All the things…

Today was one of those days where I felt mostly useless. I have so many things that I need to do. So many more that I want to do. And a lot of things that I have to do. And I’m not one of those people who can just say, “eff it” and let half the things go.

I did make it to the gym today…and I realized that fitness is one of the things that I’ve been seriously letting slide. And I’m at an age where I can’t afford the same kind of slips that might’ve worked out okay in my twenties, if you get my drift. When you show up at the gym and the little check in machine says loudly, “check status” and the fourteen year old boy behind the desk flags you down to announce that the computer says it’s been 39 days since your last visit…well, that’s not good, folks. (seriously, what the hell kind of tracking system is that, anyway? Why do they need to know how often I show up as long as I’m paid? I think it’s some kind of plot to embarrass lazy asshats like me.) ANYWAY, I did get there today. And that was good. And then the rest of the day was moderately crappy.

My house is a disaster. I have a half-finished (okay, that’s optimistic… 1/3 finished) book that I must complete in the next two weeks to get shined up pretty and submitted by the 31st of January… Not to mention another secret something going on that I’m super excited about but not at liberty to mention just yet… but that will require some editing, no doubt… And something new is brewing… and there’ll need to be another wine country book this spring…

And then there’s work. My “flexible” job is not super flexible lately, and I’m in the unenviable position of being the PTA board member who never goes to anything, always says “no” to helping and hardly ever volunteers at school. I can barely manage to get home for the bus to get here. Ahh, work.

And when work is done, I get to chase after my little boys who literally appear to live just to make messes for me to clean up. I know that they are learning and growing, and I do see some progress from time to time… But…shit. The laundry. The floors. The dishes. Shit.

And I’m wanking completely, and I know that. I’m not alone in this. We all have our shit to shovel. And my mom would tell me to choose the things that are most important and let the others go. And I’ve tried. But what I realize is that I cannot do that. To me, they all look important. And maybe when I’m in my last moments I might realize that less laundry wouldn’t have been a bad thing, but right now? I need to get all the things done. I just do.

So I ask you…am I the only one trying to have it all and somehow feeling that it is actually possible? Yeah, I’m pissed. And yes, I’m tired. But I don’t think it’s impossible.

How do you manage to keep the balls in the air? How do you balance what’s important to YOU with what’s important?


Cover Reveal: Frenched by Melanie Harlow



By Melanie Harlow

New Adult/Adult Sexy Contemporary Romance

Releasing March 4, 2014

Cover designed by Tom Barnes

Mia Devine plans over-the-top weddings for a living. So when it comes to her own nuptials, she spares

no expense—hand engraved invitations, Vera Wang gown, luxury honeymoon in France. And since her

fiancé is Tucker Branch, playboy heir and notorious flirt, local media is obsessed with every little detail.

Which is why it really sucks when he jilts her a week before the wedding.

Mortified, Mia wants nothing more than to crawl under her newly monogrammed sheets and plan a

funeral for her dignity, right after blabbing to the world how fitting it is that Tucker will inherit a bolt and

screw company, because that’s all he wants to do—screw, and bolt. And he doesn’t do either with much


When her friends convince her that bitter tastes better when it’s drowned in Bordeaux, she grits her

teeth and packs her bags, determined to make the best of a week in Paris alone.

She never planned on meeting Lucas Fournier.

The free-spirited musician’s scruffy good looks and less-than-sympathetic ear annoy her at first, but

when she takes him up on his offer to show her around the city, she discovers that the romance of Paris

isn’t just a myth.

Nor is the simultaneous O.

The last thing Mia needs is another doomed love affair, but since she only has a week, she figures she

might as well enjoy La Vie en O with Lucas while she can. But each day—and night—with him is better

than the last, and suddenly her heart is telling her this is more than a rebound fling.

Is it just the seduction of Paris…or could this be the real thing?

About the Author

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. She’s

a 20th century fanatic and gets her kicks from historical fiction and TV series like Boardwalk Empire,

Magic City, Deadwood, Mad Men, and Downtown Abbey (although she wishes it were more HBO and

less PBS). Her debut novel, Speak Easy, was inspired by Detroit’s fascinating Prohibition-era history.

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Cover Reveal: The Accidental Socialite





Releasing April 15, 2014

New Adult/Adult Chick-Lit, Romantic Comedy

Quirky and clumsy twenty-two-year-old Paige Crawford arrives in London on a cold Saturday in January.

