Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Campaign Promises & November Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Laurel Osterkamp, author of Campaign Promises and November Surprise!

Author Guest Post

Balancing Act
(Or How I Was Scammed By Lifetime Television)

First, let me say that I love Lifetime Television for Women. I’ve spent hours watching movies like Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?Anything starring Tori Spelling, Melissa Gilbert or Shannon Doherty gets an “A” in my book. Even after what happened, I’m still a fan. I’ve seen every episode of Drop Dead Diva. It’s a great show. 

So it makes the sting of betrayal sting more painful, coming from them. Imagine being tempted by a good friend, only to be slapped in the face when you try to say yes. The heat of the hand that hits you is all the worse when coming from someone you like and trust. 

But I should backtrack and tell the story of what happened. 

I’m an indie author. There are tons of us, and we’re all trying to get our books noticed. One method I’ve used with a bit of success is entering contests. Most recently my second novel, Starring in the Movie of My Life was an award-winning finalist in both the Indie Excellence Awards and the International Book Awards. 

Well, last winter I’m visiting my best friend in a remote suburb of Des Moines when I get an email from Gregory Fake, from The Balancing Act, the morning talk show on Lifetime Television. He noticed my book had won this award, and wanted to talk to me about appearing on their show. 

I was beyond thrilled. Me, on a national morning show? On Lifetime? Hadn’t my friends told me my book would make a great Lifetime movie? This was so cool. I emailed him back, and he said he’d call the next day. 

The next day when he called I was on the road back to Minneapolis, pulled over at a rest stop. Even though I was on roaming, I took the call because I was so excited and wanted this so much. Twenty minutes into the call, he tells me that I’d have to pay a licensing fee to the tune of seven thousand dollars just to appear. But I could pay it in two installments. 

Huh. I should have told him where to go. But I said I’d think about it. Of course there was nothing to think about, but I wasn’t ready in that moment to let go. 

Several hours later when I arrived home, I found an email from him, reneging on the offer. It was just a case of the right fit at the wrong time, he said. Again, I should have told him where to go. But I didn’t reply at all. 

A Google search informed me that I was not the first to fall prey to this scam. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. I didn’t lose any money, except for twenty minutes worth of roaming fees. I didn’t lose anything, unless you count dashed hopes. But any indie author, or actually anyone who works hard and dreams of success, can tell you that dashed hopes suck. 

I find it ironic that they call their show The Balancing Act. My life is a balancing act – like so many women, I try to balance work, family, responsibilities, and dreams. Sometimes I’m a success and sometimes I’m not, but I’m always up on that tightrope, trying not to fall. I find it insulting that a show that’s a scam presumes to understand this concept. And I can’t believe their representative is actually named Gregory Fake. But hey, what’s in a name? 

So this is my attempt at closure. Thanks for letting me vent and tell the story. And the next time someone tricks you or lets you down, remember that we all experience disappointment, we all occasionally fall for the Gregory Fakes of the world, and we’re all players in the great balancing act of life. If you ever feel like you need a break from it all, I recommend watching some television. No, scratch that. Read a book instead. I have some titles I can recommend…

About The Author

Laurel Osterkamp was a comedy writer in Minneapolis before she began writing novels. Her first novel, Following My Toes, has been a Kindle best seller and won the 2008 Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit. Starring in the Movie of My Life received honors in the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards for Chick Lit, and in the 2011 International Book Awards for Women's Fiction and Young Adult Lit. Both books are indie approved at She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book, which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Laurel Osterkamp's November Surprise Virtual Book Tour Event On Chick Lit Plus

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Oct 22 - Nov 12

Everyone who leaves a comment on Laurel Osterkamp's November Surprise Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of November Surprise before November 12th, and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

How serendipitous that I chose to host this virtual book tour event the day after the 2012 US Presidential Election occurred. I believe that both of these books ties nicely into the political landscape, energy and discourse that has been going on in our country for the past year leading up to the election. As y'all know by now, President Obama has been re-elected to serve a second term, and I'm sure the main character in these books, Lucy Jones, was jumping for joy with the outcome of the election. :)

Book Review

Campaign Promises by Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher: PMI Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2012
Format: eBook - 85 pages / Kindle - 195 KB / Nook - 303 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Campaign Promises



Disclaimer: I purchased a copy of this book and will provide an honest review to accompany my participation in the companion novel, November Surprise virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description: 

