Two Days Left for Penguin Books Giveaway!

There are two days left for the Penguin Beach Bag Giveaway!

My publisher, Berkley-Penguin, is giving away a Penguin tote bag, a Penguin water bottle, sunscreen, a copy of Lorelie Brown’s RIDING THE WAVE (also a surfer story!), and a copy of my THE RED BIKINI.

(Now are those all the fixings for a perfect day at the beach, or what?)

Four lucky winners will each win!

So how do you play? You can come to any of these places where Lorelie and I are blogging together and enter at any spot any time:

  • Top 10 surfer movies – Lorelie and I are listing our Top 10 surfer movies and which ones inspired our heroes Fin and Tanner on The Delighted Reader blog here. There’s one surf film that we both picked — can you guess which one it is?
  • Interview with the Gals – Come learn more about Lorelie and I at The Book Reading Gals blog. We talk about what inspired us to write about surfers and who we based Tanner Wright and Fin Hensen on. That interview is here.
  • “California Dreamin’” playlists – Lorelie and I will be on A Bookish Escape sharing the playlists we used to write the sun and surf of California. That post is here.
  • Five Favorite Beaches – Lorelie and I count down our five favorite beaches each. I named all Orange County beaches that are my favorites. (OC peeps, did I forget some key ones? It was hard to name just five!) That post is here.
  • Interview Between Characters Fin and Tanner — Our characters from THE RED BIKINI and RIDING THE WAVE — Fin Hensen and Tanner Wright — shoot the breeze over Coronas while discussing waves and women. (I think this might be my personal favorite post!) That post is here.

Good luck in the Penguin giveaway! (Of course I hope you all win!) :)

Book Giveaways!

And the Launch Party continues! Friends from all over are sending me their pics of buying my book in Barnes and Noble, and it’s so much fun to see. (The above represents Boise, ID; Springfield, VA; Escondido, CA; Fullerton, CA and more.) Giveaways and celebrations are still going on, so here’s where you can catch some prizes:

Penguin Beach Bag: Berkley-Penguin is giving away a Penguin tote bag, a copy of Lorelie Brown’s RIDING THE WAVE (also a surfer story!), a copy of my THE RED BIKINI, a Penguin water bottle, and sunscreen (all the fixings for a perfect day at the beach) to four lucky winners over the next two weeks. How do you play? You can come to any of these places where Lorelie and I are blogging together and enter at any spot any time:

  • Top 10 surfer movies – Lorelie and I are listing our Top 10 surfer movies and which ones inspired our heroes Fin and Tanner on The Delighted Reader blog here. There’s one surf film that we both picked — can you guess which one it is?
  • Interview with the Gals – Come learn more about Lorelie and I at The Book Reading Gals blog. We talk about what inspired us to write about surfers and who we based Tanner Wright and Fin Hensen on. That interview is here.
  • “California Dreamin’” playlists – Lorelie and I will be on A Bookish Escape sharing the playlists we used to write the sun and surf of California. That post is here.
  • Five Favorite Beaches — Lorelie and I count down our five favorite beaches each. I named all Orange County beaches that are my favorites. (OC peeps, did I forget some key ones? It was hard to name just five!) That post is here.

Beach Bag filled with 5 Hot Summer Books!: I’m teaming up with four other contemporary romance authors to give away hot summer reads, bookstore gift cards, and fun-in-the-sun goodies on Facebook. The grand prize is a hot-pink beach bag filled with 1 copy of each of our five books, plus some summer swag. The event takes place on July 9 from 2-6 PST/5-9 EST, and you can play for 5 minutes or 4 hours from your computer or phone. You can join here by clicking “join” and we’ll send you more info when it starts –“Beach Blanket Books” Giveaway! 

Come win some books!

Such a Fun Launch Day!

 

Whew! What a fun Launch Day yesterday! I was bouncing around social media and having a ball seeing my book all over. My friends were sending me pictures of themselves receiving the book through the mail or seeing it in the stores. (I posted a few above.) And people were forwarding me reviews and mentions. That was tooooooooooo much fun.

