Celebrating Indie Books Day–Why I’m an Indie Author/Publisher



I’m an author because I like it.

I like writing.

I like research.

I like pantsing the story. (I am not a detailed outliner.)

I like editing my own stuff as I go.

I like playing with the story and tweaking it until it shines.

I like playing with the words and the syntax until they shine.

I like it when the characters tell me what’s happening next.

I like it when the story reveals itself to me, and it’s not at all what I thought it was going to be. Yee-haa!

I’m an indie publisher because

I even like proofreading, as weird as that sounds, since I was an English teacher and I know the rules pretty well. Proofreading makes the work all shiny. Shiny is good.

I’m not as keen on the promotion part, but I’m becoming more adept at it. Bookbub, ENT, Freebooksy, Book Gorilla, Booktastik, Awesome Gang. I’ve never had a Bookbub, the holy grail of us indies. Sniff. It’s like not getting to go to the Big Leagues. Sniff. But then I haven’t tried that hard. I did get a new book cover, but now I need a promo assistant.

And a bunch of other stuff. See my Ancient History.

Ancient History

I didn’t write much when I was young because my typing skills suck. I took a typing class in high school and they still sucked. See, I never wanted to be a secretary, get stuck behind a desk typing someone else’s correspondence or be a sitting target of sexual harassment, so this was my way to rebel. Easy. I’d suck at typing. I would then have to be a waitress (who is not a target of sexual harassment? Go figure.) and hire people to type my papers for me all through college. Typing was excruciating for me then. Part of this was using all the white-out and correcting tape if you made a mistake, and you’d better believe I made them a lot. It didn’t serve me very well to be bad at typing, but that’s what I did for years. I became an English teacher, and hand wrote my tests and handouts to ditto off for the students. Purple fingers. Remember them? Yes, it was that bad.

Until we got a computer in 1995 and I found out I could make a mistake and correct it on the fly! (I just corrected the word “correct” four times on the fly as I typed it.) YES!!!! FREEDOM!!! FREEDOM!!! Did I say FREEDOM??? No more white-out or correcting tape! No more stopping and ripping the damned paper as I grabbed it out of my damned Brother typewriter or positioning it wrong so the lines were askew. No more retyping complete pages of work!!! (Sorry Brother. It wasn’t your fault. I just wasn’t that into you.) Also, I could now abuse the exclamation point with total abandon in one key stroke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I promise never to do that again.

Just a couple of years later, the computer was my bosom buddy, the place where I churned out handouts and tests with ease, despite my crappy typing skills.

But we only had one, and the kids were on it constantly, playing World of War Craft.

Then I got my laptop, and I started finding daily reasons to sit down and churn out more than tests. Textbooks were expensive, and copiers were available, so I had been relying on copying jazz chants and skits for grammar practice for the students from a couple of my favorite sources—other people’s books. But that wasn’t really legal. At all.

Sad face.

So my little brain poked me on the way home from classes. “Hey, you could write your own jazz chants and skits that you could use legally. How about this one? I am riding, riding, riding in my car, car, car. I am running, running, running out of gas, gas, gas.” Or this.

What are you doing?                                   I’m walking, I’m walking.

Where are you going?                                To the jungle, the jungle.

What’s in the jungle?                                  We’ll see, we’ll see.

Who’s going with you?                               My puppy, my puppy.

Where are you now?                                   By the river, the river.

What’s in the river?                                     A hippo, a hippo.

What is it doing?                                          It’s swimming, it’s swimming.

Where is its baby?                                       Behind it, behind it.

What’s on the river bank?                          A crocodile, a crocodile.

Where is it moving?                                     Toward us, toward us.

How do its eyes look?                                 They’re bigger, they’re bigger.

Why is it coming here?                               It likes us, it likes us.

How many teeth does it have?                  A hundred, a hundred.

What is it thinking about?                          Lunch, lunch.

Why are you running?                                Guess!

Yeah, they were a kick. I loved writing my own skits and jazz chants. I still have them around somewhere. I need to put them out in book form.

Anyway,  from there, I made the jump to stories. I took a couple of creative writing classes at the local college, and the creative well cap deep within me popped off. WORDS spurted up from there (or maybe from my spleen or tonsils) with fun ideas for weird stories that went nowhere. I was well into my 40’s, and I was having the time of my life with my lifelong friends: WORDS.

See, I am a language person. I studied German starting at age 11 in 7th grade. Followed by Spanish, French, and Italian. I even lived in France for a year to learn the language. Plus I have a degree in math, but only because it’s another language. I LOVE language and WORDS. I taught English to foreigners for 20 years because it was an excuse to play with language and words and get paid for it. Give me words put together in an interesting way and you’ve hooked me for life.

So the challenge was to put my own words together in an interesting way for other people to read and enjoy. Which took years. And classes. And many rewrites. And commentary from editors. And writers’ conferences. The first chapter of each of my books was rewritten probably 50 times each.

In 2003, I wrote Alice in Monologue Land, a humorous mystery/romance/adventure about a college instructor who reluctantly does a monologue in a college production for women and has the ride of her life, meeting three odd, interested men and solving some weird disappearances along the way.

It was a little long.

“You have a 150,000-word manuscript?” the agent or editor at a conference would choke out. “Uh, see. You can’t have a first book over 100,000 words published. Try again. Get it down to 90,000. Or could you cut it in half and have a series?”

Why? Why should I write this story shorter than it wanted to be? And it was not a series. It was a fun book.

Well apparently, paper and ink cost money, and the publishing houses didn’t want to waste money on printing extra pages for the first book of an unknown author, so the book had to be under 400 pages.

