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 4, 2015

Thirty Days To Thirty by Courtney Psak (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 Thirty Days To Thirty by author Courtney Psak!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Courtney!

How long have you been a writer? 

I feel like my whole life really.  I wrote my first book when I was in second grade. It's still laminated somewhere in my parent's attic. 

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

I'm not widely successful yet, so I work currently as a project manager at Nickelodeon.

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

I don't know if it was so much of an inspiration as it was something I always did since I was little. It came naturally to me the same way someone realizes they like to paint or sing. I finally pulled the trigger on publishing this book since I am getting close to my thirtieth and considering the spirit of the story, I figured I would take my own character's advice and accomplish one of my all time bucket list items. 

Please give a brief description/storyline about Thirty Days to Thirty

It's about a girl who has it all until she doesn't and it all happens a month before she turns thirty. Then, she finds a list she made in high school of what she had wanted to accomplish before she was thirty and decides to do them all before her birthday. Along the ways she realizes it's not about the goals in life but the journey. 

What was the inspiration for this story? 

Five years ago, when I was turning twenty-five, I realized a lot of my friends, including myself, started to get the 'quarter life crisis.' We were upset over the fact that we were not where we thought we would be by this point in our lives. What I started to realize though, was that when life happens, it's going to bring you places you've never could've imagined you would be. In the process of trying to be a particular version of ourselves, we in fact, discovered who we really were. It made us all realize that it's not necessarily about the goals in life, but what you learn along the way. 

How did it feel to have your first book published? 

It's amazing. It's a lot more hard work than I could've imagined, but I really hope to make a career out of it hopefully. 

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

I like to write fun light reads 

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

I have really eclectic taste so I like to read classics by Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler, but I also love James Patterson, Sophie Kinsella and Liane Moriarity. One of my favorite books is Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie. The ending is so unexpected that is blows your mind. 

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

Some place quiet. I don't really have a spot. It's more about where I am when I get inspired than the other way around. 

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

I'd like to say I get my inspiration from everywhere. I feel I get it from reading a variety of authors but also life experiences. 

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

It depends where I am in the process. If it's the outline, I really have to wait for inspiration to strike. If I force it I won't be happy with it anyway. If I'm in the editing process then I do follow a strict work schedule. 

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

I love writing stories that will resonate with people. Even if they don't completely relate to a particular character they can still empathize on some level. Aspects I struggle with the most is really my own confidence. I'm constantly throwing out stories thinking it's too cheesy or not believable. The hardest thing is telling myself I'm not the best writer in the world, but as long as I can connect with readers then that is all that matters. 

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

I like traveling, hiking and skiing. I love to be active. 

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

Persistence is the key to success. Most people aren't going to write a book and be able to hand it off to a literary agent who will turn it into a best seller and a major motion picture. For the rest of us, we have to learn from our mistakes, we have to keep writing and keep trying. Eventually it will work out as long as you keep at it. 

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

Finding out that I managed to connect with readers. My family and friends are generous, but to find out a stranger read my book and really enjoyed it is extremely gratifying. 

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

I have a blog and I'm also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is also a newsletter on my website that people can sign for to know when the next book is coming out. 

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

I tried to keep it pure imaginative, but my childhood friends say they see a lot of our hometown in it. 

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

I think James Patterson. I love the way he writes. He moves the story right along and keeps you engaged the whole time. I aspire to write like that. I wouldn't mind his sale records either. 

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

Someone who can connect with readers. 

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

I'm writing a book about a Hollywood socialite who winds up on a reality show where she is the maid of honor to her best friend marrying her ex-boyfriend.

Thank you Courtney for stopping by Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

Courtney Psak is a New Jersey native who grew up with a passion for reading and writing. After traveling the world, she settled into New York City where she earned her Masters in Publishing. She is a member of the National Writers Association and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. She currently resides in Hoboken with her husband. She spends her weekends seeking adventure through hiking, skiing and traveling.

Author Website
Author Blog

Book Review

Thirty Days To Thirty by Courtney Psak
Publisher: CAMP Publishing
Publication Date: eBook - September 13, 2015 / PB - October 19, 2015
Format: Paperback - 228 pages
               Kindle - 767 KB
               Nook - 312 KB
ISBN: 978-0996815918
BNID: 2940152449723
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:

What if you were on the cusp of marrying the guy of your dreams and reaching that career goal you set for yourself, only for all of it to be taken away in one fell swoop?

What if this all happened a month before you turned 30?

This is the story of Jill Stevens, who after moving back home, finds a list she made in high school of thirty things she wanted to accomplish before her thirtieth birthday.

With a month left and hardly anything crossed off her list, she teams up with old friends to accomplish as much as she can before the big 3-0. Along the way, she discovers her true self and realizes it’s not about the material successes in life but the journey.

