Caren’s Double Book Launch Blowout!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]I hope no one got their hopes up at that title. Really. I am the worst party hostess in the history of partying AND also terribly lazy. So, this won’t be like one of Tawny’s lovely book launch parties, where there are 12 kinds of appetizers and Pablo is circulating with both white and red wine. BUT, it is a serious celebration of the launch of my two newest books, TIARA WARS and (albeit belatedly) BABY STEPS.

Settle in and help yourself to whatever you can find. I told Sven to set out bowls of Fritos and French onion dip and to have platters of cookies and a sundae bar. Oh, and alcohol. I have no idea what he has done with those orders, which likely sent him straight to the medicine cabinet for anti-anxiety meds. Anyway, let’s talk about the books.

Baby Steps large coverBABY STEPS is the second novel in my Cross Springs series. In it, our hardworking, career-oriented heroine, Connie Burns, has decided to have a baby. And she’s about to turn 39. And she has lupus. Everyone, including her husband, thinks this is a terrible idea. But Connie is a force of nature, as anyone who read KICK START or CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM knows. She will not be denied. Happily, her husband Tim knows her inside and out and understands exactly how to…er…sway Connie to his way of thinking. (I hate to use the word manipulate – so many negative connotations!) Connie agrees to proceed with the plans to foster a child, which they had set aside when she was diagnosed with lupus. Once the foster-parent wheels are set in motion, Connie’s world is turned completely upside down. And you get to read about the fallout! It’s great stuff, I promise. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll laugh some more!

If you completely missed the publication of this book in late June, that’s because I basically did NOTHING to promote it. I didn’t even have a launch party here! So I decided to let Connie horn in on Katie’s launch party for TIARA WARS. Fortunately, the two are BFFs now, so Katie won’t mind.

Kick StartKatie Warren is the heroine of my third Cross Springs novel, TIARA WARSThose who read KICK START may be surprised at Katie’s transformation from interfering busybody in the first novel to sympathetic, soul-searching heroine in the third. It’s been a long, tough journey for Katie. It’s tough to feel much sympathy for someone who was basically born with a silver spoon in her mouth and who has been showered with attention, awards and admiration her entire life, but poor Katie has been through some stuff when TIARA WARS opens.

A year previously, Katie learned her husband Larry had had an extra-marital affair. Before she could even get the truth from him about the affair, he had a massive coronary and died. To say she is conflicted is mild, indeed. But Connie, Cross Springs and good old circumstances force Katie to shake off her stupor of grief and disbelief and work toward getting some closure on her marriage and Larry’s untimely death. It also leaves her no choice but to decide who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. Poor Katie!

Cross Springs In Bloom coverIn both these books, I put the heroines through some serious soul-searching and emotional turbulence. But I also packed in the crazy people of Cross Springs, some really funny scenes, and the sort of “this could really happen” stuff that is too rarely seen in fiction. Connie and Katie’s stories are not unique. We all know women who have had a midlife crisis, changed their minds about strongly-held choices, dealt with grief and handled the gobsmacking wallop of marital betrayal. Connie and Katie are you and me, our sisters, our moms, our friends and co-workers. What makes them special is how their pain speaks to ours. And what makes it fun to read is that their traumas, like ours, are only one facet of their very full lives.

So have Pablo pour you another drink, grab some Fritos and cookies, and let’s have a lovely chat here at the (VERY CASUAL) party in the Lair today!

BanditBootyTo break the conversational ice (while Sven whips up more French onion dip and has a small nervous breakdown), tell me about someone you know who is like Connie (career-focused, goal-oriented, loyal and a super-fun aunt!) or Katie (a natural leader, the queen bee and a serious people-pleaser). Has anything changed this person’s mind or attitude? Have you changed yours when life got crazy? I’ll share some of my own stories today, as well. I’ll also give away an e-book copy (format of your choice) of BABY STEPS and also one of TIARA WARS (one each) to two lucky commenters!

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Comments

64 Comments

  • Amy Conley says:

    I think he’s going to come for a visit.

