Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review and Interview with Tara Lee Reed, Author of Coulda Woulda Shoulda!!

“The End” is Only the Beginning.

Elle Masters is over dating. It used to be fun: the drama, the angst, the exhilarating beginnings, the bittersweet middles, the blowout endings. Then the tears, hangovers, rebounds, and another addition to the shoebox of memories in her closet. Now Elle can’t remember the last time a guy made his way into her box.

When her friends Rachel and Valerie insist she snap out of her post-breakup funk with a girls’ night out/rebound hunt at a San Francisco bar, Elle isn’t expecting tall, dark, and hummuna-hummuna, Nick Wright. This is no rebound guy. He’s definitely, maybe, The One.

In Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, the interactive romantic comedy where you direct the plot, you play Elle as she and her pals put the “antics” in “romantics.” Get ready to question everything you thought you knew about love, over-analyzing and second-guessing your way through hundreds of modern dating dilemmas and passionate predicaments. Will you accept a last minute date? Freak out if Nick wants space? Be the first to use the ‘L’ word? Live in sin? Or hold out for a ring? Wait, do you even want a ring?

With 60 good, bad and inexplicable endings, you’ll always have another second chance at love with Mr. Wright.


I could read this book for hours trying to figure the different scenerios for Elle and Nick!! 
Ella is done with dating.  After her most recent break up, she's bound and determined to stay single.  Her two best friends have other plans, and decide to take her out for a night on the town.  That night, she notices a cute guy checking her out. 
Nick Wright is good-looking, charming and very interested in Elle.  Throughout this book, you can pretty much see where the relationship goes and where it doesn't.  You make up the story as you go along, and I loved that!!  As I said, I could read it for hours seeing the different paths their relationship take!!
I loved her two best friends, who were there for Elle through everything.  Even getting mad at Nick for not calling for a week. 
Really great story!!!!

How long have you been writing?

For fiction, I started writing six years ago with my first novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. I had a great idea for a book but was nearly a decade into my career in public relations, so I never expected I’d actually do anything beyond daydream about it now and then. But when I had to give up my career (and the outdoors) because of disabling health issues, my cabin fever led me to digging it out of my “Things I’ll Probably Never Do” notebook.

Beyond that, I’m a very wordy person. Some people think in pictures (and I do, too, sometimes), but I more frequently can see words as I think them. I kept journals from elementary school through college, all of which have long since been (regrettably) destroyed. There was a half-hearted (and wildly naive) attempt at a novel in elementary school, and a screenplay (which had a killer soundtrack) in high school.

My career in public relations always involved a lot of writing, which has been very helpful, particularly in character development, as I was already accustomed to adopting vastly different individuals’ “voices” when writing speeches, talking points, or other media materials.

And jokes. I write jokes. (Thank you, Twitter, for giving me an outlet for this.)

What or who inspires you to write?

Enthusiasm inspires me! My own and others’. It’s as contagious as a yawn to me. If I’m feeling unproductive, I watch or read something about a favourite performer, like Jim Henson’s biography, or Dave Chappelle’s first appearance on Inside The Actors Studio. I admire them both greatly for what they’ve accomplished in regards to their own craft, and that’s usually enough to get me fired up.

It’s generally hard to hold my attention, but when something grabs my focus, you’ll be unlikely to get it back. I have little bursts of inspiration that multiply exponentially, and my memory is terrible, so there are post-it notes, scrap papers, emails and voice memos pretty much everywhere on and around my person, all with scattered bits of dialogue and plot points. Compiling it is an adventure in itself. (Especially guessing how much wine fueled a particular idea).

My blog is about as organized as my bread crumb notes, and I try not to write anything just for the sake of it. But...if you can provoke a strong enough emotional response from me, I’ll feel compelled to write an impassioned response or open letter. (I’m a bit of a rabble rouser.)

What genre do you like to read?

