hose?  Please? Rbo

Thanks, Robyn!



To find out more about the fabulous Robyn Carr and her gazillion books, head over to her website.

Allie Larkin's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We've had a TON of fun the past few months with 5 Do's and a Do-over.  Some of our fave authors have given us pearls of wisdom and a few things they wish they could have done over.  But the seasons are changing and you know what that means...time for a brand spankin' new feature!  Look for it later this week with a FABULOUS author to kick it off. Speaking of FABULOUS authors, we've got one for you today.  We simply adore Allie Larkin and her debut novel Stay.  It's fun, touching and made us want to adopt a another dog!  Run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore and pick yourself up a copy of this feel-good story.  Trust us, you'll be so happy you did!

The skinny on Stay: Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke since their first day of college. Six years later, Peter is marrying Van's best friend, Janie. Loyal to a fault, Van dons her pumpkin-orange, maid-of- honor gown and stands up for the couple, struggling to hide her true feelings even when she couldn't be more conspicuous. After the wedding, nursing her broken heart with a Rin Tin Tin marathon plus a vodka chaser, Van accidentally orders a German Shepherd puppy over the Internet. When "Joe" turns out to be a hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, Van is at the end of her rope-until she realizes that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.

Doesn't that sound good? Leave a comment and you'll have a chance to win one of FIVE copies!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday September 4th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!


1. Do lean on your friends.  I have a bad habit of squirreling away when the going gets tough.  In the past year, I’ve pushed myself to reach out more when I need a shoulder and a kind ear.  It makes all the difference.  None of us are in this alone, so there’s no point in being stoic.

2. Do make time to move.  I am a better friend, writer, wife, and dog owner, if I take the time to exercise every day.

3. Do savor success.  When life gets fast paced, it’s really easy to move on to the next thing without taking full stock in accomplishments.  Celebrate, even if it’s small, like a good glass of wine, a favorite food for dinner, or even just an hour or two of quiet time to take a bath and read a book.  A little celebration goes a long way.  My celebration usually comes in the form of chocolate.

4. Do live with dogs.  Our German Shepherds, Argo and Stella make my life better.  Sure, I am constantly picking dog hair off my clothes, but I laugh every day, feel loved and appreciated every single second I spend with them, and always have someone to play Frisbee with.

5. Do what you love.  It’s kind of a cliché to say do what you love.  Actually, I’ve never liked how that statement gets thrown around in a way that ignores the constraints we all have in our lives. Not everyone can throw caution to the wind, ignore responsibilities, and just do what they love whole hog.  Life is more complicated than that.  But we can all find a way to put elements of what we love into our day, even if it’s something simple like playing music or writing or painting for twenty minutes in the morning, or after dinner.  Just because you might not be in a position where you can follow your passion with reckless abandon, it doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to sneak things you love into your day.


Don’t be afraid of rejection.  I spent a lot of time in my twenties too afraid to reach for the things I wanted because I might get rejected.  I didn’t try, because I didn’t want to fail.  I’d aim low and I was rarely surprised by the result.  But, once I got over my fear of rejection, my whole life changed. I wish I’d gotten over it much much sooner.

Rejection is nothing more than one person saying, “Hey, whatever you’re offering isn’t what I’m looking for.”  It doesn’t devalue you as a person and it doesn’t mean you or your work isn’t worth believing in.  All it means is that a specific person with their own specific set of likes and dislikes is saying no right now.  Of course, it feels better to hear yes than no, and it’s okay if you need a moment to collect yourself and move on from rejection (ice cream and romantic comedies help).

Very few people ever get exactly what they want by just sitting in standby and hoping something great will happen.  Getting rejected means you put yourself out there.  That’s something to be proud of. Don’t let the fear of no keep you from trying. And if you keep trying, maybe next time you’ll hear yes.  I saved every single one of my rejection letters.  To me, they are a badge of honor – I put myself in the game.

Thanks Allie! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Allie, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook or Twitter.


Mary Kay Andrews' 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We're beyond excited to have the fabulous New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews on CLIND today! *cue bells, whistles and music*

Her latest novel (this is her eighth!), Summer Rental is the perfect beach read that we suggest you snap up immediately before summer ends. Because we don't know about you, but we're clinging to summer as long as possible! Just read the description of Summer Rental and you'll be wanting more...

Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she’s made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds–has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can’t hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.  And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he’s hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he’s ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity.  Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

We told you it's a great novel! Just leave a comment for a chance to win one of five copies! We'll randomly select the winner after 6pm EST on Sunday, August 28th.


1. Dream big. Your reach should always exceed your grasp. Don’t hang around waiting for your ship to come in. Swim out and drag that sucker back to the dock!

2. Invest in your dream. Whether your dream is to start your own business, leave your day job, become a painter, or write the great American novel, you’ll need the proper tools. I didn’t have a computer at home when I started writing my first book, and I had to sneak back to the newspaper I worked for to use their computer, until I talked my husband into buying me my first home computer. Now, I don’t hesitate to budget money that will further my career, whether it’s buying a decent digital camera to use for blogging, or hiring a marketing professional to help spread the word about my books. Mama always said you have to spend money to make money.

3. Follow your passion, and figure out a way to make a living doing that. When I started college, my father wanted me to get a teaching degree, so I’d “have something to fall back on.” I stubbornly insisted on getting a journalism degree. I never expected to make any money at writing, but I knew I’d at least enjoy the work. And when journalism became drudgery, I made the jump to fiction, again, following my passion. I’ve never regretted any day I spent writing.

4. Be flexible. If you bump up against a brick wall in your career, back up and find a new path. I was heart-broken when I finally figured out my 14-year journalism career was going nowhere. It wasn’t until I sold my first book that I discovered I hadn’t failed at journalism at all---I’d just had a really long internship as a novelist. Now, I wouldn’t take anything for the lessons I learned as a big city newspaper reporter.

5. Be nice! You’ll always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So say pretty please. Admit when you’re wrong, and keep it quiet when it turns out you were right. It’s just as easy as it is to make a friend as it is to make an enemy, so why not make a friend? And always, always, write thank you notes.


I wish I’d had more time with my parents. My mom has been gone almost seven years, my dad died five years ago. In what turned out to be the last years of their lives, I was so focused on my children and my career, I didn’t get to spend quality time with them. Now I so wish that I’d asked them more questions, listened more closely to their answers, and let them know how much I appreciated all the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings.

To learn more about Mary Kay Andrews, visit her website, stop by her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter. (Or all of the above!)

Thanks, Mary Kay!


Liz & Lisa

Susan Schneider's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Doesn't everyone love a good wedding?  Beautiful wedding dresses, not so beautiful bridesmaids dresses, plenty of alcohol and the chicken dance.  What's not to like? And no one knows weddings like author Susan Schneider.  She's the former executive editor of Modern Bride and Elegant Bride and has spent the last ten years getting engaged women ready for their big day. So when we saw she had written a book about, what else, the bridal industry, we knew it would be a lot of fun!