The good news is that the party continues! Giveaways are still going on, so here’s where you can catch some prizes:

Gift Card Prizes: New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery and I are teaming up (yeah, I can’t believe it either!) all week here. We’re each giving away a $25 gift card to a bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is “like” both of our Facebook pages, then read short excerpts from each of our new summer books and answer 1 quick question about Fin and 1 quick question about her hero Jack (from the excerpts). Fun stuff! Come play!

Beach Bag Prizes: Berkley-Penguin is giving away a Penguin tote bag, a copy of Lorelie Brown’s RIDING THE WAVE (also a surfer story!), a copy of my THE RED BIKINI, a Penguin water bottle, and sunscreen (all the fixings for a perfect day at the beach) to four lucky winners over the next two weeks. How do you play? You can come to any of these places where Lorelie and I are blogging together and enter at any spot any time:

  • Top 10 surfer movies – Lorelie and I are listing our Top 10 surfer movies and which ones inspired our heroes Fin and Tanner on The Delighted Reader blog here. There’s one surf film that we both picked — can you guess which one it is?
  • Interview with the Gals – Come learn more about Lorelie and I at The Book Reading Gals blog. We talk about what inspired us to write about surfers and who we based Tanner Wright and Fin Hensen on. That interview is here.
  • “California Dreamin’” playlists – Lorelie and I will be on A Bookish Escape sharing the playlists we used to write the sun and surf of California. That post is here.

I’m ready to party for another day! How about you?

And thank you all for making my first launch day SO MUCH fun!

THE RED BIKINI Launches Today!

The_Red_Bikini CoverThe day is finally here! The Red Bikini has launched! I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all of the support of my blog friends, Twitter friends, Facebook friends, book club friends, work friends, Firebird sisters, long-time high school friends, old teachers (looking at you, Mrs. Cox!), and my wonderfully supportive family. I really couldn’t have written this book without the constant encouragement, support, and help of all of you – I can’t thank everyone enough.

But I can give away prizes! I’m giving away stuff all over the place, and I want you all to enter. Don’t think you can’t win because you’re my cousin or my fourth grade teacher or my coworker or my Firebird friend. I want you all to win! I’ll have a list at the end of this post of all the places you can enter to win stuff.

In the meantime, here are some ways you can help make The Red Bikini a success:

  1. Buy the book, if you haven’t already. I don’t care if you pay 99 cents or $7.99 (and I promise, if I see it for 99 cents anywhere I’ll tell you). At the start of my career, all I need is the logged purchase for any price whatsoever. You can buy it from Berkley itself, Amazon, the Book Depository, iTunes – anywhere. I get one notch higher on a “bestseller” list no matter where you buy it. You can even be like some kind of old-timer and drive your covered wagon to a Barnes and Noble bookstore and buy it there! I’m supposedly on the “Summer Reads” table in Barnes and Nobles across the country. Speaking of which …
  2. Take a picture of you and my book! I would love, love, love to see pictures of you and my book! If you see it in Barnes and Noble (whether you’re buying it there or not), please take a picture of you and the book, and send it to me. (If on Instagram, tag me @mizwrite or hashtag it #theredbikini so I’ll see it.) AND I’d love pictures of you and my book in your home state/country.(But, er … please buy those ones!) I’d love to see where you read – on a New York subway, on an Australian beach, in an Arizona desert, in a Vegas casino, wherever – and where The Red Bikini gets to travel! Send any pics to laurenchristopher@live.com so I can make a collage and share in my newsletter and social media pages. Or, on Instagram or Twitter, tag me @mizwrite or hashtag it #theredbikini and I’ll catch you that way!
  3. Write an Amazon review. Apparently, this is Super-Important. (Hence the cap letters.) You can start leaving reviews on Amazon as of today, and it really makes a difference in a writer’s career how many reviews she gets. Whether you buy the book on Amazon or not (they don’t care), please – if you have a few extra minutes – leave 3-4 sentences and however many stars you like. The number of reviews, apparently, is what determines how many Amazon lists you get on (like the “…if you like this book, you might like this one…” variety). So it’s Super-Important. And tell your friends about reviews! Speaking of which …
  4. Tell your friends about the book! If you have friends who love to read contemporary romance, please spread the word. Whether you’re standing in a bookstore, sitting in a hairdresser’s chair, waiting at the car wash, or seeing someone read on the subway, I’d surely appreciate the shout-out. If you’re shy, but you’d hand out The Red Bikini postcards, I’m ordering a bunch of purdy ones I’d be happy to mail you. Please email me your snail-mail address at laurenchristopher@live.com, and I’ll send a stack to you asap! Also, here are some social-media posts if you’re a social-media- type person:
    1. My friend’s/sister’s/daughter’s/(fill-in-the-blank)’s book just launched this week! If you like beach-read romances, this one’s for you: http://www.amazon.com/The-Red-Bikini-Lauren-Christopher/dp/0425274411/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1404188908&sr=8-2

