How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

 

Last summer, I spent a week on a writing retreat in the heart of Manhattan. Along with two of my closest friends, we spent the time living it up in the lap of luxury while writing and brainstorming new book ideas. We were fortunate enough to be staying in a beautiful penthouse apartment in Soho (courtesy of a friend who was traveling for work) with sweeping views of lower Manhattan.  It was the first time I’d ever stayed in a penthouse and if there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that I had a hard time going back to my humdrum life at the end of the week.  It was intoxicating. Like like flying first class or shopping for shoes at Chanel.  Once you get a taste of first class, you never want to go back to coach! And, once you slip your feet into a pair of Louboutin’s, you can never imagine wearing anything else, or so I’ve been told, anyway. I guess the same can be said of my six days last summer living the high life in a penthouse with a hot tub. With a hot tub! I felt just like a movie star (minus the paparazzi following me around and the extra zeros in my bank account). Of course, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea.  We were working hard, busy writing and knocking out our next novel (in between soaking up the sun while relaxing in the hot tub). 

But more importantly, we were also charged with watching the penthouse owner’s dog, Roxy. Mind you, I’ve never taken care of a dog before (proud owner of one cat and a parakeet) so there was quite a bit of on-the-job training (with detailed instructions from Roxy’s mommy).  I can tell you that at the time, I had no idea how much work went into caring for a dog. Who knew? Between the feedings, scheduled walks, and grooming appointments, to the neighborhood play date, it was like having a toddler except with more fur and fewer temper tantrums. 

Yet with all the work that went into dog sitting Roxy, there was an upside I hadn’t counted on. Because it turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be.  No one warned me that I’d fall in love with her big brown eyes and soft velvety tongue! Three days into my dog sitting, I was surprised by how I grew to love my furry charge, Roxy.  And, what I learned, was that a dog loves unconditionally. It’s the kind of love I’ve spent years writing about in my books.   The kind of love most people spend a lifetime looking for. We crave it, don’t we and when we find it, we celebrate it. I mean, don’t we all just want someone to love us unconditionally? To love us not just during the best of times, but during the worst of times, too. And, that’s exactly what Roxy did.  She didn’t mind if I was in a bad mood or if I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet.  She couldn’t care less if I binged on chips and salsa all day and didn’t go to the gym to work it off. She didn’t judge me when I had too much to drink and spent the entire next morning in bed, nursing a hangover. She loved me despite all of those things.

So, during that week I spent with Roxy, I decided to write a book with my friend Gina McBride, about our experience dog sitting.  Many of the scenes in The Dog Walker really happened (the trellis, Roxy’s nervous breakdown, and the chocolate scare. I’m still recovering from that one). And like most romantic comedies, there’s a leading man and a misunderstanding that gets in the way of true love. But more importantly, this book is really about my love affair with Roxy.  A love affair that has me considering becoming a dog owner. Perhaps it’s time to start looking into doggy adoptions?

Erin 

Where in the World?

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve posted on this blog.  It doesn’t seem possible.  I’ve been away for 365 days, 8,765 hours, 525,600 minutes  and 31,536,000 seconds. (Oh great. Now I can’t get that song from the musical Rent out of my head). Needless to say, that’s a lot of time.  So, I’ve thought long and hard about what I can say regarding my very long absence. Where have I been?  What have I been up to? And, to make things interesting I thought it would be fun to come up with a “Top Ten” list of reasons why I’ve been missing in action. So here goes:

Top Ten Reasons why Erin was MIA

10. She was crowned Miss America and was under contract to go on a year-long worldwide tour.

9. She went through the stones in Scotland and has been shacked up with a red-headed 18th century Scotsman.

8. She took a wrong turn while driving home when her GPS malfunctioned and somehow wound up on an episode of Naked and Afraid.

7.  She’s been hanging out with her BFF, Kim Kardashian, in Los Angeles.

6. She won the Mega Millions and bought herself a castle in Tuscany.

5.  She joined Soul Cycling and actually cycled herself to death.

4. She thought it would be fun if people started asking the question: Where in the World is Erin Brady?

3. She’s gone into the Witness Protection Program, has assumed a new identity and now goes by the name of Eunice Poppers.