Just when Paige starts to think that moving thousands of miles away from home with no real plan was

a bad idea, Jason Frost appears. Confident and classy, Jason is the complete opposite of Paige and just

what she needs in her life, or so she thinks.

But before their romance has time to blossom, Paige trips and falls into the arms of a mysterious man

on a drunken night out. She’s snapped by paparazzi, and newspaper headlines the next day suggest that

she’s having an affair with a married footballer.

Paige finds herself instantly elevated to tabloid celebrity status which isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly

when trying to juggle her new job at Fashionista magazine, a catalog of dating disasters and a nagging

doubt that she maybe she can’t conquer London after all.

When a trip back to Canada for Christmas reminds Paige why she left her old life behind, she returns to

London with renewed vigor realizing that while jobs, flats and men may come and go, friends in London

are forever.


About the Author

Growing up in Edmonton, Canada, a significant amount of Stephanie’s time was spent making up and

acting out stories. She was studying to be an actress when she realized there weren’t any parts for

women being written. So, Stephanie wrote herself a short screenplay just to be in it and quickly realized

that writing was her true passion.

She graduated from the University of Alberta with an English and Sociology degree and she also has a

Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts (that’s a fancy term for Film School) from Red Deer College. After a

fateful trip to Mexico in 2006, Stephanie decided to move to New York City to work in film development.

A year later she went back home to write My Green House, a factual TV series. Stephanie moved to

London in 2008 and aside from being obsessed with Eggs Benedict, Fruit Roll Ups and travelling, she also

works in Children’s Television. The Accidental Socialite is her first novel.

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Men and Martinis Reviews

Have you gotten a chance to read MEN AND MARTINIS yet? I hope the answer is yes. I’m so excited about this book… it tickles me to watch the reviews creeping in. Here are a couple lines from recent reviews that I love:

I could not stop giggling out loud at this book. Between the totally excellent 90’s dotcom party setting and the strong personalities of the ‘girlfriends’, it was impossible to put down.

Love that…

The plot is more compelling than most in this genre, and the humor quite entertaining. I am convinced that if you read this book you will want more from this author.

So nice!

Stewart nailed life in late 90’s NYC dot com era. If you lived through it, or are just curious, you must read this book.
Great character development and easy read.

It’s a strange experience – reading the reactions of other people to something you tend and grow and nurture and then send out into the world. Kind of like getting a phone call from my son’s teacher about something nasty he did at school. Yesterday. So maybe the purpose of this entire post is to try to celebrate something that I put out there doing well in the face of anticipating a call from the vice principal today about something ELSE that I’ve put out there doing things that are NOT SO NICE. I’ve warned him that the elf is watching… but this time of year is so tough for the little guys. So much excitement!

Wish me luck on that call… and let me know your thoughts on MEN AND MARTINIS! I’m about a quarter of the way through the sequel, and hope the publisher will want to release books two and three in 2014! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, pick it up at Amazon, B&N or Kobo!

The Short Game Releases today!

Today I am excited to share the release of The Short Game, a novella by J.L. Fynn. It’s a companion novella to her debut novel The Long Game, but it’s completely stand-alone. That is, even if you haven’t read the first book, you will enjoy this one.

And even more exciting than the book’s release? All day today and tomorrow you can get it FOR FREE! Want to learn more?

Summary from Goodreads:

Jimmy Boy Reilly should be out on the road like the rest of his Irish-American Gypsy clan, but instead he’s stuck at home. His little brother Shay is up north pulling a long con, something Jimmy never wanted him involved in, and now all he can do is worry and wait. 

But Shay isn’t the only thing on his mind this summer. He can’t seem to shake the image of the cute store clerk they swindled a few weeks back, and it’s really starting to get to him. When he decides to return the money in an effort to get her out of his mind, that small act of redemption soon turns into a date, and maybe something more.

Jimmy Boy never had any intention of falling for the country girl, cute or not, but there’s no way he could resist the beautiful, sassy blonde. Now it’s not just the fate of his little brother he’s worried about, but his own too. Hiding the relationship from his clan is hard enough, but keeping the fact that he’s an Irish Traveler from Tracy is even harder–and might cost him more in the end.

Set concurrently to J.L. Fynn’s debut novel The Long Game, The Short Game is a novella exploring what’s happening back at the Traveler Village while Shay is up north. While it could be considered a companion novel to The Long Game, it’s a stand-alone story that can be enjoyed even without having read The Long Game.

