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Monday, June 24, 2013

Aggravated Circumstances by Michele Shriver (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Aggravated Circumstances by author Michele Shriver!

Author Guest Post

Finding The Time To Write

The best advice I’ve ever gotten on writing was very simple. ‘If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Every day.’ It’s not always easy advice to follow, though, when balancing writing with a full-time law practice and other obligations.

By the time I’m done working my day job and get in my Zumba workout at the gym and finish dinner and other household stuff, I am lucky to have an hour or two to myself in order to get my writing done during the week. I try to use that time as effectively as possible, and if I am truly in the zone and feeling motivated, I can conceivably write 1000 words during that time, which I consider to be a good, solid, productive writing day.

Sometimes the words don’t flow as easily, though, and I might only accomplish 300 words during my evening writing time. Still, it’s better than nothing.

I usually set a daily writing goal of 500 words. I try to meet it, but if I fall a little short, I don’t feel too badly, because there will always be good days and bad days and I can always try to catch up a little more the next day.

Weekends are also a great time to try to boost the word count, because with the day job taken out of the equation there is more time to write. Since I love to be outdoors, if the weather is nice, I often take my laptop outside and sit on the back patio while I write. I can get a lot done on a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio while I write. That is my favorite, and most productive time.

The weather doesn’t always cooperate, though, and neither does life, so I’ve found that the key to writing everyday is to try to utilize other times during the day outside of that designated writing time.

How do I do that? One way is to always keep a spiral notebook handy for whenever the inspiration strikes. I carry a big purse, so this is fairly easy for me to do. It’s allowed me to get writing done during long car trips (when I’m not the one driving, obviously).

Another tip I recently learned about through a writing conference I attended is to keep my writing document open all day on my computer at work and try to fit words in wherever possible. I have, in the past, used my lunch break for writing, but I have never tried the practice of keeping the file open all day and I am curious to see how many extra words can be snuck in during down times.

Of course, I already know if I used the time I spend/waste on Facebook, Twitter and reading hockey blogs for actual writing, I’d be more productive, but some down time is important to avoid burn out. I can’t force my writing. I need to take appropriate breaks, and in spite of my best efforts at writing every day, there are days when it doesn’t happen.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that even if I don’t write any new words on a particular day, I always spend part of the day thinking about writing, such as envisioning upcoming scenes or trying to understand my characters better. These are all necessary things to do, especially for those of us that never work off of an outline. All in all, I think I do a pretty good job of following the advice of writing every day.

About The Author

Michele Shriver currently lives in Iowa, by way of Texas and is proud to call both states ‘home,’ which sometimes means poking fun at them, but always in the nicest way possible.

Michele is a practicing attorney, with emphasis in family and juvenile law, who dreams of someday paying the bills as a writer and being a recovering attorney. If that happens, you’ll find her spending winters in Dallas taking in as many Dallas Stars hockey games as possible.

When not working or writing, Michele is probably at Zumba class, riding her bike, watching a hockey, football or soccer game on TV or enjoying a glass of Chardonnay on the patio while reading a good book written by someone else.

Aggravated Circumstances by Michele Shriver ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Aggravated Circumstances by Michele Shriver
Publisher: SMC Publishing
Publication Date: March 30, 2013
Format: Paperback - 276 pages / Kindle - 425 KB / Nook - 375 KB
ISBN: 1483955087
ASIN: B00C479UY4
Genre: Family Law / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Aggravated Circumstances

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:

A family can be torn apart in an instant. Putting it back together is a harder task.

A relapsed addict opens the door to find a cop with a search warrant, setting off a chain of events that will cause four lives to intersect.

Devin Lenox has already lost one child to the system and this time she vows it will be different. If she’s going to make it, though, she’ll need something she’s never had before- someone on her side.

Her battle with depression behind her, Elisa Cahill looks forward to resuming her legal career. Devin’s case seems like the perfect opportunity to do that, and bury her own past demons in the process, at least if old grudges don’t prove to be her undoing.

Child protection worker Taylor Ross struggles to balance a social life with her demanding job and has little sympathy for people like Devin, at least at first. When Taylor starts to see Devin in a new light, she finds herself at odds with her superiors. Will she be willing to go to bat for Devin, and what price will she pay if she does?

Sarah Canfield is a compassionate judge who is not afraid to make difficult decisions, but will her past link to Devin undermine her objectivity and cause her to put her own family at risk?

A look inside the child welfare system, the people who work in it and the lives it impacts, Aggravated Circumstances is a story of despair, hope and recovery.

Book Excerpt:

For the second time that morning, Elisa found herself at the county jail, in the same visitation booth where she’d met her new client two hours before. She’d hoped to be back in the office by now, finishing the brief she needed to write. Instead, half the morning was spent on a case she’d probably never be paid for, trying to help a client who might be a lost cause, and had her working with Taylor Ross again. She ignored the voice inside her warning that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.

“I thought you were getting me out of here,” Devin said as soon as she picked up the phone handset.

Demanding much? “I’m working on it. The motion will be filed as soon as I leave here. There’s something I have to talk to you about, though. The judge sent me.”