My taste is pretty eclectic, and obsessive. Last year the bulk of my reading was historical fiction and nonfiction. Memoirs and biographies are always in the mix, actually. It’s rare that real life isn’t more interesting than fiction. That old expression “You can’t make this stuff up!” comes to mind.

I just finished Patience Bloom’s memoir Romance is My Day Job: A Tale of Finding Love at Last, and it’s up there with Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (which should be read repeatedly) in my Top 10. Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Ever Tell My Friends sits at Number One. It’s The Bee’s.

What is your favorite genre to write?

I’ve only officially written commercial fiction, with a largely humorous vibe, and I imagine that’s where I’ll spend most of my time for now. First up, there are the next two titles in the Once Upon a Theme series, each leaning to the romantic comedy end of the spectrum, and will alternate points of view, giving Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s supporting characters Rachel and Valerie each their own title with a unique focus.

I’m also working on a story dealing with chronic illness. It’s been six years since I had to stop working due to disabling fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. That’s a long time, and not a thing has changed in terms of understanding, research effort or awareness. The rate of diagnose is increasing exponentially, already affecting up to six percent of the North American population, mostly women, and no one seems to be looking into it. I’d like to contribute something toward changing that.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I tend to have favourites for each genre, and for women’s fiction, that’s Emily Giffin. Something Borrowed remains my go-to reread, in print and on audio. I remember finishing it in about sixteen consecutive hours without sleep. I love all of Giffin’s work, but have always been impressed that she made me root for the “bad girl,” while turning a common trope on its ear in Something Borrowed. And in the follow up, Something Blue, she even managed to make me like Darcy (the actual bad girl), which I’d decided was against the laws of physics. I’d love to see more of her books made into movies. Where We Belong would be an excellent screen adaptation.

What do you love about writing and why?

Writing is both always the same and always different - at least, it’s as different as you want it to be. As a restless soul, that’s comforting. I can decide on a whim to switch to a new story, or a new genre - or even jump to screen or teleplays, which is something I’d very much like to do. (Basically, I want to be Vajayjay Abrams and conquer TV and films in addition to books.)

What is the book about?

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda is a choosable path novel, much like the books you may remember from grade school, only this one’s way grown up and for chicks! It has hundreds of unique choices inspired by popular dating advice and culture, and 60 endings.

As the reader, you assume the role of Elle, a single gal ready to swear off dating following another break up that didn’t break your heart. That is, until you meet Nick Wright and find yourself over-analyzing and second-guessing your way through courtship conundrums and passionate predicaments, and then living with the outcome – even when it means starting over. Fifty-nine times.

What or who was the inspiration for the book?

I met a guy in a bar and we hit it off. My friend and I agreed to join him at another spot where he was meeting friends from college. On the way, we stopped at his place so he could change, and I noticed a copy of Neil Strauss’ The Game - a fascinating memoir about an underground society of pickup artists. I’d recently heard of it, but didn’t want to assume it was his and not a roommate’s. But for the rest of the night, he’d sort of flit back and forth between me and a number of girls from his school days, something I suspected was meant to make me insecure.

So that wasn’t going anywhere, but I was curious and bought the book, along with an Amazon-suggested copy of dating advice classic, The Rules. Not two chapters into The Game, I found nearly a dozen “techniques” that guy had tried on me. It was actually pretty funny. Then I read The Rules, which is a very rigid list of Do’s and Don’ts. I contrasted those titles with the only other advice book I’d ever read, He’s Just Not That Into You, and found they had little in common. And that was a mere sample of what was out there.

When I thought of how impossible it would to keep up with all of it, it brought to mind the adventure and role-playing video games published by the company I worked for. A heroine always working toward the next level, forging her own path, jumping through hoops and getting advice along the way. She’d get so far before, out of nowhere, boom! Game Over. Try Again? Fast forward and there I am, knee-deep in research by experts, creating an inclusive and (hopefully) relatable representation of modern dating culture.  

Who are the characters in the book?

