judy blume

Lit IT Girl: Debut Author Rosanna Chiofalo

Our latest Lit IT Girl: Rosanna Chiofalo Why we love her: We heart discovering fabulous new authors!

Her debut: Bella Fortuna

The Scoop on it: Valentina DeLuca has made hundreds of brides' dreams come true. At Sposa Rosa, the Astoria, New York, boutique where she, her sisters, and their mother design and sew couture knock-off gowns, she can find the perfect style for even the most demanding customer. Now, it's her turn. Valentina has loved Michael Carello ever since he rescued her from a cranky shopkeeper when she was ten years old. He's handsome, chivalrous, and loyal. And in a few weeks, she's going to marry him--in Venice.

But just when she thinks everything is falling into place, Valentina is forced to re-examine her life to see what truly makes her happy. And as she soon learns, in a place as magical as Venice, what seems like misfortune can turn out to be anything but, although who knows what may be waiting around the next corner? The chance to enjoy a moonlit gondola ride, to sip Prosecco in St. Mark's Square, to eat mouthwatering gelato, to put aside "sensible" for once and see where the warm Italian breezes guide her as she visits all the sights she's dreamed of: The Doge's Palace, Il Rialto, the little islands of Murano and Burano. And maybe, along the way, to discover that bella fortuna--good luck--isn't what you're given, but what you make.

Our thoughts: Liz lent this one to her friend Jean, who said it best: Bella Fortuna is a novel about friendship and family. Chiofalo writes a beautiful story about the struggles, fantasies, luck and second chances that come along with finding true love. Bella Fortuna is a wonderful portrayal of Italian-American life and a compelling story about destiny!

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

Fun Fact: Rosanna met her future mother-in-law while on jury duty. She then introduced her to her hubs!  Cute!

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


1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"? I worked in publishing for twenty years as a copywriter/copy director and developed a few contacts. I was able to connect with an editor through one of my publishing contacts, and after submitting an outline and four chapters of my novel, my publisher bought the submission.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter? That would be the token "Although your writing is very strong, we can't accept your submission at this time." I never quite understood that; however, I did realize it's important to offer some constructive criticism along with the rejection!

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel? The first thought that comes to mind was that I was working full time while writing my debut novel on weekend mornings. Since I hadn't seen my characters or was in their lives for a week, I'd have to reacquaint myself, so to speak, with what had happened in their lives when I last wrote. Also, making sure that what I had written in the earlier parts of the novel was consistent with what I had written in the latter half of it.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz? My best advice was staying true to myself and writing about what I loved and knew best. My worst advice would have to be something that's told to many aspiring writers, which is to follow whatever writing trends are hot at the moment. Many aspiring writers write based on whatever genre is the hottest or selling the most at the moment, and if you aren't already a fan of that genre and/or reading it on a regular basis, your writing can come across as very stilted.

5. How did you celebrate your book deal? I went out to an ultra fancy restaurant with my husband. We're big foodies and love having special occasions to celebrate at one of our favorite restaurants or at a new place we haven't discovered yet. I also treated myself to a beautiful necklace. Jewelry is my weakness!

6. Who is your writer crush? There are so many. It's hard to choose just one. I love the novels that Cathy Lamb writes, which are often about the strong bonds of family and friends in women's lives. Her favorite novel of mine is HENRY'S SISTERS. Although I discovered Judy Blume as an adolescent, I still love to reread some of her novels. And I especially love her adult novel SUMMER SISTERS. I had heard about Daphne DuMaurier's REBECCA for so many years and last year, I finally read it. I still get chills down my spine when I think about that book and how brilliant it is. And two of my favorite classics are Thomas Hardy's TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES and Charles Dickens' DAVID COPPERFIELD.

7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be? Oh, you're going to make me choose just one again? Okay. I'd have to say LUCIA, LUCIA by Adriana Trigiani. I cried for Lucia during and after I finished reading the book, and she still pops into my mind now and then. I love, love, LOVE that book, and if I were stranded on a desert island I'd want a book that is as engrossing as that book is.

8. What's on your iPod right now? LMAO, Cristina Perri, Lady Gaga, U2, Adele. I'm also a big '80s child much to the chagrin of my husband!