Here's the scoop on The Wedding Writer:

Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn’t easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York’s glamorous magazine industry – making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.

Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine’s major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine’s helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her too well…

As the ripples of Lucky’s promotion spread, the intricate lives of four women begin to unfold. Felice, Your Wedding’s elegant and unshakeable Art Director is now being shaken for the first time by troubles at home. Sara, the Fashion Director, is famed for her eagle eye for fashion trends and exquisite hair. But, for all her know-how, “the Angel of Bridal” has never come close to starring in a wedding herself – she’s picked the dress, but where’s the groom? Grace, recovering in the wake of her sudden, humiliating fall from power, must learn to accept herself – and love – after a life dedicated to fulfilling other women’s dreams. And, through it all, Lucky begins to discover just how lonely the top really is.

Sound good to you?  Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday August 21 after 6pm PST.


5 DO'S

1. Do be cranky. For a while I was almost afraid to say I hated Facebook. Voicing this opinion made me sound so uncool--not to mention, old. Quel horreur! But honestly,it is a great, big, fat waste of time. I know that other people find it enthralling. Sadly, I've found I can be just as enthralled as anyone else. I can sit and mindlessly click around Facebook for hours on end. So I tell myself--and everyone--how much I hate it. This is simple but effective behavior modification because it breaks the spell, making it easier for me to write, read, talk to my daughter, take a walk, shoe shop, and whatever else is good, clean fun.

2. Do be brave. I tend to be shy. Low self-esteem? Absolutely. So when it came to promoting The Wedding Writer, I was utterly mortified. However, publishers expect you to put on your PR hat and get out there wearing a sandwich board. Stand in line for a movie and while you're at it, hand out business cards. Hit people over the head until they swear they'll buy your book, read it all in one sitting and LOVE it. These things are difficult for shy people. What to do? Well, in the words of my daughter and her boyfriend, "The hard sell is so uncool. Be subtle. Don't turn people off." OK! Out of the mouths of babes. Subtle, I can be. (At the same time, avoid putting a paper bag over your head--be proud!)

3. Do allow your personality to widen, broaden, and deepen. Most of us women are so much more than we let on. To be very honest, I had to get older before I could appreciate myself. I was so caught up in what I looked like, sounded like, felt like, and who was looking at me and what they were thinking, and why some guy didn't call me back when he said he would, and why someone else was thinner or more successful...all of this is just as much a waste of time as Facebook.

4. Do be kind. The Dalai Lama said, "Kindness is my religion." I love that! I am one of those New Yorkers who always gives change to street musicians. I'm a softie in a tough town. I feel that most people try really, really hard, and life knocks us down a lot.  I've been through a divorce and raised a child by myself. My sister had cancer. I know people my age who've died. So let's be kind to each other. We aren't here for all that long.

5. Do take yourself seriously (but not always). If you have something you really want to do--write? paint? travel? read War and Peace? sew your own wedding dress?--then do it. Ignore people who try to undermine you. At the same time laugh at yourself and how hard you strive. A yoga teacher once pointed out to me that I'm a "striver." I'm always "efforting" (not a real word, but we know what she means). I've found that life should be part striving and part letting go. Not easy, but worth thinking about.

DO-OVER I'd like to take back all the time I've spent being critical of myself and others. It probably amounts to about a third of my life. I could have written at least three more novels by now. But you can't do it over, you can only use what you know right now. This very moment. I vow never to be self-critical again!

Thanks Susan! xo, L&L

To read more about Susan, head on over to her The Wedding Writer or find her on Twitter.

Sarah Strohmeyer's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Because we've been BFF's for sooo long, we love books about friendship. *cue sappy piano ballad* And Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer is a novel we absolutely fell for because it's about lifelong friends who come together in the toughest time imaginable. Oh, and they love a good martini! Does it get any better than that? When life gives you lemons, call your best girlfriends and whip up some lemon martinis. Such is the mantra for the Ladies' Society for the Conservation of Martinis, which was established after one fateful PTA meeting, when four young mothers-Lynne, Mary Kay, Beth, and Carol- discovered they had more in common than they ever thought possible. Meeting once a month, the women would share laughs and secrets and toast to their blossoming friendship with a clink of their sacred martini glasses. The Society was their salvation, their refuge, but when life-shattering circumstances force the group to dissolve, their friendship is never quite the same...until two years later, when a tragic event puts the Society back in session.

When Lynne passes away suddenly, she leaves behind one simple request: that her old friends sort through her belongings. Reluctantly, the women reunite to rummage through her closets. There's nothing remarkable; no kinky sex toys, no embarrassing diary. But buried deep within Lynne's lingerie drawer is an envelope addressed to the Society. And inside they find a letter that reveals a shocking secret and a final wish that will send the women on a life-changing journey...proving that nothing is more powerful than the will of a true girlfriend and a good, strong martini.

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies of Kindred Spirits. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm EST on Sunday, August 14th.



1) … make a living making yourself happy! I can’t believe how long it took me to figure out that I didn’t have to take calculus in college and that playing with Barbies would launch my dream career. If you LOVE being outside, then for heaven’s sakes, don’t get an office job, check out the park service! And if you love dressing up Barbies like Joan of Arc or Sylvia Plath…go for it!

2)see Springsteen. Three times – THREE! – a friend with rock and roll connections called me up at the last moment while I was living in New Jersey to say that Bruce was going to make a surprise appearance at the Stone Pony or some other club in Asbury Park. All three times I blew him off. TWICE Bruce jumped on stage and played until dawn while I was getting my 40 winks in preparation for the next work day like a good girl. I’ve totally forgotten about the work; but I’ll always remember how I could have reached out and touched Bruce.

3) …become a great listener. Every successful, interesting person I’ve met is a great listener. They approach each stranger with an eagerness that you can see in their “enthusiastic attention.” They don’t interrupt. They ask follow-up questions. As a result, you, the talker, feel like a million bucks. This is especially flattering to guys – or any love interest. Guys will do anything for a woman who listens.

4) … learn how to perfect one somewhat fancy dinner. Cornish game hens with orange glaze, wild rice and roasted asparagus was mine for the longest time. Came in handy for entertaining guests from out of town, throwing an impromptu dinner party or impressing my future in-laws. A dessert from the local bakery or a quick and easy flourless chocolate tart sealed the deal. Email me at for recipes.

5)go out of your way to be really, really nice to someone who’s really not nice to you. Kill them with kindness, as my mother used to say. There is nothing so sweet, so delicious, as turning on the charm when you’ve been doused with acid. And though it sounds Pollyanna-ish, nine times out of ten, that person will melt and underneath you’ll find someone in deep pain who craves love.


