Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ellyn Oaksmith's 50 Acts of Kindness ✱Interview✱Review✱Giveaway✱

50 Acts of Kindness
Ellyn Oaksmith

Romantic Comedy/90k

Being overly kind isn't in Kylie Harrow's nature. This has never been more evident than when Kylie vents her frustrations to an innocent employee—and the whole scene is posted online, tanking her career and earning her the dubious distinction of "World's Worst Boss." But when she flees home to the South, Kylie finds her childhood home has changed. The high school quarterback is now the hot and handsome sheriff. Her mother has turned her home into a nudist colony. And worst of all, having heard about her daughter's exploits, her mother won't let her in the door until Kylie completes fifty kind acts in fifty days.

The task seems easy enough at first—and may even help repair her media image—but it quickly turns into a hilarious quest that leads Kylie down a bumpy road filled with new challenges. What started as a gimmick to save her career evolves into a mission to save a spunky old woman and her little dog from homelessness. As Kylie learns about the nature of kindness, she finds the path to happiness and, for the first time ever, maybe even love. 

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Kylie: Worst Boss Ever....caught on video, bitter, angry New Yorker

Chet: Sheriff in Kylie's small home town, trained EMT, patience of a Saint, wants Kylie flaws and all

50 Acts of Kindness started off a little slow for me, but once she gets into Acts of Kindess thing it picks up pace. She is really really bad at it!! It is painful! This book is wonderfully written to show a woman who went through a painful childhood and became a bitter hateful bitch to someone a lot kinder and notices when someone needs kindness. It shows her growth as well as her reconnecting with her Mother who OMW is a character!! She is a huge surprise! 

Chet has a sweet spot for Kylie even with her attitude. He keeps coming back but even he has his limits and she runs the chance of chasing him off for good. Kylie starts making YouTube videos of her 50 Acts just to counter act the bad video of her, but then the videos become her way of expressing herself. They become real. When she meets Margaret things change for Kylie. But the question remains will she want to stay for Chet. 

After reading this book it was a beautiful romance but it was also very thought provoking. I couldn't help but wonder how doing my own 50 Acts would affect me. Would I find them hard, easy, would I even finish it. I simply loved how it made me feel after reading as much as it made me feel during the reading. Even a couple weeks later I'm still thinking on it. If I ever get up the nerve to try it I will be sure to let the author know and give her credit. She has hit a spot with this book and with her amazing characters who let me just say have some serious life to them and her very unique story I wont be forgetting it any time soon. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good romance with a lot of thought provoking insight and lots of laughs!
*My rating system is different from Amazon, see right for my rating system. Amazon will be 5✰'s