2. She’s been trapped in a Red Room with Mr. Grey and lost the keys to the handcuffs.

1.  She has a new job as a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream taster and moved to a remote part of Vermont.

Of course, none of the above are true (as much as I wish #9 was…sigh) and I’m obviously not that Erin Brady (aka Miss America) even though it would be amazing to look like that in a bikini. Sadly, the truth is much more boring than any of the items on my list. The truth is I’ve been writing and writing and then, writing some more. And, in between, I’ve been taking much needed time off to spend with family and friends.

It’s true what they say about time flying when you’re having fun because I really have been enjoying my life while creating new characters who find themselves in crazy predicaments along the way. And now I’m happy to report that I’m back and better than ever! With that said, I’m announcing the release of my newest book, The Dog Walker. I have to tell you I’ve had so much fun writing the storyline to this novel along with my friend and co-author Gina McBride. The idea came to us while we were on a writing retreat in New York City with another author, Sarah Price. Many of the scenes in the book are based on events that happened that very weekend. Events so hysterical and outlandish, we decided to put the words to paper and share the craziness of those two days with others.  And so, after a year of writing (and daydreaming of #9 on my list), I’m thrilled to report that The Dog Walker is set to release on February 6th. I hope you feel compelled to check it out because if there’s one thing I can promise, it’s that it will make you laugh out loud.  And can’t we all use a little laughter in our lives?  If the past year’s sabbatical has taught me anything, it’s that we all do!

Available on

Amazon

 

Erin

Into the Amish

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Cover courtesy of Littera Designs

Did you ever feel an overwhelming urge to escape?  To disappear somewhere and, along with you, all of your worries?  I have … many, many times, in fact.  I have always pictured my escape this way: I’d walk right out of my office at work, down the elevator, onto the sidewalk, hail a cab, head for the airport and take the next flight to a remote island; an island with plenty of sun, a warm breeze, a soft, long beach lined with palm trees and no Wi-Fi (well, maybe Wi-Fi. I do need to read and follow my favorite celebrity tweets, after all!).  Or, better yet, I’d fly over to Scotland and find a circle of standing stones, twirl at its center and hopefully land somewhere in the 18th century with a handsome Highlander (can you tell I’ve been watching too many episodes of Outlander?).  Of course, the urge will pass quickly and I’ll realize what a blessed life I have and I won’t catch that flight (sigh … Jaime will have to exist only in my dreams), but you get the idea. 

Sometimes, life can be so overwhelming that you feel the need to get away from it all, if only for five minutes, an hour, a day or sometimes, even longer. 

That is exactly the predicament the main character of my latest novel, “Into the Amish,” finds herself in.  On the surface, Emily Lawson seems to have it all: the perfect job, the perfect apartment and of course, the perfect boyfriend.  But, as we know all too well (especially if you’ve read or seen enough romantic comedies), not everything is ever as it seems.  For Emily, life takes an unexpected turn and it throws her into turmoil.  Gone is the perfect world she thought she was living in. She feels lost and confused.  If only she could find a quiet place to gather her thoughts and work out her problems?  Cue in a very helpful mother, a trip to Lancaster, some long-lost Amish cousins and voila: you have a story.  A story I hope you’ll enjoy because, in all honesty, this book was incredibly fun to write and for so many reasons! 

First, I really was able to identify with Emily’s predicaments.  Life is messy and, sometimes, we need a time out from it.   And yes, it’s okay to not always know where we are  heading. After all, we don’t always have everything figured out and sometimes, the voyage is more important than the final destination. Second, while I may be a city girl, I do have a little bit of country in me. Perhaps even more than just a little bit. In fact, didn’t I grow up spending most of my summers living among the cows and the chickens and absolutely loving it?  These are the fondest memories of my childhood.  So, the fact that I was able to go back to my happy place while writing this book was an added bonus! 

Thirdly, I was able to find out so much about the Amish and learned such a great deal about these people, which I came to appreciate and admire through the eyes and life experiences of my co-author, that I had to share their story with you. Like me, you will love the closeness of the community and the strong ties of faith and family that are the core values they abide by in their daily lives. So much so that, just like me, you’ll be soon planning a visit  to Lancaster County yourself. 