9. What's your #1 stress reliever? Massages, especially an intense deep-tissue massage. I get the worst knots in my shoulders and upper back probably because I'm a Virgo who over-analyzes everything! But even when I don't have knots that need to be worked on, I love how relaxed I feel after a massage. I make sure to get one every time I go on vacation as well.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye? My recipe for Palline di Limone Biscotti (Glazed Lemon Cookies). Once you pop one of these flavorful lemon cookies in your mouth, you'll be telling everyone how good they are! But even if EW doesn't put my cookies as their bullseye, you can get the recipe in the back of Bella Fortuna!

Thanks Rosanna!  xoxo, L&L

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's 5 Loves and a Dud

The inner teenage in us jumps with joy for good YA.  Especially Liz-she's the biggest YA whore this side of the Mississippi. Maybe it's all those Sweet Valley High's she devoured in middle school or all the Judy Blume novels she read over and over.  Either way, she's a sucker for YA! So we're excited to have the lovely Lauren Baratz-Logsted sharing her 5 Loves and a Dud.  And don't worry, if YA isn't your bag, she writes adult fiction too!  In fact, her latest, The Bro-Magnet sounds really fabulous! But today we're highlighting Little Women And Me.

Here's the dealio on Little Women and Me: Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all.

Sound good? Then leave a comment yo!  We have FIVE copies to give away.  We'll choose the winners on February 19th after 6pm PST. Good luck!




1. General Hospital. I've watched on and off for 33 years. It's my daily break from writing and I still get caught up in the storylines, no matter how insane. It was just revealed that Johnny's dead sister Claudia was really his mother...even though the actress who played Claudia is only four years older than the actor who plays Johnny - how crazy is that???

2. Adele. As I'm writing this, the Grammy Awards were just given out the night before with Adele winning all six awards she was nominated for. Not only is she an amazing singer, but her very existence and success are proof positive that a woman doesn't have to diet her way down to waif status or do anything but just sing brilliantly to succeed.

3. Toenail polish. Yes, to some that might sound like a minor thing. But for someone like me who wears almost no makeup - except for eyebrow pencil so I'll actually have eyebrows and lipstick in winter so I don't look like the possessed girl from The Exorcist - having pretty toenails is a very big deal. Right now they're sparkly.

4. My cat, Yoyo. I've had seven other cats before Yoyo over the course of my life, and I've never seen a cat do the things he does. Just to give two examples out of many, one time, when he couldn't get to his litter box because someone had closed the door to that room, we caught him straddling the toilet because he didn't want to leave a mess on the floor. The other thing is that no matter how long my daughter might hold on to him and no matter how awkward the position, he never bites or scratches or tries to get away from her, even when the expression on his face is one of "Seriously? Oh, the indignities!"

5. Reading. Need I tell you why?


Elitists. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. But by the same token, just because something is popular it doesn't mean it's automatically bad either. And it just makes me crazy when I come across someone who is across-the-board against everything - be it books, TV, film, or music - that's popular. It always seems to me like people like that doth protest too much. And then it makes me want to say, "Insecure much?" And then that makes me want to say, "Fine. You just sit there with your Dom Perignon and your sushi and your PBS documentary on the history of the doorknob. I'll just stay right here with Yoyo on my lap, eating Cheetos and watching GH."

Thanks Lauren! xoxo, L&L

To learn more about Lauren, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Lisa's Top Twelve All-Time Faves plus one special mention

I'm a girl who doesn't have a favorite anything. I'm the kind of person who loves Italian food but can also get down with some orange chicken and an egg roll. I've watched The Holiday as much as the Die Hard series. I don't have a favorite color, but I lean toward blue and green (if you don't count black and gray). I love Manhattan (New York) as much as Laguna Beach (the city not the television show). So when you ask me for my top ten favorite books, my mind starts spinning. Do I categorize them? Should I make one list that's comprised of my favorite chick lit, another for memoirs, another for biographies and so on? Do I start with the books I read when I was a little girl because then I'd have to include Judy Blume's, Are you There God, It's me Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing that I still firmly believe are better than many books written today. In the end, I decided to close my eyes and go with my gut. I went to my bookshelf and nightstand and grabbed the ones that made me happy during a time in my life when I needed them. At the end of the day, that's the function of a book as far as I'm concerned.

Somehow, I ended up with 12 (in no particular order) plus one special mention. I doubt my descriptions will do these books justice so I can only hope that you are inspired to read them or to read them again. Sometimes the second time around is even better!

