11 June, 2012

#BookReview & Interview - Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark

Check out the Book on Amazon

This story is all about Julia – a travel magazine journalist. She enjoys her exotic trips that take her all over the world. She has problem maintaining focus and is very clumsy too – not very helpful characteristics when she has to meet deadlines! She returns from her trip to Italy, only to find out that her personal and professional lives have collided as her father is her new boss. Her missed deadlines and the recent below average articles land her into trouble and the only way to save her job is to take a trip to Alabama to cover an annual Pilgrimage. With her already planned trip to Bali cancelled, Julia has no other choice but to go to Alabama in order to save her career. Originally she plans to rush through her job there and return in time for her other assignment. However, once she lands in Eufaula, things are out of her control. She meets a family and her experience there might just change her life all over again! 

Losing her mother couple of years back had really affected Julia. Though, I don’t really agree with her ‘hiding from reality’ method of coping, I empathize with her. Her commitment phobia is also not at all endearing. But in the end she feels real and not all that fictional and that is why I loved her. There’s a similar quality to almost all of the characters in the story. The author has also done an excellent job in describing the setting to us. It was almost as though I was watching a motion picture instead of reading a book. And though personally I know very little about the Southern Hospitality, I have read enough of books and watched enough movies to have an idea about what exactly the author was talking about. The craziest part is that I kept imagining Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas from “Sweet Home Alabama” in order to get the ‘southern drawl’!!

The story ended in and hopeful note and a warm feeling in my heart. I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good chic-lit.

Interview with Lauren Clark

DDS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York and now live in the Deep South in a mid-sized city near the ocean. We own a historic home, which is constant need of fixing (the porch, a window, the fence). I have the friendliest neighbors and both the elementary and high schools are only a block away. I'm the mom of two fabulous boys, the wife of a smart, generous man, and the daughter of two wonderful parents. Of course, I didn't think my mother and father were wonderful as a child, when they turned off the television all summer, every summer.
This decision, however, turned into one of life's biggest blessings because that is how I developed my love of books and reading. It was a gift. Though I am not as strict with my own children, television time is limited, and my boys are both huge readers! The younger one loves Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House Series. My older son is a big Rick Riordan and Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) fan!

DDS: What got you into writing?  
I've always loved books, and began writing fiction about seven years ago when my second son was born. I would get up at 5 a.m. to work before anyone in the house woke up. It took finishing three terrible manuscripts and "retiring" from the television news business to begin writing Stay Tuned.
After a small publishing house expressed interest in the story, I ran the contract by an attorney who advised me NOT to sign it. Instead, I hired the owner of a small consulting firm, and she walked me through everything from cover design to formatting. I much prefer writing and revising to the technical side of publishing, but Dancing Naked in Dixie came together much more seamlessly because I'd been through it once.

DDS: Tell us about Dancing Naked in Dixie
Dancing Naked in Dixie is about New York City travel writer Julia Sullivan. She comes back from an assignment in Italy, meets her new boss, and is told that she's on the verge of being fired because she's missed a few deadlines and has become careless with her stories.
She's offered one last chance to rescue her career and embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage. Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?

DDS: What was the hardest part about writing the book? 
Endings are the most difficult!  I agonize over everything in the last few chapters :)

DDS: What are your writing pet peeves?
I detest proofreading. My eyes glaze over and I don't even see the words on the page anymore because I have read them over and over!  I have to have help to get those last few pesky commas and word choices in place!

DDS: Who is your favourite Character? (one of your own creation – published/unpublished) 
I adore Julia Sullivan (of Dancing Naked in Dixie).  She really means well, doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but gets herself into so many ridiculous predicaments!  She's klutzy, like I am -- and loves coffee -- like I do!

DDS: Now time for some fun facts about you. If ‘Dancing Naked in Dixie’ was to be turned into a movie – which Actor/Actress would you like to see playing the characters? 
I'm thinking Amy Adams for Julia, Patrick Dempsey for Shug, and Sam Neil for David.

DDS: Who is your favourite author & which is your favourite book? I know it is beyond difficult, but you can name only one in each category!! 
Sophie Kinsella.  Confessions of a Shopaholic.

DDS: One thing readers would be surprised to know about you… 
I adore superheroes and superhero stories!  I used to want to be Wonder Woman (LOL) and for Mother's Day, my two boys and I went to the movies to see "The Avengers!"  Loved it :)

DDS: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy? 
Yoga, Pure Barre, Bicycling, reading, swimming, playing with my children, reading, cooking, being with friends, dinner out with my husband, drinking coffee, reading, traveling, spending time in Upstate New York, and reading.

DDS: What’s the one thing that you want your readers to take away from this book? 
I think we’re all somewhat guilty of having preconceived notions or ideas about people and places we haven’t visited. The fun of this storyline involves Julia discovering how wrong she was about the Deep South. It’s a life-changing experience for her. It’s my hope that readers feel that Dixie honors and celebrates cultural differences.        

DDS: Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
I'm an avid reader, I love books, and try to support my fellow authors and promote their work. I do have a special place in my heart for Chick Lit, though. The genre allows an author to have the freedom of having a quirky character who's not perfect. I also believe that a good heroine should be a strong person--on her own. She doesn't need a man to swoop in and solve all of her problems. She's smart, but makes mistakes and learns as she goes. She's a woman who defines her own future.
Thank you for supporting my novels. It's such a joy to get an email from a reader, a nice review, or a note from a Facebook friend saying he or she liked my book or a certain character. There is no better feeling!


May 28 - Review & Introduction at VBT Cafe' Blog
May 29 - Review & Interview at Books Are Cool 
May 30  - Interviewed at AZ Publishing Services 
May 31 - Review & Interview at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
June 1 - Reviewed at Hire to Inspire 
June 1 - Reviewed at Ereading on the Cheap
June 4 - Review & Interview at My Reading Addiction 
June 6 - Interviewed at Mk McClintock's Blog 
June 7 - Interviewed by Ami Blackwelder 
June 8 - Reviewed by Cindy Vine 

June 8 - Reviewed at Taking Time for Mommy 
June 11 - Review & Interview at b00k r3vi3wS 
June 12 - Review & Interviewed at Froggarita's Bookcase 
June 14 - Reviewed at A Library of Our Own 
June 16 - Reviewed at Self Taught Cook 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe', no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*