Genre: New Adult Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 21,000 words
Release Date: December 17, 2013
About the Author:
J.L. Fynn is the public face of the writing collaboration between Katherine Ernst and Chelle Bruhn. Katherine and Chelle disagree on most everything (music, food, need for punctuality), except for what’s really important, which is why they’ve been best friends for seventeen years and writing together for three.
Want to learn more about the series? Sign up for J.L. Fynn’s Mailing List

Social Media Links:





Book 1 American Gypsy Series                                 Book 2 American Gypsy Series

Available Now!                                                           Out January 21, 2013


Back to The City

This weekend I got to go back to NYC. For seven hours. It sounds sort of insane because, frankly, it was. My company sponsors a bus trip every year from my home outside DC. I didn’t go last year because I was like, “Sitting on a bus for 10 hours just for half a day in New York? I’m not insane.” Evidently something has changed between last year and this year, because this year I went. So perhaps I am actually insane. I took my six year old son. So, yes, the insanity possibility remains. 

We got on a bus at 6am. We spent seven hours in NYC, and then got back on the bus. We got home at 3am. 

And I learned a few things. 

1) I still love NYC. Even though everything we did and saw was completely swamped and mobbed with people… when I lived there — the times I write about in Girlfriends of Gotham — I avoided the tourist stuff like the plague. I wouldn’t walk through Times Square if you paid me. I’d NEVER go to Rockefeller Center during the holidays. And being crowd claustrophobic, I still didn’t enjoy that stuff. But in the midst of the worst crowds I’ve ever seen and in the middle of a serious smash of humanity, I realized that I could still appreciate that particular brand of hell. There are few places in the world where people would put up with that complete redassery just to see a giant tree lit up, where people will stand in line to enter a toy store (yes, we did this to get into FAO Schwartz). And it reminded me that even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy the touristy stuff — there was a time when I got to be an insider…when I owned just the tiniest piece of everything that ROCKS about New York City.

2) My kid is a rock star. The little guy spent most of the day awash in a sea of strangers, with me gripping his hand in a deathclaw grip and dragging him past an endless parade of other people’s butts. I’m 5’9″ tall and almost always in 3-4″ heels. I can see over almost everyone. But he couldn’t see crap. He saw butts and hands and other kids looking terrified, and he handled it like a champion. Every now and then I’d hoist him up and carry him so he could see stuff (yes, I carried my 60 pound kid while wearing three and a half inch heels…I’m like that). But when I’d check in with him as I pulled him through crowds, he was completely fine. And happy. And smiling. 

3) The Spiderman show is AWESOME. We got tickets in advance, and I was SO glad we did it. If you have kids and you’re in the city, it’s totally worth it. 

4) Seeing your old life and knowing you’ll never have it again is hard. As I sat on a bus with a bunch of crazy women screaming “NYC Baby!” while we crossed the GW bridge into the city, I swallowed down my annoyance. I remember the feeling I used to have, when I entered the city at the end of a trip, the feeling I had when I was coming home to the city… it was a feeling of belonging, of pride. When I saw that skyline, I felt a surge of something incredible that I’d never felt before and haven’t felt since. NYC was the first place I ever really felt at home. And with Frank Sinatra’s line in my head, it made me feel like I could make it anywhere. On that bus, though, I had to accept that I didn’t belong anymore. I have become a tourist. New York City is like a snowglobe. Lots of people look at it and see the same things. They scurry over the glossy top of it, ogling the Empire State Building and talking about Times Square. They see the things we see on television, in movies. But they don’t see the inside. When I lived there, I was inside the globe. I got to walk the hidden side streets that tourists rarely find. I knew how to get places without getting swamped by people. I was an insider. But now I wander the hard surface of the globe with everyone else. At least when I’m there for only 7 hours on an insane bus trip. 

5) I miss my girlfriends. I was in Manhattan for four days in May to celebrate my 40th. And none of what I just said applied then. When you have enough time to delve deeper, you get to see some of that inner goodness. But for me, NYC is only ever right if I’m with my best friends — the original Girlfriends of Gotham. I look forward to our next visit to the city!

Reviews of Men and Martinis

There are all kinds of book bloggers out there, and I’m thankful to them all for taking the time to read and promote the work of writers. But some take their review work really seriously, offering more than just a nod to having read the book. Some write pages about what they enjoyed or didn’t like about a book they signed on to review. And when you’re the recipient of a thoughtful review like that, it’s an amazing feeling. Here’s a great example of a review like that for Men and Martinis… what a nice thing to wake up to!