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.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Plan Bea by Hilary Grossman (Author Interview / 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 Plan Bea by author Hilary Grossman!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Hilary!

How long have you been a writer?

I have been blogging for about five years. I started my blog as a way to practice writing. I wanted to see if I had the wherewithal to stick to writing. All of my life I have tended to pick up hobbies only to abandon them soon after. I also wanted to see if I could connect with readers. I was blown away by my blogging experience. I met such amazing people, and the support from them motivated me to start writing my first book, Dangled Carat.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

I do have a day job, and it is as far away as possible from being an author. I am the CFO of a beverage alcohol importation and distribution company.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

I was inspired most by Jen Lancaster. I always dreamt of writing a book. In fact, over the years, I made many attempts, but never finished. Until I read Bitter Is The New Black, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know what a blog or a memoir was. Her book totally motivated me to stop dreaming and to start writing. I started my blog, Feeling Beachie, days after I finished the book. It took me about a year in total (including editing) for me to write Dangled Carat. I queried agents, and although I had numerous requests, I wasn’t able to get representation. I decided to self publish instead. I learned so much as a result. Then about six months later, my book was republished by Booktrope.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Plan Bea.

Plan Bea is about a mother and daughter whose relationship was destroyed by secrets, lies, and misplaced blame. When the mother, Bea, falls in love again, she enlists her daughter, Annabel, to help plan her wedding. As the two women work together to throw the perfect affair, their relationship is tested further. The book is an emotional and authentic story of redemption, full of twists and turns with a lot of humor thrown in.

What was the inspiration for this story? 

My good friend and neighbor lost his wife to Cancer a few years ago. About a year after she passed away he met and fell in love with another woman. At first, it was difficult for me to see him with her. But as their relationship developed I witnessed changes in him. He took up new hobbies and seemed happier than I ever saw him. Their relationship got me thinking about the power of second chance romance. Could falling in love allow a cold, stubborn, and selfish woman to open her heart back up to her family?

How did it feel to have your first book published?

Unreal, amazing and shocking! Writing a book was always a lifetime dream of mine. Realizing I accomplished my goal was such an amazing feeling. I remember when I first saw Dangled Carat on Amazon I cried. It was so emotional. I also cried when Plan Bea went live on Amazon too.

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

I write chick lit and women’s fiction. Although Dangled Carat is a memoir, it reads like chick lit fiction.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why? 

I am a very eclectic reader. Chick Lit and women’s fiction are my two favorites, but I also enjoy historical fiction, memoirs, and crime suspense. Bitter Is The New Black is one of my favorites, because I truly believe I wouldn’t be an author if I didn’t read it. Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock is another favorite of mine. I think it was brilliantly written and the end shocked me so much I had to reread it as soon as I turned the last page. I also loved Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Fun fact, Christina edited Dangled Carat for me.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

No, I don’t. I write pretty much anywhere. In fact I started Plan Bea on a plane traveling from NY to Chicago for work. I just returned from another business trip to India and Dubai where I wrote a chunk of my next novel.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

Seriously I don’t really know. I knew the general idea of the story, but I didn’t really know the specifics. I kept thinking about what could have happened to destroy Annabel’s relationship with her mother… There were many times while writing this book that the characters took over. There was one scene in particular where the ladies were in a diner. They were having a heated argument. My fingers were flying trying to keep up with them. When Annabel told her mother about something from her past, I gasped. I took my fingers off the keyboard and said out loud, “Anna I had no idea that happened….” And yes, my husband thought I lost my mind.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes? 

My day job makes writing practically impossible during the week. I work very long hours and I have an hour plus commute each way. I tend to only write on the weekends, and mostly in the winter. I try to write at least a little bit every weekend, but if I am not feeling it, I don’t force myself.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I love to write conversations. I totally get lost in them. I struggle with determining how much backstory to use. I want to use enough to help the reader understand the character, but by the same token, I don’t want to bore them.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

I love to cook and entertain. My house is the home where everyone ends up. I also love to read and go shoe shopping.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Best advice is to just write. Don’t worry about sales or publication; just write the best story you can.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

Of course I love positive reviews, but the most gratifying thing is when readers contact me directly and share how my books impacted their lives. Numerous women have contacted me after they read Dangled Carat. They shared their own stories about dating commitment phobic men. So many of them also asked me my advice. It was a wonderful feeling to help them.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

Anyway I can. Facebook and Twitter are the most obvious, but I also end up exchanging a lot of emails with readers.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

Plan Bea, for the most part is purely from my imagination. My relationship with my mom is the complete opposite of Annabel’s with Bea. My mom is my best friend. That said, there are some pieces of my real life that ended up in the book. For example the scene where Annabel and Cecelia were at the difficult clients office that didn’t offer them water on a boiling hot day, that happened to me.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer? 