Book Excerpt:

“Okay, karaoke time,” Liz says, pulling me away. “This will make things more interesting.”
“I-um-no,” I stutter.
“You know, Liz,” Chris says. “I think you two should do a duet together.”
“Oh my gosh, yes!” I say, grabbing her arms. She is giving Chris the bitchy stare down.
“Come on, please?” I beg.
“Well, in order for it to count on your list, it has to be just you.”
“I believe it only specified she needed to sing karaoke. Nothing was ever mentioned about her being alone,” Chris says. “Besides, I helped her with beer pong. Now it’s your turn to help her with singing.”
“And here I thought I liked you,” Liz tells him with a smirk.
We do one more shot at the bar to get our nerve up and I manage to pull her on stage. I suddenly realize that although the bar isn’t well lit, the stage sure is.
I suddenly get a jolt of fear.
I look over at Liz who is about to bail on me, and I have to then put all of my concentration into keeping her on stage.
Then the pang of the eighties keyboard comes over the speakers and the words for “What a Feeling” from the movie Flashdance roll across the screen. Liz, you bitch, I can’t help but think.
“At first when there’s nothing but a slow glowing dream,” I sing. Then I nudge Liz.
“That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind.”
I immediately forget we are in front of a crowd and I start dancing to get her to laugh. Eventually we get such a kick out of each other that we wind up singing the song like we’re in sixth grade again at a sleepover, singing into our hairbrushes. We’re kicking and waving our arms like Jennifer Beals in the video.
“What a feeling, bein’s believing, pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life. Take your passion and make it happen, what a feeling ….”
Suddenly the roar of the crowd brings us back to reality and we can’t stop laughing.
“I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun,” I tell her, after we practically fall off the stage towards a booth off to the side.
“Me neither,” she agrees.
“Man, I miss high school,” I say.
“Me too,” Liz says.
“Me three.” Chris joins us, sitting down with a round of beers.
“Seriously, why do we have to grow up and face life’s disappointments? I want to go back to when we feared nothing,” I say.
“Hey, do you remember that time when some guy dressed as the school mascot during class pictures and shot water balloons at the crowd?”
“Oh my gosh, that was hysterical. Principal Harvey, this, like, eighty-five-year-old man, started chasing him with his cane.”
We burst out laughing.
“Hey, was that you?” I ask. “As I recall, they never found out who that was.”
“I have no comment,” he says, taking a sip of his drink.
“Oh, you did!” Liz points at him.
“Hey, how about the time the lacrosse team had a game on Sunday and afterwards we all got together at your house and partied till three a.m.,” I tell Liz.
“Oh yeah, Wannamaker was pissed.” She laughs. “She made us run five miles at our practice the next morning. Then Kelly was so hungover she tripped over the fire hydrant and twisted her ankle.”
We burst into laughter. I literally had tears in my eyes. “Oh, that was so worth it,” I say.
“You know, I still can’t handle the smell of rum because of that night?” Liz tells me.
“That was the only thing in your parents’ house.”
“Cheap rum at that.”
We start laughing again.
“How about when I brought both of you girls to prom?” Chris brings up.
“Oh yea,” Liz says. “I forgot all about that. You were so sweet to do that,” she says patting his forearm.
“Sweet? Are you kidding? I looked like the biggest pimp there, my popularity points went up after that,” he laughs.
I suddenly realize that I feel like me again. This is what I’ve missed out on all this time. Just being out for a few drinks with friends, reminiscing about good times while creating new memories.
I have to say it feels good to be back.

My Book Review:

Thirty Days To Thirty is a sassy fun chick lit tale that follows twenty-nine year old Jill Steven's journey of rebuilding her life, and discovering that it's the little things in life that are the most important.

Jill Steven's life is going just as she had planned: working towards becoming a partner at a prestigious law firm and being engaged to the man of her dreams ... that is until she gets fired and finds her fiance cheating on her all in one day! Suddenly finding herself without a job and a fiance, Jill returns to her parents' home in Manhattan to rebuild her life. Jill finds an old high school list of thirty things to accomplish before she turns 30, so she decides to complete the items on the list within the next month before she turns the Big 3-0! With the help of her best friend Liz and old boyfriend Chris, Jill's month long journey of self-discovery will teach her life lessons: that it's okay to have dreams and goals in life, but it is more important to learn to stop and smell the roses, and that it's the little things in life that will bring enjoyment and happiness along the way.

Author Courtney Psak weaves an entertaining and fast paced tale that easily draws the reader into Jill's thirty day journey of rediscovery. I really enjoyed following Jill as she worked on completing the items on the list, there was a great mixture of laugh-out-loud and lighthearted moments that left a smile on my face.

Anyone can relate to Jill's making a list of goals and dreams she hoped to accomplish as she headed into adulthood. But then comes facing the end of your twenties and turning the Big 3-0 with a nostalgic reminiscing of what you have/haven't accomplished ... if you only knew then what you know now. Life sometimes has a funny way of reminding us that not everything will work out as you planned, but that it's the little things, the life lessons, and discovering one's true self that makes the journey worthwhile.

Thirty Days To Thirty is a wonderful story about the reality of life, finding one's true self, and enjoying the little things that will bring you happiness.


Contest Giveaway

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Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

November 17 – Chick Lit Plus – Review 
November 19 – Book Groupies – Novel Spotlight
November 19 – Chick Lit Goddess – Q&A & Excerpt 
November 19 – Change the Word – Q&A 
November 24 – Love Chick Lit – Review & Excerpt
November 25 – Queen of All She Reads – Excerpt
November 27 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
November 27 – Granny Loves to Read – Review & Excerpt
December 1 – Annabel and Alice – Review
December 1 - The Write Review - Excerpt
December 2 – Wendi Nunnery – Review
December 2 – A British Bookworm – Excerpt
December 3- The Write Review – Excerpt
December 4 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
December 4 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review
December 7 – Reecas Pieces – Review & Excerpt

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