Comedy writer and acclaimed novelist Laurel Osterkamp has written a funny and moving novella about life, love, and politics as seen through the unique lens of Lucy Jones, a quintessential girl-next-door who is obsessed with political campaigns. Liberal, idealistic, and struggling to find her way, Lucy has an easier time believing in causes than she does in herself. But in the midst of analyzing the mistakes made by past political candidates, Lucy attempts to figure out her own choices when it comes to both her private and public life. There's her high school sweetheart Jack; Monty, Jack's magnetic older brother; and her politician boyfriend, Drew. Can any of these men offer Lucy a campaign promise to believe in?

This 19,000 word novella (roughly 60 print-book pages) spans twenty years and offers five slice-of-life vignettes in the life of Lucy Jones:

--The Prom and John Bayard Anderson
--The Wedding and Gary Hart
--The Funeral and Paul Wellstone
--The Baby Shower and Pat Schroeder
--The High School Reunion and Michele Bachmann

Book Excerpt:

5. The High School Reunion and Michele Bachmann


Michele Bachmann is the epitome of a high school mean girl. She’s pretty and has the self-righteous arrogance that’s trademark to her species of beauty and entitlement. She’s the sort who will raise her hand in class and speak about how we need to reach out to the disadvantaged, but once the bell rings she’ll walk away and spread rumors about whomever she dislikes that week. She’ll make truly outrageous statements with such authority that people pay attention and want to be her friend. She doesn’t get called on for most of the crap she pulls because people are afraid of her. For this reason, her popularity is not based so much on being liked, but on people’s desire for her to like to them.

There are Michele Bachmanns everywhere. Especially at high school reunions.

I inhale and exhale deeply. I look at myself in the mirror and can’t help but question my choice of outfits. I’m wearing a tight red cocktail dress with high-heeled red pumps to match. It felt like a good idea at the store when I picked it out; I thought I looked glamorous and thin, but maybe it’s too much.

As if on cue, Monty comes up from behind, wraps his arms around me, lifts up my long mane of curls, and he kisses the back of my neck. “You look amazing.”

This shade of red seems awfully bright. “I look like a Republican.”

“A hot Republican.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Why are the only female politicians who are considered attractive, Republicans?”

“Because they know how to dress. You could wear a blue Hillary-style pantsuit to this thing, but I doubt you’d get the same response.”

I regard my reflection one more time. “I just don’t know.”

“Lucy, are you sure you don’t want me to go with you? I know your mom wouldn’t mind staying with Abby.”

I turn away from the mirror and move out of Monty’s arms. “I’m sure. Besides, Jack is taking me.”

“I still don’t get why you’d rather go with him.” He sounds a little jealous, so I explain it to him one more time.

“If I let you accompany me, the only thing people will notice is that shy, wallflower Lucy married the homecoming king/student council president from her previous year.”

“Not if you’re wearing that dress.”

I grab my purse. “Make sure you put Abby in her footed pajamas. I left them out. I think she was cold last night.”

“Right. Footed PJs. Got it.” He comes up and gives me a goodbye peck on the cheek. “Just promise you’ll wear that dress the next time we go out.”


“Even if we’re just going to the grocery store, you’re wearing that dress.”

I roll my eyes and wave goodbye.

My Book Review:

Campaign Promises is a clever novella that provides the reader with a twenty year snapshot into the life of Lucy Jones, spanning from her senior year in high school in 1988 to her twenty year high school reunion in 2008. Told in the first person narrative, Lucy shares the evolvement and growth of her views on life, love and politics over the twenty years. The novella contains five snippets that marks Lucy's progression into adulthood every four years which coincides with a political election. Lucy is a liberal thinker, who draws a philosophical political connection with a life lesson in each snippet. Filled with idealism, realism and humor, the snippets into Lucy's life and the political landscape between 1988-2008, the author weaves a story about a girl who is trying to find her way and make the right choices in her private and public life.

As a person who graduated from college with a BA Degree in Political Science, I loved this little novella. Author Laurel Osterkamp provides the reader with an entertaining story that mixes a girl's coming of age with five trips down the political and societal memory lane between the years of 1988-2008. While the story revolves around Lucy and her two relationships with brothers Jack and Monty Bricker, it is so much more than the typical boy-girl romance story. Over the years, the reader can see the evolved connection between the political commentary and Lucy's life situation and her level of growth and maturity at each time period.

