Pancakes + Writing: Meet Author Laura Chapman

I always love to chat with authors and get insight on their writing lives, this always includes fun stories, great recipes and some insight on what makes them tick!  Today we have Laura Chapman, who just released her second novel The Marrying Type, which is a fun romp through the bridal world, mixed in with a little reality television and a heaping dose of confronting an old love while learning about oneself.  

Let’s raise a champagne glass to Laura Chapman and The Marrying Kind.

Welcome! 

Congrats on your second novel The Marrying Type! How was your experience this second time around? Did you go about your  planning things differently? Character development, writing process? 

There were both good and bad differences between writing my first and second book (though mostly good). The planning was pretty similar. I created character sketches for each of the major characters, and I used that to build a scene by scene outline for each book. The second time around, though, I better understood how to create conflict and tension to build up to a satisfying resolution. That made writing book two go a bit faster. Both books required quite a bit of editing and revising, but that’s all part of the process. The Marrying Type took less of it than Hard Hats and Doormats in the grand scheme. The one kind of bummer difference between books one and two was how thrilled and excited I was the whole time I wrote the first book. I was doing my dream after years of talking about it, and I already felt like a winner. But by the time I wrote book two, I’d gone through rounds of editing and agent rejection on book one. I could also already imagine some of the criticism I might receive, which challenged me to write better, but also gave me some anxiety. I realized that while writing is fun, there’s so much more work to come after, which dampened the fun and excitement.

Share some insight on your heroine Elliot and her personal journey ? 

When we meet Elliot, she doesn’t have a lot of confidence in herself and is pretty lonely. She’s eager to please her family, and even when she knows she’s right, she lets their opinions influence her. After learning that her father has blown through their business’ finances, and that they’re in danger of bankruptcy, she agrees to participate in a reality TV show, called “The Marrying Type,” to supplement their income and also attract some bigger dollar customers. One of those new clients turns out to be a blast from her past: the only man she has ever loved, who is helping his sister plan her dream wedding. In “The Marrying Type,” Elliot has to sort through a lot of old and new feelings and circumstances to decide what she actually wants from her life both professionally and personally. It isn’t as easy as she’d like.

 What are you EATING right now that you love?

I  wish I didn’t love food so much. (While I’m writing this, I’m eating a cinnamon bagel with peanut butter on it, and it’s amazing.) Lately I’ve been trying to find healthier ways to make some of my favorite dishes. (It doesn’t always pan out, especially when I find myself at some of my favorite restaurants here in Lincoln, and I want to eat everything.) Here’s a recent recipe I made that has a lot of good nutritional benefits and isn’t too high in calories. It also has few ingredients, was easy to make, and it tastes delicious.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Pancakes
(Serves 2)

¾ cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 large egg
½ cup all-purpose flour (wheat or white)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup blueberries

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl starting with the yogurt and egg, which you will want to be smooth before you add the dry ingredients. Cook the pancakes on a stove, as you do, and serve however you like.

 

What are you LOVING right now ?

I recently watched and loved Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. This show is hilarious—the opening title song alone is golden—and I can’t wait for the next season. My cat Bingley recently started sleeping on my pillow at night and has figured out an unobtrusive way to cuddle my head without waking me up. It’s pretty sweet. My other cat, Jane, likes to parrot me when I’m on the phone. Luckily the people on the other end of the call think it’s funny to hear my cat meow after everything I say, or we might have problems. Right now I’m writing a new project, which means I am not doing too much reading (I have a tough time doing both at the same time), but I recently read and adored Zoey and the Moment of Zen by fellow Marching Ink author Cat Lavoie. If you love chick lit, this is a must read.

 

 

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

 Author Bio:

Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix  marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.

 Connect with Laura!

Twitter: @lmchap
Facebook: laurachapmanbooks

Website: www.laurachapmanbooks.com

Blog: www.change-the-word.com

 

Find the Book!

Amazon: http://bit.ly/themarryingtype

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-marrying-type-laura-chapman/1121256561?ean=2940151308946

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25009611-the-marrying-type

 Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.

LOVE: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

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Last year when I heard that Ruth Reichl (former editor of Gourmet Magazine) wrote her first fiction book aptly titled, DELICIOUS!  I immediately added it to my  to-be-read shelf and waited for its release date.

She ended up having a reading at the independent bookstore close to my home and  I arrived early  and then joined the crowds on a warm Pasadena night to hear her read and have my book signed.

