Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Interview With An Author


I had the great pleasure of not only reading Ms. Osterkamp's book, but interviewing her as well. I hope you enjoy her candor as much as I did!

1.  Your first book, “Following my Toes,” won the indie book award for best Chick-lit.  Can you describe for the readers how that happened (submission process etc) and how it felt to receive such a prestigious honor on your first run?
I entered the Indie Excellence Awards because they had a category specifically for Chick-lit. Other contests I was competing in general fiction, which is a much broader playing field. The submission process was easy, but they do require print copies of books, and I know that eliminates a lot of quality e-books.
I have to admit I was thrilled to actually win. This was several years ago, and there was more of a stigma attached to being “independently published.” Winning gave me, right or wrong, a credibility that people didn’t attach to me before. A local paper did a story on me, and the library in city where I teach asked me to do a reading. It was a lot of fun.
2.      “Starring in the Movie of My Life,” chronicles the same story from the point of Samantha and Melody, two women in love with the same man. What made you decide to write the book with alternating view points? Was that a first for you?
It was a first, but it never occurred to me to do it any other way. The story always belonged to both Samantha and Melody. Since I love writing in first person, alternating their points of view was only natural. The most exciting chapters to write were the ones where the two of them were together in the same room. I loved observing Samantha through the Melody’s eyes, or vice-versa.
3.       Who is your favorite character? Why? Who is your least? Why?
That’s tough. I know a lot of readers found Melody to be pretty unlikeable, but in a weird way I’m protective of her.  However, I guess Samantha is my favorite because she has such a big heart and potential strength. Of the major characters, I’d have to say Nathan is my least favorite. It’s not his fault, but I don’t think he grows over the course of the story the way the others do.
4.       It seems that writing/publishing is a family affair!  How involved are you with the publishing of your work? Who does your editing?
My mom, Lynn Osterkamp, founded PMI Books. She already had a lot of experience with publishing; years ago one of her books was self-published, and another was published by a major publisher. She sold WAY more of the self-published book. These books were non-fiction, but when she finished her first mystery, Too Near the Edge,  she decided to self-publish because she’d have control and would be able to market her books as much or as little as she wanted. Recently she published her second novel, Too Far Under.
Since I’m her daughter I didn’t have to work too hard to convince her to publish my stuff as well. J Actually, it’s a really great thing that we share. We always read each other’s drafts and give each other feedback on whatever we’re writing, in addition to editing for typos and little mistakes. She has the time/skills to work on stuff like layout and the website, and I’m so grateful, because I’d be lost.
5.       What are you working on now? Any big news on the writing/marketing front?
 I’m slowly working on a novel about a high school girl who gets in with the wrong crowd and winds up being an accomplice to a murder. The story alternates between her high school life, and ten years later when she’s still dealing with the ramifications of what she’s done, and how it affected her, her friends, and her family. It’s about ambition, morality, love… and skiing.
My only big news on the marketing front comes from a few weeks back. Starring in the Movie of My Life was named an award-winning finalist in both the International Book Awards (in both young adult fiction and women’s fiction) and in the Indie Excellence Awards (for chick lit.) I’m really excited!

Starring in the Movie of My Life by Laurel Osterkamp

Samantha married Nathan Linden, who was 10 years her junior, long before
the word "cougar" had a second meaning, and she hasn't regretted it for
a single second. Teenage Melody is attacked by a fellow student at a
school dance. Before she is harmed, her English teacher, Mr. Linden,
appears like the proverbial white knight and saves her. Unfortunately,
Melody becomes so obsessed with Mr. Linden that everything begins to
unravel in the man's life. --RT Book Review Magazine, February 2011