In an essence, this novella captures Lucy's life and defines it within the significant political moments of a twenty year time period. The novella is filled with snarky and humorous political and pop-culture references that kept me snickering and smiling while I took a nostalgic walk down memory lane.

Campaign Promises whets the reader's appetite with its five fast-paced vignettes, and is a perfect companion piece and lead into the novel, November Promise.


Book Review

November Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher: PMI Books
Publication Date: August 5, 2012
Format: eBook - 209 pages / Kindle - 334 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: November Surprise

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Twenty years

Six presidential elections

Two brothers

One consuming love affair

For Lucy Jones, the distinction between love and politics is hazy at best. Both can be all-consuming, and either can lead to a heart-breaking loss or an exhilarating win. Whatever the case, if you’re seen as a loser, you probably are one. Lucy first learns this lesson in 1988, when she’s a shy girl, battling a high school bully and rooting for Dukakis. Through the years Lucy will experience stunning victories and agonizing defeats as she makes the choices that define her. Meanwhile, she also struggles to define her relationship with Monty, who comes in and out of her life like the changes in public opinion. Is Monty simply a one-night stand, a kindred spirit, or the love of her life? And by 2008, can he offer her a change to believe in?

Over the course of twenty years and six presidential elections, Lucy grows and adjusts with the times. Filled with snarky political and pop-culture references, November Surprise is about the journey we take to believe in a candidate, in love, and in ourselves.

* November Surprise is a companion piece to Campaign Promises, which is free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords. They can be read in either order. Both have a liberal slant.

Book Excerpt:

Monty and I have been dancing together all evening. The slow songs are the best, but we also do the Macarena and even the Chicken Dance. I can’t stop laughing the entire time I’m quacking my hands.

Jack and his new wife, Petra, have fed each other cake. Petra has thrown her bouquet, and all the toasts have been given. The night is winding down, and Monty leads me off the dance floor.

“I’m really glad neither of us had dates,” he says.

“Yeah, me too.” My heart beats just a little bit faster than normal.

“And I’m sorry about earlier. Hitting on you like that. It was clumsy. Will you forgive me?” His face is flushed and his tie is loosened. I’m sure I’ve noticed before how good looking he is, but this is the first time I’ve let myself appreciate it.

“There’s nothing to forgive.” I look around, make sure nobody is watching, and then I stand on my tip-toes and plant a kiss on his cheek. When he doesn’t flinch or pull away, I give him the barest whisper of a kiss on the lips.

It’s all the encouragement he needs.

With a conspiratorial smile, he takes my hand and leads me outside the reception hall. I follow willingly.

When we get to a dark, hidden spot, he wraps his arms around my waist and kisses me deeply. I can feel it everywhere, my entire body is tingling, my knees are weak, and I’m sure that at any moment, my heart will explode.

I don’t want him to stop. But he does.

“Where are you staying tonight?” he asks.

“I was going to drive back to my parents’ house.”

“Hmm…” he leans in and kisses me some more. I press up against him like I can’t get close enough. He tilts his head back ever so slightly, so he can talk. “That’s a long drive. Do you want to stay with me, instead?”

“You have a hotel room?”

“It’s close to the airport,” he whispers. “I fly back to New York really early tomorrow.” Then he baby kisses my eyes, nose, and chin.

I don’t answer immediately. I’m trying to steady my breathing. “So you can make a clean get away?”

“It’s not like that.” he smiles. “And you haven’t even said yes, yet.”

But he knows I’m going to. “You can’t ever tell Jack,” I say.

“He just got married, Lucy. Do you really think he’ll care?”

I rub my hands down his back and across the taut muscles in his arms. “I never had sex with him, and we dated for months. If he finds out you and I had a one night stand…”

Monty cuts me off with another kiss. “I promise I’ll never tell him,” he murmurs, between kisses.

We make out a few seconds more, but our kissing is interrupted when I’m consumed with a fit of giggles.

“What’s so funny?” Monty asks.

I shake my head. “Sorry. It just occurred to me. I’m about to do it with the homecoming king.”

Monty chuckles. “Does that turn you on?”

“Yeah,” I admit. “Kind of. Is that okay?”

He kisses my neck. I tilt my head back and sigh in pleasure.

