7 Seconds in Heaven with Mark Ellwood

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with Mark EllwoodToday's guest: Mark Ellwood Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: Any man who not only wants to go shopping is our kind of guy!

His latest: Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World (October 17th)

The scoop: A spirited investigation into the world of bargain hunting and how shoppers and sellers try to one-up each other

When Coca-Cola offered the first retail coupon in the 1880s, customers were thrilled. But today, one in four American shoppers will buy something only if it’s on sale, and almost half of all merchandise carries a promotional price. The relentless pursuit of deals has totally disrupted the relationship between buyers and sellers.

In this playful, well-researched book, journalist Mark Ellwood investigates what happens to markets when everything’s negotiable. From the haggling bazaars of Istanbul to Black Friday at a mall in upstate New York to pinnacles of global luxury such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton, sellers and shoppers are engaged in a constant game of cat and mouse.

Price consultants use the latest findings in neuroeconomics to fool shoppers into thinking they’ve gotten a great deal. Consumers, on the other hand, are more empowered than ever by technology, from coupon apps to strategic Twitter analysis. And some brands resist the trend entirely, opting to set their unsold merch out to sea and shred it rather than slash prices.

Enlightening as it is entertaining, Bargain Fever offers invaluable insights into how shopping works today.

Our thoughts: Fascinating. Informative. Juicy.

Giveaway: Two copies!  Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, October 6th after 12 pm PST.

Where you can read more about Mark: His website and Twitter.


Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke talk to Mark Ellwood about why no one should ever pay full price for anything1. Liz & Lisa: How did you get into being a retail expert/why did you write this book? Not to sound sexist, but dare we point out that you are a man writing about shopping for an audience, we're assuming is made up of mostly women? :)

Mark Ellwood: I've always loved shopping - I'd take retail therapy over analysis any time. I'd rather haggle for a leather couch than sit on one.

I think it's all down to my childhood.  I grew up (very happily) as an only child, with a mother for whom shopping was a sport. Going to the shops was my family's answer to walk in the park: only far more fun, a lot less grubby and with a bigger chance of grabbing a great deal on a pair of jeans.

As I was dragged, solo, from store to store by my mom, I realized early on that I had a choice: hate shopping and in the process much of my childhood, or embrace it and start having fun. I opted for the latter.

What's more, my mom is from Scotland, a nation famous in Europe for its love of a bargain. I still tease her that when she puts two 5 pound notes in her wallet, she's secretly hoping they might breed, Giant Panda-style. Nothing makes her happier than a surprise price adjustment on a Sunday afternoon. I inherited that, too.

2. L& L: Tell us more about this concept of "buyagra" (we think we might have it!)

ME: Picture it. You're sitting in a restaurant, and you order a slice of chocolate cake. Delicious, sure, but no big deal. Imagine being in that same cafe and the delighted surprise you feel when the owner remembers it's your birthday; a free slab of molten lava cake appears, candle flickering merrily.

In the former case, your brain is happy. In the latter, it's ecstatic, and is surging with a special chemical called dopamine. This is a much misunderstood hormone, often assumed to be Dr Feelgood Juice. It isn't. It's better to think of dopamine as Bonus Juice; it essentially spritzes in your brain every time the situation's better than you expected.

The commonest time that happens? The sight of a 50% OFF sign, when the cute dress you were planning to buy is a better deal than you could have hoped. Some of us are more powerless under buyagra's thrall than others - one in four people, in fact. They are the shopaholics who have a harmless genetic variant that basically turbocharges buyagra's impact on their brains. It's biological for those women, who camp out overnight for Black Friday bargains.

3. L&L: What's the #1 mistake we make as shoppers?

ME: No one should ever, ever, ever pay full price for anything. Did I say *ever*? Whether it's Googling for a coupon code before checking out online, or simply asking a store clerk sweetly "Are there any discounts I should know about today?" the rule is simple. If it's not at least 10% off, my wallet stays shut and so should yours.

My latest obsession is PoachIt, a button that installs in your browser and you hit any time you're hovering on a product page - completely free, it will retrieve any coupon code or discount that exists anywhere online right now for that item.

4. L&L: What's the #1 shopping secret everyone should know?

ME: Until about 1980, prices were set using what was known as the cost-plus model - companies took what it cost to make, say, a wine glass and used a simple equation to work out the retail price. Say it cost a buck to make each glass, then final price would be 2.5 times that - $2.50.

Then everything changed when a wily German invented the idea of market-based pricing - basically, "What can we get away with charging for that?" Suddenly, it didn't matter that the glass cost a buck to make - it mattered how much it looked like it was worth. Let's make it $10, because it's got a designer label on it. How else did a classic Chanel flap-over bag cost $2,850 in 2008 then just two years later be marked $4,100 (a rise of 44%)?

That price inflation, which happens in every industry now, is the reason shelling when something isn't on sale is so redundant. The ability to discount is built-in to every price.

5. L&L: What's your feeling on buying clothes on eBay or from a second-hand store?

ME: Resellers are a wonderful resource: eco-friendly (less wastage on fast fashion that's worn twice and thrown into a landfill) and bargain-priced (that Vuitton bag on consignment will be less than half its cost brand new). The only challenge is that the boom in consigning has also birthed a boon for fakes, and the industry's infested with knockoffs.

Online, giveaways that something might be more Luis Vuttion than LV are blurbs that keep reiterating "100% authentic" - it's the shopping equivalent of a guy on a first date who's overemphatic about how he has no feelings for his ex (If it were true, you wouldn't need to keep on saying it). To be safe, buy from a reputable reseller with a reputation and guarantees - one of my favorites is Fashionphile.com. It's an Aladdin's Cave of cut-price designer purses.

6: L&L: Complete this sentence:When I'm not writing, producing or presenting, I'm _________.

ME: I'm shopping. Honestly. My favorite place for a bargain is the basement of the Strand bookstore on Broadway in downtown Manhattan, where review copies are illicitly offloaded at half price. The moment I come across my own book on those shelves will be a meta discount moment. And yes, I'll probably buy a couple of copies.

7. L&L: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

ME: I speak fluent Italian, despite looking as British as Harry Potter. I spent chunks of my childhood in Tuscany, and I picked up the local lingo so I could play with the other kids on the beach. It's served me well, as I love Italy so much (the shopping's amazing, of course).

It's also delicious as most Italians assume anyone blonder than Sophia Loren won't understand a word they're saying, as their language isn't exactly spoken worldwide. I've eavesdropped on the most outrageous conversations in Venice or Rome, whether hotel clerks wondering out loud whether to upgrade my room (I waited til they finished, and then replied sweetly I'd love una camera con la veduta) to waiters complaining about other diners (never me, so far at least)

Thanks, Mark!

7 Seconds in heaven with Ben Svetkey

Leading Man by Ben SvetkeyOur guest today: Ben Svetkey Why we love him: Not only does he write for our FAVE mag (Entertainment Weekly), his debut is really fun. (And he's cute too!)

His debut: Leading Man

The scoop: At 26, Maxwell Lerner thinks he has his whole life figured out. He's got the girl—his high-school sweetheart Samantha. He's got the job—low-level reporter for a prestigious national magazine. He even lives with aforementioned girl in a walk-up studio apartment in the West Village. Life is sweet. Until his aspiring actress girlfriend leaves him for his childhood hero, Johnny Mars, who, as action adventurer "Jack Montana," features in some of Max's favorite movies. Getting dumped for one of his idols sets Max off on a dual mission: to get inside the glamorous world Samantha left him for, and to win her back. But when Samantha's perfect life takes an unexpected turn, Max gets more of an education, in life and in love, than he bargained for.

Our thoughts: LOVED it--totally fun and juicy!

Giveaway: Two copies!  Leave a comment to be entered to win--we'll choose the winners after 8am on Sunday, September 8th.


