Here Home Hope


Today's guest: Kaira Rouda Why we love her: She writes from the heart! We love that.

Her latest: Here, Home, Hope and All the Difference

The scoop on Here Home Hope: Kelly Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors' seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly's own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan.

From page one, Kelly's witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan--she places Post-it notes all over her house and car--will have readers laughing out loud. The next instant, however, they might rant right along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor. Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, too, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career.

Award-winning Here, Home, Hope will surely appeal to readers of chick lit and other women's fiction titles who are ready to transition into something new in their own life.

The scoop on All the Difference: From the bestselling author of HERE, HOME, HOPE, comes a novel of suspense and choices, with a nod to the best of Susan Isaacs's tales of suburban murder. Once again, everything isn't what it seems in the suburb of Grandville. ALL THE DIFFERENCE is the story of three Grandville women whose lives become entangled by the choices they make and how, ultimately, one of them turns to murder to achieve her goals. Roommates Laura and Angie couldn't be more different. Laura is a local celebrity, the television anchor who is motivated to move out of small-time media markets and on to the big time, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, Angie, a luckless waitress, spends her time waiting for Mr. Right to save her from temporary jobs and a life spent making bad choices. On the other side of town, Ellen abandons her life as a successful fundraiser for that of an isolated housewife in the country estate she shares with her husband, whose affairs become increasingly hard to ignore. When the city’s gossip columnist, Maddie, and restaurant reviewer, Dixon, become involved in the story, the unlikely duo stir up more than they intended. With her signature mix of compassion and wit, Kaira Rouda once again takes readers on an entertaining journey into the heart of women’s lives in suburbia, this time with a dose of suspense.

Our thoughts: Both of these highly entertaining books are only .99 from now through December 31st. It's a no-brainer!

Giveaway:Two copies of Here, Home, Hope and two copies of All the Difference. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, December 16 after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Another GIVEAWAY ALERT!! Are you feeling Naughty or Nice? Doesn’t matter, with this giveaway, you could win a prize to make both sides happy!

To have a little fun with the holidays, Kaira “asked” a leading lady from each of her two novels what she would pick for a Holiday giveaway prize.  Kelly, the protagonist of HERE, HOME, HOPE, is represented by the “Nice” gifts.  Ellen, one of the stars of ALL THE DIFFERENCE, made the special “Naughty” selections. To win this amazing prize, please visit Kaira’s Facebook author page or her website’s blog and sign up. The giveaway is open to US and Canada residents. Good luck!

Wait, there’s more!

As a special holiday gift for everyone, HERE, HOME, HOPE and ALL THE DIFFERENCE are 99 cents for your eReader now through December 31st so if you haven’t had a chance to read both of Kaira’s novels, now you can!

Where you can read more about Kaira: Facebook, Twitter and her website


Thank you so much Liz and Lisa! I was thrilled to be asked to write about my five favorite things about the holidays! I’m a proudly expressive Christmas celebrator, and I look forward to this month with the glee of a child. Why? Well, I’ll try to keep it to five reasons:

1. Cards. I love to receive Christmas/Holiday cards. It fills me with such happiness when the mail arrives and in it I see festive return labels, red ink addresses and funky, fun-sized envelopes. Every year, since my first child was born and continuing to today (actually last weekend), we make it a family tradition to take photos and come up with themes. Now that the kids are 21, 19, 18 and 16, it’s tougher to be original. We’ve pumped out 20 years of fairly clever, heartfelt cards, if I do say so myself. This year I considered doing Six Shades of Gray….but the kids weren’t too sure about that. (Nothing naughty, simply all six of us wearing different shades of gray!) Instead, I’m working on a different theme and hope to have them in the mail soon. I also hope, even though we’ve moved several times in the past few years, that I’ll be blessed by a burgeoning mailbox!

2. Decorations. I counted 27 green and red plastic tubs in our storage unit just before my husband and I began to cart them out to our car to take home. This year, I’m using about a third of our stash to decorate. When we lived in the Midwest, we had a bigger house. That’s just how it is. Ohio house = 27-tubs to decorate. California house = 9 tubs. My favorite element of the decorations is the Christmas tree itself, and of the ornaments adorning it, my favorites are the ones the kids made through the years. I love opening the ornament boxes and pulling out memories. It’s such a magical feeling. I try to get the tree decorated early, so I can bask in the glow of its lights and memories all December.