Cover: B
The cover on my page is the current cover. The copy I  received had a very different cover. An empty movie theater, to be exact. I would give that cover a B as well. I hesitate to give a cover a high grade without laying hands (or kindle) on it. But this is clearly B material. I'm not sure why the change occurred. Not sure that it matters, either.
Story: B   
I received a copy of this book many moons ago. Long before I had my grubby little hands on my now, much used Kindle. It was the last paperback I read. Two things about this story caught (and held) my attention. 1. Tense. The book is written in present tense. As a writer, I've been told this is a serious no-no. After reading Ms. Osterkamp's book, I feel compelled to ask the obvious question: why? It is a good any tense. Who died and determined that present tense is passe? Whoever it was, they were WRONG!!!! (So wrong, that I bet if you read it, it didn't even catch your attention) 2. The flipping story line. I like this in a story. When it's done correctly, it keeps the reader engaged at a level that a straight, one person point of view book, cannot.
Overall: B
This is a good book. not your typical 'chick-lit' fluff...whatever that is. It deals with some tough issues, and it throws in some interesting twists. Samantha makes some interesting choices. in some ways, I believe she is more complex than Melody. I had a bit of trouble with Samantha's mother/father/their twisted relationship issues, but that's me.
Right now the Kindle edition is $2.99 & the paperback comes in at under six bucks! Quite a good deal for a solid read. Get your copy today & weigh in on a rising star, before she jets off into the Milky Way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Click: Because Love is Where You Least Expect it

"Click: An Online Love Story" by Lisa Becker

I tried like hell to get  the cover of this book to post. Unfortunately, Blogger was being a booger. I gave up. I'm posting my review without the cover photo. But remember, I always if it's the cover you want to see--CLICK!

Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical "B" celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will root for Renee to "click" with the right man. 
Cover: B+
The cover is nice. Clean (you know how I hate fussy covers). The minimalist approach works wonders. It lets you know exactly what the book is about--it even mimics the writing style.More on that later.

Story B
The entire novel is a series of emails between friends (and eventually lovers). When I began reading, I wasn't sure if it was going to sit well with me. Fast forward a few hours to 'The End' and I'd say we have ourselves a winner!
Humor is rampant throughout (the dating website Renee works with is 'Choose Jews'? Totally inappropriate and TOTALLY hilarious. Probably exists...)
Why not an A? Renee is only thirty. Hardly a life crisis....I know more unmarried women over thirty than housefrau's. I know some women feel that clock ticking, but not all. Or maybe, at 40, I look at thirty with envy? 
The real reason I dropped it from an A to a B was *SPOILER ALERT* the big A-HA!moment. I felt that Shelley was much too smart not to connect the name dots or, at the very least, cross-check Ethan's....just to be sure. And Renee feeling more terrible about teasing 'The Cuddler' than knowing he played musical beds with her bestie? Hmmmm, I only hope I could be that selfless (Already knowing there's no way I'd pull that off).

This is a really fun book. So good that once I dove in, I had to finish.The kind of story you can pick up and devour in one sitting (poolside at the Hilton optional).The characters are very well developed, the plot is unique & the writing will give you a good old fashioned chuckle. 
Right now, you can grab your copy of Click, on
Under $4.00 for Kindle & $11.99 for paper (get an e-reader people!).
Snatch it up & have some voyeuristic fun--no hacking required.
That is my last surprise review until after I interview Ms. Laurel Osterkamp. This time, I swear I'm telling the truth.


Monday, June 20, 2011

We Interrupt This Sea-Side Vacation To Bring You Some Much Needed Beatrice Munson...

Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey
In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.

Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will arrive with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.

How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt.

This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties.

Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.

 I bring this book review from Sandy Eggo--who has so thoughtfully provided much needed recuperation this week via a summer vacation at the Harbor Island Hilton. Forgive me if my formatting lacks the usual style...I lost my inhibitions somewhere at the bottom of a margarita glass.

Cover: A+
The color, the style, the simplicity--all of it works. The perfect meld. Love, love, love it. Kudos, Terry Whitington for such masterful work

Story: A
Beatrice Munson is Mary Poppins for every woman over forty. She is the person you wish you were, the person you wish was your BFF, and the person you will strive to be forevermore.
This book is enjoyable. Not what you expect, considering Marissa spent her years post high school building her up as her arch nemesis. Beatrice rides into town, her carpet bag full of tricks & tips to shake up the neighborhood in a good way. She is a Good Witch, a fortune teller, & the female equivalent to Buddha. 
Marissa and her besties fall prey to Beatrice's intoxicating ways and before you know it...*poof*they find the courage and dreams they lost between diaper changes.

