Friday, March 28, 2014

♥A Blog Tour moment with Victoria Bernadine and her book "A Life Less Ordinary"♥

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For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she's questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she's passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny's life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she's quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she's leaving town on a six month road trip. After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she's joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke's true goal is to expose Manny's journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus. Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny's on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.

Manny laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling and waiting for sleep. She plucked restlessly at the blanket and wished she could relax. Tomorrow was Steph’s first staff meeting. Today she’d reacquainted herself with everyone in the office then spent the rest of the day with Manny being briefed on the details of the work of the branch and any current issues she’d need to resolve within the next few days. That meant Manny’s own work had been delayed, and tomorrow it would be delayed again–and Manny would have to leave early in order to meet Rebecca and Daisy at the lounge for drinks before heading to the club.

Manny took a deep breath and slowly let it out. It wouldn’t be too bad, she staunchly told herself. Steph was young, energetic, and had a shrewd intelligence almost obscured by the cleavage-revealing shirts, short skirts and a figure that could stop traffic–and probably did. Manny wondered if Craig truly understood what he’d gotten himself in for by promoting Steph rather than Manny.

Cleavage and legs.

She mentally rolled her eyes at Harvey’s dry, cynical tones.

Maybe–but that’s not really fair to him, is it? He’s not a bad guy.

But he is just a guy.

She does bring a new perspective–a new way of thinking about things. She’s not a bad choice–and I can’t argue with Craig’s idea that shaking things up could make things better.

And where does that leave you?

No worse off than I was before.

And no better.

If you’re not going to be helpful...

Harvey glanced down at his suddenly ruffled shirt opened to the middle of his muscled chest and skin-tight breeches. He glanced back at her with a ruefully amused smile.

Watched the Ice Pirates again, did you?

Oh, shut up–it’s a classic no matter what anybody else thinks!

I’m just sayin’–if I was real and regularly wore pants this tight, I’m not sure I’d be of any use to you. If you know what I mean.

Manny groaned and shook her head, and Harvey blinked out of existence. She wondered when she’d managed to lose control of a figment of her imagination–one she’d eventually felt compelled to name after an invisible rabbit.

She groaned again, rolled over and pulled the covers over her head. It was going to be another long day tomorrow.

Complete with dancing.

Truly, a book less ordinary!  I have a new hero and her name is Manny!  Finally, a woman with whom I can truly relate.  Most of us “ladies of a certain age” wonder what the hell happened to the life we envisioned for ourselves. Manny is stuck in a rut.  She’s over 40, overweight, and overlooked at work.  She’s so socially isolated that she’s created her fantasy companion – Henry – who she talks to on a regular basis.  One day Manny decides that enough is enough and determines to change her life – NOW.  She quits her job, cashes in her nest egg, and decides it is time to discover what the hell happened to her life!  But she’s not going alone!  She places a personal ad in search of the perfect travelling companion – no sex expedted.  Zeke, he’s simply along for the ride.  Zeke is a blogger, a very popular one, who is documenting the journey one blog post at a time.  He is wry, sarcastic, and - at first - thinks little of Manny.  His posts are snarky and border on mean – his disdain for her is palpable to his readers, and they LOVE it. However, his perpective changes after spending a significant amount of time with her.  He begins to see more than the asexual middle aged woman, and begins to see the vulnerable, kind, and beautiful woman within.  Each of  undergoes a transformation one destination at a time. 

Written in episodic form, A Life Less Ordinary grabs you in the first paragraph and doesn’t let go.  Ms. Bernadine’s writing style is fluid, funny and smart.  Her characters are deep, human, and relatable.  She flawlessly weaves the supporting characters into her story in way that makes me care about them as much as I care for Manny and Zeke.  

Five PLUS stars for A Life Less Ordinary! I expected this to be one more in the many POV books that have been released in the last year.  How wrong I was. This was an exceptional glimpse into the human condition after 40. Take the journey – read A Life Less Ordinary!

Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008.

Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody's guess.

She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.

Tell us about yourself.