As I mentioned before, Jen Lancaster was my inspiration to start writing. However, over the years I have met so many amazing and talented writers. Every interaction has influenced me in some manner. I am always blown away by how supportive and generous authors are with their time and knowledge.

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

To me success is having your book touch someone’s life.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

Cecelia Reynolds is Annabel’s best friend. Twenty years have passed since she last saw Keith, the man of her dreams. When he appears at the wedding she is left wondering if she abandon her present for her past… All the characters from Plan Bea will return plus some new ones…

Thank you Hilary for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career! 

About The Author

Hilary Grossman loves to find humor in everyday life. She has an unhealthy addition to denim and high heel shoes. She likens life to a game of dodge ball - she tries to keep as many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. When she isn't writing, blogging, or shoe shopping she is the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer. She lives on the beach in Long Island.

Author Blog / Website
Amazon Author Page
Newsletter Sign Up

Book Review

Plan Bea by Hilary Grossman
Publisher: Booktrope
Publication Date: October 14, 2015
Format: Paperback - 241 pages
               Kindle - 2146 KB
               Nook - 755 KB
ISBN: 978-1513704494
BNID: 2940150954861
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

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:

Could falling in love allow a cold, stubborn, and selfish woman to open her heart back up to her family?

Beatrice Buchanan has spent more years than she can remember distancing herself from everyone close to her. She has no relationship with her grandchildren and the only time she speaks to her daughter is during her weekly fifteen-minute commute to the nail salon. When Bea meets Walter on a cruise she realizes there may be more to life than designer clothes and impressing the ladies at her country club.

We live our entire lives thinking we know those closest to us. But do we ever really?

On the outside, Annabel O'Conner has it all - the perfect husband, two adorable children, and an amazing job. The only thing missing is her mother's love. When Bea begs her daughter to help plan her wedding, Annabel reluctantly agrees. Little does she know the impact of her decision or the surprise that is in store for her!

This emotional and honest women's contemporary fiction novel will tug at your heartstrings and the twist ending will shock you.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 4

“Good morning, Annabel,” my mother said as I answered my cell phone early Friday morning, a little over a week after her big announcement. Since we’d already had our “scheduled chat” the day before I got a sinking feeling in my stomach she was finally going to enlist my help in her wedding preparations. I didn’t know why I got my hopes up, but after over a week of not hearing one more peep about the wedding, I really thought there was a chance she would switch plans and forgo this whole idea and just dash off to the Justice of the Peace, or something equally sensible.

“Hi Mom,” I said as I hit save on the Power Point presentation I was working on.

“What are you doing today?” she asked, clearly forgetting I had a full-time job.

“Working.” I answered as I tried to ignore the email from a client that popped up on my screen.

“But it’s Friday. Aren’t you off on Fridays?” she asked, perplexed.

“No, Mother.” I sighed. I was so tired of explaining this. “I’m not off. I work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays.”

“Like I said, you’re off.”

“No, Mother, just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m off. I still have to work all day.” I rolled my eyes and started to walk into the kitchen to refill my coffee cup. “Why doesn’t anyone ever realize when you work from home you still have to work?” I said, exasperated.

“No need to get testy, Dear. A simple ‘I’m busy’ would have sufficed. I can appreciate you have things to do. After all, my day is pretty jam packed too. I have a hair appointment in a little over an hour. I’m thinking about adding some low lights to my hair. Everyone is blonde these days, you know covering up the grays and all. I don’t want to look like everyone else... Especially for the wedding.”

“You would probably look very pretty darker. I remember when you were a brunette. I liked it.” Over my lifetime my mother has had every color hair imaginable. I had no clue what her natural shade was. I wondered if she even remembered.

“Oh yes. I was mahogany brown when Brody graduated middle school,” she let out a deep sigh. “Those were the good old days, weren’t they?”

I smiled as I thought back, “They sure were, Mom. Do you remember—”
Before I could continue, she cut me off. “Good. So you agree. Low lights are the way to go. Then after my hair I am going to Walter’s apartment in the city to help pack up. He is officially moving in with me tonight. Isn’t it exciting?”

“I guess.” I didn’t know how I really felt about it. On one hand, Walter seemed like a very nice guy. But they were moving extremely fast. After all, they had only known each other a few months.

“He isn’t going to give up the apartment, of course. What a location!” My mother exclaimed. “It has magnificent views of Central Park. We will weekend there, of course. It’s the perfect get-a-way!”

“Sounds lovely.” I stirred some half and half into my coffee. “I don’t remember the last time Cole and I had a weekend in the city,” I mused. Before we had kids Cole and I would spend at least a weekend a month in Manhattan. Sometimes we’d catch a show, but more often than not we’d just walk around, pretend to be tourists. It was amazing, despite having lived your entire life on Long Island, like Cole and I both had, you never seemed to experience all the sights. In fact, I was actually almost twenty years old when I went to the top of the Empire State Building for the first time.