Surprisingly, when I came home, I read a few pages, but then placed my autographed copy of Delicious! on my bookshelf — where it has sat for the last year.

I just didn’t feel ready to read it yet, and now I think it’s because of all the chatter  at the time of her release and how it had been given the unpopular branding of  “fluff” “chick lit” “summer/light reading”  which, isn’t a compliment in the literary community.

The New York Times, where she worked as a highly popular and well-respected food critic for years gave her new book such a harsh review I had to wonder what she had done to her former co-worker to receive such a  lashing.

Here’s a taste:

“Ms. Reichl’s novel, however, is strictly kid stuff. It’s a gauzy ode to the liberating virtues of pleasure, glazed with warmth and uplift, so feebly written and idea free that it will make you wonder if the energy we’ve been putting into food these last few decades hasn’t made us each lose, on average, a dozen I.Q. points.” –  New York Times, May 6, 2014 

Pretty rough, right?

So, I let the book sit and I’d pass it everyday and stare at its beautiful book binder that said Delicious!  in swirly letters and I knew that when I was ready, I’d try again.  And so almost a year later, I did.  Over the weekend, I pulled it from my bookshelf and devoured it in a few days. It was lovely, smart, well-researched, thoughtful and a wonderful premise. It was a happily-ever-after kinda book and that’s OK.  It’s more than OK, it’s what she wanted to write and that’s the beauty of books.

And so for a few days, I lived inside of a gorgeous historical mansion where I was a writer,  I worked at a cheese shop, read old letters by James Beard and got to witness the journey of a woman who needed to find herself and fall in love.

If you love great writing and good food, Delicious! is the perfect entree!

 

 

Weekend Reading & Eating: Pie Girls by Lauren Clark

Pie Girls Cover copy2I recently finished reading PIE GIRLS  by Lauren Clark and I devoured it in two days much like I do when I have actual pie in the house. It was wonderful.  Sweet, but not overly sweet, rich characters and just the right amount of tartness to make it fun.  

I had the chance to chat with Lauren and I invited her to share what she’s Eating, Writing & Loving these days. She  is also sweet enough to share her wonderful blueberry pie recipe, which is a perfect accompaniment  to PIE GIRLS. 

Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream and whip cream!

Thanks to Lauren for joining us today: 

1. What are you EATING right now that you love, can’t live without or think everyone should know about?

During the writing of Pie Girls, as I was getting close to finishing the book, I planned a PIE WEEKEND, prepared my two boys, my friends, and their kids. Using all of my grandmother’s recipes, I made 9 pies in all, and taste-tested everyone! I selected 3 (Chess Pie, Chocolate Pecan, and Lemon Sponge), along with her amazing-no fail pie crust recipe to go in the Pie Girls book. I have great memories of visiting her house every holiday and on school breaks. She would always have baked some fabulous dessert for us, usually a pie or cake. I’ve always thought about incorporating her recipes in one of my novels. Pie Girls was the perfect opportunity. For Christmas a few years ago, I asked my mother to write down all of my grandmother’s recipes so that I could have them and preserve the family tradition. It was the best gift ever!

Her blueberry pie is one recipe that I didn’t include in the book, but is one that I make often, and would like to share with you today (see below). It’s easy, only takes a few ingredients, and is perfect for a warm summer day picnic or barbeque. I hope that you enjoy it! (See Below)

pie_lab

2.     What are you WRITING now that you want people to know about?

I visited a place in Greensboro, Alabama called the Pie Lab, a restaurant that has been written up in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, and many newspapers around the Southeast. The pie shop is a special place—small town atmosphere—great food, and personal attention, but the thing that makes it really unique is that it is a place where high school dropouts or people in need of skills and training can go and learn valuable skills—how to bake, run a register, make change, and give good customer service.

I kind fell in love with the idea of such a place existing in Fairhope, Alabama, a lovely waterfront community near where I live. I decided to create a shop named Pie Girls there, and thus, Searcy’s story was born.Generally, while writing a novel, I do best when writing every morning (that’s usually 5:30 am – 7:30 am, before the kids need to be off at school and I have to get to work. I try to end my writing sessions having finished a chapter, which means that the next day, I have a fresh slate, of sorts. I’m also the type to just plow through from start to finish with my novel, going back to editing after (even if I think chapter 13 is the most awful garbage I’ve ever written).

