Five Facts about Hard Hats and Doormats

Laura Chapman

1. I wrote the first 50,000 words of the first
draft during
National Novel Writing Month 2010.
NaNoWriMo is an
annual writing competition that happens every November. While I’d heard about
the contest before, I didn’t decide to participate until sometime on the
evening of Nov. 1. This story had been brewing in my mind for a couple of years
before I started the first draft, but I still had to quickly hash out an outline.
I reached the
50,000-word deadline just under the wire at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. My Internet
wouldn’t properly connect to the website, and I had to send the manuscript to a
friend who uploaded it for verification on my behalf. I sat on the phone with
her while she went through the steps. Once she gave me the confirmation that
everything went through, I simultaneously fist-pumped the air and cried. I’ve
successfully participated in NaNoWriMo every year since, but that was the most
emotional I ever got.
2. I wrote more than half of the first-draft
in notebooks on airplanes and transcribed them into my computer in airport
terminals between flights.
At the time, I
traveled seven to twelve days a month and I had to sneak in writing whenever I
could. My job – a corporate journalist who wrote employee publications for
industrial customers – provided me with lots of reporter notebooks and pens,
which I kept handy for note taking if inspiration ever struck while I was out
and about.
3. Excluding the Lexi Burke and her family,
all of the characters’ last names in this book are the cities and work sites I
traveled to for work at that time.
I’m not even
sure why I decided to do this, but once the idea popped in my head, I was sold.
Jason Beaumont, Lexi’s love interest, has his last name, because Beaumont,
Texas, was one of the most complicated places I visited for work. I had some of
my best employee encounters there and some of my worst. While I tended to cry
on almost every trip (usually on the last day or two, because I was exhausted,
hungry and dirty), it was the only location where someone was so mean to me, I
sat in my car and cried for five minutes. I also had a couple of my best
interviews in that town.
I figured it was
a fitting name for a man who might force my character to go through a roller
coaster of feelings, because of the wide range of emotions I experienced.
4. I named Lexi’s smartphone after my company-issued
GPS device.
Harriet and
Harriet 2 (the first one passed away from old age in San Antonio, Texas),
accompanied me on every trip I took during my four years of professionally
5. The restaurant Lexi and a co-worker go to for
dinner in New Orleans’ French Quarter is based on a place I ate at in fall
The story goes
that the
Napoleon House Bar & Café
was offered up to Napoleon as a place of refuge, but he never made it. Now,
they serve amazing Cajun fare. I ate the shrimp remoulade stuffed avocado and
my dining partner had a poor boy. We were both equally satisfied with our
Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.
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But after losing
out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a
yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine
print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who
is off limits based on her previous protocol.
While navigating
a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand
on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Laura Chapman
Laura Chapman found a way to mix her love of romance and humor as a women’s fiction author and blogger. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was released in December with Marching Ink.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent several years traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in communications.
Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted fan of football, British period drama, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.

Excerpt from Hard Hats and Doormats Alexis Burke @theLexiBurke Can a person refer to employees as Jackass 1 & 2
in an official report? Asking for a friend. #HRProblems #ThisIsMyLife
 The universe keeps telling jokes and I’m the punch
line. #IHaveProof
 Okay, seriously. When did this become my life? Can I
get a mulligan? #ObscureGolfAnalogyForLife
 In kindergarten
Sunday school, Lexi Burke imagined Hell as a fire-ridden, hate-filled pit below
Earth’s surface. On a mighty throne of blackened steel and skulls, Satan preyed
on the souls of the damned for eternity.
 Twenty years
later, she discovered a new version of Hell. It was a windowless conference
room on an oil platform off the coast of God-only-knew-where Texas in the
middle of May. The devil took form in two men, both middle-aged and madder than
a hornets nest. Despite the sweat building on her neck, she shivered.
 When did babysitting old guys become my job? How mad do hornets get, and what does their nest have
to do with it?
 Where did I come up with that analogy? Solving those
mysteries had to wait. Casting a glance at the figures gathered around the
badly chipped table, she considered the situation at hand. The two men, their
union reps, and a team of local managers were going yet another round in their
verbal sparring without a semblance of resolution. The representatives wanted
the men to go back to work. The managers wanted to give them pink slips.
 As the HR
manager assigned – albeit at last-minute – to the investigation, she wanted to
keep everyone from killing each other. Not an easy task, considering the two
men under investigation already gave murder their best shot.

Five Facts for Gabby Angel of God: Guardian and Messenger

Gregory J. Sandora 

1. The first three heartbeats of the story are true. Seventeen years ago, when my son Canon was five years old, our family spent a weekend in Bar Harbor, Maine. The part about Bo lying on a picnic table looking over at his son is similar to what happened to me. Like Bo, I saw an angel staring back at me. Unlike the story, she didn’t stay around to spend a couple of weeks on an exciting, unrequited love adventure with me. 

2. The angel in the story, Gabby (short for Gabriella) is so divinely beautiful that Bo worries that she may attract too much attention when he and Gabby enter a hell-hole bar to save a young girl held against her will, in fact, my daughter and wife are the models for Gabby.

3. The book only required four or five edits. I have an amazing editor that helped with the process of getting the book ready to publish.  