Grrrrrr. I’d actually started with 175,000 words. I’d already cut out 1/7—real chaff. But word count was prominent in all submissions to agents and editors.

Fine. Whatever. With great determination and much acute sadness, I cut Alice in Monologue Land to 100,000 words. But Alice was just like me on a starvation diet at my lowest weight. She would not stay put at that very precarious place. She really likes chocolate—and cheesecake. When I reread the book, much of it made no sense, so I put back some words. A bit later, I realized Alice needed a complete overhaul, as the book was based on a certain famous monologue production, and I was never going to get an OK from those famous monologue producers to use their material in my non-famous book. So I invented my own monologue production. And I rewrote. And every time I rewrote, the MS grew again. It needed clarity. It needed to be funny and not rushed. It would not fit in the “ready to print” box of a publishing house. It ended up at 120,000 words. Or so. That’s what it says on Alice’s driver’s license, anyway. I believe her.

Alice also wouldn’t fit on the traditional bookshelf. Print books in brick-and-mortar stores get categorized into a very limited set of narrow genres right off the bat—so the store clerks, who are apparently total nincompoops, can tell where to shelve a book. I mean, seriously? Writers are actually told to limit their books’ scope—i.e. not to mix genres—in order for bookstore staff to be able to shelve the books properly! No matter that readers (like me) are always looking for something new, or that even editors might want something new. Hah! When you give editors/publishers something new, they get all prissy and say they really just want the same old thing, something that fits into their hundred-year-old genre boxes. Grrr.

But Alice in Monologue Land (available on Amazon) is a mystery, a romance, and an adventure, and it’s funny. I put all this in the book intentionally, as a combination of genres was what I wanted to read. (Hey, I like Castle and the movie, Australia. That pretty much says it all.) For me, plain old mysteries needed a little romantic spice, and plain old romance was dull as dust without some mystery. (Sorry, romance writers, but how many men are that commitment phobic? Are there no other personality types in the world to write about? No other types of conflict?) And for my taste, most writers needed to lighten up a LOT and add some humor. Artfully written humor is what brings me to a book and keeps me reading. Hence my fondness for Spencer Quinn’s work, featuring first person narrative by a dog.

So. Genre. My book was not romance—too complex, too many scenes without the hero. And not really women’s fiction—too funny. It was a mystery, but what type? Not a procedural. Not a thriller. Cozy mysteries were not supposed to include sex scenes, and were supposed to be rather short. Not exactly Alice.


I decided the book was probably chick lit. Chick lit mystery. Yeah.

But to confuse things no end, the publishing houses/agents/book critics decided right when I wanted to publish my chick lit mystery that chick lit was no longer a viable genre.

Wait. What?!? It’s what I was reading and writing. What gave them (A bunch of fuddy duddy old males?? Surely women would not do this to each other?) the right to say that the exact books I liked–women’s humor = chick lit–weren’t a viable genre?

Actually, they called it a dead genre.

Deaaaaad? Reallllllly? They need to check out all the indie chick lit books that make a lot of money in this “dead” genre.

Upshot: I think there should be a chick lit shelf in all bookstores. Take that, Barnes and Noble, and every other store, brick and mortar or online, that doesn’t have a chick lit section.

Upshot 2: Poor Alice was too pudgy (large word count) and her genres were mixed. The genre she fit into best was “dead.” Not very PC of the publishing houses to hold this against her. I realized that my book would never sell to a big publishing house or get me an agent, even though it was pretty funny and full and it kept me entertained for a long time while I wrote it.

Upshot 3: It was time to write another book, a shorter one.

Which I did in 2006. Roll with the Punches. Starring Rhonda Hamilton, a librarian and author, whose manuscript got stolen by a big, hotshot bestselling author, and who went in search of the thief with the aid of a bunch of derby girls. Despite her dad acting totally weird. The book ended up to have the same mix of genres as Alice in Monologue Land. (Who would have guessed?) Now to her credit, Rhonda started at a svelte 120,000 words. (I had learned a thing or two about conciseness.) I shaved Rhonda down to 100,000 words, trying to make her salable to a big press. That lasted about a minute. She, too, would not stay skinny. When I finally self-published this book on Amazon last year, after a bajillion rewrites, it was back up to 120,000 words. Or so. Don’t ask Rhonda about it. She’s sensitive about her size. She’ll punch you.

Needless to say, my books were not a (narrow-minded) publishing house’s dream. But they were my dream, so when I realized I had another option, I became an indie publisher to get them out there and share them with other people as my vision, not someone else’s. And I haven’t displeased too many readers thus far. Yeah, I have some requisite 1-star reviews. Badge of honor for all indie publishers. Funny = juvenile. LOL. But plenty of readers find my books delightful, even if they don’t exactly fit on the bookstore shelves. Imagine that, Harper Collins. Or Simon & Schuster.



Recently, I finished a set of three seasonal short stories: sequels to Alice in Monologue Land, featuring secondary characters from that book. I published them under the title: Kiss My Sweet Skull. They’re chick lit, and two are mysteries. Please read them. The stories are nice little chunks of fun, easy to read in one sitting. I also have a short story coming out in a holiday anthology called: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chick Lit. It will be out in November, free on all platforms. Read it! It’s fun! And because I said so. And if you haven’t read my 2 novels and reviewed them on Amazon, get with the program and do that. Good grief. Don’t make me stop this car and come back there.

Now, I have a third novel started, and need to finish it between writing short stories and the 5000-word plays I write to perform with my group of nonagenarian reader’s theater peeps at the local assisted living. (Not for the timid, working with old peeps—they die on you and have strokes, etc.—but lots of dress-up fun for the living.)