Easy. I should have ignored my mother’s admonitions and slept with my cute college boyfriend.

Man. What was I thinking? The guy was hottttt and nice and sweet and dying to make love to me. Yet, there I was holding onto my virginity like it was my passport to female fulfillment. Eventually, he got frustrated (which my mother said proved her point that he was no good) and went off. We remained friends and are to this day. He’s happily married. I’ve been happily married for 22 years, but….still.

To find out more about the talented Sarah Strohmeyer, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks, Sarah!

xoxo, L&L


Susan McCorkindales's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We're city girls.  No doubt about it.  That doesn't mean that we don't love a nice vacay out in the sticks every once in a while.  But if we're more than five miles away from a Starbucks for more than a few days it can get ugly. So when we saw Susan McCorkindale's 500 Acres and No Place to Hide, we had a feeling it would be hilarious.  She's a city girl and former Family Circle marketing director who picked up and moved to a beef cattle farm in the middle of Virginia!  500 acres is the follow up to her first memoir, Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl.  And we can happily tell you that both are hilarious-a fun read for sure!

Here's the scoop:  It's been four years since Susan's husband dragged her kicking and screaming from their comfortable, big city East Coast life to a farm in Virginia cattle country. Susan's adjusting as best she can, which isn't easy considering she's been known to wear Manolos in manure. She'll never be a real farm girl, but as readers will see from her side- splitting confessions, she's faking it just fine.

Sound up your alley?  Great-we have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment here and we'll enter you to win. We'll choose the winner Sunday, August 14th after 6pm PST.  Note:  This contest is open to US residents only.


5 DO'S

1. Laugh. If you can't fix it, kill it, cure it, or eradicate it from the face of the earth, you can laugh at it. And you should. It helps. It heals. It makes the whole "life's a bitch" thing more bearable. Trust me on this.

2. Love. Never miss the chance to tell someone you love them. Your mom, your kids, your spouse, the hair stylist who fixed the dye job you did yourself, the friend who de-skunked your dog so you wouldn't come home to it after a long day at the hospital. Life is short. If you love someone, tell them.

3. Listen. The little voice telling you to buy the shoes and the bag, get the Goth black manicure, and learn to ride a horse? That's the one to listen to. You can always take the shoes and the bag back, the polish will last ten days tops, and as long as the little voice isn't suggesting your ride bareback (and if it is, I suggest you stop putting Bailey's in your breakfast coffee), go for it.

4. Leap. Maybe you've always wanted to see the Amalfi coast or try stand-up comedy. Maybe you're itching to ditch your corporate gig to run a tiki bar or write the great American novel. It doesn't matter what you want to do, just that you do it. Don't wait for the time to be right, for someone else to give you permission, or for all the pieces to be in place. The stars will never be a hundred percent aligned so leap, as the saying goes, and build your wings on the way down.

5. Let go. Anger, guilt, resentment, perfectionism, and shame are all crippling, soul-sucking emotions. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. And for Pete's sake, stop trying to be perfect. Flaws are the new black. Pass it on.


Not laughing, loving, listening, leaping, and letting go sooner. It took my husband's illness and subsequent death to make me realize how little time we really have, and how crucial it is to be present and thankful for each moment. I don't regret not getting to this point sooner (particularly since regret is one of those aforementioned soul-sucking, crippling emotions I urge all of us to kiss off). I'm just happy to be here now.

Thanks Susan! xo, L&L

To read more about Susan, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Kim Wright's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

So what do you do when one of your all-time favorite books comes out in paperback?  Um, duh!  You beg the author to share her 5 Do's and a Do-Over! It was love at first sight when we read Love in Mid Air last year.  In fact, Liz named it as one her fave books of 2010.  Kim writes masterfully about the complexities of marriage and friendships and what could happen when you meet a hunky stranger on a commuter flight. And we weren't the only ones who loved it.  People Magazine said, "Astute and engrossing, this debut is a treat!"

Here's the scoop on Love in Mid Air:  A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. There are consequences for Elyse, her family, and her circle of close friends, all of whom have an investment in her life continuing as normal. But is normal what she really wants after all? In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find—and follow—her own path to happiness.

Sounds fab, right?  We have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win a copy.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, August 7th after 6pm PST.

And we think you'll love her 5 Do's too...we definitely agree with number three!


5 DO'S

1. Do dance.  I took up ballroom dance three years ago and it quickly zoomed from hobby to obsession.  Now I dance six days a week – tango, waltz, quickstep, and rumba - and it’s the primary joy of my life.  Next to writing, that is.

2. Do try lots of things.  Life may not be long, but it’s wide, and we can sample many experiences in the course of a single day.  I think it’s especially important to try new things as you get older, whether it’s learning to speak Italian, make the perfect crepe, get certified in scuba, or even just drive to work via a different route.

3. Do cut your hair whenever you feel like you need a change.  It’ll grow back.

4. Do go straight to Trader Joe’s and get the truffle cheese ($7), Epicuro red table wine ($6), and Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds with Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar ($5).   Eighteen dollars and eighteen million calories, but I promise you’ll be a happy camper.    In fact, if you want to rip open the almonds and start eating them on the way home, I won’t tell.

5. Do read books you don’t expect to like.  Give them a chance.   If you’re a romance girl, check a mystery out of the library.  If you’re into self-help, read a thriller.  Or go back and tackle one of those classics you missed in school, like Moby Dick or David Copperfield.  Reading a book is a chance to be, for an hour or two at a time, completely outside of daily reality.   It’s the most accessible form of magic, so don’t be afraid to use reading as an escape chute that heads straight into some part of yourself you’ve forgotten, or even leads someplace that you’ve never been at all.


I don’t regret many things in my life but one that’s definitely in the what-the-hell-was-I-thinking category was my decision to follow some sorry-butt boyfriend to another city.  He had a good job offer there, but I ended up waiting tables at a medieval-themed fondue restaurant located off an interstate exit.  I had to wear a lace-up bodice and short frilly skirt and greet people by saying “Hi, I’m Kim and I’ll be your serving wench.”  Why do women put their lives on hold to follow men all over the place – especially men who aren’t worth the sacrifice?  Thirty years later I still can’t bear the sight of those awful little fondue forks.

Thanks Kim! xoxo, L&L

To read more about the lovely and talented Kim Wright, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Katie Lee's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We think Summer is the best time of year for guilty pleasure reading(aka GPR).  And we love our GPR to have lots of celebrities, some naughtiness and at least one good man that takes his shirt off regularly.  So when Katie Lee's Groundswell landed on our doorstep last month, we had a feeling it would be REALLY good GPR.  And we were right! That's why we're totally stoked to have Katie sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-over on the site today. We have a feeling that many of you are really needing a little GPR yourselves!