So excited to play 7 Seconds in Heaven with debut author Ben Svetkey--he's sharing 7 surprising facts about himself....

ben-svetkey_l1. I once fondled Angelina Jolie. Her elbow, anyway. I was interviewing her at a restaurant in Toronto (Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life was about to come out) and she was telling me about how she chipped a bone in her elbow while doing a stunt and that the little bone chip kept moving around. Then she took my hand and let me squeeze all over her arm to see if I could find it. I nearly fainted.

2. I know all the words to “Live and Let Die.” And “Goldfinger.” And a couple of other Bond themes. And I’ve taught some of them to my three-year-old daughter. There is nothing cuter than hearing her belt out, “When you were young and your heart was an open book…”

3.  I know all the words to the theme song for Nick Jr.’s Little Einsteins. My daughter taught them to me.

4. I named the protagonist of my novel—Max—after our cat.

5. You know how authors sometimes say that characters end up writing themselves? That always sounded like BS to me, but I’ve learned that it’s kind of true. Once you decide what sort of person they’re going to be, you just wind them up and watch them go. It’s a little freaky.

6. The first book I ever really fell in love with was John Irving’s The World According to Garp. I read it over and over again during my teen years. Then, in my 20s, I read Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer over and over again. In my 30s, I read Martin Amis’ Money at least a dozen times. I’m a literary monogamist. When I fall in love with a book, I stick with it.

7.  My wife and I eloped and got married in a helicopter over Las Vegas. We figured we’d be so nervous about crashing that we wouldn’t have time to be nervous about getting married. Worked like a charm.

Thanks, Ben!

7 Seconds in Heaven with Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin KwanToday's guest: Kevin Kwan Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: OMG. Read the book. You'll understand!

His debut: Crazy Rich Asians

The scoop: Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

Our thoughts: Hilarious. Fascinating. Fun. Original. We could go on and on and on.

Giveaway: One SIGNED copy! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner after 12pm on Sunday, September 1.

Fun fact: Crazy Rich Asians has already been optioned to be a movie!


Kevin Kwan1. I love being on airplanes when there's lots of turbulence.  Like, the bumpier the better. I get a strange thrill out of it.

2. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  I had a fish tank and began to obsessively cultivate a vast array of species.  I started with the basic stuff like goldfish and guppies, but quickly graduated to more exotic fish like African Cichlids of Lake Tanganyika.  At the height of my craze, I had a saltwater tank with a lionfish, a leopard grouper, a Picasso triggerfish, a sting ray, a queen angelfish and an octopus. Then I hit puberty and promptly lost interest in all of it.

3. Call me old fashioned, but one of my pet peeves is men who don't get up from the table whenever a woman arrives or departs, or let the ladies exit the elevator first.

4. One of these days I am going to take up hang gliding.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I want to hang glide over the Grand Canyon at sunset.

5. People rarely see me eating fruits, but that's because most of the fruits I like are tropical fruits not available in the Northern Hemisphere.  Like rambutans, chikus, durians, and my favorite of all, mangosteens.

6. In my next life, I’d like to attend Oxford University. (Although I would want it to be 1912, and I'd have a hard time choosing between Balliol, Christ Church, or Magdalen colleges.)

7. I'd like to live in Naples for a year.  The sheer beautiful chaos of the city, the ancient buildings in various states of crumbling, the insanity of the drivers, it all absolutely fascinates me.  And of course, they have the best pizza on earth.

Thanks, Kevin!

7 Seconds in Heaven with...Jon Harrison

The_Banks_of_Certain_RiversOur guest today: Jon Harrison

Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: We love a man who can not only write about love but do it well.

His latest: The Banks of Certain Rivers

The scoop on it: Neil Kazenzakis is barely holding his life together: ever since an accident left his wife profoundly disabled, he's been doing his best as a single dad and popular high school teacher. He's also been dealing with Lauren Downey, his sort-of girlfriend of the past two years who's pushing for a commitment—and for Neil to finally tell his son Christopher about their secret relationship.

Neil's carefully balanced world begins to fall apart when some questionable footage of him is anonymously posted to YouTube...just as Chris learns about Lauren in the worst possible way. Doubting his own recollection of the events in the online video as he's threatened with the loss of his job and the ability to care for his wife, Neil must find a way to prove the truth to his family, his community, and himself as he struggles to regain the splintered trust of his son.

Heartbreaking, poignant, and written with devastating humor and warmth, The Banks of Certain Rivers is a shattering story of memory, loss, and just how far a man will go to show the people closest to him the meaning of love.

Our thoughts: Warning: This book is unputdownable.

Giveaway: One e-copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, May 12th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: The fabulous Catherine McKenzie told us about Jon. Thanks, Catherine!

Where you can read more about Jon: Facebook,Twitter and his website.


JH_Olive_768(1)1. Liz & Lisa: What’s your favorite book and why? Jon Harrison: There are so many. If I had to pick one novel, I'd say The Sun Also Rises. For all the ugly behavior of its characters, it's really the spring from which all modern fiction flows. I can go back to Raymond Carver's collected poems again and again. Ditto for St. Augustine's Confessions.

2. L&L: What’s the best thing about living in the Rockies? JH: We get all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. Also, the views can be pretty great.

3. L&L: What do you love about running? Does it help your writing? JH: It's nice to be reminded that there can be something just as painful as writing, and that's running. The great thing about it, though, is that after a run I actually feel good instead of filled with the usual dread and self-doubt. So it's a nice break from my writing routine.

4. L&L: Where’s your favorite place to write? JH: I have a wobbly table in my loft on which there are marked-up manuscript pages, sticky note pads, a brass barometer, a volcanic rock from Mt. Fuji, a baseball signed by Fritz Peterson, a faded Mystery Science Theater 3000 mug filled with pens and sharpies, and my laptop. That's my favorite place to write.

5. L&L: What are you reading right now? JH: A fantastic book called The Rider by the Dutch novelist Tim Krabbé. On the surface it's a spare, tight story about a bike race, each kilometer in the race taking a page in the novel, but really it's a profound trip inside this guy's head that blows me away each time I read it.

6. L&L: Where did the inspiration for The Banks of Certain Rivers come from? JH: A while back there was a thing in the news where a bicyclist in New York City was charged with assault for aggressively charging toward a cop. As it turned out, some tourists had filmed the whole thing, and the cop had actually run out into the street and knocked the guy off his bike. It got me thinking about how, with cameras everywhere, things are so thoroughly documented now, and how easily that could be manipulated.

7. L&L: What’s your biggest pet peeve? JH: People who make a big show of writing in coffee shops.

Thanks, Jon!

7 Seconds in Heaven with Mike Greenberg

15818396Our guest today: Mike Greenberg Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: Not only does All You Could Ask For rock, but Mike is donating 100% of the proceeds from the book to breast cancer research!

His latest: All You Could Ask For

The Scoop: Brooke has been happily married to her college sweetheart for fifteen years. Even after the C-section, the dog poop, the stomach viruses and the coffee breath, Scott always winks at her in just the right moments. That is why, for her beloved, romantic, successful husband’s fortieth birthday, she is giving him pictures. Of herself. Naked.

Newlywed Samantha learns of her husband’s cheating heart when she finds the goods on his computer.

High-powered career woman Katherine works with heartbreaker Phillip, the man who hurt her early on in her career.

Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine don’t know each other, but their stories are about to intertwine in ways no one could have imagined.

And all three are about to discover the power of friendship to conquer adversity, the satisfaction of unexpected delights, the incredible difference one human being can have on other lives--and that they have all they could ask for, as long as they have each other.

Our thoughts: One of our very favorite books we've read in 2013--Greenberg's writing is insightful and will grab you from the first chapter. Make sure it's next on your TBR list!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, April 7th after Noon PST.

Fun Fact: Our husbands have crazy man crushes on Mike--he is a hugely popular co-anchor and radio host at ESPN.