Wish me luck on finishing the novel.

But I don’t need too much luck, as I have this handy-dandy laptop here, just waiting to bring my words to life, and correct me when I’m wrong. LOL. I hope you have as much fun bringing your dreams to life as I have had writing these books and stories.

Thanks for reading.

For more blogs about the indie author experience, here’s a link to Kathryn R. Biel’s  fabulous Indie Books Day Pinterest board. https://www.pinterest.com/kathrynrbiel/indie-book-day-2016/

Go there now. We indie authors/publishers deserve your attention.

The Dogs 2

Taffy in raincoat Dec 2014

“I hate this raincoat. Take it off me now.”

My other dog is also a poodle–apricot and half an inch larger than Ronnie in all directions. Her name is Taffy, though I insist that her full name is Princess Taffelina of Poodledom. I call her Lina and Ickle Puppy Girl and Little and Baby and Baby Girl and Puppy Wuppy and Punkin Brewster. She is a love. She shadows me whenever I am home and guards the house when I am not. She warbles a doggy warning whenever anyone approaches the door. The proverbial canine door bell.

We got her in November 2004. I was feeling that need for another dog, like a woman who needs another kid. I just knew there was a perfect dog out there for me, one that would calm Ronnie down from his current anti-dog perspective. (See my previous post about Dog 1.) Ronnie was so hard to walk. Whenever he met another dog, he strained at the leash and yapped bloody murder. Could this be helped by creating a pack for him?

That year, our family–Peter, me and the boys–went to the LA County Art Museum. There happened to be a dog adoption event outside when we exited. We looked at all the cute dogs, and a small, curly, white dog named George caught my attention. I took the contact info for George and called about him the next day, but the lady said, “Oh, no. You don’t want George. He poops in his water bowl.”

She was right. I didn’t want George.

She directed us to a large no-kill shelter in Los Angeles, where we trooped in with Ronnie in tow the following weekend, after I told my husband we were getting a second dog. Actually, I said we were looking, but he knew it was inevitable. We arrived at said shelter, and all the dogs they presented to us just barked their little noggins off when they saw Ronnie. We gave up on their dogs, and they sent us to another no-kill shelter down the road, in Topanga Canyon. I walked in the office there, holding Ronnie high over my head. “Got anything like this?” I asked. The lady said blithely, “Oh, yeah. One came in yesterday. I’ll go get her.” Sort of like the dog was a piece of merchandise they got shipments of often.

That day, we all met Taffy, who had been found shivering by the freeway, kept by people for a short time, then brought to the shelter with her derpy name attached. She was an introverted, matted mess, who had never been groomed (or maybe even bathed) in her 1-2 years on earth. She had her gorgeous complete plume of a tail and a curved back (not flat like the breeders prefer), so she looked like an amateur breeder’s effort. They spayed her and let us have her 3 days later. She arrived with a gut infection, but whatever.

Dang. This little girl was shy. She loved the outdoors, and ran away a few times when she got out off leash. We left the door open, and she always came back–probably because we fed her. But inside: she didn’t know doors or stairs or sofas or anything about the inside of a house, and it all spooked her, especially anything flying near her, even a stick-shaped rawhide chew or treat. I forbade the boys (10 and 13–hey, it was time) to throw things inside the house. And she wasn’t house-trained. I spent months walking her outside to train her, and she slowly learned where we preferred the poop to go, though she never got that it was the ONLY place we wanted her to go… she still pees in the carpeted bedroom without a qualm. But let’s not dwell on that.  She adapted to our life, mostly.

Ron never did warm up to her, coming close to her only when they re-enter the house after a groomer visit or a walk to hump her to show his dominance. He still keeps his distance after 12 years, always sleeping in a separate bed, always a good foot away from her. But the dog dominance shifted subtly in the house. Taffy gleefully, heedlessly leaped onto my lap/bladder whenever she could, usurping his place. She seemed oblivious to his rules about being first in all things. She was (and still is) incredibly athletic. She LOVED her walks and when young, would jump as high as my shoulder–about 5 feet straight in the air–when we brought out the leashes. She was ebullient and fast and very playful. except around Peter. She hated Peter and ran from him (when he was standing) for 5 years, until my back got bad and I could no longer walk the dogs. When she started associating him with walks, her favorite things, she relented a little, but to this day, when the leashes come out, she will lead him a merry dance before finally submitting to let him put one on her. The girl just doesn’t trust a standing male human. Gotta admit. Maybe I don’t either. LOL.

She does, however, love to jump on and lick anyone who is lying down, and she adores any female any place, any time, especially if they visit and sit on HER sofa, the $1000 dog bed to the right of my typing station. It’s one of her safe spots in the house–along with my bed and the other sofa, if I am on it. Every place else is still a bit circumspect.

This dog has been with me through thick and thin. And there has been a lot of thick. I had a brain bleed in 2009-2010, which got fixed by 2 brain surgeries only after 9 months of undiagnosed hell. I didn’t have a lot of company as my health went wacky, and I spent a lot of quiet alone time–resting with the dog. She is a champion napper and nap buddy. She is my best friend in many ways. I don’t care how shy she is, or how small or insignificant or ridiculous she seems. She is an awesome and lovely nurse dog for me.

