The Behind-the-Scenes Reasons I Wrote Then Comes Love
No matter how old you get, every stage of life comes with anxiety about change.
This is something I learned while watching my mom care for my ninety-something grandfather as we packed up his home near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved him to an apartment complex in our hometown. As I watched my mom help him navigate the change that comes with moving from a house to a complex for those 55 and over, I started to notice something: a sense of community.
Visiting my grandfather and hearing my mom's stories, I saw a rich setting full of emotion. There were humorous moments and misunderstandings as my mom took on the role of caregiver, which certainly jostles the parent-child relationship. There was fear and difficulty as my grandfather adjusted to a new home, town, and life. There was friendship with the elderly living in the apartment complex, but also with their families. The community, as I came to learn, in this apartment building wasn't just about the people living there--it was also about their families.
And, above everything else, I saw something surprising: Love.
I would see men and women holding hands on the bench outside, talking about their date nights and talking about finding love in a later stage of life. It made me realize two things:
1. Love doesn't have an age limit.
2. Even though each stage of life is different, each stage is filled with the same complex emotions of the human journey.
It was from these facts that Then Comes Love was born.
I drew on the humor from the community my grandfather lives in. I drew on the complex emotions and interactions between the people living their and the interactions between their families. I saw an opportunity for a rich setting with complex characters and emotions.
I also drew on my own family and the relationship between the women in it. I thought about how women in the family from different generations could still really help each other because in their own ways, their feelings and fears would be the same.
Charlotte, Annie, and Amelia came to be from these facts.
Charlotte, 80, is dealing with change in her life. She's moving from her home she lived in for decades with her late husband to an assisted-living facility, Wildflower Meadows. Wildflower Meadows becomes the backdrop and community for all of the interactions in the book. As she navigates the change in her life, she has to try to adjust to the new community and new rules...but she also has to adjust to the fact that her heart isn't done with love just yet.
Charlotte's daughter, Annie, is in her fifties and dealing with a mid-life crisis. She's gone through a terrible divorce while also trying to be a caregiver to her mother. Caught in the middle of several lives, she, too, finds that Wildflower Meadows will lead her to a new set of possibilities.
Finally, Charlotte's granddaughter, Amelia, is in her thirties and quite the wild child. Not ready to settle down, she's lost in a stage of life where she doesn't know what she wants to be.
The three women come together through the Wildflower community in different ways, but all three learn that family sometimes helps us navigate the most difficult moments in life. Furthermore, all three find that love can come along at any time, even when we least expect it.
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Hey Blog Hoppers. It's me, OWEN PHILLIPS FROM THEN COMES LOVE. I hear I'm up for Book Boyfriend 2017, or so Charlotte tells me.In case you're wondering, Charlotte is a lovely 80-year-old woman from Wildflower Meadows, where I'm a personal care assistant. Charlotte is friends with my Grandma, Marla, who also lives at Wildflower. She's part of the reason I took the job there, so I could keep an eye out for her. Those two are always cooking up disasters. From fighting with Catherine, the Queen of Wildflower Meadows, over Bingo to plotting schemes to get her in trouble, they're always stirring things up. They even got into a physical altercation at dance aerobics. Crazy stuff. Most of all, Charlotte is always trying to match me up with her granddaughter Amelia, but I can't say I mind. I'm not going to lie--I've had my eye on that tattooed girl since she first accused me of being a serial killer. Long story, but no worries. I'm really a good guy.
I'm a rocker, or at least I want to be. Right now, my biggest event is playing with my guys at Wildflower at their residents' birthday parties. Still, the ladies at Wildflower whisper that I look like Adam Levine...of course, their eyesight's not the greatest. I'll take it, though. I have a sister Jane who I'm helping put through college. Our parents died a few years back, so I've kind of had to step up to the plate in a lot of ways. I'm hoping, though, that with the help of Charlotte, I might be able to win your vote for Book Boyfriend. Most of all, if I'm being honest, I'm hoping I can win Amelia's heart. We'll just have to see.
So that's my pitch. If you've got a thing for tattooed Adam-Levine lookalikes, then vote for me by sending an email saying you vote for me to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also enter to win the grand prize (A Kindle Paperwhite and 30 ebooks!) by collecting all 30 candidates names and sending an email to the same address. Then Comes Love is one of the e-books you can win, so you can learn more about my story.
Be sure to check out the other book boyfriends up for grabs, and thanks for swinging by!
Here are all the links for the Chick Lit Book Boyfriend Hop. Check them all out for your chance to win the grand prize!
Karen M. Cox
This One is Mine by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Now she understood that there was a whole other dimension where love simply...was."