"We are a technology marketing company. People don't want to see our underwear or ultrasounds or try to run a meeting while you jump up to pee."
"I'm due in two weeks."
Her whine was still grating on my nerves, but my recorded words sliced like knives. Was I the equivalent of that rooster my mom had that pecked at the hens? One morning mom found him dead, pecked to death. I thought, "Please do not let this be my barnyard reckoning," even though things were clearly sliding in that direction.
On screen I plowed forward. "I cannot do your job and mine. It's killing me. I need you on the ground running. Oh no wait, you can't run. Which is why you missed the flight to Miami where you got 'dehydrated.'" I did air quotes around "dehydrated."
Holy cow. I was so angry it blinded me to very fact she was recording.
"I was dehydrated."
We were both so very tired. "Which is why you ended up lounging in Miami while I ran yet another meeting solo. I stayed up until three a.m. doing the PowerPoint you'd forgotten."
"I ended up in the hospital."
"And missed the flight back to New York and yet another day of work. If you are dehydrated, drink water. It's not rocket science!"
I remembered this day clearly. Sleep-deprived from a red eye, I'd left Betsy in New York, begging her to prep for a meeting the following day. When I got back, the slides weren't ready. She'd gone home. I'd miss another night's sleep to finish them.
It was the perfect storm, and she'd caught it.
I leaned forward to downsize the screen. "2.7 million views?" She'd titled it "World's Worst Boss?!" There were lots of comments, many expletives, and a passionate, nine exclamation points in a row.
Bob dug a crust from his eye. "It's not something to be proud of."
My mind raced. How to spin this before he threw something out? I managed a casual shrug. "I'm in marketing. I can't help it."
"This makes us look so bad."
It was crunch time. There was no room for complaints or excuses. "Does it though? Does it? What I see is that we expect a certain professionalism and energy from our employees, a requirement that, pregnant or not, they perform to the best of their abilities." My delivery was very rough, but it was a message she needed to hear." He wasn't buying. I grabbed for a straw. "Isn't posting this on YouTube a violation of my privacy?"
"I don't know," Bob said wearily. "That's 2.7 million negative hits with MLJK's name attached."
My heart clenched. I needed a cigarette. Now. "Whatever happened to 'any publicity is good publicity'?"
He ignored my lame joke. "She's threatening to file suit. I checked with legal. We can tie her up in court, but the claim is legit."
I inhaled sharply, forgetting, in my growing panic, to exhale.
"Breathe, Kylie."
"S-s-suing us?" Great, now I was stuttering.
"You called her fat. She says you created an unhealthy work environment."
My jaw dropped. This was not the time to point out that, as a former chubette, I never, ever use the F-word. "The operative word here is work. I was running on vapors."
Bob got up and looked out the window at his fabulous view. "Stella, by the way, corroborates everything you've said." My eyebrows shot up in alarm. "Yes, I've talked to her. I've talked to a few people, but the point is that sooner or later we all have to deal with this. Pregnant women deserve…" He stared off into the silver buildings and cloudless sky. When I'd entered, the view had felt empowering. Now it was an invitation to jump. "Latitude. We are a family-friendly company."
I snickered bitterly. MLJK years were dog years. Most of the senior partners were divorced. "And what about women who aren't ever going to have children? We just put up and shut up?" I knew this sounded whiney, but I couldn't help myself. I felt like a tightrope walker studying the tiny figures below, waiting for me to fall. Then it struck me. I felt like this most of the time.
He gazed at me, his eyes weary. "Come on. You're what, not even thirty? You don't know that." Bob was still in his marriage of origin.
"Look at me Bob. My relationships have the longevity of a fruit fly. I have nothing left at the end of the day." I have nothing left right now.
"Maybe it's time to branch out."
Clearly he pitied Betsy. It was time to grab the controls. "I can fix this. I can smooth things out. Get my assistant her own assistant. At least until she's had it."
"Her baby is not an it," he snapped.
"Did I say 'it'?" I'd been talking so quickly. It? Good move Kylie.
"Yes," Bob said quietly, losing his starch. Crossing his arms he glanced at a framed photo: a gap-toothed, pig-tailed toddler on a swing, pushed by his beaming, very pregnant wife. "You're going to have to leave until this dies down."
For a second I felt nothing but a weight pressing on the top of my head, a dull ringing in my ears. "This isn't Survivor. You can't let random strangers on YouTube vote me off because I lost my temper."
"They're not. Lance is."
The CEO? I was in a tippy canoe, and by golly, there went my paddle.
I made a tiny bubble of an objection as I sank. "She wasn't doing her job."
"Effective immediately," he said. I knew what preceded those two words. Terminated.
This wasn't a break.
This was permanent.

Thank you so much for taking time to answer these questions! Answer as many as you like.

You are so welcome. Thanks for hosting me today.

What is your favorite thing about writing Romance? Do you enjoy writing other genres?

Writing romance is great fun because there is always a happy ending. Also, I’ve been happily married for 20 years and I’m living proof that true love exists. Much of my marriage is based on a shared sense of humor, or at least that we make each other laugh. It’s great fun to infuse my books with that spirit; the sense of come what may, a great couple can always laugh.  I also love writing women’s fiction. My book Family Secrets has much darker theme even though it’s quite funny. But there’s no clear cut happy ending. It simply didn’t make sense for the plot, which didn’t make the publisher of my first book very happy. But every book has its own challenges and rewards. But I do enjoy romance because happy endings are so rare in real life.

How do you decide on your cover?

When I have a chance for some input, well, I’m horrible. Gemma Halliday, 50 Acts of Kindness’ publisher, is a saint. When I sent some images I thought would work, the cover the artist put together some covers that I didn’t like. All of them were exactly what I’d asked for. My oldest daughter, who is 17 and already quite talented at graphic design, came up with the concept. The cover artist went off her idea; coming up with so many wonderful variations it was hard to just pick one. I did have a vague idea what the font should look like because I adore the recent covers of Jojo Moyes books. But honestly, if I were a cover artist, I wouldn’t want to work with me. There is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t like something but can’t tell you why. That’s me.

Do your main characters have a real life inspiration?

Boy, that’s a great question for this book. I’ve always been adamant that no, everything I write is fiction but this one is completely autobiographical in an emotional sense, not plot-wise. When I went off to college I’d been eating dinner with a group of women when one finally said, “No one wants to sit by you because you’re mean.”  My jokes were mean-spirited, my observations too sharp-tongued and this girl had the guts to tell me. It was a real wake up call. I’d been raised to think that in private you could talk this way and it didn’t hurt people.  My parents are lovely, giving people but back then their sense of humor was occasionally quite wicked in private.  I suppose we’ve all changed.