Amy and Taffy

These days, she is 13 and a bit ill. In 2015, she was bitten by a coyote on a walk with me and Peter at night near my house. Oy chihuahua!!! The scare! God damned wild canines! She survived, and we’ve never used a long (retractable) leash again. Earlier this year, she had pancreatitis, along with an enlarged heart. She’s on 5 meds right now, for heart, gall bladder, and guts. We had to change her diet, and all of a sudden, this very steady eater has become a very picky eater, losing weight. She wants her accustomed cheese or ham bits, which the vets don’t allow. She’s gone from eating dry food with water or broth to canned food to another canned food back to the dry food, which she will now eat only if it’s served dry, and preferably thrown on the floor or offered by hand as if it were treats–even by my husband. I am worried about her. She can’t have gall bladder surgery, and this problem could take her down. I don’t want to lose my beautiful girl, but it looks inevitable. She’s still lively enough to take her evening walks, even if she eats like a bird. And she is truly my cherished baby. I will enjoy her silky fur and plumy tail and silly smile and strange, cat-like meowing as long as I have her.



The Dogs 1


Ronnie 2015 OB

I have two dogs. One is a mini-poodle. He’s a failure of breeding—too tall to show at 12 inches at the shoulder—though his parents were champion toys. We got him in 2000, paying half price for a “pet-quality” animal. His name is Ronnie. Ronald Weasley Gettinger. Yeah, he’s red. At the time, we were reading Harry Potter on tape in the car on all long trips upstate, and who better to be named after than the best second banana in kid lit?

Ronnie’s a good boy. He learned the rules early and followed them. He looks like a stuffed animal with his shoe-button eyes, curly red hair, and alert stance, but he guarded the house from all and sundry with great ferocity for many years. He guarded us with great ferocity on walks. He took his job seriously—barking at every big dog he saw out the front door of our condo, which faced onto a big park where everybody walked their dogs. Lotta barking. Little Napoleon, that’s him.

When he was 5 ½ months old, one of my extremely intelligent progeny held him up high—and dropped him. This resulted in over $1300 worth of surgeries—one to pin the knee whose cartilage broke (and nip his balls off), and one to unpin it a year later when it had healed. He got to be walked in a stroller for a month. He hated it.

This dog has served us faithfully for 16 years now, and continues to do guard duty on the sofa arm by the front door when we leave, watching for intruders. Though now, when we come home, he chews us out at high volume (because he’s deaf) for five minutes for being gone SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO long and leaving him in charge all that time. The rest of the time, he sleeps really hard and has trouble climbing the stairs. At age 14 or so, he took to sleeping on our bed with us, a no-no in days of yore. But he makes his own rules now. He is the oldest one around, after all—past 80 in dog years. (Actually, he’s the equivalent of an 80-year-old person, so it should be called people years, don’t you think?) I’m not aure I agree with all his rules, especially when he decides it’s OK to poop in the house.

Ron and food

Where is the egg you promised me?

These days, his bluster is pretty well gone. He’s motivated by one thing. Food. Many different kinds. Plus snacks and licks of dirty dishwasher items. His taste changes with the wind, going from Hills W/D dry to Royal Canin canned to Hills I/D canned back to the W/D. He might need chicken or fish or beef or cheese with that, as well. Or an egg. He thrives on variety. I wish he spoke English, or at least read it, since he’s ordering off the menu, and I need to know how to cook that egg.

Ronnie 1

All his (considerable) vet bills have been related to the early leg break and later muscle strain and joint pain. He’s a real Energizer Bunny, except on walks now, when he pulls toward home the whole way—backwards for the first half, forwards for the second. Hey, he knows the route. Because of his size (10-11 pounds max) and his utter cuteness, some might label him a “near-dog” or a “pseudo-dog,” but he’s quite sure that he’s very large and imposing and important. And he is. He’s the military arm of the household. We salute him.

Ron cute in bed

Don’t talk about how stinkin’ cute I am. I’m busy guarding the house. Can’t you see?

Chatting With the Chicks of Chick Lit


Chatting with the chicks of chick lit Wed blogpost graphic 2016

In honor of #ChickLitMay, we dispense with the formalities and join our local TV channel 7777 mid-broadcast.

talk show host Chuck

Chuck: Ha ha ha ha! Welcome, welcome everyone to Chatting With the Chicks of Chick Lit! I’m your host, Chuck Lottateeth, and I am so thrilled to be able to introduce you to some of the most fascinating characters in literature today. I’m talking about the leading ladies of Chick Lit—those enchanting, romantic, darling, sexy, sweet, funny, headstrong—and, let’s face it, sometimes downright frustrating—modern women who headline this fabulously fun genre. I’m sure you’re going to love getting the skinny on these “novel” heroines, and who knows? You might just find your new BFF on the pages of one of these books!

So. Without further ado, please put your hands together and show some love for today’s guests: Rhonda Hamilton from Roll with the Punches and Alice Chalmers from Alice in Monologue Land.

Audience: Yayyyyy!

Chuck : Rhonda is a librarian with the Orange County Public Library, but when the clock strikes five, she enters that extra-tall phone booth and dons her cape, mask, sexy fishnets and roller skates to become a hot-to-trot roller derby queen! She’s killin’ it on the flat track, right, Rhonda?

derby girl

Rhonda: Actually, a cape and mask would really get in my way on the roller derby track. It’s the reason I didn’t pick “Superwoman” as my derby moniker. I prefer a more solid, regal name, like “Queen Hat Cheap Suit” or  “Empress The Adored One” or “Queen It’s A Belly of Cast Iron.” And I hate masks. We all do. We gotta see where we’re going so we don’t trip over other skaters and cause a dogpile on the track.

Chuck: But you are the sexiest (and tallest) librarian on skates, right? A whole lotta woman there. Listen, I saw you in that red harem girl garb at the fundraiser with that jingly velvet bra that got whipped off, and hello, baby! Va-va-va-—Ow!