OR, an OC focus if you’re a local:

  1. My friend’s/sister’s/daughter’s/(fill-in-the-blank)’s book just launched this week! If you like beach-read romances set in Orange County, this one’s for you: http://www.amazon.com/The-Red-Bikini-Lauren-Christopher/dp/0425274411/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1404188908&sr=8-2

So those are some things that can really help!

Now here are all the places I’m celebrating this week and giving stuff away:

  • July 1 TODAY! — My Firebird buddy Tammy Baumann is throwing a virtual launch party for me over on the Firebirds blog here, all day. We’re talking about hot heroes, dating younger men, and seeing the OC housewives in Target. Come check out our interview and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card and a “Sandy Cove” souvenir pack.
  • July 1 TODAY! — There’s lotsa surfer and beach talk going on between me and Lorelie Brown (new author of Riding the Wave, also a surfer book!). Today she and I are listing our Top 10 surfer movies and which ones inspired our heroes Fin and Tanner on the Delighted Reader Blog here. Our publisher, Berkley-Penguin, is giving away a huge beach bag prize with both our books, sunscreen, a beach towel, and more cool stuff, so be sure to stop by!
  • TODAY through July 4 — I’m also doing a REALLY HOT giveaway with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery all week here. Come read our excerpts and answer 1 quick question about Fin and 1 quick question about her hero (from the excerpts) and enter to win a $25 gift card from each of us to a bookstore of your choice. Fun stuff!
  • July 2 – Lorelie Brown and will be interviewing each other over on The Book Reading Gals Blog. (Come learn who she based Tanner Wright on and who I based Fin Hensen on!) You’ll have another chance to win the Berkley-Penguin beach bag filled with books and sun goodies, too. That interview should be here tomorrow.
  • July 2 – Lorelie and I will be on A Bookish Escape sharing our “California Dreamin’” playlists that we used to write the sun and surf of California. You’ll have yet another chance to win the Berkley-Penguin beach bag filled with books and sun goodies! That post will be here.
  • July 7 – Lorelie and I will be on The Bookish Babe blog, listing our Top 5 beaches, in case you want a little summer escape yourself. (If you’re heading to California, I’ll tell you the secret spots!) More chances to win the Berkley-Penguin beach bag filled with books and sun goodies. I’ll post that link when I get it.
  • July 8 — Next Monday, head on over to the KwanaWrites blog where my dear friend Kwana and I will be talking about what we like to see in a hero and heroine. Over there, you can win a $10 Amazon gift card a “Sandy Cove” souvenir pack. That post will be here on July 8.
  • July 9 – FACEBOOK PARTY! My Firebird sisters Tracy Brogan (“Crazy Little Thing,” “The Best Medicine”), Terri Osburn (“Meant to Be,” “Home to Stay”), and Kim Law (“Ex on the Beach,” “Hot Buttered Yum”), along with new author friend Lorelie Brown (“Riding the Wave”) and I will be having a “Beach Blanket Books” Facebook party from 2-6 p.m. PST. (You can attend in your slippers if you like!) We’ll all be giving away books, gift cards, beachy stuff, and there will be a grand prize of ALL of our books (signed) inside a huge beach bag filled with other beachy things. Look for the signup soon on my Facebook page. (Or leave me a comment below and I’ll send you an invite as soon as it’s done.) Please come! It’s going to be so much fun!