3. Good cheer. People are happier. Truly. Ok, not people are miserable at hot, overcrowded malls, but aside from that, the holidays make folks merry and bright. There are more toasts, more parties, more sparkles on women’s dresses and in their eyes. Sure, we’re all extra busy and more exhausted, but somehow, that doesn’t negate the smiles and wishes of “Happy Holidays”. What could be better? Remind yourself if you’re in a grumpy mood to fake it until you feel it. And if you see a grump headed your way, give him a smile. My favorite saying: A smile confuses an approaching frown. It works!

4. Lights. We are so lucky to live in Laguna Beach, a resort town that goes all out to celebrate the season. Santa’s Beach House opens in the village the first Friday of December and a big party celebrates his arrival. Stores and restaurants stay open late and the happy energy is tangible. I love the bee lights decorating almost every tree and store front. The entire village looks like a postcard of the perfect Christmas town, minus the snow, thank goodness!

5. Time together with our family’s traditions. The best thing about the holidays is the luxury of time with my family. We have such a blast – playing board games, sharing meals, opening gifts, telling stories, hugging, teasing each other. Well, you know. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

I know you have your own list of favorite things about the holidays! Remember, even with the bustle, to stop and appreciate the moments.  In the end, those special memories are truly the gift of the season.

Thanks, Kaira!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Lit IT Girl: Debut Author Kaira Rouda

Happy Launch to the amazingly talented, Kaira Rouda! Her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope is a must-read for any woman who's ever thought about changing her life. Which, let's admit it, is pretty much all of us!  We'll admit that we've each had a "mid-life" crisis meltdown (or five!). So when we read, Here, Home, Hope, we were seriously LOL'ing  (and you know it takes a lot to get a real LOL out of us!) as we thought about our own lives.

So Liz was beyond honored to be asked by Kaira to blurb for her book.

And here it is... (so official!)

“A must read for anyone who's had their own mid-life crisis, Here, Home, Hope reminds us that it's never too late to reinvent ourselves.” – Liz Fenton, author of I'll Have Who She's Having, The D Word and creator of Chick Lit is not Dead

Synopsis of Here, Home, Hope: Kelly Mills Johnson is a 39-year-old mother and wife stuck in the rut of her middle-American suburban life.  A routine relationship with her lawyer husband, two uber-successful businesswomen for best friends to envy and an all-around predictable existence motivate Kelly to reinvent herself.

In an often-times humorous manner, Kelly begins diving into new projects (armed with Post-it notes and a Things to Change list), revisiting old memories and rediscovering passions.  Whether she is taking care of the anorexic teenager dumped on her doorstep, making up with an old high school friend or avoiding the boozy advances of her divorced neighbor, Kelly’s insistence on moving her life in a new direction and finding the perfect blend of home and career is inspiring and entertaining.

And if you leave a comment here, you could be one of the five lucky winners of a copy of Here Home Hope! We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm EST on Wednesday, May 4.


1.  How many agents did you query before you found "the one"?

Yes, well that is the question. I looked back at my files and I would guess, since 1997 – the year I first started querying literary agents – that I’ve approached/pitched about 300. That’s funny, actually. And sort of depressing if you let it be.

My first agent very much believed in my manuscript, WARNING. We met at the Antioch Writer’s Workshop and we had it sold, too, to a huge editor at a big house. The famous editor actually called me. I’ll never forget it. She loved the book. The next day, she died in a taxi in Manhattan. I didn’t have a contract.

My second agent was wonderful. I found her because she was in the same literary agency as my nonfiction agent who represented REAL YOU INCORPORATED. My second agent helped me understand what was selling, what the basic structure should be. She helped me draft the very first version of what is now HERE, HOME, HOPE. But she was, as all agents are, extremely busy. When we didn’t get a hit, she needed to move on.

So, the answer is, I haven’t found the one. Would I love to have a partner to guide my career and to help me through the next book, to help place it and make it better? Absolutely. Will that person come along? I don’t know. I guess it all depends on whether HERE, HOME, HOPE resonates with people – whether readers like it and want to read more. I hope that happens. I hope an agent comes into my life. It’s tough going it alone, it really is. But, given the choice of going it alone, or never going for it – I decided to go for it.

I’d love “the one” beside me.

2.  What was your rock bottom moment during the process?

December 13, 2010. I’m not kidding. I realized it is all up to me. I’m publishing my first novel with a small press and I don’t have an agent. I don’t have a big six publisher. For the first time in my life I don’t have a full time job. I have four kids – one in college and one about to go. I had that ….oh my goodness what are you thinking moment. It comes back, quite often. But I’m trying to climb out of the bottom.