  • Jane says:

    Hello Caren,
    Congrats on the new releases. I love Fritos. Maybe you can send Sven over with the cheese ball and a margarita. I now people at work like Kate. Haven’t gotten too friendly with them because they aloof and quite bossy.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jane, my Frito-loving sister girl! I’ll send Sven around with a fresh bowl and a brand new cheeseball with the pecans intact. The GR pecked all the pecans off the one that was sitting out before Amy came by…EW! He has no manners, that one.

      I agree that I would NOT be friends with someone like Katie! At least not like she was in KICK START, anyway. I’m afraid when my kids were little, I might have been a little bit like Katie, at least the “take charge” part.

      Thank goodness I am in charge of nothing these days. Glad to be rid of the responsibilities, headaches and the feeling that I probably wasn’t very nice sometimes. Pfft on that!

      We won’t pass the Fritos to your bossy co-workers. And I’ll keep the onion dip away from them, too! 🙂

  • Amy Conley says:

    My younger sister is most definately Connie. Totally and completely career orientated . So much so she makes sure her husband is the same way. She doesn’t want him to even mow the grass, he’d have to learn a new skill and all she wants him to concentrate on is his job. BORING!

    Have I changed my own mind/behavior because of something going on in my own liffe? Heck yeah! Only about a thooousand times in just the past year.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amy, I know some Connie types, too! Never quite figured them out, honestly. I have, at times, been quite career-focused, but never to the exclusion of, say, having a good time! 🙂

      I have friends who were happy to do nothing after college except work, work, work. I know people who never even take a vacation! I think that’s sad, but they seem perfectly happy. I think they got some magical workaholic gene that missed me completely!

      I hope your BIL gets to at least mow the yard one day. And maybe they’ll take a vacation once in a while!

    • Caren Crane says:

      I also meant to say that I, too, have changed LOTS of things in my life as life changed on me. I know you have, too. Life never stands still, does it? I’m sure all that change is good for us. We’ll be really…interesting people as the years go by! 😀

    • Cassondra says:

      Amy I know somebody like that who doesn’t want her husband to do new things. I think each spouse doing new things, growing and developing, is what keeps the relationship from getting boring!

      • Amy Conley says:

        I agree 100%, Cassandra. They do go on vacations and do different “fun” things, but as far as learning or doing anything new as far as changing the oil in their cars, mowing the lawn, minor plumbing, nope she doesn’t want him to, and this is a direct quote, “do anything or learn any new thing unrelated to being a chiropractor.”

  • Congrats on grabbing the GR, Amy! He is very career oriented. We just aren’t certain what that career is !!

    There are a few women at Walmart who are extremely career-oriented. All they have is their jobs at Walmart. We tend to say “They drank the Kool-Aid !” as they can quote company policy chapter and verse.

    I go to work and give 100% because I was raised to believe if you get paid, you earn it.

    HOWEVER, Walmart is most definitely NOT my career. It is a job that pays for little luxuries like food and living indoors. Recently my health has suffered because of the stress I ALLOW Walmart to give me. The store manager we acquired two years ago makes Adolph Hitler look like Mother Teresa.

    Recently I read something about work habits that really struck home. For every 52 minutes one works, one should take 18 minutes to relax. It makes you more productive.

    Only have three things on your to-do list at any given time. Once those are done. Make a new three item list.

    Breathe!

    I talk to myself on the way to work. (Yes, I am certain people think I am on my cell phone, but I am actually talking to myself.”

    I tell myself this is not life or death. It is not my career. It is not my life. It is a temporary means to an end. Every moment I spend stressing about what happens in that building is a moment I steal from my soul. And I need my soul to be free of all that in order to write.

    After a LONG dry spell brought on my just that sort of stress I recently wrote 13,000 words in 6 days. Tomorrow I will finish my novella which will be self-published in an anthology with 3 other authors. These 3 authors, all published, invited me to participate in this project and then badgered, cajoled and harassed me into finishing it. And I will say these past six days have been some of the happiest of my life, even when the words were like pulling teeth.

    Sometimes all you need is some perspective. Sounds like your heroines are getting perspective in spades, Caren! And I cannot wait to read their stories!!