Katie's multi-talented- she's also a fabulouso chef that has written TWO cookbooks. (Even Paula Deen loves her!) Another Katie Lee fun fact?  She hosted the first season of one of our fave shows, TOP CHEF!

Here's the skinny on Groundswell: Sometimes the biggest ripples come from the smallest events. Like the day that Emma Guthrie walks into world-famous movie star Garrett Walker’s trailer. When she steps through the door, she’s a novice PA who’s just dropped out of college after losing her scholarship. When she walks out, she’s on her way to becoming Mrs. Emma Walker—wife of an A-list actor. Soon, Emma has made the transition from nobody to red-carpet royalty, trading jeans and flip-flops for closets full of Chanel and Birkin bags, swishing past velvet ropes to attend every lavish party and charity gala on both coasts. With her husband’s encouragement, Emma pens a screenplay based on her life, Fame Tax, which becomes a blockbuster sensation. Through it all, Garrett is her ally and her mentor . . . until their relationship is thrown into question by an incriminating text message that Emma discovers on Garrett’s phone the night of the Met Costume Institute Gala.

Devastated by her husband’s infidelity and hounded mercilessly by the paparazzi, Emma must flee New York City to get away from it all and clear her head. Her destination? A sleepy coastal town in Mexico where no one recognizes her and there is nothing but unspoiled beaches for miles. Here, she meets Ben, a gorgeous, California-born surf instructor, who teaches her about the healing powers of surfing, shows her the joys of the simple life, and ultimately opens her up to the possibility of love.

Sounds super fun, right?  Good thing we have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment here and be entered to win.  We'll choose the winner on Sunday July 31st after 6pm PST.  Good luck y'all!


5 DO'S

1.  Breathe. I do yoga a few times a week, and it’s done wonders for reducing my stress level.  If yoga isn’t your thing, “zen-out” while running, spinning, meditating, or allocating 15 minutes of quiet time with a cup of tea.

2. Ask questions about your food. I call it “conscious consumption” – being aware of what you’re eating, how it was raised, and how it affects the environment.  Ask questions wherever you buy your food, and also at restaurants.  The more interested people are in having ethically raised food, the more it will be available.

3. Travel somewhere new every year. I like to take a trip once a year to somewhere I haven’t been and take myself out of my usual “comfort zone.”  Last year, I went to Morocco, and this year I’m planning a trip to India.  But it doesn’t have to be somewhere totally far-flung and exotic, going on a road trip to a state park you’ve never visited is a great way to expose yourself to something totally new, too.

4. Take on a new challenge. A few years ago, I decided to try surfing.  I was in the midst of a divorce, and I wanted to do something out of character to get out of my own head.  I had always been afraid of the ocean, so I decided to try surfing.  Not only did I gain new confidence, the idea for Groundswell was born from it.  A real win-win!

5. Keep a clean house. I can’t think when my house is disorganized.  Keeping a neat house will help you function better, and is also a way of appreciating what you have and honoring your home.


Go back to high school, just for a day, and realize that all the petty stuff didn’t matter one bit, especially the mean girls!

Thanks Katie! xo, L&L

To read more about Katie, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter!

The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags authors' 5 Do's and a Do-Over

The second we started reading The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted...But Chose to Ignore by Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman, and Meagan McCrary, we screamed, where has this book been all our lives?? To say we dated our share of men with HUGE red flags is an understatement. Lisa's problem was that they always looked so damn good on paper that she overlooked huge ass red flags like the fact that they had oedipus complexes or suffered from gaming addictions. And Liz's problem was that she liked those damn bad boys who were always so damn good looking...Why is that? So ladies, how many of you can relate to this...

You've done it before. Saw something wrong with him—whether it was suspect grooming habits or ridiculously childish behavior—but let it slide. It's not that big of a deal. Except it totally was. You wanted to fall in love, but ended up going insane. You swore you'd never do it again. But did.

Don't beat yourself up. In the search for love, we've all either blatantly ignored or completely missed red flags. Instead, smarten up. It's time to figure out what you missed and learn how to avoid similar flagtastic fiascos in the future. If you raise your red flag awareness now, you'll be able to greenlight a real relationship down the road

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a copy of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags. We'll randomly select the winner after 6pm EST on July 31st. Good luck!


By Julie Fishman, co-author


1. Do learn from the past -- Reflect on past relationships, not to determine how much of an asshole you ex-boyfriend was, but to help clarify exactly what worked for you and what didn't, as well as what was missing. If you notice no-so-great trends, like you always date controlling men or flock to deadbeats, give a guy outside your "type" a chance -- he may just surprise you.

2. Do know what you want -- Start noting the qualities you really want in a man, as well as those you won't stand for. Maybe even make a list to help you remember your standards when your dating circumstances get a tad dismal. Don't include superficial stuff like "must look like a young Paul Newman" or "can't be under six feet" but real issues like "can't be best friends with his ex" or "actually needs to refer to me as his girlfriend." We all deserve a bodacious beau, but we'll never get one if we don't stick to our guns.

3. Do make sure you're on the same page -- While the notion of a soul mate is appealing, a ton of factors come into play when determining the trajectory of any given relationship. Being compatible as a couple is not just about having similar likes and values; it's about wanting the same things out of life, as well as wanting those things to happen on roughly the same schedule. If you're anticipating a white wedding and your man in question is only looking as far into the future as Sunday's football game, you're likely operating on different life clocks.

4. Do be honest with yourself -- Many women hesitate to express their true feelings when they're unhappy in a relationship. We often feel like we "should" be with a person or that we're stuck with them because our parents want us to be with them, we imagined the romance working out, whatever. Fact is, if it's not right, it's not right -- why waste your precious time on a dude you know isn't a match? Don't focus on what other people think, impose crazy expectations on yourself, or follow some outdated idea that you need to work things out because it's "meant to be." After all, what about being happy?

5. Do have fun -- Don't let yourself get caught up in the "must find a man now" hype. This anxiety often prevents you from evaluating a suitor fairly and may cause you to miss out on a really great guy. Try to plan outside-the-box dates, like a ballroom dancing class or a wildflower hike: seeing a guy in action offers more insight into his personality than a dinner date anyway. Plus, active options ensure you have something to talk about, help you go with the flow and make the date enjoyable even if the dude's a dud.


Do Over: Excess drinking on dates -- While a drink or two is a great way to calm the nerves, six or seven will likely land you on an imaginary stage singing something by Journey. Even if you don't go that far, verbal diarrhea may lead you to reveal details about your felony-filled past, your ex's bedroom habits or that one time in band camp. Plus, there's nothing cute about puking out the car window on the way home. In short: have fun, but don't funnel beers like a frat boy.

To find out more about the ladies behind The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, visit their website.

Thanks, Natasha, Julie & Meagan!