I know I’ve written the best novel I can. I’ve done the best I can. I’ve partnered with the best publisher, publicist, event planner and support folks I can. My family is behind me. I have hope.

3.  How long did it take to write your book?

About 2 ½ years.

4.  What did you do to celebrate your book deal?

With a bottle of champagne and a walk on the beach with my husband, my biggest fan.

5.  Knowing what you know now about publishing your first novel, what would you have done differently?

I truly believe things happen when you’re ready; if I had been ready sooner, I would have published the novel sooner. That said, I wish I would have had the confidence to publish the novel sooner.

6.  Who is your writer crush?

Jenna Blum. She’s an adventurer, an author of amazing range and a great supporter of other authors. That said, I’m also enamored with Eleanor Brown, Beth Hoffman and, from a very far distance, Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult who stick up for women writers whenever they can. Love that!

7.  What's your biggest distraction or vice while writing?

My new puppy, Tucker. I cannot stop smiling at him. He is a living, walking Teddy Bear.

8.  GNO drink of choice?

Dirty martini. Stuffed olives. But most of the time, it’s Chardonnay. California, preferably.

9.  Favorite trashy TV show?

Housewives of ______ fill in the blank. I am fascinated, but not usually remembering to tune in. When I do, love it. I do have Bachelor/Bachelorette moments, too.

10.  What celeb would you love to have a Twitter war with?

Whichever celeb happens to be denigrating women at the moment…pick one. There are many. That sounds snarky, but it drives me crazy. We need to stand up for ourselves, for other women. Stick together.

Thanks so much for having me here!

You're welcome, Kaira! xoxo, L&L

For more information about the incredibly talented Kaira Rouda, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!



Mommy Monday: An extra hour a day away keeps the b*tchface away

So far, I'm loving 2011.  I'm ROCKING those damn bangs like nobody's business and Lisa's bundle of joy arrived late last week. (More details from Lisa to come later this month-so all I'll say is that both Mom and baby are healthy and gorgeous!)  The Bears are heading to the playoffs(this makes the hubs happy) and I've already lost those annoying Wii-induced 5 pounds that were giving me the worst muffin top EVEH. And we all know that it's freakin' IMPOSSIBLE to rock jeans with boots when you have muffin top. So how did I lose them so quickly you ask?  Did I finally open up the P90X?  Did I decide to take the stairs?  Did I get swine flu?  Nope.  I lost the weight the old-fashioned way.


Don't worry-it's not the things are going terrible and I can't eat stress.  It's more like I'm so busy that I can't breathe or text or eat stress.  I knew 2011 was going to be crazy but it still knocked the wind out of me last week.  I found myself wishing for just one more hour in the day to get things done.  And when I fell into bed Friday night, I began daydreaming about what I would do with that hour.  Oh, the things I would get done! I would be so much nicer!  So relaxed!  Because let's face it: An extra hour a day would keep the bitchface away. You know, that secret bitchface that lives inside all of us?  Don't even try to pretend like you don't have one.

And here it is, so just in case I actually ever get that extra hour-I'll be ready!  Or maybe I'll just play Wii. (Damn you Grandma and Grandpa for buying the kids that time suck!)

If I had an extra hour a day, I would....

1. Get a mani-pedi with extra massage. I'd even finally let them draw that flower on my toenail they're always bugging me about.

2. Pour a huge glass of wine and watch the latest The Millionaire Matchmaker . (Did any of you see the one recently with the PR millionairess that looked like a crayola exploded on her face and the gold digger?  Dude! You. Must. Watch.)

3. Put on super cute workout clothes and pretend I was going to the gym and then find something else to do instead. Because it's the thought that counts, right?

4. Take my new dog to an animal psychic. Because I just have to know why that bitch keeps running away.  She went from a cold animal shelter and horrible mange to belly rubs, treats, walks and two kids that worship the ground she walks on. I don't know how to convey to her that it's not getting any better than this.

5. Tackle my TBR pile. Oh Vey.  Super Mario Brothers has really set me behind on this one. But I have three ARCS that I'm excited to read in the next two weeks- Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany(out in July), The Violets of March by Sarah Jio(out April 27th) and Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda(out in May).  Oh, and speaking of ARCS, you're going to LOVE Sarah Pekkanan's Skipping A Beat(due February 22).  I read it one day last month-I laughed, I cried, I loved it. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it.  And Leave a comment here to win an ARC of Sarah Jio's The Violets of March!