Where you can read more about Mike: Facebook and Twitter.


mikegreenbergL&L: How does an ESPN anchor host end up writing *gulp* WOMEN'S FICTION? How are your colleagues there taking the news?

The book was inspired by the real life battle with cancer that my dear friend Heidi Armitage went through in 2009. One minute she was a healthy, vibrant, sexy, fun soccer mom, the next she was a patient. In seven months she was dead. It was the most horrific and unjust thing I have ever seen a family endure. I knew I needed to do something, and so I wrote this book in her honor and am donating all of the author’s proceeds to fund Breast Cancer research. My wife and I formed a foundation called “Heidi’s Angels” and 100 percent of the author’s proceeds from the book will be donated to The V Foundation For Cancer Research in her memory. So, it’s a departure for me, for sure, but in a way it makes all the sense in the world.

L&L: We loved ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR! The narrative for the three women was very insightful.  What women in your life inspired you?

MG: The best advice I received was from my friend Jane Green who told me: If you know your characters they will write themselves. And so each one is based on someone in my life, though distantly, I’m not sure they themselves will recognize that. But their voices, mannerisms, etc, are alive in my head. Again, the stories are completely fictitious, but the voices are real.

L&L: We host a *few* good men here, but CLIND is usually a big ol' lady party!  Tell us why women will love your novel.

MG: Well, I am hopeful that anyone would like it, because I think the subject matter, which is about the power of relationships to transform lives, is universal. But perhaps women are more inclined to be open about those emotions than men are. I hope that men and women will both like it.

L&L: What's your fave book of 2013 so far?

MG: I just finished Tom Wolfe’s Back To Blood, which I liked very much, though it took me forever to get through it. Last night I opened the new Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford. I love that series.

L&L: Many aspiring authors swing by the site--what advice would you give them?

MG:Don’t give up. This is the third novel I’ve written, neither of the first two ever got published. That was crushing to me, both times. But here I am now and it feels great.

L&L: What's up next for you? More women's fiction?

MG:I am working on my next novel now. It is narrated by a man this time, but I hope it will appeal to women. It is about a guy who feels his marriage is falling apart and in order to figure himself out he needs to go in search of his past, which he has denied all his life. It sounds more dramatic than it is, the whole thing, I hope, is very human and relatable to both women and men.

L&L: Liz's husband listens to your show each morning and has a serious man crush.  He demanded we ask who you believe will win the NBA championship!

MG: I would bet on Miami, for the next three years!

Thanks, Mike!


7 Seconds in Heaven with Danny Wallace

Today's guest: Danny Wallace Why we want to spend 7 seconds with him: Charlotte Street is a smartly written romantic comedy. Danny Wallace clearly knows how to write books women love!

His latest: Charlotte Street (Out today!)

The scoop on it: Jason Priestley (no, not that Jason Priestley) is in a rut. He gave up his teaching job to write snarky reviews of cheap restaurants for the free newspaper you take but don't read. He lives above a video-game store, between a Polish newsstand and that place that everyone thinks is a brothel but isn't. His most recent Facebook status is "Jason Priestley is . . . eating soup." Jason's beginning to think he needs a change.

So he uncharacteristically moves to help a girl on the street who's struggling with an armload of packages, and she smiles an incredible smile at him before her cab pulls away. What for a fleeting moment felt like a beginning is cruelly cut short—until Jason realizes that he's been left holding a disposable camera. And suddenly, with prodding and an almost certainly disastrous offer of assistance from his socially inept best friend Dev, a coincidence-based, half-joking idea—What if he could track this girl down based on the photos in her camera?—morphs into a full-fledged quest to find the woman of Jason's dreams.

Our thoughts: He had us at Jason Priestly!

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, October 28th after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: It involves Jim Carrey. (See below!)

Where you can read more about Danny: His website.


1. I once founded my own independent state in a one-bedroom apartment in East London and became King Danny I, leader of tens of thousands of citizens of the Kingdom of Lovely.

2. When I was thirteen, a KGB agent broke into the Berlin flat I was living in to find me with a baseball bat. (True!)

3. I am a direct descendant along the paternal line of William Wallace, King of Scotland, aka Braveheart.

4. My book Yes Man was turned into the film of the same name, starring Jim Carrey.

5. I (at first anonymously) founded a good deeds 'cult' called Join Me, encouraging random acts of kindness towards complete strangers each and every Friday.

6. A picture of me and a chimpanzee I innocently uploaded to the internet was stolen and used without me knowing on advertising billboards in a major marketing campaign for Egyptian hotels across the North African region.

7. I haven't been able to have a bath without thinking of Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana since the early 1990s, after hearing him speak about perfect bath temperatures.

Thanks, Danny!


Liz & Lisa

7 Seconds in Heaven with Tom Ryan

Our guest today: Tom Ryan Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: He's adventurous and he loves dogs!  What's not to love?

His latest: Following Atticus

The Scoop: After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four thousand- foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a lifetime, leading them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. At the heart of the amazing journey was the extraordinary relationship they shared, one that blurred the line between man and dog.

Our thoughts: This book has A LOT of heart.  We think you'll fall in love with Tom and Atticus!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. We'll choose the winners on Sunday, October 21st after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: He has the CUTEST pics of Atticus on his Facebook page.

Where to read more about Tom: His website, Facebook and Twitter.


L&L: You conquered a lot of your fears in FOLLOWING ATTICUS. Tell us about that.

For so many years I was a chicken.  I was afraid of a lot of things and it got to the point where I thought about what a waste it all was.  Life is short and fear is mostly just a liar that robs of us what we want to be and has very little to do with what’s real. So I decided to face up to my fears as I used to face up to dirty cops and politicians and challenge them.  Now I dance with those fears.  Do that enough and they go away.

L&L: Atticus is adorable! Are you guys still climbing together?

I can’t speak for Atticus, but in my imagination he’d rather be considered rugged, but since we’re answering questions for Chick Lit is Not Dead. . . . today he’s adorable. (Do you hear that Atticus? [He’s sitting next to me as I write this.])

To answer your question, I’m still following Atticus, that rugged and adorable dog, up mountains each week.  He’s now ten and a half so we don’t go at it with the same intensity and we mostly seek out mountains we can have to ourselves.  In the beginning, it was all about accomplishment and fundraising for the fight against children’s cancer and for animals in need.  Now it’s simply about doing what we most love to do and doing it with someone we love.  And since Atticus and I both love the same woman and she’s somewhat new to hiking, we’re introducing her to our favorite hikes and all of us are seeing them anew.  For instance, on one of our most recent hikes, a five mile loop that wouldn’t have taken more than three hours in the past, we started out later in the afternoon, took our time, sunbathed on the summit ledges, then on another set of ledges watched the sunset and the rise of the full moon over neighboring mountains.  We stayed there for quite some time, just the three of us, ate a candlelight dinner, and danced to the music piped from my iPhone under the full moon, and returned to the car nine hours later.

L&L: We have a few good men, but most of our readers are women. Tell us why women would love your memoir.

Well, to start off with there’s that adorable dog on the front cover of our book….

Seriously though, our editor at William Morrow, Cassie Jones, bought the rights to our book because she understood our story was not about hiking or dogs.  It’s layered with many themes.  There are, of course, parts of our story about a unique little dog and hiking in these mountains we call home, but as one blogger noted, “Saying Following Atticus is about hiking is like saying Moby Dick is about whaling.”

There are many themes dealt with: the relationships between fathers and sons; friendship; challenges that lead to growth; facing up to fears; links throughout the book to great literature from the past; nature; and more than anything it’s about the transformation that takes place when getting from where we are to where we are supposed to be.  You’ve read our story so you know how it ends, but without giving anything away to those who haven’t, running through the heart of Following Atticus is the thread of love.

L&L: When you're not climbing mountains or writing, what do you like to do?