Liz & Lisa

Deborah Cloyed's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

So y'all know that we're all about our girlfriends.  We consider many of them like family and cherish the friendships we've had for years.  And that's probably why we're a sucker for any book about besties! So when we came across Deborah Cloyed's novel, The Summer We Came to Life, we knew we just had to read it.  It's about a group of lifelong friends who come together after a tragedy. It's a thought-provoking read about friendship, life, and death that we think you'll love.

Every summer, Samantha Wheland joins her childhood friends—Isabel, Kendra and Mina—on a vacation, somewhere exotic and fabulous. Together with their mixed bag of parents, they've created a lifetime of memories. This year it's a beach house in Honduras. But for the first time, their clan is not complete. Mina lost her battle against cancer six months ago, and the friends she left behind are still struggling to find their way forward without her.

For Samantha, the vacation just feels wrong without Mina. Despite being surrounded by her friends—the closest thing she has to family—Mina's death has left Sam a little lost. Unsure what direction her life should take. Fearful that whatever decision she makes about her wealthy French boyfriend's surprise proposal, it'll be the wrong one.

The answers aren't in the journal Mina gave Sam before she died. Or in the messages Sam believes Mina is sending as guideposts. Before the trip ends, the bonds of friendship with her living friends, the older generation's stories of love and loss, and Sam's glimpse into a world far removed from the one in which she belongs will convince her to trust her heart. And follow it.

Is it up your alley?  Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies!  We'll choose the winners randomly Sunday July 24th after 6pm PST.

And we're super stoked that she's sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over with us today!


5 DO'S

1. Do Ignore ‘It can’t be Done’s”. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “You can’t move to Thailand.  You can’t go to Barcelona without a place to stay.”  “It isn’t safe for a woman to travel alone in Africa.”  “Writing is a great skill for when you become a lawyer, honey.”  You get the idea.  If you want a life just like everybody else’s, by all means listen to the peanut gallery.  If you want your own life, listen to your heart, to the dream that won’t go away, to the image of a place that makes your heart soar like a kite on a breeze.  Cross your fingers and jump.

2. Do It Before You’re Ready. Our dreams are precious to us.  And therefore scary.  We want to ensure we don’t fail or, worse yet, make complete idiots out of ourselves.  Why do we get so paralyzed at the thought of goofing up?  Guess what – you will.  And everybody that went before you that wasn’t taking over the family business or the kid of a celebrity or on a clear path like becoming a dentist – didn’t know what the hell they were doing either.  Mostly people will think it’s endearing.  Some people will make fun of you.  Do you really care?  When mean people are mean, it very rarely has anything to do with you.  Take a deep breath and learn to laugh at yourself and your gaffes, before it’s too late.

3. Do Good in the World. Ironically, we spend our whole lives trying to figure out what will make ourselves truly happy and you know what’s the only surefire route?  Helping others in need.  And I don’t necessarily mean shipping off to Africa.  It can also mean smiling at the checkout lady, over tipping your cab driver, making a child laugh, cheering up a coworker.

4. Do Ask Questions. Curiosity is the number one thing that keeps you alive.  It may be the definition of being alive.  You can be sitting in the DMV, riding on a chicken bus through Central America, or eating French fries at McDonald’s.  Asking questions about the world around you is what makes you grow.  I asked my Methodist preacher what he thought about Buddha.  I asked my parents about racism in the 60’s in Virginia.  I asked a deaf friend what he ‘hears’ while he’s talking/signing.  I asked a Kenyan woman living in the hut next door why she was okay with polygamy.  I have gotten myself into more trouble than you can imagine asking questions, but everything I think I know about the human heart and spirit, I know by asking.

5. Do Give Yourself A Break. Ideally, you want to always do the best you can, nothing more nothing less, just your best - which is not in the same vicinity of being perfect.  You will never be the perfect friend, girlfriend, chef, caretaker, writer, boss, employee, and political pundit all at the same time all the time.  But if you do your best, which is obviously crappy when you’re sick or got the blues, then you should be able to give yourself a break, not be so darn hard on yourself all the time.  If you figure out how to do this, please let me know.


Do over’s are tough, because I’m not big on chalking things up as regrettable.  I prefer the term “learning experience.”  The lead singer everyone told me not to touch with a ten-foot pole?  Learning experience.  The snarky, know it all memoir you write in your twenties that thank god will never be published?  Very valuable learning experience.  Going over a waterfall in a de-regulation raft with a 15-year old guide and nearly dying?  Idiotic, very, very valuable life learning experience.

As a self-assured sixteen-year-old reading Kafka and dressing like Jack Kerouac, I grandiosely proclaimed that where you are now can only be as a result of all the people and experiences leading up to it, and therefore regretting where you’ve been is akin to regretting who you are.

Turns out I got one thing right when I was sixteen.

I do believe that our consciousness draws things to us good or bad, so we should strive for positivity and right action, but there are no do over’s.  There is choice and there is destiny and there is the incredible power of the human spirit that let’s us label what others might mistake for a mistake a brilliant gift, a.k.a. the ‘learning experience.’

Unless of course, you’re a character in my novel The Summer We Came to Life . . . ;-)

Thanks Deborah! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Deborah, find her on Facebook or Twitter or head on over to her website.

Beth Harbison's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Tomorrow's the big day! It's the pub date for Beth Harbison's latest (and possibly greatest!) novel, Always Something There To Remind Me. You know we love us some Beth Harbison. She's one of our faves because her stories (like this one) take us back in time (in a good way!). Her novels remind us of the fun and funny times from our past (hello- the 80's provide unlimited fodder!) and resonate because they always center around issues that we dealt with ourselves- like first loves... Can you ever really know if love is true? And if it is, should you stop at anything to get it?

Two decades ago, Erin Edwards was sure she’d already found the love of her life: Nate Lawson. Her first love. The one with whom she shared everything--dreams of the future, of children, plans for forever. The one she thought she would spend the rest of her life with. Until one terrible night when Erin made a mistake Nate could not forgive and left her to mourn the relationship she could never forget or get over.

Today, Erin is contentedly involved with a phenomenal guy, maneuvering a successful and exciting career, and raising a great daughter all on her own. So why would the name “Nate Lawson” be the first thing to enter her mind when her boyfriend asks her to marry him?

In the wake of the proposal, Erin finds herself coming unraveled over the past, and the love she never forgot. The more she tries to ignore it and move on, the more it haunts her.

Always Something There to Remind Me is a story that will resonate with any woman who has ever thought of that one first love and wondered, “Where is he?” and “What if…?” Filled with Beth Harbison’s trademark nostalgia humor and heart, it will transport you, and inspire you to believe in the power of first love

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies of Always Something There To Remind Me. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm on Sunday, July 24th. (We'll be on vacay 'til then, yo!)


But before we do, we just have to say, Beth, we're so with ya on #5! And thankful that email and texting didn't exist back in the day-like in college when we were serious dumb-asses- because we would have really been in trouble!