Thanks for hosting me today!  I’m a forty-something woman, living in Edmonton.  I started writing again in 2008, after well over twenty years of being unable to write anything creative.  Well.  Not counting things for work, of course.  ;)  I started out writing horribly melodramatic fanfic (which never made it out of the notebook), progressed to pretty decent fanfic, and from there, I went to original fics.  A Life Less Ordinary is the first story I thought was good enough to actually publish.

What are three things about you that might surprise your readers?

I’m the youngest of eight children.  Life imitated art in that I did quit my long-term job, and I did cash out my pension in order to take some time away from work (I also sold my house, but that was just a side effect).  I wrote most of A Life Less Ordinary on the bus during my daily commute.

How did you get your start as a writer?

I always wrote stories as a kid, although I seldom finished anything.  I stopped writing when I was in university; the creativity just dried up.  I was inspired to write again because I was a huge, huge fan of a TV show called Jericho, and was madly in love with the character of Major Edward Beck, and his potential relationship with Heather Lisinski.  The show got cancelled, and I so wanted their story to continue!  I found a small community of fellow fans who were writing some great stories, but it wasn’t enough.  So, one day, I decided to write my own fanfic, just so I could have something to read.  The rest, as they say, is history. 

Where did the idea for the storyline come from?

It came from how I was feeling at that particular moment in my life.  I was looking for an idea for the now-defunct ScriptFrenzy challenge (write a 100-page script in 30 days), and I came up with the idea of a woman, disenchanted with her life, who decides to (as she puts it) “have a mid-life crisis like a man”. 

Please tell us about your characters.

Rose “Manny” Mankowski is 45, and has spent the last fifteen years working at the same job.  Her life is in a complete rut, and she’s more and more disenchanted with where she’s ended up.  Zeke Powell is 35, a freelance multimedia developer, and a blogger for the website, What Women Want.  His blog is known for being sarcastic and a little cruel, and is used to stir up controversy and drive traffic to the site.  Manny’s a little naïve, a little shy, a little disconnected from the world around her.  Zeke’s arrogant and a bit of a jerk, but has deep loyalty to his friends.  Manny’s on a journey of self-discovery, and Zeke’s going along for the ride (although he truly believes he has nothing to learn).

Top Five favorite scenes from A Life Less Ordinary?

5.  Dance scene

I love the dance scene for Zeke’s appalled reactions, and because a drunk Manny is really kinda adorable.


4.  Leila

Leila isn’t exactly a scene, but she was so clear in my mind when I wrote about her.  All her scenes were real labours of love, because I thought she was beautiful and wise and funny and I wanted to just take her home – LOL.

3.  Vegas

Ah, Vegas!  There’s just something about that glittering town that makes you believe the strangest things are possible – LOL.  Again, it’s not exactly a scene, but like with Leila, everyone was so clear in my mind, and I just love that whole chapter to bits.

2.  Stranded on the side of the road.

I just love Manny and Zeke’s interactions while they’re stranded on the side of the road, and Harvey’s pretty good, too.  J

1. First meeting in the coffee shop.

This one was just pure fun!  And I get into it more in the next question.  :D


What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?

I’d have to say the meeting in the coffee shop.  If I recall correctly, it was the first scene I wrote where Harvey actually spoke (as opposed to being a strong, silent sex symbol – LOL), and that was when I realized he was going to be quite the character in his own right:  outspoken, sarcastic, supportive and funny as hell (okay, I might be biased about that last part!  ;D ). 

What are the best things about being a writer?

5.  Having something to do on the commute to work.

4.  Creating something tangible and knowing “I did that!”

3.  The fun of seeing what’s going to happen next.

2.  Having fans!  *flails*

1.  The Creative Rush


What other releases do you have planned for 2014?

I have three I’m hoping to release in 2014; they’re still in the writing/editing stages, though, with no planned release date(s) yet.


Do you have a work in progress that you can share with us?

I have another romantic comedy that’s still in the first draft stage.  I also have two post-apocalyptic novels that I’m currently reviewing to see if I can improve them enough for publication.  One’s more of a romance set in a post-apocalyptic world (hey, if there can be vampires that sparkle in the sun, there can be romances set during the end of a world, right?  Right??? ;D ).  The other’s a novella that’s more straight-forward science fiction, but with a bit of a cerebral bent to it.