Coming from the hectic and controversial life of a newspaperman back in Newburyport, I now like to keep things as simple as possible. There’s our quiet and peaceful existence in the mountains where music is playing (usually old jazz or classical) throughout the house, good food is simmering on the stove, candles burning, long walks and equally long naps, and growing with those I most love in the world.  I’ve also been busy changing myself.

In April I made the leap from a 51-year old man who lived on Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, and Coca Cola to a man who finally decided my love of animals meant I was in denial about what they went through to make it to my plate so I changed.  My switch to a plant-based diet helped me lose twenty-five pounds in nine weeks. The next step was a sixty-seven day juice fast inspired by Joe Cross’s “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” Now off the juice fast, I’m back to the vegan diet and I’m discovering a love of cooking healthy, natural, and delicious foods.  And let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot easier climbing mountains weighing eighty pounds less.

And when Atticus and I first moved to the mountains I knew I wanted to write for a living and eventually buy a small farm and start taking in abused and neglected animals.  We’ve yet to buy that little farmhouse, but in May we took our first step in that direction by adopting a fifteen year old miniature schnauzer named Will.  He’s mostly blind, all deaf, very arthritic, and had been abandoned in a kill shelter by the only family he knew after fifteen years.  At first Will was a handful – an angry, depressed handful who was in a lot of pain and he spent those first weeks trying to bite me.  But a funny thing happened over time.  We took him in just to give him a place to die with dignity, but now he’s thriving and getting healthier. He’s no longer angry or depressed.  He’s a joy to be with and his life just keeps getting better. He’s a daily reminder that it’s never too late to love or to be loved.

L&L: What's been your fave book of 2012 so far? What are you reading now?

Louise Penny is a favorite of mine and her latest, “The Beautiful Mystery”, is as charming as all of her books are.  Reading Louise is like falling into an old friend.  My nightstand has a pile of the latest from some of my other favorite authors: Katherine Howe, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, John Irving, Lisa Gardner, William Martin, and Christopher Moore. And recently I’ve built up a small library of more than thirty vegan cookbooks.

L&L: We have a lot of aspiring authors that come to the site. What advice would you give them about getting published?

Stop seeking advice and follow your heart.  Step away from writing workshops, stop reading magazines about how to write or get published, and simply write what is inside of you. The only advice I can give is to just be you.  That’s the gift you can give the world.

L&L: What's up next for you?

I’m busy writing my next book (a continuation of our journey), enjoying life with Atticus (and now Will), and the love of my life.  (And yes, I’m keeping her name private for now since that’s what second books are for.)

Thanks Tom! xoxo, L&L

7 Seconds in Heaven with Andrew Shaffer

Today's guest: Andrew Shaffer (a.k.a. Fanny Merkin) Why we love him: He's written a laugh-out-loud funny parody of Fifty Shades of Grey. (And y'all know we don't toss around the LOL's lightly!)

His latest: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

The scoop on it: Young, arrogant, tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Our thoughts: Sometimes it's just about having a good and naughty laugh. Jennifer Weiner said, "Filthy, Disgusting, I loved every word." Our thoughts exactly.

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Monday, September 24th after 3pm PST.

Where you can read more about Andrew: Twitter and his website.


Liz & Lisa: We know it was because you were reviewing it, but are you one of the only men to admit to reading this book? Do you think there area lot of closeted male 50 Shades readers out there?

Andrew Shaffer: From what I've seen, 50 Shades is almost exclusively a female phenomenon. Whether they love or hate the book, it's a shared cultural experience for many women—something that's increasingly rare in the fractured entertainment landscape. Most guys don't understand it, and I think that's fine.

I actually warn men not to read 50 Shades, for a couple of reasons. If this is their first romance or erotica novel, they will walk away with a skewed perception of romance genre. There are other books I would recommend they read first. The other issue is that some guys read the books and think, "Does my wife/girlfriend want me to act like this? Does she want me to do this in the bedroom?" The answer: Yes. No. Maybe. Why not ask her what she enjoys about the books, and what she wants in the bedroom?

L&L: Why did you decide to write the parody?

AS: While I was live-tweeting my reading of 50 Shades of Grey, I joked that I would create a publishing wormhole by writing 50 Shades fanfic. I started to serialize a 50 Shades "fanfic"/parody on my blog, EvilReads.com, as a joke at first. After 50 Shades of Grey sold for seven figures to Random House, it suddenly became, "How fast can I write an actual full-length parody and get it to my agent?"

L&L: We read that you wrote the manuscript in 10 days. True?

AS: Yes—I had to get the manuscript to my agent quickly, because no one knew how long 50 Shades would remain "hot." (Obviously a lot longer than anyone anticipated!) After it sold, though, I worked closely with my editor at Da Capo Press to get the book into shape. The editing took about two or three months. While other self-published parodies began to appear during this time, I'm glad we spent the time we did to put out the best book possible.

L&L: What was your favorite part of 50 Shades of Grey? Least favorite part?

AS: The sex scenes were well-written. I know that sounds like a typical "guy" answer—but you could just tell how much work James put into those scenes when compared to the rest of the series. By her own admission, she researched BDSM online to ensure it was authentic...but she couldn't check with any college student about the details of college life in 2011? Anastasia is a college senior who has never had an e-mail address, which is just absurd. Little stuff like that got under my skin as a reader.

L&L: You have three twitter handles. We can barely tweet with the one we have. How do you juggle?

AS: I have a couple dozen, actually, but who's counting? Only a few have ever really "taken off." I mainly tweet personal stuff from @andrewtshaffer and publishing world stuff from @evilwylie these days. Twitter is fun, especially for a freelance writer: it's the water cooler. I don't have real-world co-workers, so Twitter fills that hole in my life. The deeper emotional and spiritual holes, though? Not so much help with those.

L&L: The opening line of the book is our favorite. What's your favorite line from the book?

AS: "I've already seen him at what I figured was the depth of his shame, buying a Nickelback CD. Do I want to know how deep his perversions go?"

L&L: Because we couldn't not ask, do you think Ryan Gosling should play Christian Grey? If not, who...

AS: After seeing Gosling in Drive with that hammer, I could totally see him playing Christian Grey, flogger in hand. "Hey, girl...laters."

Thanks, Andrew!




7 Seconds in Heaven with...Matthew Quirk

Today's guest: Matthew Quirk His debut: The 500

Why we love him: He knows how to write for men and women!

The scoop: A year ago, fresh out of Harvard Law School, Mike Ford landed his dream job at the Davies Group, Washington's most powerful consulting firm. Now, he's staring down the barrel of a gun, pursued by two of the world's most dangerous men. To get out, he'll have to do all the things he thought he'd never do again: lie, cheat, steal-and this time, maybe even kill.

Mike grew up in a world of small-stakes con men, learning lessons at his father's knee. His hard-won success in college and law school was his ticket out. As the Davies Group's rising star, he rubs shoulders with "The 500," the elite men and women who really run Washington -- and the world. But peddling influence, he soon learns, is familiar work: even with a pedigree, a con is still a con.

Read an excerpt here.

Our thoughts: We loved The Firm and have been waiting for another author to take us on an equally suspenseful and page-turning ride. PS: We were SO THRILLED Matthew agreed to be our guest today to answer our 7 "burning" questions. We love the story behind his author photo & the fact that he loves strong women!

Fun fact: The 500 has already been optioned to be made into a movie and has been translated into 20 languages. Did we mention this is his DEBUT?

Giveaway: 5 copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners after 6PM PST on Sunday, July 29.

Where you can read more about Matthew: Facebook, Twitter and his website.


Liz and Lisa:This is your debut novel and has already been compared to The Firm, been translated into 20 languages and is in development to be made into a movie by 20th Century Fox. What's been the biggest surprise to you about the success of The 500?

