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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman (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 Hard Hats and Doormats by Author Laura Chapman!

Author Guest Post

Tracie Banister, a fellow author and Jane Austen fan, introduced me to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries about a year ago. For those of you who don’t know, it was a successful web series that created a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in the form of a video diary. It ran for 100 episodes, featured a couple of spin-off web series not to mention plenty of extra entertainment courtesy of Twitter, Facebook and other social channels.

This was an interesting concept to me – storytellers using more than one platform to engage their audiences. The timing of it was even more fitting. I was finishing up the final draft of my novel Hard Hats and Doormats, which included plenty of mentions of Twitter and music playlists. Was there a way for me to better connect readers with my story through channels beyond the written format?

The concept is known as transmedia. You can read more about it here, but basically, that means telling a single story across multiple platforms. It’s an interesting idea, but how do you use it without alienating some of your audience? Even with the rise of ebooks – and my instinctive desire to want to include social media to develop my tech savvy character – not every reader has embraced new forms of technology.

Fortunately for me, Bernie Su, LBD’s head writer and co-creator, had some good insight to offer on the subject of transmedia storytelling:

The first thing you should know is my belief that “transmedia” should not be required. Transmedia should enhance but not prevent any viewer from enjoying the basic story without diving all the way down the story threads. I may not believe this 5 years from now but I believe it now and I believe it strongly. My writing team knows this and when they come up with cool transmedia threads the first thing I say is “great… as long as it’s not required.”

Now Bernie and I were speaking the same language. He and his team were using Transmedia as a way to provide bonus features for those audience members who wanted more story even when there wasn’t something to see, or in my case read. That’s something I could definitely use.

After doing this preliminary research, and before sending my novel out for another round of queries with agents and publishers, I snapped up a few Twitter handles for my characters. I wasn’t sure then if I’d ever tweet from those accounts, but I liked the idea of having real handles in the book in case a reader saw them in the text and wondered if they were real.

Enter @theLexiBurke (main character Lexi Burke’s handle), @RealKaraDeWitt (Lexi’s best friend and co-worker) and @Jason_Beaumont (her sexy co-worker and love interest). With those handles in my possession, I updated my novel and sent it away.

And then a couple of weeks before my book launched in December, I returned to those accounts and decided I might as well use them. While I don’t Tweet from them as often as I do my personal Twitter account, it has been fun for me to add a little bonus character development courtesy of social media.

By the way, if you decide to follow them, don’t worry about any book spoilers. They’re currently about five months behind the start of the novel.)

Another perk to today’s modern era is being able to share music playlists with readers. Instead of having to list 50 songs that might appear on Lexi’s travel playlist, I can provide you a few links:
Lexi’s Pump-Up Playlist 
Lexi’s Travel Playlist 
Lexi’s Blue Playlist

And as a bonus here’s a link to my envisioned soundtrack for the novel and theme songs for each of the main characters. 

Transmedia might be a passing fad, or perhaps it’s here to stay. Either way, it has become a way for me to be a more dynamic story-teller.

Links used:

About The Author

Laura Chapman found a way to mix her love of romance and humor as a women’s fiction author and blogger. A 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She traveled across the United States as a writer/photographer before settling into a career in communications. She also maintains Change the Word, a blog devoted to promoting women’s fiction and documenting her experiences as a writer.

Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted fan of football, British period drama, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.


Hard Hats and Doormats - Book Trailer

Book Review

Hard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman
Publisher: Marching Ink LLC
Publication Date: December 9, 2013
Format: Paperback - 286 pages / Kindle - 732 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 9780991162017
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Hard Hats and Doormats

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

Book Description: 

Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One

Alexis Burke @theLexiBurke
Can a person refer to employees as Jackass 1 & 2 in an official report? Asking for a friend. #HRProblems #ThisIsMyLife 
The universe keeps telling jokes and I’m the punch line. #IHaveProof 
Okay, seriously. When did this become my life? Can I get a mulligan? #ObscureGolfAnalogyForLife

In kindergarten Sunday school, Lexi Burke imagined Hell as a fire-ridden, hate-filled pit below Earth’s surface. On a mighty throne of blackened steel and skulls, Satan preyed on the souls of the damned for eternity.