    • Helen says:

      Good on ya Louisa my job is like this as well a means to an end for me retirement and I need to de stress there as well 🙂

      Can’t wait to read your story

      Have Fun
      Helen

    • Caren Crane says:

      Louisa, I’m so happy to hear you are managing the stress of your job so it will stop managing you! You are far too dear to all of us to let WalMart undermine your health, for sure. I cannot imagine any job as the be-all/end-all of my life, but it’s astonishing how many people live that way, isn’t it?

      I, too, see my DDJ as the means to those niceties like electricity and high-speed internet access (not to mention food!). When I leave the office, I rarely think about work stuff until I hit the door again. I don’t know if I’, really good at compartmentalizing or just really ADHD. Maybe both! 😀

      SO HAPPY to hear you are pounding out that novella! I would love to host you here to pimp it when it comes out. Be sure to let us know so we can get you on the calendar! As much as I enjoy my own book launches, I enjoy those of my friends even more! I’ll tell Sven to lay in more Fritos…

      • Cassondra says:

        Aw, dang, Posh. You beat me to it. I was gonna offer to host Louisa. I think we should all party hard that day.

    • Yay Louisa!!!!

      Be sure to let us know when the anthalogy is out. Can’t wait to read your contribution!

    • Cassondra says:

      Oh, Louisa, I cannot WAIT to read your story! I’m thinking the Bandits will fight over who gets to be hostess in the lair on your launch day.

      Or…since you named the Golden Rooster (didn’t you?) perhaps HE should host you!

  • Caren, congratulations x 2! How wonderful that we get to celebrate the release of two books in one go. And you’re a wonderful hostess – very relaxed and welcoming. Never let anyone tell you differently! Man, you’re putting your heroines through some tough times. I felt like giving both of them a hug as I read your blog. I love seeing people up against it and coming through. They both sound like great stories! May you sell a million of each! x

    • Caren Crane says:

      Anna, I promise I didn’t set out to torment Connie and Katie. It just worked out that way. Really!

      I saw a review of Baby Steps that made me laugh. It said something about how it sounded like a Hallmark movie (or something like that) but it was a great read. I never imagined it was quite that emotional, but actually it was. Lots of references to boxes of tissues in the Goodreads reviews. Ha!

      Not sure anyone will break out the tissues for Katie, but we shall see!

  • Helen says:

    Caren

    Woohoo and congrats on the releases 🙂 I have read Kick Start and loved it I do have the next two on my kindle waiting for me to read and I need to get the last one Tiara Wars 🙂

    I have a friend at work we have worked together for 20 years and both do not enjoy managements ways anymore she went through a rough time with hubby about 10 years ago split with him and ended up with one of the guys we used to work with and they are so happy together which is surprising because when he worked there they did not get on at all but now happy as but this girl even when things get tough she never takes time off work even though I keep telling here we are all numbers to them and that the company will still go on if she has a few days off (which she needs at the moment her sister is very ill) she won’t do it I wish I could convince her too.

    I really am looking forward to reading all of these books Caren I need more time

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Caren Crane says:

      Helen, I wish you and I could both retire and whittle down our TBR piles! I hope you enjoy all the Cross Springs adventures when you get to them. Honestly, if you need a laugh, read any of them. If you need a good cry, read Baby Steps. I didn’t set out to write a laugh/cry tear-jerker, but it totally is!

      All the Cross Springs books have big emotion, though. Great for a rainy spring day! 😀

    • Caren Crane says:

      Oh, and I’m so happy your co-worker found happiness. If you can just convince her to take some time off, she’ll never regret it! Spending time with her sister is certainly more important than any job, I’d say. You are a good friend, Helen, to keep encouraging her!

  • flchen1 says:

    Wow, Caren! Double congrats on the two releases we’re celebrating today! And double yippee as a reader who gets twice as many books to add to the TBR!

    I think I recognize some of those qualities in people I know although maybe not all of them in one 😉 There are definitely some power moms up at school but it’s also true that life rains on all of us at times, and it’s amazing what those times will bring out or change in each of us.