Rhonda: Oh, gosh. Does your shin hurt? Put some of this ointment on it right away.

Chuck: Thanks. What’s in it?

Rhonda: Just some capsaicin plus a little battery acid. Great for all the lacerations and contusions we roller derby girls accumulate during a bout. Wanna see my latest road rash? It’s got the pattern of my fishnet stockings etched into the scab. Nice, huh, that purple and green tinge?

Chuck: Ew, not hungry for lunch any more. Well, our other guest today is Ms. Alice Chalmers. Alice teaches English at a local college, where she recently starred in a stage production of The Chronicles of Narnia. You must have made a splendid White Witch. Doesn’t she look the part, everybody?

teacher vector for Alice

Audience: Yes!

Alice: Uh. White Witch? Do I look that bad? I’m only 41. Give a girl a break.

Chuck: Oh, no. Of course not. Well, I’m sure you knocked their socks off as the—the—was it Aslan the Lion? Or maybe Father Christmas? A centaur?

Alice: The Lion? Father Christmas? A centaur? Oh, my God. Do I need a makeover, Rhonda?

Rhonda: Geez. Excuse me, Mr. Lottateeth. Alice was never in that play.

Chuck: So why is she here?

Rhonda: You want me to punch his lights out for you, Alice?

Alice: Not quite yet.

Rhonda: Just say the word.

Alice: Deep breath. Look, Chuck, I was in a production called The Venus Monologues at my college. Only it wasn’t a play. It was a collection of deep, poetic, and powerful monologues, written and performed by the students and faculty at the college. All about being female.

pole dancers 1

Chuck:  Ooooh. Sexxxxy. Are the rumors true? Were you all pole dancing throughout?

Alice: Oh, yeah. We were all pole dancing. You should have seen all us teachers in our black dresses and pearls swinging around those poles while we shrieked out our lines.

chubby pole dancer

Chuck: Oh, man. Will there be another performance?

Alice: You doofus! There was no pole dancing! We were reading monologues! About all the amazing and varied facets of being female in this world, from birth to being a mother to being an artist to blazing powerful trails for future women in business and leadership.

woman reading

Chuck: But you had a superhot romance going at the time, right? I believe a little bird told me it was more like threeeee hot romances?

Alice: Sort of. But—

Chuck: And I heard that you Venus girls wore black bustiers and feather boas on stage and then you all stripped at the end, like in Hair.

Alice: No way! Okay, Rhonda. He’s yours.

Chuck: Now, now, ladies! Put away your knitting needles! Hahaha! Moving right along, I have a few questions to ask you two today. First: If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?

Rhonda: Duh. A quad roller skate, maybe with wings and custom yellow wheels, just for fun.

Retro Style Winged Roller Skate

Retro Style Winged Roller Skate.

Chuck: And you, Alice?

Alice: Comfortable. Blue, maybe.

Chuck: Is that it, Alice? No favorite brand?

Alice: First, you can call me Ms. Chalmers, and second, I need comfort. I teach on my feet all day long. If you want to badger me about it, I can just go read a few grammatically hideous student papers that will be way funnier than you.

Chuck: Touche! Next question. What are the three items you would absolutely need to have with you if you were shipwrecked on a desert island?

Rhonda: My laptop with a battery charged for life. An ice pick to break coconuts open. And my skates. Assuming the island has some sidewalks or roads to skate on. In fact, even if there weren’t any roads, I’d still have them there to look at. They are soooooo awesome.

Chuck: Alice? Er, Ms. Chalmers?

Alice: Oh, wow. A cook, a gardener, and a carpenter. All male, in their thirties.

Chuck: Excuse me? Those aren’t items.

Alice: I know, and you’re excused. But it’s my dream. Stay out of it.

Chuck: Okay. If you had only $15 to spend, what would be the perfect date?

Rhonda: Get ice cream at the beach and walk the cliff walk at Besker Park with my best dude.

Alice: Wait. How did you know I had only $15 to spend on my last date? Did you hack my phone?

Chuck: Of course not! How about if you had $50 to spend?

Rhonda: Take a Gelson’s deli picnic to Anaheim Stadium for a game.

Alice: We’d got out to eat Indian food at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street. I like it spicy.

Chuck: Oooh. You do, huh? Are you free later?

Alice: No.

Chuck: Well then, what’s your ideal date for $5,000?

Rhonda: Are you kidding me? A week in Paris with my BFFs. No men involved.

Chuck: Nice. Alice?

Alice: $5000? To blow on a date? Well, that would be me accompanying my son to the University of California for his first quarter.

Chuck: Okay. Your best friend is asked to describe you in five words. What would they be?

Rhonda: Persistent, clever (shut up—I am, too), devious, strong, and blunt. Maybe loyal. Depends which friend you ask.

Alice: It’s gonna take more than five words for me. Let’s see. Loving, motherly, talented, sometimes a little frustrated, world-wise—no, make that world-weary. Possibly a bit nervous—okay, a lot nervous. And maybe … full. Satisfied. Replete. Who needs men, anyway? They’re so complicated.

Chuck: Hah! Yes, we are, aren’t we? But what if your nemesis is also asked to describe you in five words? What would they be?

Rhonda: Persistent, clever, devious, strong, and blunt.

Alice: I don’t have time for a nemesis. But if you find one, and they want to describe me, I think I’ll just put my fingers in my ears. La-la-la.

Chuck: Ahem. If you could be the heroine in any chick flick, who would it be and why?

Rhonda: Lara Croft. OMG. I’d be all over raiding tombs.

