WhitneyDineenWhitney Dineen is a retired Ford model who writes romantic comedies and middle reader fiction. Her first romantic comedy, She Sins at Midnight, won a silver medal in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Award. She has two young daughters, five chickens named after Barbie princesses and weeder’s hands.

Time to chat with Whitney!

Is your recent book part of a series?

Mimi Plus Two is book 2 in The Mimi Chronicles. In The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, Mimi is hell bent on finding Mr. Right and winds up with two remarkable specimens to choose from. In Mimi Plus Two, she marries into the aristocracy, gets pregnant and falls spectacularly into postpartum hell.

MimiReinventionDo you feel your current book is your favorite?

I love Mimi Plus Two. Mimi is my soul sister. I can definitely relate to her pregnancy and postpartum issues, as I suffered from both with my gestations. However, I do like to rely on the “funny” when writing. Postpartum is a serious issue, but I am first and foremost a romantic comedy author, heavy on the comedy.


Mimi Plus Two, has caused some controversy and very mixed reactions with readers. Can you tell us about that?

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. Readers fell in love with Mimi in The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, where Mimi battled her inferiority complex, searched for the love of her life and joined Weight Watchers. In Mimi Plus Two, Mimi gets married, is pregnant and dreaming of her happily-ever-after when she gets hit with an extreme case of postpartum depression. About 25% of my readership is livid with the storyline.

All I can say, look folks, crap happens. Mimi is a fully dimensional character living a life like the rest of us, riddled with bumps and bruises. If you’re looking for a pure fairy tale, pass this book up, it’s not for you. Mimi Plus Two is still a humor novel and there’s plenty of it, but it gets a bit deeper than the first book. If you love Mimi and don’t want to read this book, fear not. Mini Mimis will be out in the Spring of 2017 and it’s straight comedy. As a veteran of severe postpartum depression I can only say that I’m really disappointed by the criticism of the storyline. I set out to make people more aware are a real issue in hopes of opening their eyes and creating tolerance. I had hoped to reach more of you with this message.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

The truth is I’m their bitch. I do what they tell me. If I name them wrong, they let me know. If I don’t write their dialogue correctly, they wake me at 3 in the a.m. to fix it. They OWN me.

What genre have you never written and would like to try?

I currently have a fantasy novel trying to write itself. I’m all, “Not now! I don’t have the time!! OMG, wait until summer break with the kid’s is over!!!” It’s not listening and I may be forced to get up at 4 a.m. through the summer to get it out. I am not pleased at the thought.

What do you think the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think a lot of people think indie authors are writers who couldn’t make it with a big house. This is simply not the truth. Many authors choose to be indie because they want to control their content and not have it watered down or changed to the point it doesn’t resemble their original idea. They also want to produce books quicker and more often than the mainstream publishing houses will let them. Often times, unless you’re a huge name, indie authors make way more money than their “legit published” counterparts.

She Sins Cover OnlyWhat are some of the crazy things people have said upon learning that you’re an author? How have you responded?

I think the most ludicrous thing people have said is, “It must be nice to have the time to write a book!” Like time is the only ingredient necessary in penning 80K plus words into a workable and marketable tome. Like I don’t get up at 4 in the a.m. when I’m writing so I still have time to be a fulltime mother, gardener, wife, housekeeper and laundress. While my instincts are to react violently, I usually just smile and answer, “Yeah, I’m lucky like that.”

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Yes I do. Write what you love, write what you feel and don’t edit yourself. Let your freak flag fly and shoot for the stars! Don’t worry about what your mother, father, Aunt Betty, or third grade teacher will think when they read your words. That kind of censorship is the kiss of death to creativity.

Is it important for you to know the end of the book you write? The title?

I never even know what the next sentence is in the book I’m working on yet alone the ending. Truthfully, my books author themselves and I’m their secretary taking dictation. It’s a wonderful and weird process that I don’t question. I see a lot of my life and self in my characters so I know I have value beyond my typing skills, but man, I’m always surprised but what flies through my fingers onto the computer screen.

What is your most favorite comfort food? Least fave?

French fries, hands down! I love shoestring, steak fries and waffle cut. I adore them all! I hate snails. Actually, I loathe them. The mere thought of them gags me.

If you could have one skill you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would be a kick ass, auditorium-filling, diva singer, the likes of which Aretha Franklin would envy. I would have heart, soul and lungs that never quit. I would be the female equivalent of Freddie Mercury and would belt out Preacher Man and I Will Survive without my children begging and pleading with me to stop.

If you are a TV watcher, what are the names of your favorite shows?

