Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday: Spotlight on Hot Fun in the Summertime

Today I'm showcasing a novel written by a fellow crit partner and a lady I consider a dear friend, author Chicki Brown. Chicki and I have known each other for over 5 years, at the time I had started writing and joined my first crit group. Together we saw one another develop our writing, our voice, and our strengths. Along the way, we held each other's hands (virtually, of course!) and she's always been there whenever I've needed a cheer, a smile, a hug, or a shoulder when the going got tough.
This is Chicki's second self-pubbed novel. I saw Hot Fun in the Summertime happen and come together from mere idea to the finished product it is (side note - I did the cover for this book *grin*). Over the course of writing this story, I saw Chicki develop and find herself as an author with her own voice.

Imagine a big cast of characters. 4 women, 3 men. The story revolves around them meeting in a New Jersey beach house every summer. Sparks and fireworks expected? You bet!
Now imagine writing the story from the POV of each of these women - getting to the core of them, laying their souls bare, making the reader literally live and breathe all 4 very different women. Quite a feat, innit? Chicki manages all this, and much more, in this story. In a storytelling style very reminiscent of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, the 1st person POV draws you in and places you in that beach house along with all these characters.

I loved this book, from start to end. There's drama, emotion, feeling, the occasional 'catfight'. It's like a soap opera meets Tyler Perry movies, but all done with a lightness that never goes over the top.

Pick up this book - you won't be disappointed! I sure wasn't. :)

Here's more info:

Hot Fun in the Summertime
Seven very different singles – four women and three men – rent a New Jersey beach house for the summer: author Shontae Nichols, self-employed accountant and realtor, Linda Harris, Linda’s sister, hip-hop video dancer Kinnik Watkins, cosmetologist, Jovita Blassingame, Calculus professor Curtis “Doc” Whetstone, actor and drama instructor, Kip Lee, and new housemate, up and coming film actor, Devon Burke.

During their two month stay, romances bloom friendships are tested and when a tragedy strikes one of the housemates, they all learn the answer to the age-old question: Can men and women ever be just friends?

Now available now for only $3.99 on Amazon.com for Kindle, PC, iPad, and phone and also on B&N Nook.
Buy links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004DI7KI0
Barnes & Noble: http://su.pr/2CVnhi

Excerpt:

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art . . .
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
- C. S. Lewis
Chapter One