1. Do: Be Patient. I am not patient. It makes me crazy for 10-90% of every day, meaning my life would be 10-90% easier every day if I were patient. So, don’t do as I do, do as I say. Be patient. And let me know how that goes. Hurry up!

2. Do: Be kind. You should ALWAYS treat your friends and loved ones and, especially, your children with AT LEAST the same respect you’d give a stranger. It’s amazing how many people forget this golden rule.

3. Do: Your Best. Do your best. It doesn’t matter then how it measures up to what you consider someone else’s best. My best looks a bit shabby next to, say, Mother Teresa’s, but it’s pretty damn good compared to Charles Manson’s. If you’re content with what you’re doing, and you’re kind to people and productive in some small measure, count yourself lucky and don’t worry about being a world-burner. Not everyone’s flash is on the outside. Doesn’t matter. I’m thinking of one person in particular here, but it applies to everyone.

4. Do: Expect the best. If you expect the worst, it always happens. You look for it. You point yourself in its direction in ways you aren’t even aware of. Better to expect the best, and march thataway. Look for three lucky things every day. You’ll always see them, even if they’re small…

5. Do: Invent a breathalyzer machine of some sort that will lock electronics and prevent emailing and texting whilst tipsy. Please. I will invest much money in your company. This is a HUGE money-maker, if only someone with that kind of brain would come up with it!


Do over: That’s it – do it over if you need to. Again and again and again. If you fall, get up. Get up. Get up. You don’t fail until you quit. Every single one of us needs to be reminded of this – I need it frequently – it’s ain’t over til it’s over. You can quote me on that.

To find out more about this lovely and incredibly talented New York Times bestselling author, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks, Beth! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Adena Halpern's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We're just going to put it out there.  We LOVE Adena Halpern.  Her last novel, 29 was SO MUCH FUN(and is being made into a movie!!!).  We're thrilled that Adena is sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over with us too-we're girl crushin' on her pretty hard! So you can imagine our excitement when we got our hands on her latest, Pinch Me.  Like her other novels, it's fun and fresh. We devoured it and think you should add it to your growing list of beach reads.  Or better yet, download it RIGHT NOW and take it to the beach!

Here's the skinny on Pinch Me: Lily married the man of her dreams. Then she woke up. “Never marry a man unless he’s short, bald, fat, stupid, and treats you badly.” That is the advice that twenty-nine-year-old Lily Burns has heard her entire life from her grandmother Dolly and her mother, Selma. Despite this, when she meets Gogo, the handsome, successful pediatrician who treats her like a queen, she has no choice but to let her heart take over.

When she agrees to marry him, Dolly and Selma are inconsolable. They decide it’s time to tell her the truth: their family is cursed. If she marries for love, there will be unimaginable consequences. Nevertheless, Lily and Gogo elope. Unable to believe her good fortune, Lily asks Gogo to pinch her—to make sure all this isn’t just a dream. The moment he does, Lily finds herself transported back to the house she lived in when she was single. Gogo is gone. When Lily tracks him down, she finds that he’s married to someone else and has no memory of her. In this modern fairy tale, Lily must find a way to break the curse and turn her nightmare back into a dream come true.

Sounds FAB, right?  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies. We'll choose the winner randomly after 6pm PST on Sunday July 24th.


5 DO'S

1.  Do put yourself first instead of paying for non-essentials. So what if someone writes, “Wash Me” on the back of your hatchback? Your hair looks amazing!  What’s that saying, “To look good is to feel good?”  Too true.  Figure out your own difference between a priority and a non-priority.  Case in point: I bought a fabulous new pair of shoes in lieu of fixing the jammed lock on the back door of my house making it impossible to open, and guess what?  I now go out the front door in style.

2.  Do use the good dishes and silverware every day. Why save your good plates for Christmas and Thanksgiving when you could make a dreary Wednesday that much brighter? Starting the day off with my Special K served in my best bowls makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Downton Abbey.

3. Do listen to your best girlfriends- I know, I know, this isn’t just a DO, it’s a huge DUHHHH. I’ve had the same best girlfriends for the past 20 years.  I don’t have scrapbooks or a diary to remember the lessons I’ve learned in life.  I have them.  They are the first people to piss me off by telling me the truth and the last people who would ever let anyone hurt me.

4. Do Take a moment to enjoy the sights- Lakeside views are very nice, but those aren’t the sights I’m talking about.  A hot fudge sundae dripping with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with rainbow jimmies brings a smile to my face that no picture postcard setting ever could.  I’m not telling you to devour the whole thing.  The after effects are no fun.  Sharing the delight, however, with four other friends (and four spoons) turns everyone at the table into a bunch of five year olds.

5.  Do READ CHICK LIT AT 2am. – If you’re anything like me, all your worries hit you in the middle of the night.  Those little doubts that don’t amount to much at two in the afternoon seem to wreak panic and anxiety when the house is dark and everyone is asleep.  When this happens, there is nothing more soothing to me than going into the bathroom, turning on the light, throwing a towel on the floor, and reading some Becky Bloomwood.  I’m back to bed 45 minutes later and the fears are long forgotten.

DO-OVER When I was in my 20s, I fell in lust with an idiot moron.   To impress him, I was getting my hair professionally blown out and getting my car washed.  One month, I found myself short on cash to pay my car insurance.  “You don’t need car insurance,” the moron informed me as if this was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard me worry about at 2am.  I looked into the eyes of my Obi-Wan Kenobi and said, “Yes.  You’re right! I’m a great driver!  I would never into an accident!” A few months later, the moron dumped me for another girl.  To make matters worse, I had gained five pounds from all the hot fudge sundaes I ate by myself for comfort.  The hot fudge sundaes gave me such a toothache that I needed root canal.  The pain was so debilitating that I got into not ONE, but TWO car accidents on the way to the dentist.  I lost my license for a year, and had to pay for all of the damages I’d caused to the other cars. My best girlfriends, the ones who lent me the money to pay off the people I’d hit, berated me every time they had to chauffeur me around, for not listening to them when they told me the guy was no good.

If I could have a DO OVER pass, I’d erase that whole saga of my life.  Since I can’t, I just take what I learned from the experience. I know now that sweets are even more spectacular to look at than how they feel on my thighs, and even more delectable when they’re served in china bowls.  I know that my teeth and car insurance are much prettier than any pair of shoes, but having HBO or going over my cell phone minutes aren’t half as gorgeous as a monthly mani/pedi. Most importantly, even with my worst problems, I know I’ve got four best girlfriends who help will ease my fears.  And the times they can’t be there?  A little Jane Green in the middle of the night does the trick better any idiot moron ever could.

Thanks Adena!  xo, L&L

To read more about Adena, head over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Gwendolen Gross's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

It's such a treat to find a great book.  We usually can tell there's something special about them on the first page-like love at first site!