Matthew Quirk: Everything about the book’s reception has been a wonderful surprise. You always daydream about this sort of thing in the long years when you’re working on your writing without recognition. But for it to actually happen is just mindblowing. I was hoping to be able to write books as a day job. That was the dream. The rest is beyond everything I hoped. I had lost my job as a reporter at The Atlantic and my then-fiancée, now-wife was incredibly supportive, adamant actually, that I go for it (I dedicated the book to her). I wrote The 500 at a folding table in the little one-bedroom apartment where she and and I were both working from home. I finally sold the book a month before our wedding, just when I was running out of time on the whole writing experiment. Talk about suspense!

If I had to pick the most surprising element, it would be how receptive the film and publishing people are to a first-time author and how quickly it all happens. People often think of those industries as being really tough to break in to, and they are, but they are always looking for good stories and if they find something they like, it doesn’t matter who you are, they’ll snap it up. One day I had this giant word document on my computer and the next week it was shooting around Hollywood and people were makings bids on it from restaurants in Malibu. It’s nuts.

L&L:  What's the story behind the title of the book? The cover?

MQ: The 500 refers to the 500 most powerful people in Washington, most of whom have a relationship with the Davies Group, an extremely powerful DC consulting/lobbying firm run by a power broker named Henry Davies. Mike Ford, a guy with a shady past who has spent years working to earn a respectable life, puts himself through Harvard Law and lands a job at the Davies Group. He learns the ways of power in Washington, and soon enough, learns the secret behind Henry Davies’ power.

It was fun to mine all the real Washington grit I’d learned working as a political reporter in DC and put it to work in the service of a fast-paced, twisting plot like the kind I love to read.

I think the publisher and designer, Ploy Siripant, did an amazing job on the cover. Many of the foreign publishers are using the same design. There’s not too much of a story to it, which I think is its strength. I like that it’s not the usual DC thriller cover, you know, a guy with a briefcase running for his life with the Washington monument or the Capitol Dome in the background. I think it fits the book well, because hopefully The 500 will satisfy hard-core political thriller fans while standing out of the crowd a little because of the narrator’s voice, the humor, the characters, and the love story.

L&L:  We're women. A lot (make that most) of our readers are women. Why should women read your novel?

MQ: I love strong women, and I tried to make sure that the women in this book didn’t fall into any outdated thriller clichés. Mike Ford’s love interest, Annie Clark, is a badass: smart and strong and independent and successful. And there’s a fun love story in this as she and Mike fall for each other and take turns saving each other’s butts. Mike can definitely hold it down as a tough guy, but he’s also thoughtful and able to laugh at himself. I did have “chick lit” tropes in mind for one scene where, believe or not, a pair of Jimmy Choo slingbacks play a key role in some serious action. A good book appeals to everyone. I was shooting for a novel that above all, was fun to read and hard to put down, one of those books where you say, “oh my God, it’s one am. I should go to bed…maybe one more chapter.” A few people have written me notes saying the book kept them up way too late. That always makes my day.

L&L: Your book was recently written up in Entertainment Weekly's Must List and received an "A." What entertainment is on your must-list?

MQ: Breaking Bad. I can’t wait for the final season. That show is such a great mix of smart action, character, and humor. I’m loving Veep, too. It can be a little cynical, but it nails a lot of the petty, mundane aspects of political life you don’t see on the West Wing. I’ll talk more about books below, but a great, great book that everyone should read is Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. It’s hilarious. I need to go back and re-read all of his novels.

L&L: When not living and breathing your current book tour, what do you that has nothing to do with books or writing?

MQ: Going out with friends, cooking with my wife, hiking and cycling and skiing and sailing. You never know what will end up going into the books, though. I wrecked my knee skiing last year, a pretty harrowing accident where I tumbled down some steep chutes and ended up alone in the trees with a torn ACL fifteen minutes before the mountain shut down. The last thing I was thinking about was writing, of course, but I’m sure it helped. Periodically scaring the living daylights out of yourself is a good thing to do if you write thrillers.

L&L: What's something we'd be surprised to know about you?

MQ: People who have only seen the author photo are usually surprised when they meet me in person. When I was setting up my headshots, I looked at a bunch of thriller authors and said, Ok, industry standard is the total badass look. But when I’m hanging out with people, I’m usually laughing and smiling. When I went to meet the Dutch publishers for a book event in Amsterdam, the women who first met me, who had only seen the photo, greeted me by saying, “Oh! I thought you would be taller…and more regal.” It was hilarious.

L&L: What are you reading right now?

Tailor of Panama, by John Le Carré I’ve been reading a lot of Le Carré recently. As a former intelligence officer, he really knows what he’s talking about and as a stylist he can hold his own with most any literary author. Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead is great, as is Dare Me by Megan Abbot. And then I have a big stack of books on my desk about prison security, lock-picking, safe-cracking, corporate espionage, and political corruption. It’s all research for the sequel to The 500, which I’m wrapping up now. I’ve always loved research and reporting and am glad I get to do it for the novels.

Thanks, Matthew!


Liz & Lisa


7 Seconds in Heaven with...David Klein

Today's guest: David Klein His latest: Clean Break

The scoop: Can you make a clean break from a troubled past 
and start a new life? Four lives intersect when Celeste Vanek leaves her husband, Adam. His compulsive gambling and physical threats have poisoned their marriage and emotionally damaged their young son. Celeste moves to a small rental across town, works to gain financial security, and helps her son navigate his fantasy life. But she quickly finds that starting over is not easy. Adam demands his family back, and things get out of control. Jake, who witnesses a violent struggle between Celeste and her husband, becomes Celeste’s ally and friend, while struggling with his own emotional and ethical issues. Jake carries a history of failed relationships—one of them with Sara, a married and childless police detective who has a private agenda to pursue when a crime is committed that links these four characters together and changes their lives forever.

Our take: You'll love getting lost in this fast-paced, satisfying read.

Giveaway: 5 copies of Clean Break. Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm PST on Monday, June 18th.

Read more about David Klein: Twitter, Facebook & his website


1.    In 6th grade I wrote a play that my class performed. It was about a group of wild boys who wanted to kidnap Santa and keep all the presents for themselves. At the end, the boys get caught and are apologetic. But that wasn’t enough. My teacher (nun, Catholic school, so it’s no surprise) changed the ending so that Santa is putting the ringleader over his knee for a good spanking. This was also my first introduction to the editing process.

2.    I’m obsessed with titles and place a lot of importance in them. While writing Clean Break, I floundered through half a dozen drafts and many, many working titles. It wasn’t until I came up with what I felt was the perfect title that the entire novel started to gel. All of the key characters are trying to escape their pasts and get a fresh start on life. Easier said than done. With my first novel, Stash, the opposite occurred. Stash was the first working title I had and it never went away.

3.    I’d love to write for a television series someday. I mean a really compelling drama, like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, or Mad Men. I like the serial structure of the storytelling, where the characters have broad story arcs over the course of a season or more, yet in any given episode can experience a complete mini-story (storylette?) and transformation.

4.    I got heckled recently at a book group event. This was an event that brought a number of book groups together along with a moderator to discuss my first novel, Stash. A “rogue reader” showed up and blasted me over the content and characters of the novel. Her insults went beyond the book itself and questioned my moral character. The moderator let her run on. I sat there and took it until she wore herself out. 5.    I wonder if I could start a business writing love letters. Long ago, in a far away place, I won over a woman I had a terrible crush on by writing her letters. The real kind, with ink on paper. It took a while, but she finally fell for me. She said I was such a beautiful writer. So I started writing short stories, poems, then novels. The relationship didn’t work out, but she might be the person that made me ambitious about writing.

6.    Mountain bikes are my thing. I’m an avid off-road mountain bike rider. Deep woods. Narrow trails. The more rocks and roots and scary downhills the better. It’s physically demanding and mentally thrilling and a huge stress reliever. It took me several seasons of contusions and bruises before I smartened up and started wearing protective pads on my arms and legs.

7.    My daughter and I are both born on Christmas Day. Thirteen years ago, my daughter gave me the best combined birthday/Christmas present I could ever have. Of course, now she’s learned from some other relatives about the combined birthday/Christmas present swindle. She says it’s worth the shortage to share a birthday with me. Bonus item: my brother, three years older, was also born on Christmas.