6. Read the stack of Entertainment Weeklys sitting on my desk. Because drooling over Jake Gyllenhaal half-naked on the cover is not actually considered reading.

7. Learn how to bake. Because I'm tired of my daughter saying, Oh, Mommy! when I pull lopsided, burnt cookies out of the oven.

8. Shop by myself. I don't care where.  Although for some reason I find Target very relaxing(until I get to the cash register and realized I've spent $200 and bought NOTHING I actually need).

9. Have happy hour with the girls. Because an hour with good friends, a Grey Goose dirty martini and an onion ring stack can make just about any problem melt away.

10. Have a conversation with my hubs that has nothing to do with snot, poop, time out, or Wii. Is that really too much to ask? And if I got an another hour, I might actually kiss him with some tongue.  In fact-let's declare 2011 the year of the married make-out session! All I need is a shot of tequila to help me forget about all the other things I should be doing instead and I'm in!

What would YOU do with your extra hour? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win an ARC of Sarah Jio's upcoming debut, The Violets of March.  I'll pick the winners on Wednesday night after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

xoxo, Liz

5 Steps To A Better Me by Liz

I'm not gonna lie-I'm not too sad to say goodbye to 2010.  While it was a year with some awesome highlights(Lisa's wedding and pregnancy, so many AWESOME authors and giveaways...), it was also a year of transition(new job, juggling blog and aforementioned new job and my daughter's first year of kindergarten...).  And geez, could any more of my fave celebrity couples call it quits?  Even though there's part of me that is sooo stoked my celebrity crush and complete HOTTIE Ryan Reynolds is single again, it always bums me out to see people throw in the towel.  And was I the only one that thought that Courtney Cox and David Arquette were going to make it for the long haul?

But what makes 2011 most special is Lisa's special delivery-due ANY MINUTE.  I wish we lived in the same state so I could bring her over a casserole (Do people still do that anymore?) and a Xanax after the baby arrives.  Just kidding.  She really doesn't like casseroles.

As you might have guessed, Lisa's on maternity leave for the next month or so.  So since she's not available, I made her New Year's resolutions for her.  And I think I did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself!

Lisa's New Year's Resolutions

1. Get baby to sleep

2. Get myself to sleep

3. Mop floors. Again! (Did I mention her cleanliness obsession?)

4. Repeat above steps.

And me? On NYE, our family declared our resolutions for 2011.  My daughter resolved to try to be less annoyed by my son and my son resolved to stop using he words POOP and BOOTY in every single sentence. (See why she gets annoyed?)  And the hubs?  He resolved to win Streak for the Cash-the ESPN online contest that he's obsessed involved with.

But what about me?  I mean, I've got a ton of shit to get done in 2011.  And that means I need more than just one resolution, right?  Right!

And speaking of resolutions, I have an advanced copy of Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda -it's a story about a woman resolved to make some major changes in her life.  It doesn't come out until May but you can win it here!  Just leave a comment and you're entered! I'll choose the winners after 6PM PST on Friday night.

Liz's 2011 Resolutions

1. ROCK my new bangs- So... I'm not sure what I was thinking last week.  But I'm going to make the best of it.

2. Get a literary agent- It's been a long road but I have a feeling that 2011 is the year we go BIGTIME.  Or at least that's what my spiritual counselor told me anyway.

3. Start P90X- Getting six pack abs is the least I can do after I forced asked my husband to meet some creepy guy from Craig's List in the Walgreen's parking lot so I could save $50 on it. Related resolution: Lose the five pounds I've gained sitting on my ass the past two weeks playing the Wii we got for Christmas. Damn you Super Mario Brothers! Related resolution #2: Come to terms with the fact that the Wii has brought out latent "gamer" tendencies in my husband that I had been previously unaware of. *gag*

4. Complete third manuscript- Oh, this one will be easy.  With Lisa's new bundle of joy and my work schedule, I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to do this!  Besides, Lisa and I always work best together when she's sleep-deprived and I'm overwhelmed. *cue girl fight*  I'm just kidding!  I'm actually really looking forward to getting back to writing again.  It will be like visiting an old friend I haven't seen in a while.

5. Learn how to spell resolution-Seriously, what would I do without spell check?  And why do I want it to have two "u"s in it so badly? Clearly, I was absent the week it was on the spelling list.

Happy New Year to each and every and every one of you!  I hope all your dreams come true in 2011.

xoxo, Liz