Elle Masters is our protagonist. She’s a mid-level public relations consultant in San Francisco. And while she’s most definitely looking for love, she’s unclear on marriage and kids, currently more distraught with the fact she can’t remember the last time she met a guy who made her think about either of those things. She’s a reasonable and independent gal but, like all of us, is occasionally prone to a little neurosis when it comes to relationships. Just a little.
Elle’s best friend since high school is the half-Canadian, one hundred percent sarcastic, Rachel Winters. A music supervisor for film and television, she’s got pretty much the coolest job on Earth. She’s not a Rules Girl. In fact, she’s more of a No Rules Girl, much preferring to keep things casual than stay perpetually partnered. In her Once Upon a Theme title, Good on Paper, Rachel finds her unromantic self barraged with classic romance archetypes.

Rachel lives a few floors down from Elle in an apartment she shares with Valerie, who the two met in college. A stark contrast to the bold and brash Rachel, Valerie is a girly girl and true romantic. A lifelong student of romance novels, movies and soaps, she loves a little drama, but not in her own life, which she’d prefer to keep neat and uncomplicated. In her Once Upon a Theme title, As the Plot Thickens, Valerie’s life becomes a veritable soap opera, with scandal, secrets and studs.

Elle’s leading man is Nick Wright. He’s a tall, dark and Henry Cavill type who works in one of those finance jobs no ever truly understands. He’s a guy’s guy, in every sense of the word, and not without his own reservations about traditional approaches to relationships. He’s a straight shooter (and according to Elle, one heck of a kisser).

If you could have five authors, over for dinner, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Emily Giffin - She’s incredibly genuine. I never read her books and sarcastically think, “Oh yeah, that happens in real life.” It would also be a great time to ask her to sign my books.  

Chelsea Handler - I’m kind of obsessed with her. Obviously, yes, she’s hilarious, but uniquely so. Her mind is remarkable - razor sharp wit, and keen, unforgiving observation. She has a confidence that’s rare among women in entertainment today. Her books are art, and I think it’s great she started her own publishing company. I’m also looking forward to her upcoming talk show on Netflix, which is a great example of what a shrewd business woman she is.

Gilda Radner - Oh, I love her. I named my cat after her. Saturday Night Live has been a launching ground for some pretty incredible women, but Gilda is my favorite. Such memorable characters - larger than life characters - and they all came out of this tiny woman with this adorable voice. When I was around 12 years old, I read her memoir It’s Always Something about her journey as a comedy giant on SNL, falling in love, and battling cancer. When you can make something so harrowing funny, you’re my hero. I’ve loved memoirs ever since.

Mildred Wirt Benson - The most frequent author behind the pseudonym, “Carolyn Keene” - the name associated with Nancy Drew, my favorite books as a kid. My mom tracked down the entire original series one at a time at used book stories, and I maintain they’re to thank for my early developed writing aptitude. It felt like fate when my first job out of college included PR for the video games based on the series. I mean, Nancy Drew. The original Veronica Mars.

Steve Martin - He’s probably one of few truly genuine examples of a modern renaissance man, and would definitely have been a fixture on Henry VIII’s court. He writes...everything, he paints, he plays music, he dances, he does the whole gamut in comedy. And I bet he brings really good wine (that he makes himself) to dinner parties.


Author Bio:
Tara Lee Reed is the accidental writer from Toronto, Canada, not that chick from Sharknado. When her career in public relations was forced into hiatus by a jerky plot twist, she wrote the first in a series of interactive novels. When she received offers of single and multi-book deals from top houses, she turned them down to publish independently. Because she’s crazy.

She was voted Most Sarcastic Female at her high school prom, which she went to alone. (Not that she thinks about it.) She can fit her whole fist in her mouth (which makes the prom thing surprising), and she can sing with her mouth closed, but she can’t do both at the same time.

Her tweets on The Bachelor have been aired in a live broadcast and picked up by national media. She once appeared on the cover of a romance novel with her longtime partner, who has done 79 more – with other women. She thinks that’s qualification enough to write this book.




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