I have not been a dedicated television watcher since my kids were born; having said that, I get sick once a year and take to my bed in high drama and binge watch some show or another. I tackled every episode of House of Cards on Netflix in March and now have an extremely heightened fear of politicians and Robin Wright. Seriously, I would cross the street if she was coming toward me.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I have this charming little disorder called Misophonia, which essentially makes me super, duper, über, insanely sensitive to sound. Therefore, I would have to say my biggest pet peeve is someone chewing nuts within a mile of me.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

My children laughing causes me no end of joy.

What is the most valuable class you took in school?

Clearly typing. I have yet to use Logic, Rhetoric and Persuasion, Religious Quests or Trig. History has come in handy a bit and Film Criticism allowed me to live in L.A. for 18 years and have something to talk about at industry parties, but typing? Typing is where it’s at!

Have you ever walked out of a movie?

Yup. I walked out of Minions. What the heck is with those little, yellow talking phalluses. I do not get the draw to save my life.

Do you have guilty pleasures?

Um, yes. My favorite would be whipped cream sprayed directly out of the can into my mouth. I also really love mini colored marshmallows in some kind of horrid jello salad. Ooh and Peppermint Schnapps in hot chocolate.

I hear you some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

OMG, yes! I’m pregnant again!! I am so totally and completely kidding. I’ve been pregnant 6 times to have 2 live births. My girls were born when I was 40 and 42. During my second c-section, I had my tubes tied. So if I ever, EVER, wind up pregnant again, heads will roll!!! I guess that makes my exciting news my tubal ligation.

If you were to advertise your book as a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Pregnancy, Postpartum & Aliens

         The Trifecta of Nuts




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THE ACCIDENTAL SERIES – Guest post by Katie Oliver

The Accidental Series

Lisette has graciously invited me to visit her Writers’ Chateau once again, to talk about writing a series – in my case, writing a romantic comedy series.

Confession: I’m probably the worst person on earth to address this subject…because my first three books (Dating Mr Darcy) didn’t start out as a series. They were just three novels with a few overlapping characters, characters I found interesting and fun and wanted to write about. It all started like this:

What if, I mused, a British family owns a long-established department store, Dashwood and James. Due to unforeseen economic circumstances, the store falls on hard times. And what if an arrogant but astute businessman (think Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay) is brought in to help the store…and clashes immediately with the family’s spoilt daughter, Natalie?

And I was off and running.

When I wrote Prada and Prejudice and the next two books, I didn’t follow any ‘rules.’ I didn’t look at any publisher’s guidelines. I just wrote what I wanted to read, but couldn’t find on the shelves – romantic comedy with some menace and/or mystery thrown in. I wrote all three books while still working full time – don’t ask me how. I look back, and I really don’t know how I did it.

Folders(These were my working folders for the first three books in the Dating Mr Darcy series. I found the  Izak Zenou folders at Target. Score! Pretty, sassy, and perfect for storing all of my story notes, photos, and editorial letters.)

It was just something I felt I had to do. The kids were grown, and I had a strong ‘it’s now or never’ feeling (with apologies to Elvis). So I let my imagination take off, and I wrote every chance I could – in a tiny pocket notebook before mass (I know, bad), on legal pads at work (again, bad), and hunched over my laptop at home. I had the fever (with apologies to Peggy Lee and Christopher Walken).

I kept track of the characters and plot points in a spiral notebook, one for each book, and I saved any articles, interviews, or research notes related to the story in folders and a three-ring binder. I bought poster boards and made a collage of photographs of people who resembled my characters, and hung it near my desk for visual inspiration whenever my imagination flagged.

Folder 2Working folder for book two in the Dating Mr Darcy series, Love and Liability.

When I finished Prada and Prejudice, I began writing the second book. A few things that inspired me at the time included Mara Rooney’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; a segment on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word program about “freegans” – people who skip-dive for a living because it’s (a) free and (b) helps reduce food waste; The September Issue, a documentary which offered a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Anna Wintour and Vogue magazine; episodes of Law and Order UK; payday loans; and the British media’s mobile phone hacking scandal.


When I started the second series, Marrying Mr Darcy, I needed ( you guessed it) more folders. These three kept me semi-organized while writing And the Bride Wore Prada, Love, Lies and Louboutins, and Manolos in Manhattan. And they were pretty to look at. Win-win.

Somehow, all these disparate things became Love and Liability, my second book.

Once again, I saved articles. I clipped photographs. I watched films and programs related to my research. Then…I wrote. I stopped to consult the previous book whenever I needed to search for the name of Lady Whatsit or recall the birth date of a secondary character’s sister or confirm where someone went to school/got married/grew up. It was random and disorganized and it drove me batty.

And it struck me then that perhaps I had gone about this the wrong way.

I had a lot of information and plenty of research material…but no system to keep track of it all, no method for detailing my characters’ bios and backgrounds. I carried on in this haphazard manner and finished book two.