1. Straight Up and Dirty by Stephanie Klein I didn't hear about Straight Up and Dirty from Liz or one of my girlfriends that I often swap books with. Turns out, it was Matt (my "manfriend"), who said the colorful cover caught his eye and after reading the back, thought it sounded like me. (I'm sure it was probably the title more than the cover but anywhoo...) He was right- Straight Up and Dirty and I were/are/always will be a perfect fit. I've read it twice and given it as a gift more times than I can count. Stephanie Klein's writing is the perfect combination of witty, smart, self-deprecating and honest in this memoir about her life with the wrong guy and her journey to finding the right one.

2. The Big Love by Sarah Dunn Time Magazine called The Big Love "Unapologetic Chick Lit" and I couldn't agree more. Sarah Dunn's first novel grabs you from page one when Alison's boyfriend steps out for mustard and never returns.  It's a beach read that also makes you think. Is there a better combination?

3. Something Borrowed & Something Blue by Emily Giffin Emily Giffin is inspirational because her debut novel Something Borrowed hit the NY Times best seller list and when you read it, it's obvious why it did. She has incredible talent because she writes about a girl who sleeps with her best friend's fiancé but still has the ability to make you feel for and even like her. Her follow up novel, Something Blue is the same story but told from the perspective of the friend who was cheated on in Something Borrowed. The one you thought was a shallow, heartless be-yotch but now you suddenly root for and understand.  That, my friends, is talent.

4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri This is my intellectual book. Not that the others aren't well written with big words. But this has that little sticker on the front that says "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize." If you haven't heard of this author or book, you've probably heard of the movie the Namesake. It was adapted from her novel of the same name (the movie did NOT do the book justice, but do they ever?). Interpreter of Maladies is a series of short stories and Jhumpa's debut novel. The way she writes about people "seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations" as described on the back of her book, makes you feel like you're right there in the room with her characters, smelling the food they're cooking, feeling the emotions they're feeling and hoping, as much as they are, that it will all work out.

5. Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch I just read this book and fell in love. It's all about those two little words so many of us ask ourselves, "What if?" If you've ever questioned your life, wondered what would've happened if you'd married your college sweetheart or if you hadn't, this book will make you look at and appreciate your life for what it really is.

6. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer Just a few exciting things about this book... It was Liza's debut novel and the first novel for the publisher 5 Spot; it went on to be an international best seller and has been optioned to HBO for a series! Her writing is hilarious, (and so is she--Liz and I saw her speak along with Megan Crane whose book Frenemies is sitting on my nightstand calling out to me) and she's truly the master of snappy dialogue. Her story really hits home for anyone who's ever felt like they could not catch a break and who's ever been insecure or questioned his or her entire life. Face it girls and boys, that's all of us. And if it's not, you suck or you're lying!

7. Sammy's Hill & Sammy's House by Kristin Gore Kristin Gore, you may or may not know, is Al Gore's daughter who established herself as a writer on SNL. Her main character in both books, Sammy, is flawed and quirky (my favorite combo) and even has a pet gold fish (hate them, but gave it a pass because it's funny) and I love her!  Both books are so much fun!

8. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld I love the way Curtis Sittenfeld writes. She paints you an incredibly detailed picture of what her main characters are seeing and feeling. I love this story about a 14 year old girl who feels completely out of place in her prep school. She never fits in over the four years she attends. We all have our junior high and high school traumatic experiences that have followed us through life. I know I empathized with this awkward adolescent (In fact, is there any other kind?). You should've seen me! I had glasses, braces and a perm that I poured a bottle of Infusium on every day. My hair was actually hard to the touch (I'll find & post a picture for you).

9.  The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank I also loved The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing but The Wonder Spot is lesser known and reminds me a lot of Prep in the way it's written. Like Prep, it's about a girl who feels like she doesn't fit in- anywhere. Through a series of missteps, she searches for the life she wants to have. It's a wise and funny book-- fow show.

10. The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner It goes without saying that Good in Bed and In Her Shoes are fantastic. There's just something about the short story that I love and maybe that's why it's this book by Jennifer Weiner that I'm choosing to highlight. It just can't be easy to tell a compelling and interesting story in only a few pages. I like being left wanting more and personally feel that she could've developed several of these stories into novels!  You should do it, Jennifer!

11. The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz First...a bit of interesting trivia about this author. She wrote the screenplay for 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde. This is another debut novel that centers around one night. A night we've all experienced... whether we've been the fool in the veil running around Vegas or one of the fools with a plastic penis around her neck chasing after the fool in the veil. This is a fun page turner that I read might be turned into a movie. From chick lit to chick flick!