This is the second novel I've read by Maria Semple, and I have to say her books are very intriguing because they are, quite simply, different. Semple has a quirky, edgy vibe to her work that reads as raw, in-your-face, and real.
Violet Parry has the life everyone wants. She has a wealthy husband, a huge house, a beautiful daughter Dot, and everything her heart desires. There's just one big problem: She's not happy. Her marriage isn't quite what she thought it would be, and she finds herself bored with her life. When she meets Teddy, who is of a very different lifestyle than she is, Violet's world is turned upside down by the temptation of what she doesn't have.
In addition, this book follows Violet's sister-in-law as she also finds out what love means to her and what it doesn't mean. She tries to find herself and her identity through love.
I liked Violet as a character even though she makes horrible choices. There was something resonating about a woman who thought she knew what she wanted in life only to find out it isn't quite what she expected. We all have expectations of what will make us happy. Semple addresses the very difficult and sometimes taboo topic of: What do we do when what we thought would make us happy just doesn't? Violet is flighty, rash, and wanting things she doesn't have. I found her bad choices to be forgivable because Semple helps you understand where she is coming from. I didn't condone Violet's behavior and I am sure some readers actually hate her for what she did, but I just thought Semple was showing how life and especially love aren't these perfectly wrapped, boxed-in entities. People make bad choices. People get confused. People do things they aren't proud of. Violet is human in this book. I liked that.
I, however, found myself being harder on Sally. I found her to be very selfish, condescending, and frustrating. I did not really find her to redeem herself because of what she did. However, I think perhaps that is Semple's point as well. We are all willing to judge certain people for certain things, yet we can forgive others for equally wrong transgressions. Both females in this book have major, major flaws. It is interesting to see which, if any, character you are willing to forgive and why you are willing to do so.
This is what I like so much about Semple's works. They are complex, and their messages are winding. They make you think because it is clear they have depth, but it isn't always clear what that depth means. I found this book to be about identity and also how we judge others. I found this book to point out the idea you never truly know someone's life just by glancing from the outside viewpoint. I thought this book brought up interesting points about marriage, about love, and loyalty, and about drug abuse.
I did find the book to be very vulgar at points. Some of the dialogue was uncomfortable. For a portion of the book, I found it to be over-the-top, almost as if Semple was simply going for shock value. By the end, however, I could appreciate how the vulgarity contributed to character development and helped make the book raw and real. The real world isn't perfect and always comfortable. The real world has plenty of things that push us outside of our boxes. I can appreciate Semple's refusal to censor herself or her themes, even if they do push the envelope at times. Overall, I do not feel the vulgarity of some of the scenes detracts from the message. If anything, it adds to it.
I also appreciate that Semple's books are interesting. It's hard to explain what this means, but I find that her details are quirky and have an element of sophistication. From cultural references to tiny details, Semple's books definitely showcase her voice as a writer. I marvel at her ability to work in quirky details that truly make her a standout writer.
Overall, this is a good weekend read because it explores a less-rosy, much more complex view of love and marriage. I think sometimes it's good to read outside of the box and read books that challenge your views of different things. Even if you hate the characters' choices in this book, it makes you think about your own perspective of love, loyalty, and identity.
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Hot New Romantic Drama Remember When Available Now
☆ New Release & Giveaway ☆
'Remember When' by Lindsay Detwiler is LIVE!
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….
They met at a wedding, Todd the only man wearing jeans, Jessica the beauty with a troubled background. Settled into married life after falling in love, they have so many things left to do in life. They think they have so much time… until Jessica and Todd’s average married life comes to a halt on a snowy back road. When their truck careens down an embankment, they find themselves in a life-or-death situation. With rescue seeming impossible, they cling to the only hope they have left: their love for each other.
As they fight for survival, their connection carries them through the biggest challenge of their lives. Memories and regrets swirl around the couple as they finally take a moment to reflect on what they’re doing in life.
There’s one big, icy question that haunts them, though: Is this where their story will end?
All links: http://books2read.com/remember-when
Tour Organizer: https://www.facebook.com/hottreepromotions
All Books on Sale at Hot Tree
To celebrate World Book Day, Hot Tree Publishing is having a Mega Sale! All titles, including my popular chick lit series Then Comes Love and my latest Who We Were, are on sale! Sale price is reflected once you add to your cart. Right now, To Say Goodbye is only $2. Get your reading on this weekend with a slew of romances from sweet to spicy.
Do you want to get an advanced copy of my next novel, Who We Were?
This chick lit novel follows Maylee Keagan as she endures her ten-year high school reunion. When her brother falls in love with her old rival, Josephine Crawford, drama from high school comes right back into her life. However, there's one thing that lessens the sting of old hatred--Benson Drake. The once nerd turned sexy intellect has come back into Maylee's life thanks to a wardrobe malfunction at the reunion.
