Monday, April 1, 2013

Featured Author: Lisa Becker

Some of you may remember reading my Twenty Questions interview with Lisa Becker and an excerpt of her debut novel, Click: An Online Love Story, on this blog in January of this year. Lisa has just published the sequel to that novel, titled Double Click, and I'm pleased to have her back for an interview. Lisa also let me sit down with main character Shelley Manning, and she's treating us to an excerpt from this newest book. So grab some sweet tea and settle in for two interviews and an excerpt.

Double Click
is a sequel to Click: An Online Love Story, the modern epistolary novel that book bloggers and reviewers called hilarious, clever, and full of fun. 

In the first book, 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 reluctantly joined her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolded entirely through emails between Renee and her best friends as well as the gentlemen suitors she met online. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's, and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers rooted for Renee to "click" with the right man. 

Double Click, which follows the same all-email format, picks up with the same main characters six months after the original books ends. If the first book was about Renee’s search for love online, this book is about whether she and her friends have all found their “HEA” or “happily ever after.” Through a marriage proposal, wedding, new baby and unexpected love twist, Double Click allows readers to cheer, laugh, cry, and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. 

Interview with Lisa Becker

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started writing Click: An Online Love Story after my husband and I married but before we had kids. Then I had to take a break from writing due to the rigors of motherhood. But I had always told myself – even as a little girl – that I would write a book one day. So I made the commitment to finish the book. I wrote in the mornings while the girls were at school or at night after they went to sleep. I made it a goal to write – even if only for a half hour – every day. Based on the positive reader response to the book, I started work on the sequel, Double Click

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I liked the double meaning of click – both “clicking” a mouse while using a computer for online dating and “clicking” or making a special connection with someone. 

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I’m fortunate to have had a series of wonderful careers outside of writing including being a wife, mom, PR professional, college professor, volunteer, and Girl Scout troop leader.  But I’ve always wanted to learn to professionally decorate cakes. Not only does it look fun, but really yummy!

How did you create the plot for this book?

My husband and I met online on a popular dating website. After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating. I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, a novel emerged. Click: An Online Love Story is loosely based on my real-life dating experiences, as well as stories friends have shared with me. In some cases, things are written as they actually occurred.  Other scenarios are exaggerated for entertainment value or comedic affect. And some scenarios are completely fictionalized. I really did go out on a date with someone I met online who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking last night.” But the happy ending is real. Steve and I have been happily married for nearly 10 years and have two amazing daughters.

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.
Years ago, I read a book called e by Matthew Beaumont, which tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails. I laughed out loud (on an airplane, no less) reading e. I highly recommend it!  I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell about the online dating world.  It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times. 

Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?

I most identify with Renee. Her online dating profile is almost identical to the one I had when I met my husband. But my favorite character is Shelley. She’s confident, brash, outrageous and wholly unapologetic for her choices. Although she and I are as different as can be, she was so fun to write. Her hilarious habit of giving nicknames to her “man du jour” was inspired by a childhood friend of mine who had a nickname for a guy in college that she admired from across the dorm cafeteria. She called him Maverick because he looked like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  Much like Shelley, she is a self-confident, gorgeous, lovely gal, and it wasn't long before they met and dated for a spell. 

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I love the interaction between Renee and her two best girlfriends, Shelley and Ashley, who don’t always get along with one another. Their differing styles of support, friendship, and dating have a hilarious impact on Renee. It was fun to write their email exchanges and imagine their rapid fire responses. In my opinion, there’s nothing like having a group of close friends who can support you when things get tough, laugh with you when things get ridiculous, console you when you’re down, and cajole you into doing things that they can see are good for you, but you are reluctant to embrace.
Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning? 

I sit in my home office at an HP desktop computer with a really big screen. My eyes grow tired pretty easily in my old age ;) And I like to write with the television on in the background. When I first started writing, I was obsessed with Law & Order reruns. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of NCIS. I guess there’s a part of me that likes to see justice served. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Chocolate! No joke, I eat chocolate. If I’m stuck on a certain section or not feeling motivated to write, I give myself little chocolate incentives to get past the blockage.  Judging by my thighs, I had some serious problems writing this book. ;)

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

Based on my response above, it should come as little surprise that my favorite quote is from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s from the end of the movie when Charlie decides not to give evil Slugworth his everlasting gobstopper and instead returns it to Mr. Wonka, even though he feels he was cheated out of a lifetime supply of chocolate. As he leaves the candy, Mr. Wonka covers it with his hand and says, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” It’s a beautiful moment that makes me tear up every time. 

Lisa, it's been fun talking to you. Can I have a few minutes alone with Shelley? I have a feeling she'll give us some real dirt!

Interview with Lisa Becker's Shelley Manning

Shelley Manning is a confident, sometimes brash tell-it-like-it-is gal with three missions in life: (1) recruit top talent for the evil corporate trolls she works for; (2) recruit top talent for her active social life and; (3) give her best friend Renee the boost she needs to be her very best. 

What's the best pick up line you’ve ever used?

Oh sweetie, I don't use – or need – pick-up lines.

What's the best and worst pick-up line used on you?

Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. I have heard plenty of them over the years from “Do you believe in love at first sight? Or, "Should I walk by again?” to “Do I know you, because you look a lot like my next girlfriend?”

To be honest, I’m not a big fan. But I certainly don’t mind being complimented. Trust me, even the waiter who calls me “Miss” gets a MUCH better tip than the one who calls me “Ma’am.”

What's the first thing you notice about a guy?

I’m all about a sparkling personality and strong sense of humor. HA! Couldn’t even say that with a straight face. When it comes to the first thing I notice, I’m as superficial as they come - and damn proud of it. Nothing beats a striking set of eyes or bulging biceps to get me going. 

What dating advice would you give?

I just read a great slogan on Facebook, of all places, which I think applies well to dating: “Don’t worry about people talking behind your back because it just means that you are one step ahead of them and they are facing exactly in the right direction to kiss your ass.” 

Seriously, don’t worry about what other people think. Just do what feels good. That’s my motto and believe me, I feel great. 

What dating advice hasn't worked?

When I was 13, my friend’s older sister was reading a new book that had come out and was all the rage called The Rules. It was supposed to change the way men and women relate to each other in dating and was basically about how to snag a husband by not calling a guy back, wearing lots of make-up, and letting him take the lead. My friend and I “borrowed” the book and decided to put those “rules” into practice. Let’s just say when you play hard to get in junior high, you get a reputation as a prude. And that's certainly not how I viewed myself. So, I decided right then and there if I wanted something – or someone – I would go after it. And I won't apologize for it. I seem to be doing something right because I'm loving my fun-filled life.

Is there anyone special in your life right now?

They’re all special in one way or another. And finding their hidden talents is what makes my life so much fun. 

Like your best friend, have you tried online dating?

As I recall, I joked to Renee that I wouldn’t mind reviewing, chatting with, judging and mocking a whole host of men while looking busy at my desk. But honestly, it’s not for me.  It’s a great idea for her. She needed a gentle but oh-so-swift kick in the ass to get back into the dating scene after that bastard Derek broke her heart. (What a fool! He will never meet anyone better than her.) But, Renee is looking for a relationship and that’s why you date. I’m just looking for a good time and contrary to all of the porn sites online, you don’t need the Internet for that. 

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

It all starts with a late lunch at Gladstone’s in Malibu complete with Mojitos and raw oysters on the half shell. (Nothing like an aphrodisiac to get things going.) After a long lunch, my companion and I would drive down the coast back to my place where we engage in some – Wait!  Will any minors have access to this interview? – let’s just call it “adult fun.”  In the early morning, after we’ve had our “fun,” he leaves without any drama, commitments or regrets.  

Other than cuddling, are there any other dating deal breakers?

Smoking (except the occasional cigar, which can be kind of sexy). Cigarette smoking is a nasty habit. Not only does it stink and result in cancer, it causes wrinkles. Wrinkles!

Just between you and me, is there anything going on with you and Mark Finlay?

Finlay?!? Our drunken Valentine's Day hookup is probably one of my most embarrassing moments, which is really saying a lot. If you haven't guessed by now, I've had my fair share of moments where I've been (literally!) caught with my pants down. 

Excerpt from Double Click

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 9:25 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Should I be worried?

Are you feeling okay?  You don’t have a terminal illness that I, as you very best friend, should be aware of, do you?

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 9:27 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

No, I’m not dying.  Why do you ask?

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 9:34 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

You just don’t seem like yourself.  That really good looking guy at Flint’s happy hour was totally into you and you…well…you didn’t even really give him a second look.  That’s so out of character for you that I’m just wondering if you are okay.

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 9:37 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Goodness, girl!  I can’t take a night off of being aroused without arousing suspicion?

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 9:42 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Ha!  That was funny!

But seriously, you just haven’t seemed your “normal,” make-me-“Greene”-with-envy self for quite a while now and I wanted to make sure you were okay.

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 9:47 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

I’m fine, Sweetie.  And if you haven’t noticed, you don’t need to be – as you’ve joked about it – “Greene” with envy.  You’ve got a great guy.

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 9:48 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Are you bothered that you don’t have a great guy? 

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 9:54 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

My, oh my.  These emails are becoming so serious.  I just didn’t feel like hooking up last night.  Don’t make it into something bigger than it is. 

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 9:59 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Okay, okay.  But really, we are getting older.  Maybe you are thinking that you want to find that someone special.  Maybe you’ve already found that someone special and it scares you?

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 10:04 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Oh, Sweetie.  The beauty of life (and me, for that matter), is that it doesn’t matter how old you are.  You can still be as immature as you want to be. 

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 10:05 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Come on!  I’m being serious!

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 10:07 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Renee Michele Greene!  If this is another veiled attempt to get me to admit (not that I’m admitting anything!) that I have feeling for Finlay, well, I’m going to scream.  But this is email.  So I will just have to type in ALL CAPS.  Again, I DO NOT LIKE FINLAY!

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 10:09 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

I hear (read) you.  I hear (read) you.  I will drop the subject.  Just glad to know you aren’t dying. 