12. Beginner's Greek by James Collins I loved this book because it was different than anything I'd read in a long time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it was written by a man about a man who still believes in romance and fate.  It's a story about a man who craves a happy ending and (SPOILER ALERT) he gets it too!

Honorable Mention: See Jane Write, A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick LIt by Sarah Mlynowski & Farrin Jacobs

Liz and I will be the first to tell you that we had no idea what we were doing when we wrote our book. Only after we finished I'll Have Who She's Having, did we start reading books on how to write books. We definitely went about it backwards but that's just who we are. We didn't follow a lot of the rules like outlining (shh!!). And we didn't even know our ending until close to the ending.

See Jane Write, A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit was a little treasure that we discovered on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and devoured while standing in the store.  In true Liz/Lisa fashion, we used it as a guide to see if the novel we'd already written had even a chance of making it.  See Jane Write, A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit is very straightforward and funny. It also meant a lot to us because it was written by Sarah Mlynowski (who we love) and Farrin Jacobs (a former chick lit editor who became a writer who we also now love). They obviously believe in the chick lit genre.  They make no apologies for chick lit-- in fact they champion it. It's a great book that includes great tips from authors like Emily Giffin, Meg Cabot and Sophia Kinsella.

Be sure to tell us about your faves!

Top Ten All-Time Faves by Liz

Discussing all the reasons why I love chick lit has made me nostalgic for my favorite books.  So I've decided to list my top ten all-time favorites and would love to hear what is at the top of your reading list. Twilight disclaimer: Okay so it won't be on my top ten but I did like it!  It is beautifully written and engaging, but I wanted to highlight books that I've gone back and read two and three times just so I could visit the characters again. So don't tag me as a Twilight hater, I'm not. But I'm not gonna lie, Bella's damsel in distress act starting getting on my nerves in New Moon.

Liz's Top Ten All-Time Faves

1. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

I'll admit that the only reason I had picked up this book was because of  my childhood loyalty to classics like Are You There God?  It's Me Margaret (They talked about her period! gasp!) and forbidden fare like Forever (oh, admit it, you know you all had a copy of it hidden under your bed in the 80's!)

However, Summer Sisters turned out to be a wonderful novel about the complex, lifelong friendship of two girls.  I have read it over ten times and still have my dog-eared copy on the bookshelf.  This is a must-read!

2. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells

I love these two books and think that you should read Ya-Ya first and then Little Altars Everywhere second even though they were written in the opposite order. This is also a story about life-long friends set in the South.  I was so bummed when the movie came out, I thought it didn't do the book justice at all!

3. Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Lisa and I have talked about writing a book together for fifteen years, but it wasn't until we read these two books that we felt inspired to start.  What I love best about these books is that Something Borrowed is told in the voice of Rachel and then the story picks up again in something Blue in the voice of Darcy, Rachel's best friend.  Emily Giffin does a awesome job of making these women likeable even though they make bad decisions.

4. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

From page one, I was in love.  I know that In Her Shoes gets a lot more attention because of the movie, but I believe this story about Cannie's journey to self-discovery is her finest.

5. Jemina J by Jane Green

Love, love, love this story about a women who sends a man a fake picture and then has to reinvent herself into the fictional person she's created when he wants to meet her.

6. Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer

I love Liza's ability to write sophisticated characters that we can all still relate to.  A great read for anyone that feels they are always trying to live up to other's expectations.

7. Me Vs. Me by Sarah Mlynowski

I adore this book about a women who can't decide which path to choose so she starts to live them both after her wish on a falling star comes true.  I have such a soft spot for novels that have a little magic going on!

8. A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I just read this book for the first time a few weeks ago and LOVED it.  Once I started it, I literally didn't put it down until I finished.  A story about trading in your corporate life for the mommy track and the competitive insanity that can come along with it.

9. Straight up and Dirty: A Memoir by Stephanie Klein

Lisa loves memoirs and turned me on to this hilarious story about a woman's journey to find herself again after divorce.  Stephanie's brutal honesty about life is refreshing and makes this a must-read.

10.  Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane

I love Megan's witty humor and complicated characters that are filled with depth and emotion!  Smart and Sassy chick lit.

So there you have it!  What are your favorites?  I need some suggestions on what to read next!