That's how we feel about Gwendolen Gross and The Orphan Sister-she had us at page one!  So we're jumping up and down that she agreed to share her 5 Do's and a Do-over with us today.  We think The Orphan Sister should be on your short list to read this summer-it's a fun read that also has some weight to it-a perfect balance! And we HEART the cover too!

Here's what it's about: Clementine Lord is not an orphan. She just feels like one sometimes. One of triplets, a quirk of nature left her the odd one out. Odette and Olivia are identical; Clementine is a singleton. Biologically speaking, she came from her own egg. Practically speaking, she never quite left it. Then Clementine’s father—a pediatric neurologist who is an expert on children’s brains, but clueless when it comes to his own daughters—disappears, and his choices, both past and present, force the family dynamics to change at last. As the three sisters struggle to make sense of it, their mother must emerge from the greenhouse and leave the flowers that have long been the focus of her warmth and nurturing.

For Clementine, the next step means retracing the winding route that led her to this very moment: to understand her father’s betrayal, the tragedy of her first lost love, her family’s divisions, and her best friend Eli’s sudden romantic interest. Most of all, she may finally have found the voice with which to share the inside story of being the odd sister out. . . .

Doesn't that sound great?  Leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies of The Orphan Sister!  We'll choose the winners on Friday July 15th after 6pm PST.


5 DO's

1 .Do listen-to your children ("what if a dog flew up on a stage and ate a battery and then he farted and then the sky exploded and then..."), to your spouse or love in whatever format, to your friends, your neighbors (who provide so much fascinating material), your parents as much as you can bear, your siblings, the woman at the Trader Joe's checkout, your own needs and desires, the birds.

2. Do become comfortable with silences-they're rare. There's a Tom Lux poem about the voice you hear in your head when you're reading; the brain does so much work all the time, I think it's okay to stop talking and pay attention sometimes. I'm thinking, in particular, about when I was first teaching writing and I'd ask a question and there'd be two seconds of silence and I thought that meant I had to leap in and fill the quiet with more information. Sometimes waiting, instead, gives other people a chance to articulate. Sometimes the best thoughts come from temporary respite-or even temporary discomfort.

3. Do walk the dog. If you don't have a dog, walk your ferret or your goldfish. Maybe not a stuffed animal; that's just weird. I suppose I'm saying both be kind to animals and remember that you have feet. Sometimes it's more important to get rained upon and be out in the world than to catch up with your Twitter feed.

4. Do be as supportive as you can. Of other writers. Of your best friend breaking up with the boyfriend you thought had impaired personal hygiene skills at the get-go. Of your husband's new interest in vintage Mustangs, your daughter's crappy fight with her best friend-and subsequent defense of said best friend when they make up. Of your mother in her bad-hair phase-it's her hair and says nothing about you. Of yourself. Don't beat yourself up over food, or the shirt you thought looked fantastic but is now too tight, or your resume, or your parenting skills. You get a do-over every tomorrow.

5. Do remember you don't always get what you signed up for. Sometimes you end up in the jazzercise class you wanted, but sometimes you tick the box for Art in Contemporary Japan and find yourself in Practical Auto Repair. Stay or go, but don't fight mistakes too bitterly unless you cannot live without a particular resolution. No one in auto repair wants to hear you rant, and maybe you'll learn to change your own oil.


I wish I'd been a better learner in high school and part of college; I'd know more. I've always loved learning, but I was impatient, and I didn't really know how to study until senior year of college. I think I finally realized the power of cumulative work-that I didn't need to write all my papers in one day, and that studying happened over time. This learned patience works well for novelists-three pages a day and you have a first draft in 100 days. Then you can fall in love with revision. I used to want to put the roof on the house by bedtime.


To read more about the lovely Gwendolen, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Sarah-Kate Lynch's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We think most authors will probably tell you the one of the best things about writing is being able to touch others.  And that's probably why some of our fave authors have extremely loyal fan followings. We discovered the lovely Sarah-Kate Lynch through one of those extremely loyal fans-she contacted us and said such wonderful things about her that we couldn't resist having her on.  If this fan loved her so much, then how could we not?

Sarah-Kate's latest, Dolci Di Love sounds like a lot of fun.  And you know how we feel about books about food.  In fact, our stomach is growling as we read the synopsis and we'll be reading it by the pool this summer for sure!

Corporate star Lily Turner abandons the boardrooms of Manhattan for the steep streets of Montevedova when she discovers her "perfect" husband, Daniel, has another family tucked away in the hills of Tuscany. Once there, her plight attracts the attention of the Secret League of Widowed Darners, an all-but-invisible army pulling strings behind the scenes to create happy endings. Soon founding members, Violetta and Luciana, are scheming to mend Lily's broken heart-and to enlist her help for their struggling pasticceria.

With the lush landscape of a sumptuous Tuscan summer in the background, and the tantalizing scent of fresh-baked cantucci in the air, Dolci di Love is the joyful celebration of a modern recipe for life.

Sounds yummy! Good thing we have FIVE copies to give away! We also have 5 packages of handmade artisanal biscotti to give away with each copy of Dolci di Love (biscotti is the “dolci” in question, as readers will find out). Biscotti di Vecchio is made in New York by actress Danielle Di Vecchio, a dedicated devotee of all things biscotti. You can buy her characteristically crunchy (but not hard!) Italian cookies at And if you don't win but still want to try some, US readers will get 15% off their online order when they use the coupon code CHICKLIT11 at Checkout. Flavours include Pistachio Chocolate Chunk and Whit Chocolate Macadamia Nut!" Just leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Friday July 15th after 6pm PST.


1. DO Dress Up. If I looked better in jeans and a T-shirt, I would be a jeans and T-shirt girl, but the way things are I look more like someone’s unemployed pothead brother if I dress that way, so I strive to be a bit more glam; not for anyone else, just for me. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of pulling on a cashmere sweater instead of an old sweatshirt, or wearing a bright red lipstick even though I’m not going any further than the fridge. It’s not vanity so much as a tiny wee early morning confidence vote because in my experience, feeling good about yourself can sometimes start on the outside and work its way in.


2. DO Savour Each Mouthful Food is one of life’s most basic pleasures and it’s a real shame to waste it on crud. I try to make sure every mouthful I take is something I really want to eat. It sounds obvious but, for example, why eat a so-so cookie covered in cheap dairy milk chocolate when your favourite chocolate is dark and you really prefer it straight up? Or why chow down on greasy fries when you can roast much better potatoes in delicious olive oil at home? Same goes for drinking: I’d rather have a single glass of chilled French champagne than a gallon of anything else. I’m not saying I always get the opportunity but when I do I certainly grab it with both hands (not the way to drink French champagne, by the way).

