Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A St. Patty's Day Prize to Win & Author Interview with Jean Oram!

So, are you feeling lucky today?
Top o' the morning to you my friends!  Hope you're having a wonderful weekend and know that with spring finally in the air you may be looking for a good read, right?

Well let's make that happen today because my friend, author Jean Oram is walking over right now for a visit on my virtual front porch. I'm pouring the sweet tea now.

So consider yourself lucky, because one reader will will a $10 Amazon gift card, but everyone who drops by will win the code to download for FREE today's featured book, by my fabulous friend, Jean Oram!  All you’ve got to do is comment at the bottom and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Standard Time (better known as Hotlanta time) on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:59 p.m.  Just feel free to leave a thoughtful, side-splitting, slightly-twisted, or sardonic musing.  And of course, only one comment per entrant please!  Winner will be drawn from screen names of all entrants who comment and make it in before the deadline.  I will award an imaginary bonus point if you mention my upcoming birthday in your comment, but it will not help you out whatsoever in the drawing.  Just sayin'.  

As you know, one site I frequent is Agent Query Connect, which I consider one of the top social networking  groups for authors, and fully embraces the art of our craft.

Not quite 2 years ago when I joined A.Q.C., I got to know Jean Oram, one of their fabulous moderators and we became fast friends.  She's witty, supportive, and has a wealth o' knowledge about the publishing industry, and has decided to expand her literary horizons (and humor) into the chick-lit genre.  Now I've already downloaded it and read a few chapters and can say, I'm predicting CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS is going to be engaging in some serious genre ass-kickery while climbing the charts.

Beth's got a big problem and a big dress to match.
While I primarily read thrillers and science fiction, every now and then I love a good light-hearted, romantic read and was delighted when I found out Jean was going to write her own book!  In our messaging back and forth, she always makes me laugh and I knew if Jean wrote a book like this, that readers would truly be in for a treat, and she certainly doesn't disappoint.  Trust me, I downloaded CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS on my fancy-schmancy new "phablet" (You could say I made up this word over on twitter.) two days ago and have had a blast reading the first few chapters.

Now if you will, join me in welcoming Jean to my virtual front porch on this warm southern Saturday (71 degrees!  Feel freee to envy Hotlantans today).

*Hands Jean a virtual glass of sweet tea.*

J.O.:  Thanks, Joey. Being St. Patrick's Day weekend, I love that you made the iced tea green. (You wouldn't believe how many birthday cakes I've had with green icing on them--my birthday is St. Patrick's Day. But what has always surprised me is how many cards there are out there for St. Patrick's Day birthdays. I don't think I've ever received the same card twice!) 

Nothing like a glass of sweet tea on a beautiful day.  Glad you could stop by.  Now I have to tell you, I'm loving CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS, but before I even opened your book, I had to stop and gawk at the fan-freaking-tastic cover.  Pardon me if you will, I think we should give a shout-out to our mutual friend Cali MacKay, best-selling author and cover designer for that great cover. (Covers by Cali) One look at that and  it's clear you're going to have good time and a great read.  So tell us if you will, how the title and cover describes the plight of your main character Beth (who's hilarious!) and a little more about her issues.

J.O.:  Yes! Cali did an AMAZING job on the cover. In fact, it helped me reshape the book. A few months ago I thought I was ready to publish Champagne and Lemon Drops. (It was actually Caviar and Lemon Drops back then, but Cali, with help from Jemi Fraser, convinced me to change it to Champagne. Those are two smart ladies!) Anyway, Cali created this amazing cover for me and at times it helped me focus in on what I wanted my book to be as I went through two grueling rounds of deep edits and rewrites (where I questioned everything from my sanity to my ability to write) to get the book where I wanted it to be.

The title ties in to the love triangle Beth finds herself in. Basically, she has never had what she considers real family and that is the one thing she wants more than anything else: family and that sense of belonging to something bigger than just herself. This story is set in the small town of Blueberry Springs and Beth is a small town girl in love with a small town man (Oz) who needs a break from their relationship. During the relationship's break she befriends a hunky city doctor (Nash) who opens Beth's eyes to who she could be if she desired. In the end she finds herself torn between the life she's always wanted and the life she never dreamed was possible. Both are great options. Basically, Beth has to choose between champagne which is a sophisticated, acquired taste (the new man who is ready to wed), or lemon drops which everyone likes even when if have to pick lint off of them (her old flame who has some issues).

I’m curious, have you ever had a friend in real life go through similar circumstances as the main character?  Now It goes without saying weddings are stressful (I’m a relative newlywed, having been married almost three years now myself and remember what we had to go through!), but having to go through what Beth did is a far bigger nightmare!

J.O. : I have slipped little pieces of real life (mine) into the story such as the lint on the lemon drops (I had a friend's grandfather I 'adopted' as a kid who always had lemon drop candies in his pocket and we'd have to pick the lint off before we enjoyed them.) But as for Beth's whole wedding fiasco, as far as I know that hasn't happened to anyone--at least I hope not! However, I have had to make a choice between two great men before. (You can read about that story I shared with the book's release on my Love Bug blog: )

What are you currently reading now and are there any other projects you're working on? 