Thanks, David!


Liz & Lisa

7 Seconds in Heaven with...Devan Sipher

Today's guest: Devan Sipher Why we love him: His debut novel is romantic, funny and poignant.

His debut: The Wedding Beat

The scoop: Gavin Greene isn't only a hopeless romantic, he's a professional one: He writes the wedding column for a prize-winning newspaper, covering A-list parties from coast to coast.  But there's a thin line between being a hotshot reporter on assignment...and being a single guy alone on a Saturday night. Everything changes on New Year's when Gavin meets Melinda, a travel writer with an adventurous spirit.  A moonlit walk across a Manhattan rooftop seems to seal the deal, but she slips away. Gavin crisscrosses New York City to find her again. And he learns there's something worse than losing the woman of his dreams—having to write an article about her wedding.

Our thoughts: A romcom written by a man! (*swoon*)

Fun fact: Devan's been writing the Vows column at the New York Times for five years. According to his website, rumor has it that in the movie 27 Dresses, the actor James Marsden portrayed him — but with better hair.

Giveaway: 5 copies. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners this Monday, April 30 after 6pm.


1.    I always walk on the sunny side of the street.  I’m not a cockeyed optimist.  I just crave sunshine.  It’s very hard for me to stay inside and write on a sunny day (not that it’s all that easy for me to write on cloudy ones).  Maybe it’s from being born in southern California.  Or it could be a Vitamin D deficiency. 2.    I’m addicted to cereal and ice cream.  But not together.  It took a lot of bowls of cereal and cartons of ice cream for me to write a book.  Of course, lots of ice cream doesn’t go well with sitting sedentary at one’s desk for hours, so frozen yogurt is also high on the list.  I recently discovered Yogurtland, which has a dozen or so flavors of nonfat frozen yogurt that you can serve yourself in any amount and any combination.  I think of it as Disneyland for frozen yogurt. 3.    I love to travel.  I’ve never traveled anywhere I didn’t want to stay.  But it’s not just what I see and do.  It’s who I am.  I like the person I become when I travel.  More spontaneous.  More open to trying new things.  So even when home in New York, I often pretend I’m visiting from out of town, stopping at any café, park (or ice cream stand) that sparks my interest. 4.     I have prepubescent taste in music.  Fortunately, there’s a steady supply of prepubescents, so there’s always new music to download onto my iPod.  But I draw the line at Justin Bieber. 5.     I like learning new things.  I learned Spanish for a recent trip to Spain.  Not well enough to actually converse with anyone, but I could read menus pretty well.  A year ago, while writing my book, I decided to learn how to make pizza from scratch (it wasn’t difficult, but it sounds impressive to people who don’t know that.)  I made pizza every day the entire winter.  I made pizza for lunch.  Pizza for dinner.  Pizza for friends.  Haven’t made it once since. 6.    If I had one wish, I’d wish for three more.   7.    Put me near mountains or water, and I’m a happy guy.  (I mentioned I’m from southern California, right?)  Living in Manhattan, I frequently go running along the Hudson River, simply to remind myself that I live on an island.  When I’m in LA, I go running along the coast between Venice and Santa Monica.  Then I take my shoes off and walk back in the surf.  I’d like my last moment on this planet to be sitting on a beach looking out at the waves.  And while I’m putting in requests, I’d like that last moment to be with someone by my side.

Thanks, Devan!



If you want to find out more about Devan Sipher, visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Seven Seconds in Heaven with Greg Olear

We're all about women supporting woman on this site.  In fact, that's one of the reasons we started it almost three years ago.  But that being said, we love a few good men too!  Especially funny ones who write hilarious books that have the word "doucheface" in them. (Going to have to use that in a sentence this week...)

That's why we're totally stoked to have Greg Olear spending Seven Seconds in Heaven with us today.  His hilarious new novel, Father-Mucker is a fun read that we think you'll devour.

Here's the dealio on Father-Mucker: A day in the life of a dad on the brink: Josh Lansky—second-rate screenwriter, fledgling freelancer, and stay-at-home dad of two preschoolers—has held everything together while his wife is away on business . . . until this morning’s playdate, when he finds out through the mommy grapevine that she might be having an affair. What Josh needs is a break. He’s not going to get one.

Sound fab?  It is!  And we have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win.   We'll choose the winners on Sunday November 13th after 3pm PST.



 The only time I ever played Seven Minutes In Heaven, back in seventh grade, the game would have been more accurately called Seven Minutes Of Excruciatingly Awkward Silence In A Closet Redolent With Mothballs, With A Girl With Peanut Butter In Her Retainer


 It should really be called Eight Minutes in Heaven, though, because “Stairway to Heaven” is exactly eight minutes long, and that’s what should be playing while the two lucky contestants are barricaded in the closet.  Best junior high make-out song of all time.  Because if you don’t want to make out, you can always rock out.


 I was much better at Spin the Bottle.  I first played the game in seventh grade, in my friend’s basement, not long after the Seven Minutes in Heaven fiasco, and it was during that game that I had my first grown-up (read: French) kiss.  Two weeks later, I played the game again, behind some bushes on the way home from school—just me and two girls, a ratio I found to my liking (things did not escalate, alas, but I did catch a really nasty bout of flu from one of them, thus learning an early lesson about the need to protect oneself from Ds of the ST variety).


 I went to see The Bridges of Madison County.  In the theater.  At a matinee.  By myself.  At the end, I sobbed so loudly and uncontrollably that I had to walk out.


 For me, the Stendhal Effect is a common occurrence; a lot of things move me to tears.  If I listen to “Cats in the Cradle,” for example, I will cry every single time.  That’s no exaggeration: Every. Single. Time.  Other songs that make me cry include: “Taxi,” “Highway Patrolman,” “Texas Rangers,” “Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin,” and, if I’m in the proper mood, “Tomorrow,” from Annie.


 Don’t get me started on Guess How Much I Love You.  I’ve never managed to read this to the kids without choking up.


 A writer friend of mine, the great Ben Loory, recommended I teach a short story by Tobias Wolff called “Bullet to the Brain.”  I’ve read it five times.  I cried five times.  I told my class—an undergraduate creative writing workshop—about this; they didn’t believe me.  So I had one of my students read the last page aloud.  She did, as robotically as possible.  Which stolid performance did not stop me from weeping, right there in class.  They is, they is, they is.

Thanks Greg!  xo, L&L

To read more about Greg, head on over to his website or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Seven Seconds in Heaven with...Brian O'Reilly

It's time to play Seven Seconds in Heaven again!  This time we're playing with Brian O'Reilly, creator and executive producer of Food Network's Dinner:Impossible. And he's the author of the fab new book, Angelina's Bachelors, a fun, tasty treat!  We devoured it in just a few days and were drooling over the incredible sounding recipes in each chapter-and we think you'll love it too. Here's the scoop on Angelina's Bachelors: Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia.

Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love.

Filled to the brim with homemade warmth, Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet tale of overcoming grief, redefining family, and following your heart—through food.

Totally yummy, right?  Then for sure leave a comment, we have FIVE copies to give away!  We'll choose the winners after 6pm PST on Sunday, October 2nd.  Good luck!

Now, are you ready to spend Seven Seconds in Heaven with Brian?


1.  Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner- A good day for me is a day when I get to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner: the trifecta. I like playing one meal off of the other, trying to make sure that they provide a flow to the day, from both a cooking and an eating standpoint.  And I like to be able to start something  braising or cooking down in the middle of the afternoon. Bliss in a big pot.

2. I’m grateful that writers don’t have to wear ties- at least, not while writing. I like to fashion a Windsor knot and make a decent appearance as much as the next guy, but I’m not sure how well I’d do wearing a suit on a day to day basis. Probably another reason I’ll never be President of the United States.