    Looking forward to reading your latest, Caren!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Thanks, Fedora! In creating both Connie and Katie, I sort of cherry-picked qualities from a number of women I know. None encapsulate all of them, but many have a few characteristics of these heroines. I had a co-leader in Girl Scouts who reminded me of both Connie and Katie. Honestly, she should have been running a corporation somewhere, not a Girl Scout troop! 😀

      Then again, thanks to PTA and Girl Scouts, I knew lots of non-practicing lawyers and doctors and pediatric surgeons, etc. I’ve never seen so much wasted education in my life!

  • Shannon says:

    Yeah, I know a lot of people who are career driven–including almost everyone in my leadership chain. There’s one woman who isn’t over me, but we work together. She got mad at me after I told her “we don’t always win everyone.” “Yes, we do,” she snapped back.

    Work defines me. I like working with ideas, doing research, and writing up he results, so career is big. But so are friends, fun, and reading.

    Congrats Karen (and Louisa).

    • Caren Crane says:

      Shannon, your co-worker’s response was really telling, wasn’t it? Take no prisoners! 🙂

      Having met you, I can tell how important your career is to you. But it’s also clear that you make time for enjoying your success! It’s a shame that most corporate culture doesn’t pay more than lip service to taking time to relax and renew oneself. That really is the key, as you know!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Yay Caren! Double happiness for the two books launch! Will dash off to download my copies once I’ve finished here!

    Having lived in the business world, the academic/school world and the writing world, I’ve come across all kinds of women who are Connie and Katie to differing degrees. Of course, being a woman in business during the 80’s and forging the way for others meant I met some very determined women – might even have been one myself 😉

    • Caren Crane says:

      Thanks, Anna! I have to say, I was one of those Connie/Katie types myself when I was in management in the ’90s. Caught myself doing a report one day while on vacation, while my family were all at the beach. Decided then and there that I would be Connie no more! Of course, then I became Katie with the volunteer gigs. 😀

  • Caren Crane says:

    Story-sharing time! This one is about a “Connie” in my life.

    My best friend from college graduated right on time (unlike me), with a degree in Business. She took a job in Sales for a large international company, then kept being promoted and moving to other large international companies, until she became the youngest Southeast Regional Supervisor in the USA for a Very Important Corporation at the ripe old age of 33 (or thereabouts).

    About this time, she noticed that her other friends (and her sister) were all married and creating families. She had no real marriage prospects on the line, but she knew she wanted children. At 36, she decided to go ahead and adopt. She and her mother traveled to Ukraine in the hopes of adopting two children, ideally a brother and sister. What she got was 4-year-old twins, a boy and girl.

    She ultimately resigned from her job, relocated to be near her family of origin, and began a new career that allowed her to stay in town and “on call” as the kids needed. She also finally found Mr. Right, when the twins were 16, and was married for the first time last Christmas.

    Like Connie, my best friend found that kids change everything. Also like Connie, she found that parenthood has serious ups and downs, but it’s always worth it. Her son and daughter are awesome kids and they have a completely devoted mother. She’s still very focused at work, but she’s just as focused at home.

    It happens in real life, y’all, not just in books!

    • Cassondra says:

      Posh, what a great story.

      I’m so jaded, that I’m always surprised when real romance happens for people past the flush of youth. I think it comes from working around so many men and hearing how they rated the woman they saw. It sort of turned me mean toward the possibility that people can look past a few wrinkles and physical imperfections and find a real spark both emotionally and physically. Rationally, I know this is true, but through conditioning, it always catches me off guard. And I’m always so thrilled to hear about people like your career-driven friend who found Mr. Right even though she did it much later than was socially expected!

      • Caren Crane says:

        I was so thrilled for her when it all came together but, like you, conditioned to expect things to fall apart. I held my breath from the time she changed her FB status to “in a relationship” until she changed it to “married.” And the wedding was only her mom, sister, kids and I think her MIL. Really tiny – even smaller than mine! I was a tiny bit hurt not to have gotten to attend (she was my maid of honor, after all), but totally understood her wanting to keep it all on the down low.