But lastly, and most importantly, I had the opportunity to write this book with my good friend, Sarah Price, whom I adore. I’m not sure whether or not many of her fans realize what a wonderful sense of humor Sarah has.  She’s funny in a “laugh-out-loud, belly laugh” kind of way.  She has great comedic timing; so much so that bringing this story to life came much easier than any other book I’ve ever written.  We laughed so much in the months we spent collaborating with each other that I miss it now.  Hint, hint, Sarah … do I hear a sequel?

The book is available now on pre-order at Amazon.  I hope you check it out:

Into the Amish

All I Want for Christmas . . .

Yes, you heard me.  After weeks of running around in preparation of Christmas, I am bone-tired. I don’t have any energy left, and sigh, I still have one more day to go before the actual holiday!

I think I’ve logged in more hours than the elves who are making toys for the “big day” in the North Pole.  I’m definitely running on empty and I don’t have time for refueling.  You see, there are just too many things yet left to do (I seriously don’t know how Santa does it!)

It all starts right after Thanksgiving with the purchase of the Christmas tree.  From the moment I have it set up in my living room, it’s a non-stop flurry of activity.  It’s a frenzy of “to-do” lists.  From stringing up the lights (both in and out), to gathering my wayward children in their Sunday best to capture the “perfect” picture that screams Christmas (after hundred shots of silly faces and fidgety bodies, I give up), my day never ends. My nights are filled holiday parties, squeezing in as many “feel-good” Christmas movies to watch on television and the singing of the carols blaring on the radio 24/7.  And let’s not forget the buying of the Christmas presents.  Oh, how can I forget!  It haunts my dreams!

Every year, I promise I will be organized.  Every year, I put together a detailed list.  Every year, I am confident that I will buy my loved ones the ultimate gift that will make them shout out in glee, cry with happiness, and smother me in kisses.  And every year, I fail miserably.  I spend weeks ordering gifts on the internet, waiting patiently on those long lines at the mall, rushing out during my lunch hour at work to quickly pop into a store.   It’s a lot of pressure and I usually wind up taking two aspirins to keep the migraine headaches at bay.

Christmas is exhausting . . . and I’m not so sure I’m going to make it this year.  If I do, I will certainly be limping towards the finished line.  And after all of the presents are opened, and the tree is set out to the curb.  After all the cards are mailed and the caroling stops.  I will be looking forward to only one thing and it’s not my relatives popping in to say hello either. I’ll give you a hint.  It involves a pillow and a blanket and my eyes closed shut.  Yes, that’s right.  I will look forward to crawling into my warm, cozy bed and sleeping.  It’s all I want for Christmas.  Wake me up for the New Year!

Happy Holidays.

Erin

Confessions of a Chick-Lit-Aholic. Erin Brady is my first guest author!

Thank you, Meredith, for allowing me to be part of your blog tour. For those of you who aren’t already a big fan of Meredith Schorr, like I am, check her books out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed!

I’m so pleased to have author Erin Brady participate in my Celebration of Chick Lit tour as my inaugural guest author. Erin’s novel The Shopping Swap is one of my favorites and I love her writing so much that I asked her to be one of the first readers of Novelista Girl. Find out why she loves chick lit so much below. 

I have a serious confession to make and here it is: I have an uncontrollable obsession. Some even call it an addiction.  It’s like trying to ignore a craving for chocolate or fighting an insatiable need to binge watch a favorite television show (Downton Abbey anyone?) or even resisting the strong urge to shop (ever wandered aimlessly down the aisles of Target?  I know I have).

My addiction is insatiable and always leaves me wanting more.  It keeps me up late into the wee hours of the…

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Hooked On Hallmark

Shhhh . . . I have a little secret to tell you.  Promise not to tell anyone?  Okay, there goes.  You see, it’s almost that time of the year again and I’m giddy with anticipation.  It’s when I get to hang up the twinkling holiday lights and when I trim the tree and adorn it with decorations.  It’s also when I log onto my computer to hunt for Christmas gifts like a trained professional shopper, tracking all of the sales and free shipping offers on the internet.  If only I could make a living from it.  Sigh.