I have a confession to make:  I actually had a playlist for every episode (or chapter) in the book.  I'd listen to each playlist while I was working on that particular episode.  I finally narrowed all the songs down to the following:


1. Standing on the Edge of Good-bye - John Berry

I can't eat, and I can't sleep.

Sometimes I find it hard to breathe

I break down and cry, not knowing why

Now I can't lie

I'm standing on the edge of good-bye.


2. Pinch Me - Barenaked Ladies

It's like a dream you try to remember

But it's gone

Then you try to scream

But it only comes out as a yawn

When you try to see the world

Beyond your front door


3. Human Touch - Rick Springfield

You know, I got my walls

Sally calls them prison cells

Sometimes I need protection

I've got the chains

I got the warning bells

I sit so snug and isolated alone in the modern world


4. Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On - Jimmy Buffett

According to my watch the time is now

The past is dead and gone

Don't try to shake it just nod your head

Breathe in, breathe out, move on


5. 100 Years - Five for Fighting

I'm forty-five for a moment

The sea is high

And I'm heading into a crisis

Chasing the years of my life


6. Dust on the Bottle - David Lee Murphy

There might be a little dust on the bottle

But don't let it fool ya about what's inside

There might be a little dust on the bottle

It's one of those things that gets sweeter with time


7. Summerzcool - Jimmy Buffett

Bust your ass to get a good life

You make a habit out of overtime

When the big report card comes

Your priorities are way out of line.


8. The Riddle - Five for Fighting

There are secrets that we still have left to find

There have been mysteries from the beginning of time

There are answers we're not wise enough to see

He said you looking for a clue I love you free


9. Nothing but a Breeze - Jimmy Buffett

Life is just too short for some folks

For other folks it just drags on

Some folks like the taste of smokey whiskey

Others figure tea is too strong


10. Let It Go - Zac Brown Band

You keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open

So this world can't find a way to leave you cold

And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean

Save your strength for things that you can change

Forgive the ones you can't - you gotta let it go


11. Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw

And he said: I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,

I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.

And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,

And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.


12. Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band

Gonna put the the world away for a minute

Pretend I don't live in it

Sunshine gonna wash my blues away

Had sweet love but I lost it

She got too close so I fought her

Now I'm lost in the world trying to find me a better way


13. Life Short, Call Now - Jimmy Buffett

Got no city, got no land

Got no lover, got no wife

How many ways to say goodbye

Can one man fit in a nomad life?


14. Colder Weather - Zac Brown Band

He said I wanna see you again

But I'm stuck in colder weather

Maybe tomorrow will be better - Can I call you then?

She said you're ramblin' man

You ain't ever gonna change

You gotta gypsy soul to blame and you were born for leavin'


15. Tonight I Just Need My Guitar - Jimmy Buffett

Sometimes more than others

You see who and what and where you are

I'm a one-man band with no immediate plans

Tonight I just need my guitar


16. Take the Weather With You - Jimmy Buffett

Walking around the room singing stormy weather

At 57 Mount Pleasant Street

Now its the same room but everything's different

You can fight the sleep but not the dream


17. You're My Home - Billy Joel

Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike

Indiana's early morning dew

High up in the hills of California

Home is just another word for you.


18. A Change of Days - Smith's Cloud

So come on all you people it ain’t hard for you to know

Celebrate in all the things you say

The part where everything is safe or explodes

And we’ll call it a Change of days


19. No Hurry - Zac Brown Band

Ain't in no hurry, I'd be a fool now to worry

About all those things I can't change

And the time that I borrow can wait till tomorrow

'Cause I ain't in no hurry, ain't in no hurry, ain't in no hurry today


20. Chances - Five for Fighting

Chances are we´ll find two destinations

Chances roll away from me

Still chances are more than expectations

The possibilities


You can hear the songs on my playlist here on YouTube: . 

And yes, if this book were actually a movie/TV series, Jimmy Buffett would make a fortune - LOL!


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1 comment:

  1. Hi! Thanks for hosting me today - it's greatly appreciated!

    I'm so thrilled you loved the book! I had such a great time writing it, and I'm always grateful when somebody else enjoyed it as much as I did!

    The interview was a lot of fun, and the playlist sends me right back into Manny Mode and makes me want to get back to these characters and see what happens next. :D


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