3. Musical talent- would be a nice thing to have. I tried the guitar when I was a kid, but never had the ear or acquired the discipline to play well. I’d like to be able to revisit that arena before I punch my last ticket. And that could even include dancing.

4. Kirk vs. Picard- I’m all Captain Kirk. I feel like Captain Kirk was the guy who boldly went where no man had gone before; Captain Picard was more of an able administrator and eminence grise. Though I give Jean-Luc great credit for being a man committed to aging gracefully.

5. I like to talk politics more than sports- though, in many cases, they’re one and the same thing, in that they are both largely about strategy, contention and who walks away the winner at the end. I think I like the fact that for all of the nonsense that goes on in politics, it all takes place in and directly affects the real world.

6. I’m gradually becoming a cat person- in my younger days, I had a dog, and he was one of the greatest, most lasting influences on my life and personal philosophy. That dog had more personality, integrity and a better sense of humor than most of the bipeds I’ve met since. But I’ve been living with a cat lately, and he’s kind of growing on me. I like his self-sufficiency. And that thing where he casually brushes up against your leg to say “hi” in the morning…

7. I like the profession of writing novels- largely because I get to spend more time around my wife and offspring. They’re just so cool. Working on making it a full-time thing.

Thanks Brian! xo, L&L

To read more about Brian, head on over to Twitter or find him on Facebook.

Seven Seconds in Heaven with...Wade Rouse

We're huge dog lovers. And, of course, huge book lovers. So we absolutely fell in love with I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship edited by critically acclaimed memoirist Wade Rouse. Not only did we LOL our dog-lovin' booties off but we also felt all mushy inside (hey it's about doggys, what can we say?) as we read twenty-one hilarious and touching essays about man's best friend (everything from fighting for bed space to rescuing a dog on a highway.) Some of the stories are even contributed by some of our (and your!) favorite women's fiction and Chick Lit authors, including Sarah Pekkanen, Jane Green and Jen Lancaster. And the foreward is by Chelsea Handler's very funny and freakin' cute dog, Chunk (that of course you can follow on Twitter).

We were especially lovin' on Wade's own essay, Diddle Diddle Dum Dum, about the made up language he speaks to his dog, Marge.

And yet another reason to love this book? (As if you need one.) Wade is donating to The Humane Society of the United States 50% of the royalties he earns from sales of this book.

Ready for your own copy of I'm Not The Biggest Bitch in This Relationship? Just leave a comment and be entered to win one of five. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm on Monday, September 12th. And ready for even more entertainment? It's time to spend seven seconds in heaven with Wade Rouse!


1) Read My Lips! I’m obsessed with shiny, supple lips. I break down whenever I go 10 minutes without reapplying. I could never go on Survivor because they don’t allow Burt’s Bees, Carmex, or Vaseline. A half-hour into the show, and I’d be choking Jeff Probst and screaming, “Get me to a Walgreen’s!” I will buy any product that promises to make me look like I have bee-stung lips coated in shiny glitter. I mean, I’d buy a live rattlesnake and kiss it if it had Lip Smackers instead of venom. The bad thing is I often look like Lisa Rinna in photos.

2) Erma Is The Bomb(eck)!: My idol is Erma Bombeck. My mom introduced me to her after I made the hideous mistake of singing “Delta Dawn” at a middle school talent contest in my rural middle school and was promptly booed offstage by a crowd that made the boys from Deliverance look like the Jonas Brothers. My mother gave me a copy of At Wit’s End and a little writing journal when I was finished, and said, “You were true to yourself, and that’s all that matters. But you will need these to make sense of your life.” I still try to do what Erma did: Write with humor about the magical, maddening and mundane moments in life that unite us all. My writing M.O. is the same as hers: “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

3) I Used to Be Seen in 3-D! I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for nearly 15 years. I grew up a very overweight kid in the Ozarks, which was not the best place for a creative, gay boy to grow up. I was often mistaken for a girl (damn my penchant for feathered hair, ascots and Juice Newton half-shirts!), but eventually discovered love, self-esteem, a passion for life, a love for my work, and myself. I am now a fitness nut, marathon runner (fastest time: 3:28:38). I’ve learned it’s all about balance in life, loving yourself, believing in yourself. This is a short ride we’re all on, and exercise and healthy eating keep me centered. They balance my creative/writer’s life, which is vital to any author. And it’s nice to go to reunions and not be asked, “Weren’t you that teen mom?”

4) I’m Smitten with the Mitten (at least in the summer and fall)!: We left the culture, couture, and creature comforts of city life to move to the woods of Michigan five years ago in order to recreate, ala Thoreau, a modern-day Walden … to very mixed results (my misadventures in search of the simple life were the basis of my memoir, At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream). I love our knotty pine cottage, our woods filled with pines and sugar maples, Lake Michigan and its beautiful beaches (and the quiet: I can only write in total silence), but I realized I also need the city vibe and shopping – just like exercise – to remain balanced. Walking into a Kenneth Cole store, shopping on Michigan Avenue or in Soho is the equivalent of angels singing while handing me a non-fat white chocolate latte and a Sunday New York Times review that adores my latest book. But I just can’t endure three months of lake-effect snow … I go totally Jack Nicholson in The Shining after weeks of winter, and my partner, Gary, worries I’m going to hatchet him. Which is why we head to Palm Springs every winter for two months. Sorry, Thoreau. But mama needs a tan.

5) I Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog!: I’ve had six rescue dogs in my life, and they’ve all been my best friends and biggest pains in the butt, which is why I created my current book, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship. I wanted to write a book that captured the neurotic but beautiful relationships we have with our pets. The book is an ode to my beloved Marge, our 80-pound, Scooby-Do, Heinz 57 rescue who died at 14 this past April, and to my late mom, a hospice nurse and an animal advocate, who taught me the beauty of loving unconditionally, despite the hurt, and giving back to others. That’s why I’m giving a portion of all royalties earned from the book to the Humane Society of the United States, and why so many great humorists – from Chelsea Handler and her dog, Chunk, to Jen Lancaster, Laurie Notaro, Beth Harbison, Sarah Pekkanen and Jane Green jumped aboard the Bitch train so early. This book was truly a labor of love, and I’ve never been prouder to give birth to such a litter of great essays (yeah, I know, that analogy not only sucked but was also disturbing).

6) Fuggetabout Fear!: Most Americans, I have come to believe, especially today (and especially writers), are defined by our fears rather than our passion. But fear is what strangles us, prevents us from finding our voices, pursuing our passion, following what calls to us. And, when writers sit down, carrying all that baggage, and are scared to write what truly calls to them, then they are doomed to fail. So, I urge everyone – at some point in their lives – to turn “FEAR” into Free Every Artistic Response. When you do, your true voice will be unleashed, and fear will no longer steer you into a ditch and off your true path. I believe that everyone who wants to write, should write. There is no golden key to success, like I used to believe, only talent, hard work, perseverance and fearlessness. Which is why I teach writing classes and am spreading my gospel to Wade’s Writers! (wadeswriters.com)

7) Book It, Dano!:  After my fall tour for Bitch, I have a lot of other books coming your way! My next book is a memoir entitled, THIS BLOWS! A Life, in Locks. It is what I’m calling the first-ever “hair-moir,” a memoir about my addiction to my hair (something to which I think ALL of us can relate). The book is a funny look at the styles – good, bad, sad – and Dippity-do’s and Dippity-don’ts of my and my friends’ hair trends over the years. It’s also a deeper look at addiction, and it juxtaposes my vanity against that of my mom, who had zero. She was a hospice nurse who eventually battled cancer, and could have cared less how she looked, or whether she was wearing a wig. “A body is a body,” she always told me, “but a soul is a soul.” I’m also working on a book about my late mutt, Marge. My partner and I are scattering her ashes in the 16 states she ever lived in, or visited. It’s really a lovely tribute to her, and the power of animals, and loving unconditionally. I’m also working on a new celebrity anthology, which will also showcase humor to raise awareness, as well as a mystery series. And my first memoir, America’s Boy, is back in print, I’m proud to announce. It was my baby that launched all this madness, and it means the world that it’s back in print. I also speak and teach writing workshops around the country (www.wadeswriters.com), am a regular contributor to Michigan Public Radio, and write two humor columns. I’m a busy boy, but I know it is a blessing to be doing what I love.