But that’s not why I’m soooo excited for the holiday season!  It’s not why I’m jumping up and down with glee.  Those things are all good- don’t get me wrong- and I look forward to doing all of them after Thanksgiving has come and gone.  But the real reason why I get warm feelings coursing through my body and why my heart skips a happy beat has nothing to do with shopping or tree trimming or twinkling lights but everything to do with the… Hallmark Channel.  Yes, you heard me right: the Hallmark Channel!  It’s the greatest place on this earth to binge watch all of those fabulously corny made-for-TV holiday movies that I can’t seem to get enough of.  It’s like my drug of choice for Christmas.  Forget eggnog or chestnut lattes.  Forget Christmas carols and making snow angels in the snow.  I’m all about snuggling with a blanket on my sofa, switching on my television set and settling in for a series of wonderful love stories, all taking place in a town decorated to the hilt with holiday spirit!  Add in a secret Santa and you’ve got the formula for a perfect Christmas story.

It makes me glad to see a down-and-out heroine with a heart of gold who has lost any hope for a Christmas miracle-life circumstances, you know- be rescued by a dashingly handsome (and equally good-hearted) knight-in-shining-armor.  I know it’s predictable and I know it’s sappy, but I happen to LOVE sappy.  I LOOK for sappy throughout the entire month of December!    I think we all need a bit of sappy in our lives.  And what better place to look for it than on the Hallmark Channel?   Soon enough, January will roll around and there will be enough time for a reality check as I will break my New Year’s resolutions for the umpteenth time. 

But that’s still over a month away and I’ll think about it (and my diet) when I get there.  For now, I’m going to enjoy the Hallmark lineup and watch each and every single movie with the words “Christmas” or “Holiday” or “Santa” or “Candy Cane” or “Mistletoe” in the title.  I can’t wait!  Yay!

Erin   

Hallmark Christmas Movie

Throwback Songs

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I’m a huge 80s fan; as in big, even colossal!  I love the movies (Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Flashdance, even the Goonies).  I love the television shows (Golden Girls and Miami Vice, I miss you!)  I love the fashion . . .  OK, well maybe, I can do without big hair, neon shirts, and leg warmers.  But still, I love the 80s!  If I could go back in time (like Michael J. Fox did with his car or John Cusack with a hot tub), I would do it in a heartbeat.  And you know what I love most about the 80s (besides Cabbage Patch dolls and Pac-man?):  I love the music!  I simply adore the “Only In My Dreams, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Like a Virgin, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” kind of music that gets my toes tapping and my hips swaying.

I don’t know what it is about that decade, but somehow it always brings me back to the sweet memories I have growing up (am I showing my age?)  In fact, if I were to make a slideshow of my life, it would be set to the Casy Kasem Top 40 hit songs of the 80s!

It’s amazing. I will be shopping at the mall, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I will hear a familiar melody: Madonna will be singing “Crazy for You” and I’ll stop dead in my tracks.  I’ll smile and have the sudden urge to buy myself a polka dot miniskirt, “Boytoy” belt and fishnet gloves. It never fails. 

And then it hits me; the reason why I love 80s songs so much; the reason why these songs have such a hypnotic effect on me: It’s because songs are just as powerful as books.

Songs are nostalgic, reminding me of places I’ve been to and people I’ve met (I can’t listen to “Is This Love?” without remembering my first boyfriend).  Songs uplift me when I’m feeling down (I’ve been known to belt out “All By Myself” after a bad breakup).   Songs inspire me (I can definitely climb several flights of stairs to the “Rocky” theme song).  Songs have marked important events in my life (my first slow dance, my wedding song, the songs I sang to my children at bedtime).

And as a writer, I’ve come to understand that songs are just like short stories, essays or novellas; truly literary works of art.  Like the books that I read or write, songs paint a vivid picture, tell a riveting story, and transport us to another time and place.

Like the favorite books I love to read time and time again, I also have favorite songs: these, I play over and over and never get tired of hearing.  I’ve memorized verses and can hum melodies absentmindedly.  I sing along to the radio with my friends (while driving to a party) or I sing by myself in the shower (when I think no one else can hear me).

So tonight, instead of curling up in my bed with a good book (as I’m known to do most nights), I am going to put on my headsets, turn to the playlist on my cell phone and drift off to sleep to the soothing voice of Phil Collins singing “Against All Odds.”

Ah, the 80s!  I suddenly miss my Sony Walkman for some strange reason . . .

Erin