Alice: Oh, I’d be Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, cutting loose and sliding down the muddy slopes of the Amazon River, swinging on vines across chasms, riding in the “Little Mule.” Wait. Did I say that out loud? Oh, sorry. I … mean … I’d be Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Much safer.

Chuck: Well, this has been quite exciting and illuminating, meeting the two of you. Can you two lovely ladies visit us again soon—maybe wearing your bustiers and boas next time? Wink, wink? Nudge, nudge? We’ll provide the poles if you do the dances!

Rhonda: Now, Alice? Please?

Alice: Go ahead, Rhonda. Make my day.


Amy Gettinger’s books:

Roll with the Punches

What happens when the novel you’ve just finished writing and started hawking to agents gets published by a nationally bestselling author—just when Dad starts storing milk in the tool chest? You hunt for the book thief, of course, aided by a goofy roller derby team and two drool-worthy guys. Whether skating in treacherous derby bouts or downhill chasing Dad, one thing is sure: you’d better not fall, girl. http://myBook.to/RWTP

Alice in Monologue Land

Practice your snort laugh! College instructor Alice is headed down the campus rabbit hole into a world of adventure, romance, and danger. Add a splash of chaos and some cringe-producing talk of female body parts–on stage. But her students are going missing. Can Alice find them in time to avert tragedy in this “carnival ride of a tale with more spins than a tilt-a-whirl?” ~ #DiiBylo of Tome Tender Blog http://myBook.to/Alice

Kiss My Sweet Skull

A collection of seasonal short stories featuring the faculty and students of Garden Beach College, the fictional home of my novel, Alice in Monologue Land.

“Cupid, with a Eucalyptus Tree, in the Teachers’ Workroom”: Annabelle Lopez’s anonymously delivered valentine is so perfect that she knows her soul mate is tantalizingly close by, except none of the local candidates seems quite right.

“Apples and Goat Cheese, and a Red Bikini (In France!)”: Frannie, an au pair girl for a surfing family on the sunny French Riviera, finds  romance … and trouble lurking in the dark. The clue could be in the apples and goat cheese.

“Kiss My Sweet Skull”: Is pumpkin pie seriously the best answer for anthropology professor Dr. Betty Hundleby’s awful skull nightmares at Halloween? Or could an oddly timed kiss be just the thing she needs?  http://myBook.to/Skull







Chick Lit May Scavenger Hunt “R”



“R” is for Romantalicious.

What? That’s not a real word you say? Well, just look at it sitting there on the page. Fun. Dazzling. Silly. Innovative. Inviting. Doesn’t it apply perfectly to chick lit?

In romance novels, the reader watches a romantic relationship develop step by step, with the hero and heroine present (and misbehaving) in every scene. Success and satisfaction in the heroine’s journey is measured by seeing her land that guy. But we’re talking chick lit here. While romance is important to chick lit, it’s not the only thread. There may also be elements of mystery, adventure, family issues, work woes, and nearly any problem of modern womanhood that can be dreamed up and played with on the page. Yep. In chick lit, we play on the page–and humor is what binds our books together.

Chick lit gives a broader feel for a woman’s life: warts, laundry, acrobatic training, multiple boyfriends, and all. The chick lit main character (we don’t call her a heroine) is goofy and weird and klutzy and human. She may be tall or wide or only have one eye. She may be an overachiever or have a superpower. She may solve mysteries in Japan (see Stephanie J. Pajonas’s The Daydreamer Detective) or have an embarrassing weakness for Hostess Ho Hos (see Katheryn Kopach Biel’s I’m Still Here). She may constantly quote movie and TV lines (see Geralyn Corcillo’s Miss Adventure) as she tackles a life problem on her own, or with her sidekick(s). And she may be hella tall and get into dangerous situations where she needs saving–and have to save herself (see my Roll with the Punches). Men are not necessary to her survival. They’re nice, sexy, maybe even too cool for school, but not vital. The most important thing in the story is getting through life with a laugh. And wine. And possibly fashion.

So the romance in a chick lit story is often much lighter and sillier than that in a romance novel. Chick lit romance is comedic, feathery, offbeat, and … romantalicious. No ten-page sex scenes here. Chick lit readers prefer two pages of goofy, delicious near-sex, including a tad of realism. After all, how many times does a romantic encounter come off perfectly in real life? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Roll with the Punches cover March 2016 jpeg

Here’s an example of a romantalicious scene from my book, Roll with the Punches.

“My goodness, Little Red Riding Hood,” (James) laughed. “Tired of Grandma Yvette being around every corner? Let Mr. Wolf take the sting out.” He took the book and laptop, set them on the flowered day bed, and pulled me close. “I’m sorry, Rhonda. She’s a bit rabid. But that Jackson, now he’s evil. Stealing your stuff wholesale, wrecking your career and your dreams. I’d like to deck him.”

Or her. My heart still beat fast from the confrontation with Yvette. But at least James believed me over her. I relaxed, breathing in his smell: hospital soap and breath mints. And found my voice. “She thinks I’m crazy.” I gulped air. “Or a criminal. I’d like to …”

He wrapped his arms around me. “Shh. I think I found something. Remember Marcella Anderson? She’s got a son connected to the Enron scandal. He may be the guy we’re looking for.”

“No, forget about Marcella.” I said. “The final changes from the last summer rewrite are in the book, so she can’t be the culprit. But please don’t tell anyone yet.”

“Don’t be too hasty.” He kissed my hair. At which point I should have turned all liquidy, but my mind was whirling about Yvette and the book and who could have taken it and why.

He kissed my neck, and I pulled back, distracted. “Who? Who? Who took my book in the summer?”