“Are you kidding?” His lips are a mere centimeter from my skin as he mumbles, and his arms tighten around me even more. “If I had known, I would have worn my crown.”

Now we’re both laughing.

“You know this isn’t the sort of thing I usually do…”

He raises his face so he’s looking me in the eye. “I know,” he says, and he smiles. Crinkles form around his green eyes, and I feel a moment of panic. There’s no way I’m casual enough to be with him for just one night.

“Let’s make it special, okay?” He reaches down and clasps my hand, and I let him lead me somewhere, again. This time, I follow him to the parking lot. Tonight, I’d follow him anywhere.

My Book Review:

November Surprise is a story that follows the life of Lucy Jones in a span of twenty years from her senior year in high school in 1988 to her twentieth high school reunion in 2008. Author Laurel Osterkamp weaves an intriguing tale that expands upon the novel's companion novella, Campaign Promises, where the reader is first introduced to Lucy via five vignettes that touch upon the milestones in her life in connection with each time period's corresponding political landscape. Told in the first person narrative, Lucy invites the reader into her life story, and shares her fascination for politics along with her evolvement and growth of her views on life, love and politics over the twenty years. Filled with idealism, realism and humor that shines a spotlight on Lucy's life and the political landscape between 1988-2008, November Surprise is a story about a girl who is trying to find her way and make the right choices in her private and public life.

While the story revolves around Lucy and her two relationships with brothers Jack and Monty Bricker, this is so much more than the typical boy-girl romance story. It is a realistic story of a girl coming of age, who learned to define and voice her political and relationship beliefs that ultimately shaped her life within a twenty year span. Lucy takes the reader on a nostalgic walk down the political memory lane covering five elections from Bush-Dukakis through Obama-McCain in rich detail and vivid descriptions seen through her passionate eyes. With each election that Lucy describes, the reader can see the evolved connection between the political commentary, Lucy's life situation, life lesson learned, and her level of growth and maturity at each time period.

I loved the relationships that Lucy had with Jack and Monty, the growth and strength of their bond that grew over the years was poignant and made their relationships special. I especially loved how Lucy and Monty's relationship evolved and developed, it provided the right kind of romantic scenario that everyone looks for and enjoys when they read a Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance novel. Lucy is one feisty, opinionated and intelligent lady. I thoroughly enjoyed her passion, outlook, and perspectives on life and politics. I loved both Jack and Monty's personalities, while they are total opposites, they are both endearing and wonderful men. I loved how they shared a powerful bond of friendship and family.

As a college graduate with a BA Degree in Political Science and a longtime history/politics buff, I loved how the author interwove the political time period and pop culture references of 1988-2008 into the story. I enjoyed taking the stroll down memory lane, and found myself laughing as I reminisced and thought that the author's take on that time period was filled with humor, sarcasm and was mildly sardonic. If you are looking for a wonderful romantic story with a political theme, one that parallels and encompasses politics with relationships, then November Surprise is the one for you!



  1. Working overtime ;) Thanks so much Kathleen for being in the tour!

    1. Hi Samantha! I figured I would put both books on the post since they are companion pieces. lol Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host the virtual book tour event. :)

  2. Thanks SO much for the reviews and posting about both books! I am so happy that someone with a political science background enjoyed it - makes me feel so legit. :)
    And yes, Lucy was jumping for joy last night. Forward!

    1. Hi Laurel! I loved both of the books, this old poli-sci girl got it! :) Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host your virtual book tour event. :)

  3. Jersey Girl...I know you're a beach girl. Are you OK? Did you and family make it through Sandy? Here in Brunswick County we had some wind & rain but it wasn't too bad. And thanks for the good review here of Laurel's book.

    Laurel...What's in a name is RIGHT. What a scam. I confess that Lifetime is an occasional guilty pleasure. When my husband catches sight of me watching a "chick flick," he can usually tell in just a few minutes if it's on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel. When it gets to a steamy scene, he knows it's a Lifetime Movie! LOL.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Hey Catherine! We're fine, thanks for asking. During the hurricane we lost our power for three days and only a bit of damage to the house. With last night's Nor'Easter we received 6" of snow but didn't lose the power. Now Mother Nature is sending temperatures in the high 60s this weekend ... I think Mother Nature is messing with NJ. lol

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on the post. :)