Twenty years later, she discovered a new version of Hell. It was a windowless conference room on an oil platform off the coast of God-only-knew-where Texas in the middle of May. The devil took form in two men, both middle-aged and madder than a hornets nest. Despite the sweat building on her neck, she shivered.

When did babysitting old guys become my job? 
How mad do hornets get, and what does their nest have to do with it? 
Where did I come up with that analogy?

Solving those mysteries had to wait. Casting a glance at the figures gathered around the badly chipped table, she considered the situation at hand. The two men, their union reps, and a team of local managers were going yet another round in their verbal sparring without a semblance of resolution. The representatives wanted the men to go back to work. The managers wanted to give them pink slips.

As the HR manager assigned – albeit at last-minute – to the investigation, she wanted to keep everyone from killing each other. Not an easy task, considering the two men under investigation already gave murder their best shot.

According to the initial report, the incident happened over the weekend. The men engaged in a particularly heated discussion about college football. The man to her right apparently took offense to the one on her left using derogatory names to describe his beloved team.

She grimaced at the list of profanities. Three or four of them merited HR intervention on their own. Then again, others struck her as downright creative. Note to self: Use “dag nab ass backwards pile of swamp waste” in a sentence later today.

The fight escalated when Mr. Right expressed his displeasure by raking his broken glass across Lefty’s face. A few days later, the wounds swelled red and blotchy. Her stomach churned when she examined their faces closely.

His opponent fared no better. Lefty managed a couple of solid jabs with a shard from a shattered plate. His cheek and eyebrow were held together with the help of twenty-two stitches.

How did these men still have jobs? Surely trying to kill your co-worker violated the Employee Code of Conduct. But because they had no previous violence on their records, the company’s agreement with the union guaranteed them the right to an investigation – this investigation.

“I told ‘em to back off and leave my Tigers alone,” Idiot Number One shouted. “But he started waving around his God-damned glass. I had to grab hold of something to protect myself. A man’s got a right to defend himself and his pride.”

“What the hell are you talking about, son?” Moron Number Two chimed in. “You were the one bent outta shape in the first place. He’s pissed because my Hogs’ll beat the hell out of this pussy lover’s team next year.”

Hogs? Tigers? Did these men seriously put their jobs and lives on the line over the Arkansas and LSU football teams? Did Lexi have to take team allegiances into consideration when she hired new employees to avoid catastrophe? Were SEC fans this torn up about football year-round?

Will we have full-on riots come September?

She struggled to recall the last two football seasons, but nothing came to mind. In her early days at Gulf America, she’d spent most of her life adjusting to the heavy travel schedule of a field HR representative. Current events, sports, and anything unrelated to HR dealings never entered her mind. She instead concentrated on getting through each day, never mind remembering what happened in the rest of the world.

What kind of fights should she expect when the Big 12 schools in Texas started beating up on each other in the fall?

God help us all.

Pulling her shoulder-length brown hair off her neck, she longed for a breeze. Not the kind from men yelling at each other, but a real, honest-to-God breeze.

She sighed and stared back at her notes. Even if the investigation proved the men deserved firing, she wouldn’t make the decision. Her worthless boss would be using whatever recommendations she gave him. Dale seldom left his office during the work day. Unless he heard an ice cream truck. Then he raced out the door with a dollar in hand. Why bother leaving for something important–– like his job–– when he had minions like her to do his dirty work in the field? He reserved his energy to sweep in at the end when he took credit and – by all appearances – saved the day. This time, he didn’t even have the courtesy to make his decision before dawn. In her eagerness to please – the department had a promotion up for grabs – she overlooked the faux pas that sent her straight to hell. Sure the Assistant Regional Director job would be more work, but it came with a healthy salary increase and less travel. And at twenty-four, she’d be the youngest director at headquarters.

The shouts escalated.

Is a promotion worth this?

Another realization hit Lexi like a ton of bricks. Damn, another random metaphor. This dispute would have long-term implications impacting more than her chances of promoting within the company. The safety department would surely ban glass cups and plates from company premises before the end of the week. The idiots had proven breakables were a liability Gulf America would no longer risk.

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of one man knocking his coffee mug to the floor. Damn. Another dish casualty. The shattered mug brought Lexi’s attention back to the present. One of the local managers sent her a silent plea. Clearing her throat, she filled her lungs with the heavy air weighing on her chest.