Thanks, Wade!


Liz & Lisa

To find out more about Wade Rouse, check out his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



7 Seconds in Heaven With...Robert Rave

We knew when one of our favorite authors and people, Beth Harbison, called Robert Rave's second novel, Waxed, "Charming and hilarious...the perfect summer read and a ton of fun," that we had to check it out. And not surprisingly, Beth was right. Robert's writing is sassy, funny and overall brilliant. And the cover of his book is beyond!  Waxed is the story of three relationship-challenged sisters who work at New York's hottest waxing salon. There's big sis, Carolina, who owns the salon and is caught in a love triangle. Then there's middle sis, Anna, who reluctantly joins the workforce after her divorce. And there's Sofia, a newlywed who doesn't know if she wants the domestic life or the night life. We loved this story about how some women will do anything to look the part. (Um, I think we can all relate ladies! Need we discuss our last Brazilian bikini wax or the endless hours spent getting weaved, plucked and otherwise prodded?) But what we really boned out on was that a story like this was written by a man!

And five of you will be the lucky winners of a copy of Waxed. Just leave a comment and your name will be entered. We'll randomly select the winners this Thursday!

After reading and loving Waxed, we knew Robert Rave would be perfect for our 7 Seconds in Heaven feature. He's a talented writer, funny and, well, easy on the eyes! And we were so right about him! In fact, he had us at Money Can't Buy You Class!

So without further adieu, we'll let you spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with Robert Rave!

1. Quickest way to make me smile? Mention the words “satchels of gold” or start singing "Money Can't Buy You Class" and we’ll be fast friends.  I admit it.  I’m addicted to the The Real Houswives of New York and all of its craziness. Don’t get me wrong, I like high-brow cinema, literature and music too, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a little junk food television.

2. I was raised as a Midwestern “meat and potatoes” guy.  However, within the last couple years I’ve become vegetarian and now I’m pretty much vegan.  I’m not hardcore, but I’m pretty good.  My parents are beside themselves about this.  They think I’ve lost my mind and are completely baffled as to how I could give up a nice steak or cheeseburger.  Theyhave told me repeatedly that it’s time I move out of California and back to the Midwest or at the very least to New York City where I lived for nine years.

3. I have a crazy sweet tooth.  Cakes, cookies, and desserts are my thing.  However, now those sweet-treats are (mostly) vegan.  I make frequent trips to Babycakes bakery for their cupcakes and chocolate-chip cookie sandwiches.  They are seriously incredible—you would never know that they are vegan.  When I feel really inspired, I make their chocolate chip cookies at home.  However, I end up giving most of them away because if left at my house, I will eat every last one.

4. Because of my love of baked goods, you’ll also find me religiously attending Barry’s Bootcamp to work off every last crumb.  It’s probably one of the best workouts that I’ve ever done.  I’ve completely changed my body because of it.  I also have the most random ideas for novels while I’m working out there so I feel like I’m multi-tasking.

5. I have two French Bulldogs that act as my Xanax. I gave them old men names because it totally suits their personalities.  My older dog was named after one of the characters from The Golden Girls.  Completely and utterly embarrassing, I know.

6. I really want to be a Dad. Wow. It’s like I suddenly went from a light-hearted Q&A to filling out a match.com questionnaire. But it is true. It’s one of those things that has really been playing on my mind a lot lately.  I think I would be okay if it didn’t happen for me, but I still like to imagine the possibility.

7. Next up for me is a non-fiction book from St. Martin’s in the fall of 2011. The title keeps changing so become a fan on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to learn more about it.  Right now, I’m writing the outline for a series of books that I’m so beyond excited about I can’t even tell you. I don’t want to say anymore—but I love it.

To find out more about Robert Rave, visit his website and follow him on Facebook. And don't forget to buy Waxed here!

Thanks so much, Robert!



7 seconds in heaven with...Nicholas Sparks By Liz & Lisa

sparks02 Remember Truth or Dare? Spin the Bottle?

How about Seven Seconds In Heaven?

Now take yourselves back to those days of leg warmers and peg legged jeans...to the feelings you had when you thought about hopping in that closet with your crush--the one you'd confidently scrawled that you'd "LUV 4EVER" on the front of your Trapper Keeper. (Oh...where are you now, Neil Butler? cries Lisa.)

Well, fast forward, er, a couple o' decades later (and then some) and there are still a lot of hotties out there that bring back the same rush of emotions like we had in junior high.  And we're not just talking about the McDreamys and McSteamys of the world. We're talking about men who not only look good, but damn, they can write! There's almost nothing sexier than a good looking and talented author. And that's why we're launching a new series called SEVEN SECONDS IN HEAVEN where we ask our favorite male authors seven things that inquiring and nosy female minds like ours want to know!

And who better to start with than Nicholas Sparks who we crush on pretty hard. His books are ultra romantic, his stories are deeply engaging and his writing is always entertaining. And for a moment, can we talk about those brown eyes? Ahhhhhh... and we know all you fans out there LOVE him, because in our poll of male authors women adore that we ran on our Chick Lit is not Dead Facebook fan page, you told us! Hands down, Nicholas Sparks won the majority.

So, to put it mildly, we pretty much went weak in the knees when this amazing writer of great romantic novels like THE NOTEBOOK (which makes Lisa cry every time and where Liz developed her unhealthy Ryan Gosling obsession.) and NIGHTS OF RODANTHE (did he help cast Richard Gere in the movie? If so, thank you, Mr. Sparks!) stopped by Chick Lit Is Not Dead!

We had so many questions...like could he be possibly be as much of a romantic in real-life as the characters he writes about? You don't just conjure up the Noah and Allies of the world if you aren't known to purchase a Hallmark card or two, right? (Right! Check out what he does for his lucky wife on every anniversary!)

So, in the spirit of that junior high make out game we all played waaaay back in the day-SEVEN SECONDS IN HEAVEN-we asked this dreamy husband (Mrs. Sparks, you are one lucky lady!), father of five and author of SIXTEEN books (including his latest THE LAST SONG which just might have made robotic Liz cry!) our seven seconds (questions) in heaven with Nicholas Sparks...

1. If you weren't a writer, what other career could you be passionate about? I love coaching track and field.  I had the opportunity to coach for the last four years, and it was everything I thought it would be.  If I wasn't a writer, it's definitely something I'd enjoy.

2. What one romantic movie could you watch over and over? What else?  The Notebook!

3. You've said that you fell in love with your wife at first sight, what is the most romantic thing you've ever done for her? I write her love letters on every anniversary, reminding her of everything that's happened in the last year, and why she means so much to me.  She now has twenty letters, and they've become something of a journal regarding our lives together.

4. What are some of your goals/dreams that you have yet to achieve? I would love to be able to enjoy the art of relaxation.  I'm one of those type-A personalities.

5. What one thing would fans be surprised to know about Nicholas Sparks? That most of the time -- 99% -- I don't feel like, or think of myself as, an author.  A writer, yes.  A father and husband, certainly.  But author?  No.

6. You wrote a book with your brother? Yes, Micah and I wrote THREE WEEKS WITH MY BROTHER together from separate coasts by talking on the phone and faxing drafts back and forth.

7. What can your fans expect from you next? Another novel, another couple of movies (Dear John, The Last Song). It's what I do.

For more information about the incredibly talented Nicholas Sparks and his latest novel, THE LAST SONG, check out www.nicholassparks.com.

xoxo, Liz & Lisa