3. DO Spread Your Wings. I was born with itchy feet so give me the slightest opportunity and I’ve grabbed my passport and skedaddled. My usual home life is pretty tame: get up, write, walk dog, write, move those buns, eat, sleep, so what I love about being somewhere else is the joy of the unexpected. Eat what? Move those buns where? Sleep on that – are you kidding me? Even the ordinary details of getting from A to B fed and watered seem exciting when you’re in foreign climes. It expands your horizons, but also makes you appreciate the comforts of home. Oh, and always take your husband. He’s handy when it comes to heavy lifting.

4. DO Follow Your Instinct. I once took a job on a radio breakfast show even though the guy who hired me seemed like a real tool. He messed me around with the interviews, played silly games with the contracts, talked all that business gobbledegook that no normal person can make head nor tail of, then fired me after eight months. He also wore socks with cartoon characters on them. I hate that. But what I learned from him is that if something looks rotten, smells rotten and acts rotten, it’s rotten - and you should leave it alone. No one knows you like you do, so believe in yourself. And beware of men in novelty socks.

5. DO Not Sweat The Small Stuff. You may have heard this one before. So had I, and rolled my eyes every time, but then I had two hugely confronting shocks that kicked me in the derriere so hard that to this day every time I sit down I am reminded of what is really important. It isn’t how much I weigh, or how I’m behind with all my work, or why I’m still getting zits when I am practically 100, or why the lady across the road has a better car than me, or how unfair it is that Jennifer Aniston apparently only works out three times a week and looks like that. All that really counts are the people I love who love me back. My husband, my sisters, my brothers, my mum, my friends, my dog – my family. That’s it.


All of my do-overs involve my hair. Call me shallow, but I find it hard to regret the serious disasters in my life because they have generally led to better successes. After I was fired from that radio job, for example, I worked as a food writer for a newspaper, but then I was made redundant from that, so I wrote my first novel. When one door closes, another one really does open. Who knew? That pageboy haircut I had when I was 12, though - no good ever came of that. I looked like an actual pageboy. And the “shaggy” with which I replaced it? Three words: The Missing Monkee. Even when I was older I made some pretty bad calls, generally involving taking photos of a top Hollywood actress into the hairdresser and expecting to look just like her when I came out. This never happened. It has taken me decades to come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Meg Ryan. Now I know that my pointy face actually strangely suits my naturally curly dark hair if I keep it short and don’t let it get rained on. It’s sort of about working with what you have, instead of regretting what you don’t, and this is a good thing to figure out as you can manage it.

Thanks Sarah Kate! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Sarah-Kate, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Michelle Toth's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Forget the Summer of Love, this is the summer of great books!  We are struggling to keep up with all the awesome titles out there and are secretly wishing that we could just head out to the beach and curl up with one.  A girl can dream, right? Today we have the lovely Michelle Toth sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over.  Her latest, Annie Begins is a fun read that will have you tuning out all that freakin' noise at the pool this summer-and that's a tough thing to do! (PS it's probably one of our kids screaming, sorry about that!)

At almost 29, Annie Thompson is as brilliant in business as she is disastrous in relationships. It's the dawn of the dot-com boom, and Annie is determined to make it big. But her single-minded focus on work is put to the test when the man of her dreams announces that his wife is divorcing him, and designates Annie "the best listener he knows." Suddenly she's juggling his mixed signals and her entrepreneurial ambitions--not to mention a complicated friendship with her new supervixen of a roommate.

Annie's pursuit of Mr. Tall, Dark and Barely Available takes a turn for the unexpected when her young, terminally ill cousin, April, makes it her mission to find Annie a husband. But the fiancé April picks is definitely not the kind of man Annie would have chosen. Now, Annie has to ask herself what exactly she wants and values most deeply in a man--and in herself.

Sound good?  Great-we have FIVE copies for giveaway.  Just leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Tuesday July 5th after 6pm PST.


5 DO'S

1. Do find your community. When I think about the happiest phases of my life, they almost always involved a vibrant network of friends, with overlaps and interconnections, and a sense of belonging.  My best example is when, almost a decade ago, a writer friend introduced me to Grub Street, a nonprofit writing center in Boston.  I ended up joining the board of directors, which I’ve served on for the past eight years, and in addition to working together for a good cause, I found the most wonderful community of friends and like-minded and creative people I ever could have imagined.  It’s an experience that has added to my life so significantly that I wish it for everyone.

2. Do expand your worldview, whatever it takes. Whether through traveling, reading, education, a varied career, diverse personal relationships, or actually trying to understand your brother whose political views are the precise opposite of yours (such fun at Thanksgiving!), keeping an open mind and heart is such a key to always learning and becoming a wiser, more thoughtful person.

3. Do take care of yourself financially. I grew up without much money, and spent most of my twenties living on next to nothing while in grad school, or while working at a low-paying job, or when I started a company on my credit cards.  I don’t have regrets about the risks I took then, and there was something exhilarating about living on the financial edge, but in my early thirties I got myself a financial advisor who explained that it didn’t matter how much or how little money his clients had, most overextended themselves and caused great stress in their lives. So, as unsexy as it sounds, I sat down to make a budget, plan for the future, and get some financial stability.  For anyone not already there, I highly recommend it!

4. Do embrace adversity. Although none of us consciously seeks out problems or crises, in life some are simply unavoidable.  Yet on the positive side, when faced head on, adversity tends to bring about clarity and a resetting of priorities.  To state the obvious, people who learn and change as a result of adversity have much better lives than people who are crippled by crises or go to unnatural lengths to avoid dealing with them.  This is a theme I touch on with Annie Begins and is the center of my next novel, about a crisis in a marriage. In my own life and those of my friends, we’ve all noticed that the worst things that have happened to us (cancer, divorce, losing a job) actually brought about deep reflection and self awareness and ushered in periods of major personal growth.

5. Do learn from other people’s mistakes. We know experience is the best teacher, but it isn’t necessary to directly experience everything to learn from it.  I’ve always tried to listen to people who’ve lived longer and objectively know more than I do, to absorb their stories about successes and failures, and adopt their life lessons as my own.


Of course I have my share of embarrassing moments and failures, but not too many actual regrets.  But there is a pattern I wish I’d broken long ago. I have historically been the queen of volume and aspirational shopping, especially if things are on sale (I’ll take it in purple, too!) and/or they almost fit (I just have to lose a few pounds and this will be perfect). I almost always regret it, and have come to realize that my favorite clothes are things bought at the last minute for some special event, where I had no choice but to pay what it cost and make sure it fit.  So, I have slowly been transforming myself into one of those principled, decisive shoppers who behaves this way all the time -- buying just a few high-quality pieces per season, sometimes even at full price. But if I’m honest, I still have far too many “bargains” and items that are one size too small that have never or rarely been worn!

Thanks Michelle!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Michelle, head on over to her website and her blog.