        Seriously happy that her dreams all came true, even if they weren’t in the traditional order! 😀

  • Caren Crane says:

    Also, I went to the Lair’s wine cellar and found a bottle of seasonal Apothic Dark. Join me, red wine lovers. This stuff is only here in September and won’t be seen again until next year! (If Sven thinks he can hide it from us, he has another think coming!)

  • Deb Marlowe says:

    Woot! Woot!

    So happy to see more Cross Springs books! You know how I love them!

    And I’ve been to your events, Caren and you are a lovely hostess–Always!

    I know some women who run their households like a CEO. Sometimes I’m a little jealous! 🙂

    • Caren Crane says:

      Deb, I am with you on envying how “together” some women are. I experience mild envy…until I think of how much energy goes into it. Then it just seems exhausting and pointless! 😀

      I settled for not permanently scarring my children, who I figured could weather a bit of benign neglect on my part. It seems to have worked! The youngest just turned 20 and, so far, they seem relatively unscathed. Nothing a few years with a therapist won’t cure! 😀

  • bn100 says:

    have a friend like Connie

  • Tracy says:

    I think characteristics of both Katie and Connie resonate with me

  • Tracy says:

    I love the covers for the new releases!

  • Caren –

    Yay! Tiara Wars is out. Can I just say how much I love your titles and covers? Very nice.

    The first person I thought of while reading the blog was my aunt. I always had the impression she suffered being related to us. We existed only to witness her wealth. Her father was a plumber back in the 20s who grew his business into a very successful enterprise, so she grew up in a very comfortable life style and lorded that over everyone. She married my father’s younger brother who worked for the business and after marriage, inherited the plumbing concern. Fast forward three decades. My uncle died unexpectedly. Upon reading the will, my aunt discovered he’d had an affair for many years. She went ballistic but as her husband was dead, what was she to do? Their finances were a piece of fantasy. She had to sell her fabulous house. She was gobsmacked! Not sure what happened to her. She only really communicated every now and then with my mother who passed away about six years ago. I might have to google to see if I can find her. I know her children, three girls, had many difficulties in their adult lives. I figured Karma had came around to bite her in the butt.

    Can’t wait to read! Wishing you great success.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Donna, what a wild story! I guess it just proves that whatever we make up, Real Life always has something even more fanciful to trump it. Wowza. I feel terrible for your aunt, though. What a terrible thing to find out and in such a dramatic fashion!

      And yes, good old karma does seem to sneak up on people at times.We should all be careful how we tread on the earth…and all those upon it! At least I know YOU won’t have karma sneaking up on you, except to deliver great things, you PRO Mentor Of the Year, you! 😀

  • Congrats on both the new books, Caren. You know, you mentioned something that I think is the key to making a book really fantastic — that it makes the reader both laugh and cry. For instance, when I read The Fault in Our Stars, I cracked up at some stuff and bawled like a baby at others. It took me through the emotional wringer.

    Sven, bring me some Fritos, stat! 🙂

    • Caren Crane says:

      Trish, I realized a while back that those were my favorite stories, too. Ones that tug your heartstrings but also tickle your funny bone! I am always happy when a reader tells me I pulled that off.

      But I think life makes us laugh and cry – sometimes at the same time! – so we should definitely be able to tell those sorts of stories. They are our stories!

  • Caren, congrats on your two releases! I love Cross Springs and am glad to have more of it to read.

    I am sure I know both Connie’s type and Katie’s, but my brain is drawing a total blank at the moment. I’ll be back if something springs to the fore later. Meanwhile, congrats again on the new releases!

  • Posh, I love that your Cross Springs series is about real women struggling with the troubles life throws at us all. Great to see you doing a proper launch!

    I know a super-super organised mum at school who works part time and runs, mountain-bikes, competes in triathlons in her spare time and plays a mean game of tennis as well. Our group of friends tease her mercilessly about what a ridiculously organised and wholesome freak she is but we love her dearly. I have yet to see her really let her hair down–she won’t have more than one or two glasses of wine when we’re at a party, for example–but I think when that day comes it will be highly entertaining!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Oh, Christina, she’s a total Katie! I’m not sure I even gave Katie a glass of wine in Tiara Wars. Surely she must have had one. She ends up dating an Italian restaurateur, so there must be wine involved in that!

