MEET: Kay W. Smith, Author of LOTUS

lotus kay smithThe Book:

Newlywed Lotus Price has everything that she should have ever wanted: a great husband and a dream job as an executive of a prominent Chicago philanthropic foundation. Her life is going exactly as she planned—until she discovers she is pregnant and then unexpectedly encounters her first love. Despite his offer to be friends, Lotus wants to keep the past where it belongs. As the pregnancy begins to interrupt the dream that Lotus envisioned for her marriage, she is forced to rethink everything she thought she knew about her path to this point, including the single day that led her to her husband and away from the man she saw herself spending forever with. Now, as long-buried scars resurface, only time will tell what direction Lotus will take in the future—and who will be willing to give up what they have in order to get what they have always desired?

My Thoughts: Once I hunkered down and started reading LOTUS, I found myself fairly invested in the heroine of the novel – Lotus Price. What would she do? How is she handling this pregnancy? Why is her husband being detached? Why is the “love of her life” back in her life … NOW. I  felt like I was watching a great episode of Grey’s Anatomy (the early years, naturally) and it was fun. When I finally got to the last page, I couldn’t help but wonder  “Is Lotus Price going to be OK?”

Ms. Smith had made me care about her heroine and that was a great feeling!

I enjoyed how connected I felt  to the motley crew of characters that made Lotus a stand out for me. All of them were flawed, thoughtful and wonderfully grown-up.

There was no obvious “good guy versus the bad guy”, everyone was complex, layered and all had reasons for the choices that were made in the past — which, brought them to their somewhat messy present. A  rich and refreshing read, I do have one question for Kay W. Smith, can I expect a sequel? I must know what happens to Lotus Price!

The Take Away:  Life. It’s Complicated



kay smithBio:

Kay W. Smith is a writer and blogger living in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two sons.    She worked in public policy for several years before pursuing her passion to write full-time.  She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

 Get in Touch: 

Amazon Purchase Link:








A Chat with Amy E. Reichert: Milwaukee + Coconut Cake

This summer I was really, really excited to read the debut novel,  THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE by Amy E. Reichert. I bought the paperback and ended up reading it as fast as  I probably eat coconut cake and lemme tell you, it did not disappoint. It’s fun, romantic, sweet and you really end up falling in love with the city of Milwaukee and all of its wonderful spots to eat, explore and have a romance.  The cast of characters are a delight to spend time with and you really root for love to win! Well, I did anyways.

if you haven’t had a chance to pick up this book, add it to your list, you will not regret it! 

Amy was kind enough to visit us here at  eat~write~love and  answered a few questions on writing, Milwaukee’s dining scene and book #2!

Thank you Amy! 

coincidence and coconut cake

Can you share any of your writing tips with readers and writers interested in your creative process?

Creativity and writing don’t always go hand in hand. With deadlines looming, sometimes you have to find a way to get it done, even if your muses are silent. In other words, power through. The only way to finish writing, is to write. Keep writing, even if the words are utter drivel. That’s the beauty of revision, you can always fix it later.

Al was initially unimpressed by Milwaukee as a culinary hot spot, do you find this to be often true with people you meet who aren’t familiar with the city? Can you expand on this?

One of the reasons I wanted to write about Milwaukee is it’s often overlooked, especially with Chicago so close. But it is it’s own city with it’s own character. Where else will you find racing sausages, world class festivals, and deep-fried cheese curds? It’s a quirky city – with the benefits of a big city but the charm of somewhere much more welcoming.


What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink and have cake in Milwaukee and/or Wisconsin?

Obviously, I adore Northpoint Custard, though there are probably many other exceptional frozen custard stands that are worth visiting: Le Duc’s, Leons, Kopps, and Gilles to name a few.  As for dining, my current favorites are La Merenda, Wolf Peach, and Morel – they all have a farm-to-table style menu that I really love.  Bryant’s is a classic place for cocktails, they don’t offer a menu  because their bartenders  can make anything – instead the waitress asks what you like to drink than make suggestions. Lastly, the best ice cream in the city is at Purple Door Ice Cream – they have a Brandy Old-Fashioned flavor that is amazing!


Tell us a bit about your own culinary background? Just an avid eater? A lover of dining out or cooking?

I’ve spent a lot of time in restaurant kitchens. I started working in restaurants when I turned 14, and put myself through grad school as a waitress. Now, I do love to dine out, but I also love to cook. I’ve learned enough that there aren’t many recipes that intimidate me – though croissants are still beyond my skill level.

Do you find that a restaurant critique has the power that your main character Al has in ruining the reputation of a restaurant? Does a bad review sway you from checking out a spot?

Based on my research, an official restaurant review probably won’t tank a restaurant that is already doing well, but it can

make the difference to one that is on the cusp, like Luella’s is in the book. Losing just a few customers a day can make a huge difference to a bottom line. In today’s age of online review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp, I do think negative reviews are harmful to businesses. I’m often swayed by reviews. However, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to local places.


Can you share some of your favorite food fiction books you are reading now? 

When I’m writing, I try not to read books too similar to what I’m writing. Right now, I’m reading Wonder by RJ Palacio and I just finished Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Some of my favorite food fiction I have read is How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue and When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison.