Shontae
July 1st

What could’ve possessed me to do this again? Seven of us were staying this time – four women and three men. No couples -- just friends.
A friend isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe Kinnik, Linda’s sister, though. At least it looked like nobody else had gotten there yet. Linda’s BMW was the only car parked beside the house. Unless … I hoped Kinnik hadn’t come with Linda. I’d rather see her for the first time in a room full of other people. Living with six other people for two months is asking for drama, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend the summer writing by the ocean.
A gentle sultry breeze caressed my face when I stepped out onto the crushed rocks and shells of the makeshift driveway that sparkled in the sun. The house looked great sitting atop the sand dunes with a bright border of red tiger lilies outlining the wrap-around porch. There’s no place like the Jersey shore. The smell of salt water and the sound of seagulls do more to relax me than any downward facing dog or lotus position ever could. Of course the California coast is cleaner, and South Florida beaches offer more eye candy, but I grew up here. I’m a Jersey girl at heart. No one can convince me there’s a better place to spend the summer than any shoreline town between Atlantic Highlands and Cape May, especially if you’re not rich. And I’m not.
“You made excellent time.” Linda called from the porch shielding her eyes from the sun.
I hefted two of my three suitcases from the trunk. “So, I’m the first one here?”
She grinned. “Wasn’t that your plan? The bedrooms are first come-first served.”
“I want the sunroom this time instead of a bedroom. It’s the best place for me to work.” This year I wasn’t joining the house to lounge on the beach. I was determined to finish my current manuscripts and appreciated her being able to relate to my commitment to work. Linda would understand, because she was one of the hardest-working women on the planet. A real estate agent and a self-employed accountant, she handled the rental arrangements with the owner, and was the official “key mistress.”
Linda ran a hand over the sandy-colored hair she now wore in twists that contradicted her otherwise conservative appearance. “Go claim your space. I’ll get the rest of your things out of the trunk.”
“Thanks.” She had obviously been there for a little while, because all of the windows and doors were open to let the fresh air in. I loved this house, with its contemporary design and coastal colors. Both floors had wraparound decks and sliding glass doors on every room on the ocean side. Right now the only sounds were the waves lapping at the shore and the call of gulls swooping over the beach. Before nightfall the upscale rental would be jumping with activity.
“What in the world do you have in here?” She struggled to drag my blue Pullman case and my CD player into the bright, glassed-in room.
“Clothes, some CDs, my laptop and Neo in case the laptop decides to act up. Of course my Kindle is in there too. Not that I’ll have time to read.”
She grunted and hoisted the huge bag up onto the pullout sofa.
“Ooh, I’m scared of you! Guess you’ve been keeping up with your Pilates.”
“It’s vinyasa yoga now. You’re looking at one sister who refuses to turn into a fat, pitiful divorcee. This body is staying in top form.” She proudly patted her hips. “The physical body reflects the state of the spiritual/emotional body.”
Even though Linda was the oldest of the group, she was a bundle of energy in perpetual motion and put the rest of us to shame. But I’m not mad at her. She feels about exercise the way I feel about writing. If I had to go more than a couple of days without it, I think I’d die.
“And that certainly doesn’t hurt out there in dating land.”
Linda’s pale brown eyes glanced toward the ceiling. “I haven’t visited dating land recently. Speaking of men, we won’t have the same crew this year. Kip is bringing a friend with him. A male friend.”
“Don’t wiggle your eyebrows at me. My only reason for being here is to write.” We both understood that a new person brought a new dynamic to the house. “I don’t know how I ended up with deadlines for two different publishers thirty days apart. Both publishers have options on my next book, so I have to meet the deadlines. Plus, if I can show the mortgage company I’m not a risk, maybe they’ll consider me loan worthy.”
“Good for you.”
“It’s a necessity. Another year of apartment life might kill me. Those thin walls are torture. My neighbor on one side is a devout Muslim who plays his Arabic sermon tapes, or whatever they’re called, at maximum volume. The woman on the other side is a freak with an endless parade of equally freaky men in her bedroom.”
“Ugh, I can understand why you’d want to get away from there.”
Calm ocean waves beckoned to me through the open door. “My muse adores the water. The sound of waves works like a snake charmer’s tune when it comes to calling up her presence. And I plan to give her what she needs in order to finish these books.”
She nodded her understanding. “This is the place to let your creative energy flow.” Linda’s dual personality amazed me. Her analytical side had no problem embracing all things metaphysical. The spiritual side never stopped her from excelling in her logic-oriented profession. She was so unlike her sister, Kinnik. Sometimes I forgot they were related.
“Think I’ll get myself situated right away to cut down on any conflict when the others get here.” I unzipped my suitcase and snatched a few hangers from the closet. “By the time they pull in, it’ll look like I’ve been here for weeks.”
“You’d better hurry up,” she said, leaning toward the hallway. “I just I heard a car door. Come out when you’re ready.” She started through the doorway and turned back around. “We need your spirit to balance the house. I’m glad you decided to come back, Tae.” She sent me a heartfelt smile.
“Yeah, me too.” I think.

**** End of excerpt ****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

7 comments:

J Hali said...

Chicki, enjoyed the excerpt. I lived in AC for a very short time...so there's a teensy, tiny bit of Jersey Girl in me. Thanks, Zee, for a great Tidbit--your cover fits! You guys worked good together! *smile*

Best of luck for mega sales, Chicki.

Erin said...

Great feature, Z. I've read this whole book and it's great!

Chicki said...

Thanks for stopping by,J Hali and Erin! I loved writing this story, and soon I'll be working on getting the sequel, Hollywood Swinging, onto Kindle and Nook for a June release.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I really enjoyed this book.

Happy sales with it, Chicki!!

Anonymous said...

Chicki's a sweetheart and very supportive of other authors. I wish her the best with this. It sounds great!

Stacy
http://www.stacy-deanne.net

Chicki said...

Jennifer, I appreciate the compliment. How are things going with your new book?

Stacy, my new cyber friend, I've had many authors share their ideas and resources with me along the way. I just want to pay it forward.

Zee Monodee said...

Thanks all for dropping by! Lol, I posted a comment yesterday but seems it was eaten up in cyberspace. :)

Chicki, I'm glad I had the opp to feature your book. You're always welcome on here.

Hugs

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