So that’s a start! I also wrote a guest post for BookPage, a “Dear Reader” letter for Berkley’s newsletter, and did an interview with Harlequin Junkie, but I’m not sure when or where those are appearing, so I’ll let you know soon. (I’ll be updating my blog with links every day!)

This is so exciting! Here we goooooooooooooooo …

“My Writing Process” Blog Hop

I was tagged by two lovely writer friends in this “Writing Process” blog hop. The fiction-writing community can sometimes seem huge and vast and intimidating. But at other times, like these – when writers are all tagging each other and we get to “meet” our writer friends’ friends – it can seem small and warm and welcoming. We get to meet others who struggle, and those who are doing great work anyway, and we get to introduce our own blog readers to more great books!

One of my taggers was Nancy Freund, a friend of mine from UCLA, who is now living in Switzerland and just came out with her knock-out first novel Rapeseed. Nancy was just interviewed on the BBC recently about the uber-interesting topic of synesthesia, which the main character in her novel has. It’s a deep, emotional story about families, ex pats, fitting in, checking out, grabbing meaning out of life, and memories. Check out Rapeseed as soon as you can!

The other friend who tagged me was Catherine Rull, one of my fellow Firebirds from Australia, who is the hardest working gal in show business – she’s written 11 manuscripts! Catherine was one of the first Firebirds I met in person in 2012 in Anaheim – I saw her friendly face across the room at the “First Timers” workshop and recognized her immediately. I mouthed “Catherine?” and she nodded, and we sat together and became instant friends! Sweetest woman. Her new agent is now querying her Book 6, and we expect to see sale news from her any time now.

So without further ado, here are the “Writing Process” questions with my own answers:

 

What am I working on?

I’m actually working on three books simultaneously right now, which I never thought I could do and never thought I’d be saying, but … well, there it is! This week is the exciting launch of THE RED BIKINI, my first novel. (I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!) I’ve been working hard promoting it all month, writing guest posts, sharing Berkley contests, and more. Meanwhile, I’m editing and fact-checking Book 2: TEN GOOD REASONS, which is having its cover designed right now. And I’m also on Chapter 6 of Book 3 to stay on schedule for producing a book a year.

Each of the books is about a sister – THE RED BIKINI is about the oldest sister Giselle; TEN GOOD REASONS is about the middle sister Lia; and Book 3 is about the youngest sister Noelle. All three sisters end up in the fictional “Sandy Cove,” which, the characters say in the books, is “a perfect place for those who wish to hide.”

I’ve had fun writing about three sisters. (Which is weird because I don’t have any.) But maybe that’s why I wanted to write about them? I could just imagine what it might be like – the fun parts, anyway.

Each of the sisters has an obstacle to finding true love when her story opens. Giselle, the oldest, has a perfectionist problem and needs to overcome the idea that she has to be perfect before she can open herself to true love. Lia is a workaholic and doesn’t really see how her definition of “success” at work is getting in the way of possible success in love. And Noelle is a flat-out commitment-phobe! She doesn’t know it yet, though. I’m having fun writing her story. (I’m giving her my first “nerd hero,” too.)

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmm. This is a great question. My work is similar to others in the contemporary romance genre in that it’s modern; the heroines are a little older (28, 30, and 35); it’s a little funny; and it lets the characters laugh at the craziness of falling in love. (That’s one of the things I love about contemporary romances.) It’s also following the current trends of alternating points of view (half the book is written from the heroine’s POV and half is written from the hero’s – writing a man’s POV has been great fun for me!); it’s set in a small-town (popular trend right now); and is part of a three-book series with recurring characters (also a popular trend right now).