What author do you admire most?

I can’t really pick one. Mark Twain for his humor. Alice Munro because every word she writes is perfect. Shakespeare. Contemporary writers would include Jojo Moyes, Cecilia Ahern, Gillian Flynn, Stephen King, Gabrielle Zevin.  I love everything Jo Nesbo has written. The Son is just a perfect thriller.  I can’t read as much romance as I’d like because my brain keeps spinning as I look at the plot and writing and I can’t relax, which is kind of pathetic.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I’m three quarters into writing a very different kind of book for me. It’s a love story about a young lesbian (18) in Aberdeen, Washington, where Nirvana is from. She’s nominated for prom queen as a mean joke. Then she realizes she does want to win and promises the kids that she’ll get Nirvana to play at prom. In the process she falls in love with a girl, which is very, very difficult because the girl isn’t out yet, nor does she want to be. I had a hard time delving into the love story because I’m straight. There was quite a bit of fear of getting it wrong. Once I let go of that, it all just came very naturally. A love story is a love story. It’s very challenging to write a kid who is being bullied. I hate writing those scenes. They exhaust me. But I do love writing teens. They can say anything and get away with it.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Child abuse. Enough said.

Have you ever had writer's block? What is your best cure if you have? Or how do you keep it at bay?

Yes I have. Sometimes it’s turned into depression, which I can only see after the fact. The worst thing about it is that I force myself to keep writing, even if it’s awful and I know it. If I didn’t write, I’d be focusing on being “blocked” which is a self-fulfilling prophecy. A doctor might not feel empathetic anymore but he or she has to turn up and work. A clerk might be sick of people or a teacher might decide they hate kids.  But you still have to show up, right? So that’s what I do. Even if I hate every second, I show up and work.

Do you have a movie you love to watch over and over? Which one scares you so much you can't sleep?

Every year I make my family watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s and eat pizza. It’s a lovely tradition that even my teens admit to enjoying. This spring I was lucky enough to visit Tiffany’s near Central Park. Oddly enough it wasn’t the jewelry that moved me – it was the craftsmanship of the building interior.  Halloween traumatized me as a teen. Now I find it just about the perfectly constructed thriller. If a movie looks terrifying, I don’t watch it. I’m a chicken.

How much research do you usually do for a book? What is your biggest research gathering tool?

I do situational research, as needed. When I am coming up with a plot; I make the facts fit the plot. Then I do research, sometimes talking to people, sometimes on the internet, to make my plot fit with reality. Quite often an editor tells me that I got it wrong, bless their hearts, so I go back and fix it. I write very fast and tend to have a lot of cleaning up and fact-fixing to do afterwards. It’s the most tedious part of writing. Every book I promise myself that I’ll clean as I go. I never learn.

Do you read your reviews? Do you ever respond to them if you do? And if you do read them do you take anything away from the readers praise and criticism?

I sometimes read reviews, when I have time. I come from a screenwriting background, which means I am used to getting criticism, quite frequently from other writers and or studio execs.  The praise is of course, lovely, but if I see the same thing over and over in criticism, I do take that to heart. I am an entertainer. Even Shakespeare didn’t consider himself to be a literary writer, just a hack with a pen. So if that was his perspective, I certainly can take a few hits and gratefully listen. 

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Probably with my first book; some people just didn’t get it. (Adventures with Max and Louise) It is a comedy about a woman with talking breast implants. The reader either suspends their disbelief and enjoys it or doesn’t, which makes it a pretty rough read. The best compliment was from the very first reader of this book. She called me and told me she just loved it. Then her aunt became an early reader who e-mailed me to tell me how reading 50 Acts of Kindness changed her life, making her nicer to her husband and family.  She helped me start the #50ActsofKindness movement, which has been such fun. So that was terrific.

Thanks for all these great questions. 

About the Author

Ellyn Oaksmith is an award-winning writer who began her career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her first book, Adventures with Max and Louise, was published in 2012. Fifty Acts of Kindness is her third book. She's currently at work on her first YA novel, Chasing Nirvana. The best part of her work day is spent watching vintage YouTube footage of Nirvana concerts and calling it research.

Ellyn is part of the Girlfriends Book Club which has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today. She lives in Seattle with her family, a rescue dog and a rather rotund cat.
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1 comment:

  1. So happy you enjoyed the book. Thanks for hosting and especially for reviewing. I hope you have a great summer. You have an awesome site. And your reviewing gems are very cool. Happy reading!