 

chess pie

3.      What are you LOVING right now?

Right now, I am loving a family weekend in Atlanta, Ga., which is about 6 hours from my house in Mobile, Ala. The boys have been talking about attending Dragon Con for months, and I decided that since next year, it’s in San Diego, there’s no time like the present. We spent Friday at the Georgia Aquarium, which was an amazing experience. It really makes you feel connected to the ocean and all of the creatures that live in our world. I’m definitely a water and beach person, so watching otters play, seahorses dance, and dolphins swim was pretty close to heaven!

Dragon Con should be pretty crazy. Thousands of people, dressed up in costumes, all gathered in 4 hotels to see stars from television shows, mini-series, movies, and cartoons.  I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of Patrick Stuart (X-Men), Mary McDonald (Battlestar Galactica), and Ralph Macchio (the Karate Kid).  If we all had time to find costumes and dress up, Patrick would definitely go as “Arrow” from the show on TV, John David would pick “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and I’d probably go with something girly and pink, like Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time!

Delicious & Easy Blueberry Pie

1 qt fresh blueberries

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp tapioca

1 tbsp butter

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp lemon juice

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 (baked) Best Ever pie crust from Pie Girls or one Deep Dish 9” pie shell

Mix half of the blueberries, flour, tapioca, butter, salt, lemon juice, and both sugars in a saucepan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add  remaining half of blueberries. Stir well. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill until set. Top with whipped cream if desired.

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BIO: Lauren Clark writes contemporary Southern novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.She is the author of three award-winning novels, Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned, and Stardust Summer, as well as a short story, A Very Dixie Christmas, published in the Merry & Bright holiday collection. Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mobile Writers Guild. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.

LOVE: Indie Movies for the RomCom Fix

I love a good romantic comedy. Just hits me right in the warm & fuzzy part of my heart, especially when I add  popcorn, glass of wine and a box of Goobers.   I’m pretty much at maximum joy capacity.

These days, motherhood has made going to the movies low on my priority list.  Free time  means  laundry, writing, dinner with friends or a shower that doesn’t include a toddler coming in and asking me what I’m doing and when I’ll be done.  Sigh.

goobers

Movie time has become something I do at home thanks to  Netflix, Amazon  and iTunes, but I have to admit that the romantic comedy selection has been feeling a little sparse.There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there for that can rival  my list of personal favorites:  40-Year-Old Virgin, Love Actually, The Cutting Edge, Gross Pointe Blank, The Holiday, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Thing Called Love, Sleepless in Seattle.

You know, the gold standards.

 

romcom90s

I’ve been ignoring the chatter that much like Chick Lit the  interest in romantic comedies is dead. That’s just silly talk. Check out this article from NPR written in March, 2013: Are Romantic Comedies Dead.

I’ll never give up on a great romantic comedy, I will stop watching a bad one, but give me a well-made, smart and genuine romantic comedy and I’ll give you my $20 for a price of admission and $40 for snacks and what not!

The lack of quality supply and my own personal demand has forced me to explore  other avenues for getting my romantic comedy  fix.  I’ve stumbled into some really great independents that have the spirit of a fuzzy romance with a streak of irreverence that I adore.

Check out these three smart independents that have made movie-watching fun again. Or maybe it’s the wine & Goobers … (oh never mind :))

 

1. If you like When Harry Met Sally you will like Friends with Kids, this is a  smart, fun and thoughtful comedy that has an interesting angle on friends who get involved. Kinda. They have a baby and promise to keep things platonic and  then chaos ensues. You know how that goes! Really loved this movie and it doesn’t hurt that my boy crush Adam Scott is the hero in this movie.

friendswithkids

2. Take This Waltz appeared on my Netflix because they seem to know I am a sucker for romances. Well, after weeks of skipping it, I finally pressed play and was completely engrossed for two hours. If you like Bridges of Madison of County, this could be an interesting alternative for you! Michelle Williams is awesome and Seth Rogen is still goofy, but endearing. Canadian actor, Luke Kirby is a stone cold fox.  Add it to your Netflix! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1592281/

takethiswaltz3. Safety Not Guaranteed was an unsuspecting sweetheart of movie that really brings it home that there is “a pot for every lid.” Thought this was a great movie, with a great cast, love Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson. And guess what? Despite the smart deliveries, the sarcastic zingers and Aubrey Plaza’s well-known deadpan delivery, this movie is all about the Happily Ever After.

safeynot