This is a great summer read. If you've ever felt like an outcast for not drinking the "motherhood is the end all be all" Kool-Aid, this is the book for you. Do yourself a favor, get a little Beatrice Munson'd. You'll be glad you did!
Right now you can find a copy of "Beatrice Munson" on for your Kindle. At under five bucks, it's more affordable than months of therapy and just as effective! It is also available in paperback for $12.95.
That's all I have for now. After I fully digest my Dungeness Crab I'll be back.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sci-fi For the Masses

I feel as if summer hit the Windy City & the sun stole my writing chi. Is that possible? Nah, not really. I think It was more likely the college boy coming back, the loss of my daily driver to teenage employment & the fact that this particular allergy season leaves me goopy yet drained on a daily basis.
At any rate, I have a book review & a few other tidbits for ya'all, so sit back, relax & read.
1. Ambasadora by Heidi Ruby Miller
If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Sara Mendoza and Sean Cryer are.

In their multi-partner, caste-ruled society, love and jealousy are considered emotional fallacies, nothing more than fleeting moods and sentiments biased by hormones. Relationships and conceptions in this world obsessed with celebrity, beauty, and power are based on DNA and lineages...or should be. But not everyone believes in the ruling traditions of the all-powerful Embassy. A quiet rebellion prowls the dark underground of this shiny world where techno-militants calling themselves fraggers grow in numbers and bravado. The Embassy intends to silence the fragger movement before the heresy of equality spreads throughout the system.

Sara Mendoza is part of the Embassy's plan. Captured, tortured, and falsely accused of treason, she is given a chance to win back her freedom. She only needs to charm information from one of the fragger leaders, then kill him. But by the time she figures out the Embassy's intel is flawed and that Sean Cryer is her true mark, she's already in love with him.

Sean knows why Sara is on his ship from the start, but as a lonely, anti-social doser, he doesn't value his life, only his ideology within the fragger organization. Against his better judgment, he becomes her protector, each day caring more about a future he was always afraid to hope for.

Cover: B
I Like it. It works. The colors scheme stays true to the story (I know that sounds weird, but it's true). I picture Sara Mendoza as having the beauty of Angelina Jolie, with the kick assitude of Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man II. The girl on the cover doesn't quite do that for me...but it's good.
Story: A+ 
I love this book! What you need to know about me: I don't like sci-fi-at all. I sat through every episode of Star Trek the Next Generation because I fell in love with a man that loved it. For me it was a snooze fest with a capital S. So, the fact that this book was so thoroughly enjoyable threw me for a loop.
The story is fast paced and exciting. 
Overall: A+ 
I was amazed at how thorough the author was in creating an entire alternate universe. Her attention to detail really sucked me in. That and the relationship between Sara Mendoza, Ranier, and Sean. The torture scenes were brutal, the love scenes were hot, and the entire message of society/values left me awestruck. 
I highly recommend you give this title a shot. It will blow you away. And when you're done, you'll be able to pass it along to the sci-fi fan in your life. Just think, you'll be able to talk Fragger speak with the best of them at the Nebula awards...
Right now you can pick up a copy of Ambasadora for $2.99 as an eBook or $13.99 in paperback at Well worth the money in either format. You can find out more about Heidi Ruby Miller by clicking on her name.

2. Hello, Elsie? This is the PTO calling...
So, Confessions of a PTA Mafia Mom, is out. I'm filled with happiness every time somebody Googles my name, my book, my blog...all of it/any of it. Last week I got an email fom the Editor-in-Chief of PTO Today magazine asking if I would give them an opportunity to read the book, in exchange for some free press in their mag that goes to 80,000 schools/administrators/parents.
Hmmm let's see. I write a book poking fun at small ton PTA members & a national organization that works hand in hand with the people I mocked would like to read the this a set up?
Who cares? I sent it off. Cross your fingers for me. If an eighth of the people that see the article buy the book, that will be a huge win for old Elsie over here.

3. Things that are new
I updated my business cards. I wanted something that encompassed everything Elsie/Elizabeth/E.B. No better time than the present to tie in all the multiple personalities. Here they are:

 What do you think? Pretty snazzy, eh?
I'm considering a website to match. 
Three sites is a lot though. Not sure on that one yet.


That's all I have for now, folks. Stay tuned for a review/interview with Laurel Osterkamp & details of my meanderings in San Diego.