I'm looking for fans willing to review Who We Were on release day, which is February 25th. If you're interested, you'll receive a FREE copy of Who We Were right now! All you need to do is email me that you're interested and give me your kindle address. Also be sure to add "@gmail.com" as an approved sender to your Kindle, and you're good to go!
Get your hands on this highly anticipated novel now. Don't miss your chance!
Summer Secrets by Jane Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Weaving my way out of the room, one sober and sobering thought makes its way into my head: Nothing is as perfect as it seems."
I'm a fan of Jane Green because she covers women's issues in a realistic way--but infuses her writing with a sense of humor. This book was no exception.
The book follows Cat throughout her life as she struggles with more issues than most of us could ever dream of. Alcoholism is one major focus in the book as Cat feels the pull of the booze haunting her best years of life. I liked that Jane Green covered the issue in a realistic, eye-opening way without going over the top. She shows you that alcohol can sabotage your life even if you never end up in jail or doing something truly horrific. I found Cat's struggles to be genuine, honest, and probably very true to what many women face.
Cat also deals with secrets, as you could guess from the title. One major secret leaves Cat spiraling, trying to grasp her new identity. She also struggles with being honest with herself throughout the book, something she works on and overcomes.
I liked how Cat develops as a character throughout the book. Even though she makes so many mistakes, I was rooting for her the whole book. She really tries to do the right thing, to be a better person. I think we can all relate with her struggle; so many of us want to be a better version of ourselves but don't know where to start.
The writing style was also perfect. It's descriptive and poetic at times, but humorous and quirky at other times. I like how she makes light of things all women can relate to, from skinny jeans to muffin tops.
The book covers a huge span of time. Initially, I felt like the book had too fast of a pace. Some aspects seemed skipped over quickly. By the end, however, I realized the book wasn't really focused on what I thought it would be at the beginning--there was so much more to the story. I came to realize the pace was just right.
This book was never dull or boring. The plot is complex, and there are so many twists and turns, true to real life. Jane Green does a great job at developing real characters who are flawed but lovable. This book is a fabulous summer read, beach read, or weekend read.
View all my reviews
When I hear the word “chick lit,” I automatically picture the condescending looks I’ve received from others. The scrunched up nose, the vomity face, the eye roll… I’ve seen it all.
For reasons I won’t address in this article, Chick Lit gets a bad rap. People associate the genre with mindless literature, with gossipy women talking about lipgloss and men while sipping on tea and wearing all pink. There’s this notion that Chick Lit is not deep lit at all. As Kirsty Schofield discusses on her website, though, Chick Lit is much more complex a genre than given credit. It encompasses many types of works with many different styles.
Even before I started writing in the genre, I’ve been a fan. I’ve ignored the eye rolls, the snide remarks. I’ve been an avid follower of books and writers.
Chick Lit does cover talk about lip gloss and men and tea and pink… sometimes. But this is not all that categorizes the genre. To me, Chick Lit is an approach to explaining the modern woman’s struggle to find a lot of things--to find love, to find satisfaction, to find fulfillment, and to find identity. These searches can be humorous, can sometimes involve a man, can sometimes involve a gaggle of gossipping friends. But sometimes they don’t. Chick Lit, like any genre, is diverse in its tone, its goals, its message.
It is the same in several respects, though.
It is relevant. It is deep. It is real.
Many women can find themselves, find characters like themselves, in the pages of these books. At the end of the day, isn’t that what qualifies something as having literary value? Don’t we all want to connect to something, to see ourselves in the pages of a story?
Lindsay Detwiler, Author
"I better get going. I have an early shift tomorrow at the bookstore," she said. He nodded, telling Charlotte good-bye and giving Butternut a scratch. Annie stayed behind to round up the cat and to catch up with Grandma Charlotte.
Heading to the elevator hand in hand, Owen looked down at her, smiling.
He shook his head. "Nothing. It's just, God, life is exciting with you." He winked.
"You call stealing an already stolen cat and fighting with a psycho exciting? You need a life," she teased.
He laughed. "You might be right. But seriously, what other girl could offer me such mad, crazy entertainment?" He purposefully bumped into her shoulder with his.
They walked into the elevator, and he squeezed her hand, prompting her to look up at him.
"What now?" She grinned, feeling fluttery in her chest. Even in a hospital elevator, he made her smile.
I'll admit it... I'm still working on this whole author thing.
A year ago, I hesitated to call myself a writer. Sure, I'd always loved to write. Putting pen to paper was natural and easy. But a writer? That seemed to be an assumption you were good and other people read your work.