But how my work is different: hmmm. So far I’ve been putting my characters in worlds where the reader might learn something new. I hope that might set me apart. In THE RED BIKINI, I show readers the world (good and bad) of professional surfing and how it’s different than you probably think it is. In TEN GOOD REASONS, I introduce readers to the world of whales and dolphins and the professionals who love that world. Book 3 will center around marine life, too, with my marine biologist Elliott, and I hope to show readers a peek into the window of rescuing wild animals.

I think it’s really fun to read a romance novel and feel like I learned something from it (aside from commentary on love), so I wanted to offer that as an author. For instance, Laura Kinsdale’s historicals always leave me feeling like I learned a lot about history (how stroke victims were put in insane asylums, how women were not welcome in the world of mathematics, the evolution of various infectious diseases, etc.). And Rosalind James’ new contemporaries set in New Zealand make me feel like I just got back from vacation there, where I just learned all kinds of fun slang and all about the rugby culture. I love that kind of thing. So I hope to deliver that.

 

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote an essay called “Why I Write Romance Novels.” (It’s here if you want to read the whole thing.) But the long and short of it is: I like to write about love. I like to write about falling in love, and how frightening and exhilarating and confusing it is at the same time. I like to study love, and what makes it work between two people where it wouldn’t work for anyone else. Romance writers get to be a little like matchmakers, setting up two “types” and seeing what happens. Can an introvert make a life with an extrovert? Can a science nerd fall in love with a beauty queen? Can an academic fall in love with an athlete? Can a fearful person fall in love with a daredevil? There are endless possibilities to explore, and endless stories to tell, and if you believe in the refraining theme – that love conquers all (which I do) – then you can explore this theme endlessly.

I also like writing stories for women where women get to be the agency of their own lives. We see enough movies in the theater or shows on TV where male protagonists control the plot and their success and happiness is paramount. (Women are too often simply the supporting role.) But in romance novels, it’s all about women’s happiness. The female protagonists get to have happy endings. They get to have sexual fulfillment (without feeling “moralized to” or dying at the end, as is the case in most literature). They get to have someone love them for who they are, and respect them for what they’ve done. And women readers who devour these stories get to close romance novels with a smile on their face and a feeling of triumph. Not to mention that little adrenaline rush/ oxytocin hit that comes from being happy, much like watching a good comedy gives you. It’s a wonderful way for a woman to end her day, and I love thinking I might be able to give that as a gift to someone.

 

How does my writing process work?

I’m getting into a decent rhythm now, especially after having to figure out how to balance three novels with a full-time job and a family of five. (Housecleaning usually falls by the wayside! Oh well!)

But anyway, for each book, it’s gone kind of like this:

  • Write a fast first draft of Chapter 1 with two interesting characters and an interesting problem to solve.
  • Show it to my agent. She talks me through whether it works or not. Once I get a thumbs up:
  • Write the fast first draft all the way to the midpoint.
  • Show it to my beta readers and my agent. They give me feedback on whether it’s working or not. Adjust. Then:
  • Edit the first half into a second draft.
  • Write the second half quickly.
  • Show it to my agent. Adjust.
  • Send it to my editor.

I follow Blake Snyder’s advice of writing to “beats” in three acts. (From his “Save the Cat” screenwriting book.) I also follow similar advice from Michael Hauge about writing about the “identity” and “essence” in three acts. Learning these two processes has helped me immensely.

 

So that’s my writing process! I hope that wasn’t too boring! Thank you Nancy and Catherine for tagging me.

Now I’m going to tag Tamra Baumann, whose first book is coming out in March 2015. I’ve had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek at some of Tamra’s contemporary romances, and they are TERRIFIC! So fun and funny. We’re all in for a treat next March!

Tamra will “take it away” with her post on her writing process July 7. Be sure to check hers out!

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