      When your friend finally cuts loose, you’ll have to take phone pics and post it all over FB! 😀

  • Cassondra says:

    Yay Posh! I thought for sure you must have launched BABY STEPS while I’ve been in the crazies all summer, and that I’d just missed the party. Glad to know I did NOT miss it, and that you are celebrating now.

    I have to say, the choice of goodies is intriguing, given the nature of the southern woman to lay out all the proper goodies, and your Cross Springs girls have those tendencies. I know there must be at least a hundred punch bowls stuffed into attics in that neighborhood.

    Can’t wait to read both of these, and I love the covers in this series. Fell in love with Connie in KICK START. Not so much Katie, but knew she had potential. Anxious to find out her story.

    What’s next? Will there be more Cross Springs novels?

    • Caren Crane says:

      Cassondra, you are exactly right about the punch bowls. The attics in Cross Springs are stuffed with them! My BFF and I actually went in halfsies on a nice punchbowl set, complete with cups and those little cup hangers you can suspend from the lip of the bowl. We figured neither of us would use a punchbowl more than once a year, so we might as well just split one. I have no idea where it is. I think it may be in Sabrina Jeffries’ house, come to think of it. I think that’s where it was last used! 😀

      I’m glad you like the Cross Springs crew. You’ll see Katie keep morphing and changing as you read through the series. By the time you get to Tiara Wars, you’ll really be rooting for her. Especially after the truth comes out about Larry. Poor Katie!

      As for the fate of Cross Springs, I am currently working on Lacey’s book. Lacey is Connie’s sister-in-law, the one who is the cake decorator and the mom of Connie’s favorite nephew, Nate. You’ll recall Lacey never married Nate’s father. Turns out she never told Nate’s father he had a son. He’s going to find out, though, because he just moved to Cross Springs. Doh! Things are going to get mighty awkward for Lacey Burns, I have to say. And Sam is not going to take being left in the dark well, either. More angst (and humor) to come!

      • Cassondra says:

        OMG! Those are my favorite stories–the “why does your son look exactly like me…….wait…@#$%…you had my baby and didn’t tell me????!!! I’m SO going to punish you.”

        Yeah. I enjoy watching the men go through that learning curve.

        • Caren Crane says:

          It’s going to be extra fun, Cassondra. I’m enjoying figuring out just how it’s all going down. Best part of the book is when it’s all new. You know, before you write yourself into a corner and have to figure how to get out. LOL

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    WOOOHOOOO!!! Hey Caren! I’m so excited about you bringing us back to Cross Springs! ANd you KNOW that I adore this story! Sorry to be late to the party. Must grab a cocktail and some of the fresh bowl of shrimp Sven just brought out….

    YUM!

    LOVE, love, love the story of Tiara Wars and must go tweet about it and tell everyone to buy it. Bwahahahah!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Thanks, Jeanne. After polishing off that bottle of Apothic Dark, I didn’t even notice the shrimp! I’ve been cradling this bowl of Fritos so long I gave it a nickname: Freddie. Freddie the Frito bowl. Um…did I mention the empty bottle of Apothic Dark? 😀

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Super congrats on your releases, Caren! As you know, I have always loved your writing voice. It’s so genuine and natural and distinctly yours.

    I once was that career-oriented and focused woman. From adolescence I wanted nothing more than to teach high school and I had no intention of marrying or having children.

    Big fat irony, though, because when I met Dr. Big everything changed. Still, 20 years and 7 kids later, I was able to fulfill my dream of teaching with the support of my fabulous husband.

    I think maybe you can have your cake and eat it too!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jo, I am always in awe of everything you’ve managed to accomplish in your life. I can totally see you being a career-focused Connie type. Then morphing into a real Katie when you had all your kids to juggle! Then back to Connie mode once they were grown.

      I’m so glad you love the Cross Springs books. They really are close to my heart. I have no idea why, but the people of Cross Springs are very real to me and “talk” to me all the time! I’m worried about Lacey, though. Not sure how she’s going to deal with having Sam back in her life. She’s been alone a LONG time and never had to share Nate at all! We shall see…