Jackie called us from the living room.

This bedroom had a very big closet. Laughing, James scooped up the book and computer and took my hand and pulled me inside it. Then I found myself crouched down under the clothes rod, crammed between Jackie’s fancy dresses and over six feet of sexy man-hunk.

He said, “Well, the group is not exactly out of the clear yet. Jackie was a Communist in college, you know. She got in pretty heavy with all those Greenpeacers and environmentalists and shit. And neither George nor Marian has sold a book all year, so they must have a monetary motive.” His hands went for my breasts. “Did you like my roses?”

“Uh,” I stammered. The closet reeked of mothballs. My eyes teared up as Jackie’s letters slipped down my front. I tried to nudge them back up and they crackled.

I talked to cover up the sound. “The roses—very nice. How did you get Yvette …”

Mothballs had never been my friend, and now they were burning my sinuses something awful. James leaned in to kiss me just as I wiped my dripping nose on my sleeve. My elbow whacked his chin.

“Ouch.” He sounded peeved.

Steps came down the hall.

James held a finger to his lips as the bedroom door opened, then closed. Then suddenly, he was sitting down. He pulled me onto his lap and his tongue made its way halfway down my throat. Reflexively, my hands went under his shirt. Amazing realization: Tattoos didn’t matter in the dark. Now, if an image of Dal’s nose would just leave my mind screen.

James’s hands hit the letter paper on my stomach.

“That a girdle?” he laughed. “Or stuffing?”

I thought fast. “Take your shirt off, big boy.” I pulled the edge of his shirt up over his head and left it there.

“Ooh, you’re one hot author.” As he pulled it off, I dropped the epistles behind me to the shoe-infested closet floor.

“But I just can’t see Jackie or George—” I tried, but suddenly, my shirt was unbuttoned and his hands and lips were an assault on me. And so were the mothballs. I started to wheeze as his lips found my neck. “Listen. This could be fun, but I can’t breathe.”

He breathed hotly in my ear. “Hmmm. Your bra needs loosening,” he crooned, unfastening my front bra snap, “And your laptop needs to be checked for hacking.”

Huh? My laptop? Odd subject for foreplay. Oh, well. I tried to respond in kind. “But I need it, big boy. Check it fast, okay?”

He plunged a hand down my pants.

“Not that fast!” Ticklish, I bolted up to a bent stand, laughing and wheezing and swatting at his hands. I’d always envisioned passionate lovemaking with James, but this …”Slow down!”

“Better safe than sorry.” He started to rise, still caressing my jean-clad backside.

Was this the romantic tryst I’d imagined for months?

“Safe?” My insulted lungs and the images of the group’s worried faces wilted any lust I might have had. “I’m not safe,” I wheezed, pushing his hands away. “I’m having an asthma attack.”

“Safe for your motherboard.” Laughing, he reached over and unzipped my jeans, then yanked them down.

“Stop!” I shot up straight, hitting my head on the clothes rod. “Ouch!” I wheezed and my knee jerked up, pushing him into the door, which popped open, sending him toppling out of the closet.

I tried to follow, but something pulled hard at my hair. “Ouch! Ack! I’m stuck! I can’t move.”

Dazed, he straightened up, all tousled and gorgeous in the light, and examined my hair, which got caught more tightly with my every move I made.

“Ow! Ooowwww!”

“Oops. Designer jacket. Your hair’s caught on the beads. We’ll have to cut it off.” He pulled the jacket’s wooden hanger off the rod and walked me out into the room, where he produced a pocket knife. I took one look at the blade and lurched away from it. He lost his grip on the heavy hanger, which fell, bonking my shoulder and yanking my scalp to China. I howled in pain and flailed around, narrowly missing being impaled by the knife.

And there was Jackie in the doorway. “Oh, it’s not the cats. It’s you. Pants down. At knife point. God love ya.”

frustrated woman

There you have it. A romantalicious chick lit scene: kinda hot, kinda sexy, kinda closetus interruptus. With the requisite beaded designer jackets and fancy shoes. What else did you expect? Here’s hoping the next book you read is full of romantalicious chick lit scenes.

And here’s hoping you read it on your new Kindle Paperwhite. See details below.


Kindle paperwhite

Are you a book junkie? Want to win a Kindle Paperwhite + a $100 Amazon gift card? Visit each of the 26 stops on the #ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt and collect the alphabet word at each stop (A, B, C, D, etc.), then submit the A-Z list of words via e-mail to traciebanister@gmail.com with the subject “A to Z Scavenger Hunt Entry.” Entries will be accepted until Sunday, May 22nd at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 23rd. Good luck!

The next stop on this Scavenger Hunt is the letter “S,” which is at 


If you’d like to start back at the beginning of the Scavenger Hunt with the letter “A,” go to http://katieoliver.com/ko/2016/05/chick-lit-a-to-z-scavenger-hunt/

$100 gift card

Amy Gettinger’s books:

Roll with the Punches

What happens when the novel you’ve just finished writing and started hawking to agents gets published by a nationally bestselling author—just when Dad starts storing milk in the tool chest? You hunt for the book thief, of course, aided by a goofy roller derby team and two drool-worthy guys. Whether skating in treacherous derby bouts or downhill chasing Dad, one thing is sure: you’d better not fall, girl. http://myBook.to/RWTP

Alice in Monologue Land

Practice your snort laugh! College instructor Alice is headed down the campus rabbit hole into a world of adventure, romance, and danger. Add a splash of chaos and some cringe-producing talk of female body parts–on stage. But her students are going missing. Can Alice find them in this “carnival ride of a tale with more spins than a tilt-a-whirl?” ~ #DiiBylo of Tome Tender Blog http://myBook.to/Alice

Kiss My Sweet Skull

A collection of seasonal short stories featuring the faculty and students of Garden Beach College, the fictional home of my novel, Alice in Monologue Land.