From:  Shelley Manning – August 22, 2012 – 10:10 AM
To:  Renee Greene
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Just dying to stop having this conversation. 

From:  Renee Greene – August 22, 2012 – 10:12 AM
To:  Shelley Manning
Subject: Re: Should I be worried?

Message received! But thanks for bringing some levity back to things.  I’d better get back to work.  Talk with you later.

About the author:

Lisa Becker had endured her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates, many of which inspired Click: An Online Love Story and Double Click. She is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for you!

Connect with Lisa:
Facebook / Amazon

Talking with Tracy Kauffman's Lucinda Norman

I love doing character interviews, and today I'm delighted to talk with Lucinda Norman, from Tracy Kauffman's YA fiction fantasy, My Boyfriend the Squire. Lucinda Norman is the sixteen-year-old only daughter of Maria and Robert Norman. She has a brother, Caleb, who is in the military, stationed in Italy. She's a shy girl but very pretty.

In addition to letting me talk to Lucinda, Tracy took my challenge of the Dirty Dozen. Scroll down to see why she earned the Dirty Dozen Daredevil Award.

Interview with Lucinda Norman

Welcome, Lucinda. How did you first meet Tracy Kauffman?

She was sitting on the plane next to me. I had to tell her everything that happened to me. Then she gave me her number and told me to fill her in on things that happened to me regarding my brother. We became friends after that.

Want to dish about her?

She is an interesting writer that loves to write about anything that would interest others except witchcraft or erotica-type stuff.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Not at first but when I traveled back in time, I thought it would make a great book.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Chapter sixteen when we go to the Medieval Times dinner show, and then Chad and I are transported back in time together. It was funny watching him trying to act like a squire.

Did you have a hard time convincing Tracy to write any particular scenes for you?

She thought I was way too young to get married, but hey, we are living in 2013. Lots of people get married at a young age.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I have other adventures that I have been on.  You’ll have to wait until Tracy writes the next book to find out what happens.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be? 

The chapter where my brother dies. I hated that it was in the book, but it needed to be.  It happened to me, and I was glad my brother can be remembered.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?

Both Chad and Chadwick are good looking. It was kind of hard for me to accept Chadwick marrying the Princess, but I know deep down that he needed to in order for Chad to be here today. He is one of their ancestors.

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

Since Chad was traced back to nobility, it would be nice if they considered him a prince today.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

I would go back and visit Chadwick and Princess Grace.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

I am shy and timid at first but then people usually love me after they get to know me. I have learned that I have more courage that I thought I had.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?

So far, my brother dying.

What did you learn from it?

Life is short, and you have to make the best of it.

Tell us about your best friend.

Veronica is a lot like me, but she is more out-going. Her mother works as a party planner, which was great for me. 

What are you most afraid of?

Losing Chad.  

What’s the best trait your author has given you?

I’m courageous. 

What’s the worst?

The worst would be that I’m shy at first.

What do you like best about Countess Hildegarde?

She trusted me enough to bring me back in time. 


The least is that she wasn’t upfront with me at first.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

I’m enjoying my life now with Chad. I fell in love being a princess. It would be nice to really be a princess, since Chad is really of noble blood.

If your story were a movie, who would play you? 

Lindsay Lohan

Describe the town where you live. 

I’m from a small town in Alabama. Most people are like family to one another. Neighbors help each other out when they are needed.

Will you encourage your author to write a sequel?

Yes, she has already started one.

Tracy Does the Dirty Dozen

 1. Name one thing you couldn’t live without.


 2. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
     African Ice by Jeff Buick

 3. Your last meal would be…

     Tour of Italy from Olive Garden. It has a combination
      of entrees and is quite large of a meal.

 4. Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

 5. You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
     A new house on the beach.

 6. Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island or the North Pole?

      Deserted Island because I hate cold weather.

 7. You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

      Lay on a beach and sun bathe.

 8. You’re driven to a private plane and told it will take you anywhere your want to go.
      Where would it be?

      Japan to see my son.  He is in the military.

 9. You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

      Hard one. Maybe Alice in Wonderland.

10. Where would your dream office be?

      On a tropical Island.

11. If you could do only one, would you rather read or write?

     Hard one. Write

12. One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off?
      Countess Hildegarde.

About the author:

Tracy Kauffman is a Christian fiction author of young adult and children stories. She grew up in North Alabama, where she still resides with her husband and daughter. She loves taking cruises and traveling with her family. Her favorite place that she has been to is the Grand Canyon.
Tracy has an associates degree in Nursing. She is a registered nurse and works part time in a local nursing home. The rest of the time she spends her time writing books and marketing them. Her titles include: Gwendolyn’s Wish, Southern Adventures, Richard the Lionheart, My Boyfriend the Squire, and Captain Honey Bear Saves Goldie Locks.

Tracy started writing poetry at a small age and won the title of editor in her school newspaper, when she was in second grade. She had her first poem published in a online writing contest called, The Cosmetology Student. She decided to write her first book, Southern Adventures, when her son left home for the Air Force.

She loves writing and hopes to be able to inspire her readers into living a happy healthier life. She feels like her own life experiences have made her a better writer. 

Connect with Tracy:
Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Amazon