“Did you guys have a nice pow-wow?” Devin asked. “I hope you had fun talking about me.”

It didn’t surprise Elisa that Devin jumped to that conclusion. She figured clients tended to assume the worst whenever they saw their lawyer exchange too many words with the opposition or disappear into judge’s chambers for a conference. Most of the time their worries were unfounded. The conversations might be about the weather or something they saw on TV and have nothing to with the case at hand. Then again, sometimes the conversations were about the case. “The judge sent me back over here because there’s something she wants me to discuss with you.” Elisa searched for the right words. ‘Did you know the judge adopted your other child? Small world, huh?’ Okay, probably not the best approach. “It’s about her past, before she became a judge.” Elisa winced. Great. Way to make it sound scandalous. Sarah would love that. “She has a connection to you.”

“Yeah?” Devin raised an eyebrow. “Not sure how I’d know her. Did she used to be a stripper or something?”

Elisa’s mouth opened and she stared at her client through the glass.

Devin’s chapped lips curled into a smile. “Jesus. I so wish you could see your face right now. It’s priceless. By the way, that was a joke.”

“Sure.” Elisa made a note to tell Sarah. She’d probably get a kick out of it. “And no, she wasn’t a stripper. She was a lawyer.”

“Duh.” Devin traced a circular pattern on the table with her finger. “Is this the part where you tell me something I don’t already know?”

So she wanted to be surly? Fine. Elisa could handle a challenge. “She was also a foster parent, and five years ago she adopted a little girl with red hair. Your daughter. So yes, I guess this is the part where I tell you something you don’t know.”

She expected an outburst of sorts. Maybe screaming, demanding to get Sarah off the case. Or perhaps a snarky or defensive remark at Elisa’s abrupt tone. Instead, Devin closed her eyes and continued tracing her finger along the table.

“Devin? Did you hear me?”

“I heard.” Devin opened her eyes and wiped them with the back of her free hand. “Is she okay?”


“My little girl. She’s okay?”

My Book Review: 

Aggravated Circumstances is an intriguing story about the child welfare system and the affect it has on four women when an emotional circumstance within the system arises that intertwines their lives. Author Michele Shriver utilizes her legal experience to weave a fascinating and realistic tale told in the alternating first and third person narratives, that captivates the reader's attention as they follow this emotionally charged story about one drug addicted woman's attempt to get clean and reclaim her child who has been put in the child welfare system, and the three women who work within different areas of the system.

The main portion of the storyline delves into the story of Devin Lenox, a young stripper who is a relapsed drug addict. Devin has lived a hard life, the demon she fights is drug addiction. Five years ago Devin had her parental rights terminated for her first born daughter Emily. Now five years later, Devin finds herself working the system to maintain her parental rights for her twenty-two month old daughter Hannah. This time she wants to prove that she will not fail as a parent.

The three women who are brought into Devin's circumstances all work within an area of the child welfare system. As the three women walk a fine line in this new case involving Devin, each has her own demons that she is fighting.

Elisa Cahill is an attorney who has battled depression, and is slowly rebuilding her law practice. Devin asks Elisa to represent her in her drug and parental rights case.

Taylor Ross is a state social worker with the New Hampshire Division For Children, Youth and Families. Taylor has a history with Devin, she was the social worker that was called to work the original case five years ago, and is once again called to work this latest case involving Devin. Taylor's demon is that she has become jaded to the system and its process. Taylor's demanding job has left her struggling to find a balance between her work and having a social life.

Sarah Canfield is the presiding judge in the juvenile court system. Sarah has a history with Devin that causes her concern in regard to the new case that is brought before her. Sarah and her partner Kelsey used to be registered foster parents when she was an attorney. They have a nine year old adopted son named Ryan, and a five year old adopted daughter named Emily. Elisa had handled the adoption of Emily for Sarah and Kelsey after Devin's parental rights were terminated, and Taylor had been the social worker on the parental termination and adoption case.

This is a riveting story that transports the reader into the interconnected lives of these four women as they balance the process of a life altering issue within the child welfare system with their own personal affairs. I really enjoyed that the storyline alternated between Devin's first person perspective with the third person perspectives of the other three women. The reader can't help but become emotionally invested in the four women's lives as they work through their personal and professional struggles.

I think the author provides the reader with a storyline that is emotional and dramatic; with four realistic, vibrant and different women whose interconnected lives and personal stories speak to the reader's heart; and an accurate portrayal of the inner workings of the child welfare system that draws upon the reader's compassion.

Aggravated Circumstances is a compelling and touching story that will resonate with you for a long time.


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A Signed Paperback Copy of 

Aggravated Circumstances

To win a signed paperback copy of Aggravated Circumstances by author Michele Shriver, click on the Rafflecopter entry form below. Open to US residents only.

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Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

June 17 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
June 18- Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
June 19 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Guest Post
June 20 – To Be Thode – Review & Excerpt
June 20 – Life Love & Music – Review
June 24- Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
June 24 – Lavender & Camomile Press – Excerpt


  1. Thanks for helping close out the tour!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.

  2. Thanks for being part of my tour!

    1. Hi Michele! I loved reading Aggravated Circumstances, it was a fascinating story. Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. :)