“Cupid, with a Eucalyptus Tree, in the Teachers’ Workroom”: Annabelle Lopez’s anonymously delivered valentine is so perfect that she knows her soul mate is tantalizingly close by, except none of the local candidates seems quite right.

“Apples and Goat Cheese, and a Red Bikini (In France!)”: Frannie, an au pair girl for a surfing family on the sunny French Riviera, finds  romance … and trouble lurking in the dark. The clue could be in the apples and goat cheese.

“Kiss My Sweet Skull”: Is pumpkin pie seriously the best answer for anthropology professor Dr. Betty Hundleby’s awful skull nightmares at Halloween? Or could an oddly timed kiss be just the thing she needs?  http://myBook.to/Skull

Old Dogs and Sleep

Old Dogs and Sleep
        Slept terribly 2 nights ago. Woke after 4 hours to the almost 16-year-old dog peeing on the carpet in my bedroom. Huh? He knows better–correction–ONCE knew better. And he can hold it. This was of course more doggy Alzheimer’s kicking in. He’s already regularly pooping in the house now–after going outside and spending time out there. But before I realized all this in my exhausted state, I yelled bloody murder at him and chased him downstairs. He hid behind the chair, but would he even remember this? I gave him dog food only–no special beef or chicken or ham or cheese–for breakfast. I am mean when you stink up my house. Especially if you might make it a habit, like the pooping in the living room.
         The day went on, with both dogs, scared by my earlier outburst, eschewing breakfast and snuggling up to me on the couch as I wrote and set up a promo for a book in March. They ate later, when I grudgingly added some cheese to their basic fare. Then 16-yo dog barfed on the floor and pooped in the living room again. Dragging from lack of Zzzs, I tried to nap, but couldn’t sleep. The couch is a bit too light, too hard, too open for me to get to sleep on it in the daytime. But Peter was gone doing volunteer tax work all day, so I had to stay downstairs with OLD DOG. He can’t climb the stairs to hang with me if I nap up there, and I can’t carry him up with this facet joint issue in my back. So when he notices he’s alone downstairs, he now howls pitiably at the base of the stairs until I come down.
          Somebody’s yanking my chain pretty hard here.
          I called the vet and made an appointment for senile dog to get some doggy Aricept or some such. Going to get doggy diapers today. Not sure if Peter will be willing to help with doggy diapers, but I can’t allow my house to become a stinky hole. I’m now pondering the BIG question–at what point do we put them down, these companions we have nurtured and kept so carefully for so long? The ones we have walked and petted and talked to for years? Our self-appointed guardians? Is my inconvenience and lack of sleep (which can have a lot of domino effects for me) enough, or does a dog’s life get the same amount of respect as a human’s? My mother had no problem with this, and she took several animals to the shelter without batting an eyelash. Many people use extreme life support measures for their animals now. I am somewhere in the middle. I’m just not sure where.
            After Peter came home, I took a benadryl and did a whole line of Girl Scouts peanut butter patties (some might do a line of coke, but I do Girl Scout cookies), I got a big nap and then 10 hours of sleep. And today, the dogs are being complete angels.

Readers’ Favorite 5-star Review for Alice in Monologue Land

Readers’ Favorite 5-star Review for Alice in Monologue Land

Below, find the amazing and wonderful review for Alice in Monologue Land http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Monologue-Land-Amy-Gettinger-ebook/dp/B00VVK8NFM that Readers’ Favorite said via email last summer that they had found no one to do. Guess this lovely lady did do a review in September, after all, and the email about it to me got lost in political spam. Well, I didn’t go hunting for Alice’s page on Readers’ Favorite until today, when I thought I’d bite the bullet and pay for a review. But to my surprise, here it is! A freebie! 5 Whole Stars!


“Fun, fun, fun! That’s definitely how I would describe Alice in Monologue Land by author Amy Gettinger. following the story of Alice Chalmers, adjunct English professor, single mom, and basically all around stressed out woman. And when she’s ‘encouraged’ or, more aptly, ‘required’ to read a part in her campus’ upcoming “Venus Monologues,” things in her carefully orchestrated life start to fall apart. A coveted job opens up, but Alice is certain that the conservative selection committee would not appreciate her participation in the Venus Monologues. Her Dean pretty much forces her to continue with her participation though, and, resigned, she does so. It’s at practice for the monologues, that she meets the “Venus Warriors,” an interesting group of fearless college women who aren’t afraid to discuss or do just about anything. Throw in some special attention from not one, but three men interested in her and the fact that some of her female students have gone missing, and you’ve got yourself one heck of wild ride of a book.

I so enjoyed Alice in Monologue Land. This was an exceptional read and I read it from cover to cover in just a few days. Author Amy Gettinger has done a fantastic job in creating characters that are funny, intriguing and exciting, sometimes all at once. The story is truly laugh out loud funny at times, and in one scene I actually laughed until I had tears in my eyes. Alice in Monologue Land is a book that would be enjoyed by any reader who enjoys a book with a fun female lead, a book with a little mystery, a little suspense and a little romance all wrapped in one, or just a plain good book. I certainly hope that Amy Gettinger is working on her next novel in this same vein, because I, for one, will be eagerly waiting to read it!”

~ Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite

I am overjoyed! Thanks, Tracy, for reading and reviewing!!! Alice was meant for just your type of audience!