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” she began, in her sweetest drawl. A Midwesterner by nature and nurture, she spent the past two years cultivating her fake accent. It was useful in tense situations like this one. “I appreciate you sharing your perspectives. I’m sure both of your teams value loyal fans like you. But I need you both to take a few deep breaths and listen to what I say.”

She politely glared at the men. Their chests rose up and down in suppressed fury, but their mouths stayed shut.

“Violence is never the answer. It has no place in the sports arena or at work. Remember, you come from the same conference. Y’all should treat each other with the mutual respect your fine teams deserve.”

She paused for dramatic effect. She used a variation of the speech at least a dozen times in the past month alone. In her experience, a few well-timed beats of silence struck fear into the hearts of men better than a million words.

After giving her words room to settle uncomfortably, she continued. “Y’all need to treat each other respectfully. Not only because you’re co-workers and conference mates, but because you’re both good men with families who depend on you. Consider how you’d want someone to treat the people you love most. That’s how y’all should treat each other.”

The men had the good grace to bow their heads in shame. She mentally patted herself on the back for not flinching when she said “y’all.” Three times. When she moved to Texas after college, she swore she would never pick up the strange jargon.

It only took a month for the Southern slang to find its way into her vocabulary.

Sensing the men had finished their moaning, Lexi nodded at one of the managers to begin his end of the investigation. Leaning back in her chair, she scribbled on a copy of the report. She bored easily when her mind wasn’t constantly engaged. Doodling helped her maintain some focus on a situation without actively paying attention. As an added bonus, writing on paper gave everyone else the illusion she was busy.

On this day, she found paying attention to the investigation exceptionally difficult. Her afternoon meeting back at Corporate Headquarters would determine her future with Gulf America.

She made a note to dust off the training video about respectful language. More than likely, the oil rig’s crew would moan about having to sit through thirty minutes of bad acting. They’d also likely ignore the message, but she had to try.

For the men, she added a few suggestions for her boss to consider. They at least needed anger management counseling. Offering them a buyout in exchange for early retirement would satisfy the union and the company.

With her work done, she turned over her notes to doodle a picture. She drew two donkeys. One held a glass, the other a plate. Leaning back in her chair she admired her work, both the drawing, and the much more relaxed atmosphere in the conference room.

Damn she was good.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, author Laura Chapman introduces her readers to a smart professional woman who has sacrificed her personal life in order to follow the rules and climb the corporate ladder. But when she gets passed over for a promotion that she felt she deserved, she's tired of being a corporate doormat and playing by the rules, and adopts a new policy of going after her heart's desire!

Twenty-four year old Lexi Burke is a Human Resource Field Manager for Gulf America, a Gulf Coast chemical company based in Houston, Texas. She's a hard-working, dedicated professional who has been a stickler for following the company rules and regulations. She's sacrificed her personal life for her job, even while harboring a secret crush on hunky refinery plant manager Jason Beaumont. But all that's about to change when she gets passed over for a promotion, all bets are off, and Lexi is ready to follow a new set of policies, one that includes following her heart.

This was such a fun story to read, from the start you can't help but get drawn into Lexi's world. I loved following Lexi's journey of self-discovery and finding love. She's a realistic sassy woman who the reader can relate to, her transformation from strict rules follower to standing on her own two feet and finding a happy balance in her professional and personal life is well worth the read, especially when her heart's desire is a swoon worthy hunk of an oil man named Jason Beaumont.

With a quirky cast of characters who are fun to follow; humorous dialogue and interactions; a richly descriptive Texas and Gulf Coast setting; and a storyline that has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments; Hard Hats and Doormats is a thoroughly entertaining and easy read that will leave you smiling.

Kudos to author Laura Chapman on her debut novel, I look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

January 27 – eBook Addict – Q&A
January 28 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
January 29 – eBook Addict – Excerpt
January 30 –Books Etc – Review
January 30 – Samantha March – Q&A & Excerpt
January 31 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt 
February 3 – Books Etc – Guest Post 
February 4 – The Book Bag – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
February 5 – Books Etc – Q&A
February 6 – Cat Lavoie – Excerpt 
February 7 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Q&A
February 10 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt


  1. Thanks for closing out the tour for us!

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. This was a really fun book to read! :)