KO_Photos_WallThis is my “mood board” for Prada and Prejudice – it’s on the sloping wall next to my under-the-eaves writing desk.

Halfway through the third book, Mansfield Lark, an amazing thing happened. Well, two amazing things. I acquired a literary agent who sold all three books to Carina UK, who wanted to publish them as e-books. However, they wanted to tie the books together as a series. So we started in the obvious place – with the Jane Austen-y title, Prada and Prejudice.

Initially, I was a little leery about this marketing decision. The books are ‘Austen lite’ at best – they don’t so much pay homage to Jane as give the occasional (sometimes cheeky) nod in her direction – but they do deal with families, and relationships, and romantic foibles, all of which I hoped readers (and Miss Austen) would relate to, and embrace.

I caught some flack from a few die-hard Austenites early on, and probably deservedly so. But when you’re a new, unproven writer and you have little (i.e., no) say in a publisher’s marketing or book-titling decisions, you learn to smile, nod politely, and go with the editorial flow.

The second series, Marrying Mr Darcy, continued on with the next three books I’d written, but with a slightly different theme this time – the titles would each refer to a designer (Prada, Louboutin, and Manolo, to be exact). Again, I had my doubts. Would non-fashion people know who Christian Louboutin or Manolo Blahnik were? (They’re French and Italian shoe designers, respectively, for those of you who may not know.)

But when I saw the titles and the gorgeous cover art that accompanied the books, I was once again one-hundred percent convinced. And with the release of the first book in the new series, And the Bride Wore Prada, I had my first best seller. Love, Lies and Louboutins became my second…on preorder, before it was even published.



The marketing wonks were once again vindicated.

So you see, I really am a terrible person to ask about how to write a series. I came at it from the wrong way around altogether, which is not the usual way to go about these things. But then I seldom do things in the usual way

Normally, when writing a series, it’s customary for an author to plan out the story arc for each individual book, as well as the overarching story arc for the entire series. There should be a “Bible” to track the various characters and their particulars from one book (and one series) to the next. There should be storyboards and index cards, and complicated genealogies and diagrams of family trees, and a lot of colored markers.

Of course, I did none of that.

But going forward? I think – no, I’m sure – that I probably will.

KatieOliverKatie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains.

Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.




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Manolos in Manhattan Blurb:

In the city that never sleeps…

Strutting down Park Avenue in her new Manolos, Holly James looks like a woman who has it all. But beneath the Prada sunglasses, Holly has a mounting list of decidedly unfabulous problems. Right at the top? The fact that since her fiancé Jamie started spending all his time at his new restaurant (with his impossibly gorgeous sous-chef!), Holly has practically forgotten what he looks like…and started to feel a teensy bit paranoid.

…shopping is a twenty-four hour job!

So when her old flame Alex suggests they catch up, Holly jumps at the distraction. After all, what’s the harm in some window shopping? But when sinister thefts start taking place all over the city, the Big Apple begins to feel like a dangerous place…and Holly can’t help being relieved to have capable, commanding Alex so close by. Suddenly, Holly’s window shopping is veering worryingly close to an impulse buy! But would giving into temptation be an investment…or the biggest mistake of her life?


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Katie’s Writers’ Chateau Interview



After thirteen years in Human Resources, Glynis decided to make good on her promise to write a book. Rather than detailing the bizarre issues she had encountered over the course of her career, she elected to write about her real life French fairy tale: the story of how she met and married her husband, Sebastien, in six short months. She currently lives in Westchester, New York with her incredibly romantic husband, two angelic sons and two adorable kitties. 

Time to chat with Glynis!

What is your latest book?

I have just released French Toast, the second book in the French Twist Series. The books are based on my life and chronicle the very rapid development of my relationship with my husband, Sebastien. The first book in the series, French Twist, sets the stage with our adorable meet-cute, carries through our hilarious courtship and finishes with our first wedding. French Toast, picks up right where French Twist leaves off and shows the difficulty of the first year of marriage…and reveals our next two weddings. Intrigued, aren’t you?


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

I think that it is important to link the stories across a series, but also to ensure that each book can exist as a stand-alone story. I always love it when I can pick up any book in a series and not feel like I am lost. J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with this in the Harry Potter series. She gave just enough detail in each book to catch you up to where you needed to be in order for the story to make sense. In the first chapter of French Toast, I made sure to provide enough background material so that readers would be able to jump right in to the story and not feel like they had missed too much. There is always time to go back and read the first book later!

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

French Toast: Will their marriage crash & burn or will they raise a glass?