Fast forward a year, and I'm calling myself an author. Do I still hesitate sometimes? Do I still waver in confidence and wonder what the heck I'm doing? You bet. But it's getting easier to own up to the author title because I've found I love this work. I am addicted to the idea of creating worlds in my head to share with others. I'm addicted to seeing my words, my name on the cover of a book.
Do I still have a lot to learn? YES. A ton. But the thing is, I've committed to learning it. I want to keep writing. Most importantly, I want to write pieces with meaning and depth. I want to write pieces that stir emotion in the reader, that make the reader say, "Yes, I get that! I've felt that, too." I want to connect.
That's perhaps why I'm so excited for my third book, Then Comes Love. This is the book I've always wanted to write. This is the book I think represents who I am as a writer most accurately.
Then Comes Love was a step out of my writer shell, for sure. It still has the descriptive style of my other books. It still focuses on love and realism.
But it's different, too. Here's what makes Then Comes Love a bit different than my other works and what I think makes it so special.
If you think it will speak to you, check it out on March 18th when it releases with Hot Tree Publishing. You can also see it on Goodreads and add it to your TBR pile now. Thanks, as always, for your support.
1. Second Loves
I married my first love.
I have absolutely no experience with second loves.
In Voice of Innocence and even in Without You to an extent, I focused on the power of first love. I think first love always stays with us...and especially in my case.
But I've had friends who haven't stayed with their first loves. I've know others whose lives were racked with tragedy and loss. They had no choice but to move on to second loves.
In Then Comes Love, I wanted to explore this idea. Some marry their first loves, but many do not. I wanted to explore the confusion, complications, and also beauty of a second love.
For Charlotte, second love comes because of tragedy.
For Annie, it comes because of divorce.
And for Amelia, it comes because she just realizes her first love doesn't fit.
All three women have to learn to move on, to let go, and open their hearts again. I felt like many women could connect to that.
2. Humor Mixed With Drama
In real life, I'm no comedian.
Chad takes that role in our lives.
In writing, though, I've found that I enjoy capturing the humor in life. Voice of Innocence was a very heavy book. Some readers found the mom a bit zany and humorous. In Without You, I eased into humor. There were definitely some funny scenes, but I still held back, not sure if I could pull it off.
In Then Comes Love, I let go of my insecurities. I went all in for the humorous scenes.
So far, I've gotten good feedback about it, too.
Charlotte is eighty in the book, but don't let that fool you. Witty and wild, she certainly has a penchant for getting into some peculiar situations that are filled with laughter. From bingo catastrophes to dance aerobic issues, I think she has plenty of laughter-inspiring scenes.
Mixed in with the humor, there's still the drama I love. There are issues dealing with aging, loss, and self-identity.
I would describe Then Comes Love as a mixture between the styles of Nicholas Sparks and Janet Evanovich. There's heavy and sweet scenes mixed with outrageous antics.
3. A Sexy, Tattooed Rocker
We've all got our fantasy book boyfriend, right?
Mine happens to be a rocker.
What's sexier than a man who can sing? What woman doesn't want a song dedicated to her?
Add to that some tattoos, a six-pack, some gorgeous hair, and a wicked sense of humor, and you've got Owen, my favorite male character in this new book. I loved writing his character.
He's got a touch of bad with a huge touch of romantic. He's edgy but sweet. He's the perfect balance of excitement and stability. I adore him, and I think you're going to love him too.
He's my favorite male character I've written to date. I hope he's your new book boyfriend.
4. Relates to All Ages of Women
This book follows three women: Charlotte is eighty, Annie is fifty, and Amelia is thirty-two.
I love the concept because I really wanted to show the connections between women in a family. I also wanted to show that every stage of life is filled with complications, woman drama, and also beauty.
I think no matter who you are, you'll find yourself in a piece of this book. Charlotte's dealing with the hardships of aging and losing her freedom. Annie is dealing with a mid-life crisis and being a caregiver, which isn't an easy job (See my post on caregiving). Amelia is dealing with reconciling what society tells her a thirty-something should want and what kind of life she actually wants.
This book shows us that no matter what your age, life and love can truly be crazy.
5. Cats and Henry
Okay, so this is a similarity.
There are cats in Then Comes Love.
And Henry makes his appearance.
I've been asked about Henry being in my books.
He's my mastiff. I'm obsessed with him. That's it. :)
I'd like to say there is symbolic meaning in his appearance or literary significance. But there's really not.
I'm just a crazy cat lady who also loves her dog way too much.
So if you read Then Comes Love and review it, don't forget to mention your favorite character: so far Henry got a few shout outs in reviews, and I must say it makes him happy.