Monday, July 25, 2016

Blogiversary Guest Post and Giveaway: Anniversaries - Laura Chapman, author of Going for Two

Anniversaries, like birthdays, are a beautiful thing. They’re a chance, once a year, to remember that something important, something special happened. They’re a chance to give that moment its due. And they’re about treats. (At least, I think that’s what these traditions are all about.)

My family has always done a good job of celebrating birthdays and holidays.

When I turned four, my mom made a beautiful butterfly cake covered in pink coconut. I had seen a picture of it in a magazine, and I desperately needed it for my birthday to be complete. So she made it. And because she knew that at three going on four I didn’t like coconut, she made me a bonus angel food cake so I’d actually have something to eat.

For my sixth birthday, my whole family banded together to throw me a raging Dinosaurs-themed carnival in our backyard. I’m not just talking about the ginormous animals that are ever-popular with kids. I’m talking about the TV show about Earl Sinclair and his family. My brother—a super talented artist—drew Earl’s face on a piece of poster board. He cut out the mouth, and we used it for a bean bag toss. My other brother manned the ring toss, which featured actual figurines from the series as the targets. My dad ran the cake walk. My mom decorated another cake. All of the kids from the neighborhood came, and it was a truly wonderful memory created by my family.

At ten, I had a sleepover complete with makeovers and lip-synch battles. At fourteen, I had a pizza party in the park. At twenty-three, a group of friends helped me recreate a twenty-first birthday experience. And so on. Every year, friends and family have always been so good at helping me celebrate… me.

Like this blog, I’m celebrating a birthday this month. A big one—the big three-oh. (Or the Dirty Thirty if you like. And who doesn’t like a good rhyme?)

I’ve been conditioned to make birthdays a little special—and even a little nerdy—so I’m celebrating in a kind of unique way. With my birthday falling almost exactly halfway through 2016, I decided to spend the year re-reading my thirty favorite books (and in a few cases series). I’ll admit, as I’m writing this, I haven’t made the best progress on this. (Thirty is a lot of books, and I already had a big to-read pile.) But it has been so much fun. I’m cherishing childhood favorites, like Roald Dahl’s Matilda, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I’m reconnecting with ones from my older adolescence, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And I’m saying hello again to more recent reads, like Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret? and Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series. It’s a long and somewhat daunting list given the timeframe, but you know what? I’m having so much fun.

As a writer, sometimes books can seem like work. It’s the best work I know, but it is still work. By reconnecting with these favorites—old and new—I’m spending the year remembering why I fell in love with stories and why I wanted to become a storyteller.

To help Bethany celebrate her blog’s birthday, I’m offering up a signed pair of First & Goal and Going for Two to one lucky reader. (U.S. or Canada only, please.) I hope these first two books in my Queen of the League series will become some of your new favorites.

Laura Chapman is the author of Going for Two, First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and the holiday collection All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink. She loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura makes her home in Nebraska, where she is penning her next novel. Be sure to connect with her on social media.

Harper Duquaine is back for another season of fantasy football! This time she’s a year wiser and prepared to dominate the league. But while she finally seems to have her fantasy life in order, reality proves more challenging.

Her plans to peacefully play house with her boyfriend come to a halt when the high school suddenly names Brook its head football coach. The promotion comes with more responsibility on the field and less time at home. It also unexpectedly means more work for Harper, who already has her hands full helping a friend pull off the perfect proposal (while dodging questions about when she and Brook are going to get hitched already). Plus, a new development at work could leave her—and half of the fantasy league—jobless.

With the complications of her career and being “Mrs. Coach” adding up, Harper wonders if she’s committed to the life she’s already building or if there is something else out there.

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