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, August 17, 2015

Sex, Lies & Cruising by Cathryn 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 Sex, Lies & Cruising by author Cathryn Chapman!

Author Guest Post

How To Write Fiction Based On Real Life 

I connected with a writing mentor when I decided to start writing novels. Once I decided on the story for my first book, which was inspired by working briefly on cruise ships, he said, “By all means get inspiration from real life, but then throw it away and write good fiction.” He went on to explain that real life, even if seemingly exciting and full of drama, doesn’t translate well to fiction. “Real life doesn’t follow a plot which will capture and keep a reader’s attention,” he said.

I was tempted to disagree, as my time on cruise ships saw plenty of drama which has entertained dinner party attendees for years… but I decided to believe the wise old man J and started planning the novel.

Over time, I realized he was right – but real life did sneak in here and there. I felt like it was helpful to have a novel based on a ship, because I had worked on a couple, and would be able to describe them with convincing detail. I also made my main character do a job which I had also done at one stage, again to lend realism to the details.

I planned the whole book with a detailed outline, including what would happen in each chapter – and this is where real life appears in the book. I picked a cast of characters. I thought rather than having just one main character, I would have more of an ensemble cast – while still narrated by the one main character in first person voice. Is it any surprise that my favorite TV show of all time is Sex and the City? haha.

So I decided that the main character, Ellie, would have two best friends. A flamboyant gay guy (Nick) and an insecure, promiscuous young woman (Caitlin). Then there should be a villain (Maria). My mentor, James, felt that the villain should be pure evil, with no redeeming features, but I disagreed. I felt that the main character would try to see the best in the villain, even if it didn’t change the fact that Maria is, in fact, rather awful.

Then each character had to have a goal, and subsequently, obstacles which get in the way of goals. “That’s where the real drama happens,” James said. So Ellie’s goal is career and self-esteem related. Nick’s goal is career related, and his obstacles are family related. Caitlin’s goal is partially career related (at least in her eyes it is), but in reality, her goals are relationship related due to mother/self-esteem issues. Therefore her major hurdles are relationship related. Maria’s goals are essentially money and power related. Then I had my characters and their emotional journeys.

This is where the real life snuck in. As I planned each obstacle or plot point, I’d think, “ooh, I remember that shocking thing which happened to my room-mate. I’ll throw that in,” or “Ah, I remember when I was lied to like that, I’ll use that example,”… so here and there, elements of my own experience were used – but overall, it’s still fiction. Someone asked me to name a percentage of the book which is real, and on the spur of the moment, I said “50%”, but honestly, who knows? I wasn’t counting.

It’s just a book, written by a person who was trying to make it entertaining, well structured, and would encourage readers to keep turning the pages. I hoped that people would giggle here and there, and perhaps old salty sea dogs would smirk at all the typical ship-board behavior they recognized!

Writing fiction based on real life has its pros and cons – the biggest con being to try and convince people that it’s not a thinly veiled autobiography! But then again, does it really matter? I just hope people enjoy it and recommend it to their friends. Oh, and that I don’t get sued by someone who thinks the awful character in the book is them. It’s not.

About The Author

Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one country long enough to finally write her first novel, Sex, Lies & Cruising.

Author Website

Book Review

Sex, Lies & Cruising by Cathryn Chapman
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: July 16, 2015
Format: Paperback - 278 pages
               Kindle - 2209 KB
ISBN: 978-0994314307
BNID: 2940151877794
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Comedy / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

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:

Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties… Ellie has her dream job… or does she? When Ellie's fiancĂ© cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she’s already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he’s leaving in a week, and his ex-girlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge.

Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It’s five, actually.) It’s a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.

Book Excerpt:

A few drinks later, I suddenly felt a little giddy and sick, and wondered how much I’d actually had to drink; I never usually drank this much. On top of only a sandwich to eat and way too many hours awake, the alcohol had hit me hard.

“Can we go back to the cabins now?” I asked. My stomach gurgled, and I fervently hoped that Seth hadn’t heard it.

He stood up, pulling me with him; I caught my foot under the table and tripped, but Seth caught me before I fell. The room still seemed to be tilted a bit, and then I remembered that I was on a ship, so that must be normal.

As we headed out, I glanced at the bar to see if Jock was still on duty, but a different guy was behind the bar. Oh well, I’d check in with him tomorrow—just to thank him for the drink.

As we walked back to our little area below the water line, the ship’s tilting felt much worse, like the whole thing was lurching from side to side. Surely that wasn’t normal?

Oh, bollocks, I thought, I’m drunker than I thought.

With that in mind, I concentrated hard on walking as straight as possible, which proved to be an incredibly difficult thing to do given how much my head was spinning.

Ooh, gosh, I thought, squinting down the corridor, I’ve drunk too much. Hope Seth doesn’t mind I’m a bit squiffy…

The hallway seemed to run on forever, and I had a momentary mental panic that I was never going to find my way around. If the ship would just stop moving… I tipped slightly and knocked against the wall, and for a moment thought I was going to topple over. And then I felt Seth’s firm hand beneath my elbow, steadying me. Look at that, I thought fuzzily. Found myself a man who’s funny, strong, chivalrous, sexy…

When we reached the photographer’s area, Seth opened his cabin door and ushered me in. “Just come in for a drink of water and take a load off,” he said. “We don’t want Caitlin thinking you’re a lush.”

I hesitated for a moment before stepping into his cabin. Should I go in? I needed time to think.

Okay, time’s up. Yes…yes, I should. I mean, it was probably just as well I try to sober up a bit before going in to sleep; Caitlin had been lovely earlier in the day, but I didn’t really want to embarrass myself by turning up absolutely plastered on my first night.