J.O. :  I just finished "The Museum of Broken Hearts" by chick lit author Talli Roland--such a cute story (and it's free!)--as well as "Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova for book club. Right now I'm eying up "Shopaholic and Baby" which my kids gave me for Christmas.
As for other projects, I'm working on book 2 of the Blueberry Springs series which will be called "Whiskey and Gumdrops" and tracks Mandy as she tries to find love after the man she's been chasing for years finally weds--and it isn't to her. I'll be keeping track of my word count with other writers on Twitter using the #80KHotFoot hashtag. It should be a ton of fun. (You can follow my progress on Twitter--I'm @jeanoram LINK: ) I plan to have book 2 out this fall (2013).

Will your readers get a return trip to Blueberry Springs anytime soon?  Is a follow-up on the horizon? Dish!

J.O.:  As well as Mandy's story which will be released this fall, I have two other stories I have written in the past which I plan to rewrite to make them part of the Blueberry Springs series. There will be Jen's story--she is a nature guide who accidentally causes a forest fire--and then falls in love with the fire inspector who could pretty much destroy her life! And there will also be Amber's story whose first 50 pages made it into the final round in the WeBook challenge and received a 5 out of 5 by a literary agent. Those two books are currently scheduled to be released in 2014 and, if you like Champagne and Lemon Drops--which is free in all formats over on Smashwords, please sign up for my mailing list ( ) as I will email you updates on the book's releases as well as share sneak peeks, deleted scenes, giveaways, and more.

Which authors have influenced your style and evolution as a writer?

J.O.:  I LOVE Meg Cabot. I love her simplicity, style, humor, and directness. That woman can make backstory a fun romp! (For example: her Heather Wells series.) Basically, I would love to be like Meg Cabot when I grow up. Although, my style has also been likened to Jennifer Weiner who is another of my heroes. So, basically, I would say that the books in the Blueberry Springs series are like if Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner sat down and wrote what was in my head.

And finally, have you ever found a four leaf clover before?
J.O.:  Only once. And I have spent HOURS looking. I still have that 4-leafer. My mom, however, is AMAZING at finding four-leaf clovers. I'll be looking and looking and she has literally gone, "Oh here's one! Oh, look another! How lucky is that?" It turns out she is very lucky. ;) I do have small collection of shamrock jewellery though. That's another thing people like to give St. Patty's Day birthday people. :) In fact, I'll snap a picture and post it on my author Facebook page so your readers can see this stuff actually exists!
Thanks for having me Joey, and wishing your readers a happily ever after! (And if you don't see one on your horizon, check out Beth's! It's a wild rollercoaster romp to happily ever after: )

Good luck to everybody and don't forget to download her free book on Smashwords!  Feel free to comment away and hope everyone finds their lucky charm this weekend.  Or some green beer.  


jean Oram said...

Soooo... when's your birthday Joey?

And I love the tagline you gave Beth's story. She most definitely has a big problem and the big dress to match!

Any readers here who have wedding day traumas and terrors to share? Our big 'trauma' was that we had planned a casual wedding and meal and everyone kept trying to create a head table to make us sit at! It was very strange. Especially when others kept trying to squeeze in so they were at the head table with us. Self-appointed wedding party! It was fun though.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Joey!

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

I do love Cali's cover art. Can't wait to finish my current read so I can get to this new book. Good luck, Jean!

T.J. said...

I have it the book waiting for the money to buy it! I've been watching for it, Jean.

Today is my wedding anniversary. Would the fact that the INS attended make for an interesting story? LOL Still love that particular agent and she even named her second daughter after me XD

Joey - hand over the authentic sweet tea. These yanks up here have no idea how to make it properly...

Anonymous said...

A terrific interview conducted by two delightful, classy writers. Best wishes, Jean! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Joey Francisco said...

Keep the comments coming! And fwiw, I'll have a little birthday cake on 3/29.

Btw, Happy Anniversary T.J.! Wishing you many more years of love & happiness to you and your husband.

Joey Francisco said...

To answer Jean's question, yes we had some wedding trauma but not on the wedding day.

In July it will be our 3rd anniversary and originally we were to have our wedding in Pensacola, FL with our reception at a bayside restaurant on the rooftop. It was going to be gorgeous! And then all of a sudden came the oil spill in the gulf and tar balls and devastation.

So to protect our guests, we decided to just run off and get married but have a nice reception for our family and friends here in Atlanta. It turned out to be fabulous in the end, as we were married in sunset on the beach at Key West. My son walked me down the aisle and was also best man and it was quiet, reverent, and peaceful, and our reception in Atlanta brought out the foodies in everyone as we had it at a fabulous place. People are still telling us that it was the best food they'd ever had at a wedding reception, and our beach pictures from Key West were amazing.

I'm a firm believer love will find a way to somehow work things out.

jean Oram said...

Happy anniversary, TJ! (P.S. You can get the book as a free download on Smashwords. Joey's provided a link above.)

77, thanks for the comment and compliment. Top o' the morning to you!

Michelle, I hope you enjoy it!

Joey, I never thought about how an oil spill could throw a wrench in a wedding. Glad it all worked out in the end.

May the luck of the Irish be with you all!