“You two should go one of these days then. I don’t understand why you don’t.”

“You’re right. We should go. I’m sure Connie and Patrick would gladly take the kids for a weekend. I hate to impose, but really I’m sure they wouldn't mind. After all, they’re always begging to have the kids stay for an overnight.”

“You should take them up on it,” she replied. Although I expected the response it still stung me like a hard slap across the face. Just once I wished my mother would offer to spend time with my children. What grandmother didn’t want to dote on her grand babies?

But rather than express the hurt and disappointment I felt, I opted to just abort the call. “Okay, Mom. I gotta go. I have to get back to work, and it seems like we resolved your hair conundrum.”

“Yes. Thanks for your help. But that wasn’t why I called. Today I am tied up and you apparently have work to do. So I guess that leaves tomorrow. We really need to pick out invitations for the wedding.”

“What?” I asked.

“Invitations. Annabel, the wedding is in three months. We have to begin planning, time is running out. I don't know how long they will take but I want to send them out in sufficient time. I don’t want anyone to think they were on the B list. There is nothing worse than being an afterthought invitee.”

“You need my help in selecting invitations?” I asked as I sat back down in front of my computer.

“Of course, I told you all of this already. Really sweetie sometimes I think you don't listen to a word I say. I need your help with all of this. I'm in way over my head. I love Walter so much. I want this day to be perfect. I don’t want to mess anything up. So yes, I want your help. No, I need your help. Come by my house at one o’clock and we will drive over to the store together.”

I took a deep breath. Tell me again, why did I say yes to this? But I wasn’t going to back out. “Sure, Mom,” I answered unenthusiastically.

“Great. Oh, before I let you go. Guess who called me to offer congratulations?”

“Who?” I asked.

“Cole’s mother, Connie. She was so sincere. Like a breath of fresh air,” Beatrice gushed. “Oh, what a delightful woman. Okay, well I'll see you tomorrow,” she said as she hung up not waiting for me to reply or say goodbye.

My Book Review:

Plan Bea is a wonderful women's fiction story that explores the complex relationship between a mother and daughter.

Author Hilary Grossman weaves a poignant tale that follows the strained relationship between mother Beatrice "Bea" Buchanan and daughter Annabel "Anna" O'Conner. Set in Long Island and told in the first person narrative, Anna takes the reader along for the ride as they try to repair their complex and long strained mother-daughter relationship.

With plenty of drama, angst, secrets, and painful flashbacks to the past, the mother and daughter journey down the slippery slope of life experiences, hurt, misplaced love, heartbreak, past mistakes, and a painful rehashing of a traumatic loss, as they try to find common ground that would patch their dysfunctional family relationship. With the help of Anna's husband Cole, Bea's new love Wally, and a host of friends and family, Bea sets a clever plan in motion to win back her daughter's heart and respect. The reader is easily drawn in as the intriguing and unpredictable twist and turns of their reconciliation unfolds.

I absolutely loved reading this story! I am such a sucker for complex mother-daughter relationship stories, and Plan Bea easily captivated me from the beginning to the very surprising and wonderful end. As an only child, my relationship with my mother was fantastic, I couldn't ask for a better person to have as my Mom and best friend, so I found myself intrigued and wanting to find out what the hell happened in their family history to make Anna and Bea's relationship so strained. I have to tell you that in the beginning I was not a fan of Bea's, as the story unfolded, all I could think about was how brutal a woman she was, and that I would probably go bat shit crazy if I had to deal with her, but boy did she pull the wool over my eyes, for you see there was a method to her madness that was pure genius, take my word for it and read how Bea's plan to make amends to Anna turns out, I guarantee that you will be very surprised!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite quote from the story: "We live our entire lives thinking that we know those closest to us. But do we ever really know them?" This statement is so true, for you really never know what a person goes through or internalizes as they go down life's path. Everyone has their secrets, makes mistakes, and experiences love and loss in their lives, but not everyone is able to share everything with the ones they love.

Plan Bea is a wonderful story of forgiveness, love, and redemption ... it is a poignant story that will tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul.


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

November 30 – Turning Another Page – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
December 2 – Mes Livres - Excerpt
December 3 – Chick LitPlus – Review & Excerpt
December 4 – Sweet N Sassy Bookaholics –Excerpt
December 7 – Novel Escapes – Q&A
December 8 - One Book At a Time - Novel Spotlight
December 9 – Star Crossed Reviews- Excerpt
December 9 – Book Babble – Review & Excerpt
December 10 – Granny Loves to Read – Review
December 11 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
December 11 - A Novel Thought - Review
December 14 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review


  1. THANK YOU so much for reading and reviewing Plan Bea. I can't begin to express how much your kind words mean to me! I am so happy you enjoyed the book!

    1. Hi Hilary! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I really enjoyed reading this book. :)