I tried to focus on Seth’s cabin. It was pretty much the same as ours, but the top bunk was folded up against the wall.

“Uneven numbers,” he explained, seeing the focus of my attention. “I don’t have to share.” He flipped a switch above the desk and the room sparkled in a wash of fairy lights and added, “Leftover from the previous occupant.”

“Great,” I said, easing myself onto the edge of the bed. Sitting down was definitely a good idea. The fairy lights made everything look soft and romantic, and given that my face tended to go a bit shiny when I’d been drinking, this was a definite plus for me. I looked up at Seth and a silly smile spread across my face. He was so lovely, and he lived right next door. How perfect was that? And it was only the first day.

Seth didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t speaking much, probably because he was putting on music. As a Latin rhythm filled the cabin, he pulled me to my feet and grabbed me around the waist. “I spent a summer in Cuba and learned to salsa,” he said, swivelling his hips like a pro. “Let me teach you.”

I relaxed into his hold, feeling lovely and warm and happy. His arms wrapped around me, like he was protecting me, and then slid a little lower.

“Swing your butt. That’s right.”

As I did as he instructed, I felt sexy and free. I’d needed this. It was exactly the Caribbean fantasy I had envisioned; I should have done it years ago.

Seth and I twirled around the cramped space like experts—or at least it felt like it. We were a swirl of tousled brown hair, sparkling lights, and white cotton polo shirts.

“Time for a turn!” he announced, and lifted my arm to push me awkwardly in a circle. Then, just like a tacky teen movie, he pulled me from the turn into his arms. I was breathing heavily; Seth wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.

I was still laughing when he grabbed my face with both hands and kissed me square on the mouth.

“I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” he confessed. “You’re amazing, you know. I liked you from the moment I saw you.” His face was inches from mine.

“Really?” My battered self-esteem perked up.

“Totally. You’re awesome.” He stroked my arm and then ran his hand up until his fingers were tangled in my hair. My head was spinning, and as Seth leant in to kiss me again, I felt like I was melting in his arms. After years of kissing Dan, I finally discovered what a sexy kiss actually felt like. His lips were warm and soft, and the way he was tracing the outline of my lips with his tongue and nibbling on my bottom lip was very, very erotic. My lady bits fired up with the sweet burn of lust, and my heart was pumping furiously.

On reflection, Dan had kissed like a sucker fish. No wonder I hadn’t felt like sex very often; I’d had to put up with his poor excuse for foreplay first.

The music had become slow and sultry, and I knew what was coming next. Seth pulled off his polo and tossed it aside, revealing a perfectly tanned and athletic torso. Oh, Lordy. My mouth was suddenly dry and I nervously licked my lips, having an eleventh hour panic about whether I still remembered how to do this whole sex thing with someone who wasn’t Dan. Ooh, was that guilt I was feeling? I shoved the feeling away; I’d left Dan. I needed to remember that. I’d nothing to feel guilty about.

Jock’s warning flitted through my mind, but I ignored it, shoving it into a corner of my brain. After all, I wasn’t made of stone.

And on the bright side, I’d had a wax before coming aboard. Just in case.

“Oh Ellie,” Seth murmured, nuzzling my neck, “you’re so beautiful.” He kissed me again and tugged at my shirt.

Wow. Guys like him didn’t fall for girls like me. I’d got so used to seeing myself as a frumpy housewife that it really hadn’t occurred to me that someone like Seth could want me. But there was definitely no doubt about it.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Sex, Lies & Cruising, author Cathryn Chapman weaves a thoroughly entertaining and sassy tale that is sure to keep you in stitches.

Told in the first person narrative, Ellie leaves her ex-fiance in London and takes the reader on a madcap adventure when she embarks on a six month stint working as a photographer on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Crew life on a cruise ship brings drama, romance, heartbreak, crazy new adventures, self-discovery and an unexpected life change.

The author uses her prior experience of working on a cruise ship to weave a hilarious tale that has the reader living vicariously through Ellie's journey, while wishing that they could be on that cruise ship. *wink, wink*

This is a fast paced and easy book to read, it easily kept me engaged and turning the pages. I absolutely loved Ellie, she is a sassy girl who is realistic and easy to relate to, you can't help but embrace her and cheer her on as her cruise ship journey allows her to rediscover herself, and make changes that will bring happiness in her life.

So come aboard and get a behind the scenes look at the cruise ship lifestyle from Ellie's eyes! From the inevitable cruise ship crew romantic hook-ups, to the crazy partying and drama of living together on a cruise ship, to the tantalizing exotic destination port locales, to Ellie's humorous daily trials and tribulations, Sex, Lies & Cruising is one heck of an entertaining chick lit / romantic comedy story that is a perfect summer beach read!


Contest Giveaway

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Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

July 20 - Polished & Bubbly – Review
July 21 - Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 22 - Sinfully Good Reads – Excerpt
July 23 - Buckeye Book Review– Review
July 24 - Basically Books Blog – Review
July 24 - Basically Books Blog – Guest Post
July 24 - Basically Books Blog – Q&A
July 24 - Basically Books Blog – Excerpt
July 27 - CDYess Writes - Novel Spotlight
July 29 - Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review
July 30 - Tea Party Princess – Review & Excerpt 
August 3 - Hey Said Renee – Review & Guest Post
August 4 - Karma For Life Chick - Excerpt
August 5 - Chick Lit Plus - Review 
August 11 - Curling Up With  A Good Book – Novel Spotlight
August 12 - Living Life With Joy – Review, Guest Post & Q&A & Excerpt
August 13 - I Love My Authors – Excerpt
August 17 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

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