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I think that I have a particularly unique experience in this case. Because my books are based on my life, there are several people who have a vested interest in my characters’ names. Choosing the name for my alter ego was easy. I had always HATED my name (I was teased a lot as a child) and I used to fantasize that my name was Sydney. The choice in last name came from one of my favorite books, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I just love the Bennett sisters

As for the names of my characters, I chose what I felt were solid names for my friends and family members, but I left the option open for them to change the names if they wanted to. Does it surprise you to know that every single one of them changed their names? It would seem that many people have a name in mind that they would have selected for themselves given the opportunity.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would end up as a writer. After I had my second child, I decided to be a stay at home mom. Once my son was about a year old – and actually started to sleep – I found myself getting restless. A few months later I had a dream that I wrote a book. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, so I pushed it aside, dismissing the idea as an early mid-life crisis. (Very early!) But the idea just wouldn’t go away and one day I found myself writing down my ideas. Before I knew it, I had outlined the entire book!

I was completely shocked that it took me only two months to write my first book. I spent another month editing and sent the book on to my sister who is not only a gifted editor, but also the biggest fan of Chick Lit that I have ever come across. She quickly assessed where changes needed to be made and a month later, I was ready for proofreaders. While the finishing touches were being put on the book, my sister designed my book cover. (Does anyone else feel like she got most of the talent in the family?)

All I had left to do was upload my books! Both French Twist and French Toast were self-published. It has been a very interesting ride thus far!

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I am constantly amazed by the power of social media. With my first book, I did very little marketing and did not engage in any form of social media. I was blissfully clueless. However, with my second book, French Toast, I resolved to pull off a marketing blitz. I set up a Facebook author page, got a Twitter account, joined Pinterest, Google Plus, you name it! It was rather overwhelming at first, since there are so many channels to visit, but I found if I set a weekly schedule of posts for myself, things were a lot easier. .

By the end of my first day on Twitter I had met so many interesting people. That led to joining a number of Facebook groups for Chick Lit authors, which has changed my life immeasurably. (It is where I met you, Lisette!) I am so grateful for the vast number of authors out there who are willing to share their experience with me. I am also grateful for the readers who have opened up their lives to me! I believe that social media in general has allowed the development of a number of very rich communities. Being involved with all of these communication channels is not for the main purpose of selling books, but for forming relationships with people who will enrich your life.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

Yes, I do! I have just started blogging in the past month. For years, my sister has told me that I should start a blog about my sons. They are certainly the most colorful characters in my life. One day I will devote a book to them, but for the time being, you will be able to hear my musings on what it is like to be the mom to two energetic (and sometimes maddening) boys. I guarantee that you will crack a few smiles!

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I used to be a night owl, but since I have had kids, I have become both an early bird and night owl writer. When you are a parent, you have to fit in your tasks whenever you can. My three-year-old will often get me up before 6:00 am, which means I need a gigantic vat of coffee. He is then content to sit and watch cartoons while I first get sucked into the social media vortex and then try to gather my thoughts for the day in terms of writing. I don’t usually fit in too much writing during the day, so after my little one and his older brother have gone to bed, I consult my Darth Vader notebook (where I have scribbled random thoughts during the day) and get to work on my latest chapter. This is when I grab a glass of wine and settle in with my laptop and two cats. They are my companions into the wee hours as I plug away on my storyline.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I am so incredibly lucky to have someone as talented as my sister, Megan Eisen, designing my covers. I have received so many compliments on my cover art and am grateful to her for setting me up with such a brilliant brand. I use her images in all of my social media and have even had bookmarks made to match the covers as giveaways. I know that when I am looking for a new book to read, the cover is the first thing to catch my eye – an attractive cover leads me to read the book description, which often leads me to buy the book. The book cover is responsible for the instant attraction of the reader and your brilliant writing is responsible for the relationship (hopefully long-term) that you build with that reader.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

Often! I get very little time to write since I have two active boys to keep up with. So many times, I will have a short window in which to write and nothing comes to me! It can be very frustrating. When I draw a total blank, I start taking care of items on my household to-do list. Five minutes into whatever task I chose, an idea comes to me and I frantically run to my laptop and start tapping away. Never underestimate the inspirational power of mundane tasks.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Mashed potatoes are my absolute favorite. Rich, creamy and delicious! I do not like sushi. I detest fish, so the idea of eating it raw makes my stomach turn.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I have always wished that I could sing. Unfortunately, I am completely tone deaf. It doesn’t stop me from belting a tune at the top of my lungs in the car though! I just make sure that a) I’m alone in the car and b) the windows are shut tight. No one needs to hear that kind of cacophony.

What music soothes your soul?

Billy Joel will always put me in a good mood. My favorites are “Only the Good Die Young” and “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” I could listen to his albums all day. In fact, he now has his own station on Sirius XM. Color me excited!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Making chocolate chip cookies with my boys. Not only do we end up with a tasty treat, but we have a wonderful time dancing around the kitchen (because you have to have music) while we prepare the cookies.










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