What can you tell us about your next book? 

Luck, Love & Lemon Pie will be out next summer. It’s about a frustrated housewife who hatches a scheme to reignite her marriage–and risks everything in a gamble she hopes is a sure bet.

Learn more about Amy at:

Guest Post: How to Start A Book Club!

Center of GravityI had an ambitious “Summer Reading List” put together this year, plenty of fiction, some romance and a couple of biographies.

But the book that sat on the top of my reading pile was the new release CENTER OF GRAVITY by Laura McNeill, a suspense thriller that people had been calling “creepy” “intense” and “powerful”. I dived in and loved every minute of Laura’s fantastic read. It didn’t disappoint and I found myself up reading late at night flipping through the pages as fast as I could.

Laura was kind enough to share a guest post on one of her favorite topics: Reading! And how to have fun exploring new books with new friends. Thank you to Laura for stopping by!




How Start a Book Club in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re looking for a way to get together with friends and neighbors, a book club allows you to meet up, have interesting discussions, and share your favorite beach reads.

Whether you’re looking for mystery lovers, fans of the classics or just an excuse to share a glass of wine and chat about the latest romantic comedy, it’s easy to get a reading group together.

Here are five easy suggestions for starting a new book club in your area. Worried about doing it all yourself? Team up with a friend and do it together!

1. Decide on the book club’s focus

Are you a suspense lover? Adore only YA? Or do you have eclectic tastes that span all genres? Determine if you want to focus on one genre or mix it up every month. Will it be formal or relaxed? Dress up or down?

2. Invite friends

The perfect number for a book club group is between 5 and 12 people. That way, everyone can participate and have a chance to share their thoughts on the month’s book. Compile a list of e-mail addresses, start a group on Meet-Up, or post a flyer at your local indie bookstore or library.

3. Decide on a time, day, and place

For our book club, we determined that the first Tuesday of each month from 7:30 pm 9:30 pm was best for everyone to meet. For your group, send out an email asking the following:
• Time & Day – Poll everyone and ask them to choose among 3 days and times.
• Location – My book club takes turns hosting at each member’s home, with that person providing light refreshments and leading the discussion.
• A quiet coffee shop or restaurant works just as well.

4. Choose your books

For the first time the group meets, it’s okay for you to suggest the book title and prepare discussion questions. At the end of the first meeting, have everyone vote on the next 4-6 books to be read. You can always look to best-sellers list or recommendations from your local books store.

5. Email out the details

Before the first meeting, email or text members the following details:
• The name of the book
• When, where, and what time you will meet
• Let the group know of any special accommodations needed (kids’ bedtimes, pets in case anyone is allergic, etc.)

At the first meeting, assign someone (that month’s hostess?) to communicate with the group a few days before every meeting,

Though it’s not necessary, it’s been helpful for our group to have a private Facebook page. We post reminders about meetings, questions, and information for all of the members to check, and then post photos of the group after the meeting wraps up. We’ve also held-holiday themed parties, coordinating the snacks and drinks to the occasion.

Do you belong to a book club? Any other suggestions you can add?


52C copy

About the Author

 After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura McNeill moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to write full-time. Her novels, known for their endearingly flawed characters,  illuminate the real life struggles that touch us all. A native of Upstate New York, she now lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her two growing boys. Twitter @LaurenClark_Bks


Drinks by the Pool Edition: Cocktails at Le Carmen

To celebrate the release of the debut chick lit novel Cocktails at Le Carmen, by Isabelle Andover,  my publisher Simon & Fig is hosting a virtual cocktail party today! Big congrats to Isabelle on her big day and if you are looking for a great book to add to your summer reading list, this is The One.

I’ve decided to celebrate cocktail hour in my favorite way:  Poolside.


This weekend kicks of the summer season and if there’s one thing Los Angeles is really exceptional at it’ s the Poolside Cocktail Party.  This is probably  my favorite type of cocktail party, because it’s often OK to show up in shorts and flip-flops and it’s also acceptable to lay on an inflatable doughnut hole all day, while enjoying a pretty cocktail. Nothing better.


If you happen to be in Los Angeles this summer, check out this great post by that goes over all the best hotels in the area where you can sit by the pool, enjoy a fun drink and read a good book!

For more information on Cocktails at Le Carmen, please visit:  



When job cuts at Chloe Saddler’s London communications firm result in an unexpected transfer to Paris, she finds herself leaving behind her friends, family, and boyfriend Scott to start a new life in the City of Light. Getting to grips with La Vie Parisienne and keeping a long-distance relationship afloat is not made any easier by the culture shock. Committing the odd French faux pas and inadvertently indulging in a few too many flirtations with her very sexy (and very taken) boss, Jean-Luc, is just the start of it. Factor in her bridezilla of a sister’s wedding (the hottest event of the year in the Saddler family’s social calendar), an unexpected session of hot, naked yoga, a slightly psychotic stalker, and one incredible kiss at an infamous Montmartre nightspot, and Chloe can say au revoir to her old, safe London life and bonjour to the romance, splendour, and glamour of Paris.