4. Friends read my stories and try to find things they recognize, and my family gives me the inspiration. 

5. My first two books Jack Canon’s American Destiny: He’s All In! and Jack Canon’s Women of the House: Love, Lust and Loyalty is my answer to the fifty shades phenom. They are packed full of sexy scenes with powerful women.  I enjoy writing about the inner workings of the government, the plotting, romantic entanglements and corruption at the highest levels. Jack Canon is a hero that becomes president to fight the immorality of super-wealth damaging the United States. 

Gabby Angel of God: Guardian and Messenger
A Supernatural Romance Thriller


Gabby, Angel of God is a Supernatural Romance Thriller that feels like falling in love again! 
The story starts out with a young widower, Bo, raising two small children – in the time it takes for three heartbeats his life will change!
Ride along as stunningly beautiful Gabby, takes this human man on the no-holds barred adventure of a lifetime! 
If you’ve ever lost a loved one this story is for you! 
A story of Peace, Love, Hope, Charity, and the strength of Faith, you’ll love Gabby, Angel of God. Gabby, is not only gorgeous, she’s powerful, and able to take on forces that would make powerful armies turn and run for their lives.


About Gregory J. Sandora’s  in his own words…

‘I graduated with a business degree; owning and operating an Award Winning Franchise Fitness Center. Currently, I’m a professional manager and living in Florida with my beautiful wife and children, and following my passion.

Some of my other projects include a children’s book called Sammy the Sea Turtle.’

Extract: “Thank you Principal Mooney, Good morning fellow students, teachers – Whew! I’m glad to be here!” I’d heard a great speaker at a medical conference start like that once.
“I’d forgotten how loud you can all get!” I continued. That got another rise out of them. Kids began hammering their feet and howling at the top of their lungs. A couple of horn blasts went off. Old Eagle-eye Mooney made an obvious attempt to locate those responsible demonstrably darting his eyes about the room.
“When you’re young, it feels like this euphoria will go on forever!” I said, speaking from the heart. Kids answered by stomping their feet into the bleachers. Some were genuinely excited, others were enjoying the chance to be disruptive, but everyone was relishing the growing look of concern on the faculty faces. I motioned palms down for everyone to settle so we could begin. The teenager working the speakers took my signal deftly raising and lowering the music on cue.
“You know…last night I dreamed of what might have been, and woke to a certainty that never was.”
“What?” Some wise guy hollered out, “Speak English!” A bunch of kids laughed, then more joined in. It did sound a bit metaphysical, that realization made me smile.
I figured I’d better consider the audience and tone it down or else lose them altogether. “Okay, I’ll get to it, but pay attention this may be something your principal and teachers may not like.” A lull came over the crowd as if a bomb were about to go off.
“We are a school divided!” Everyone started looking around.
“Does anyone disagree with that? You shouldn’t because it’s a fact. I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s wrong. You think you have forever to get it right, hoping that someday you’ll be accepted and that you’ll be part of the crowd. Let me tell you the sad truth, for most of you it doesn’t happen. The whole four years will pass you by before you know it, and you’ll end up pretending you’re not angry, frustrated, and disappointed, but I promise you this – you’ll never forget High School. Stop waiting for things to improve. It’s time we make school better for all of us!” Kids were becoming deeply engaged, nodding in agreement.
“Do you know there are kids in this auditorium afraid to walk the halls for fear of being ridiculed, bullied, or worse? Let me ask you – Whose fault is that?”
Someone yelled out, “The teachers!” I scanned the cheerleaders and saw my Sally leading the squad, she like everyone else was turned toward the faculty to see how they were reacting.
She was amazing, I’d never seen her that young, at seventeen her bright freshness nearly floored me; it felt like falling in love at first sight all over again. My mind was racing, too fast to think clearly.
Sally turned back to face the squad and I got a glimpse of her finely shaped buns. My youthful libido was playing tricks on me; I tried to figure out, how she dared to sit on that. It’s like using a Picasso or a Rembrandt for a drop cloth. Then I realized the poor thing doesn’t really have a choice other than to stand up all the time. Anyway my new goal in life is to talk to her, but I remembered I was speaking to a crowd of kids.
“Sure,” I answered, “it’s partly a failure of the administration, but students share some of the blame. We have to come together to build a community – think about it, in the very near future we’ll be the adults of Portland!”
More nods of agreement came from students not accustomed to hearing this kind of talk. “Face it; this is supposed to be the best time of our lives! At least that’s what your parents keep telling you. Are your memories going to be dreading entering school through the band hall? Most kids are afraid to be friendly with anyone outside of their little group for fear of being shut out themselves.”
I turned to the faculty sitting behind me, “Educators, year after year you do nothing. Do you see it, or are you all just willing to go along for the ride? Are you just letting the bullying happen?” They looked uncomfortable, obviously unaccustomed to a student speaking to them this way.
“Listen, I’m not here to preach to you. The world is full of people who will tell you what’s wrong and there’s no shortage of opinion as to what to do about it. The true rarity is in finding people who will actually do something to fix it. And, by that I mean the situation we find ourselves coping with here.” A quiet came over the auditorium as though the words had found their mark.
“This morning I speak to you about possibilities! Imagine what it would be like, if we did better. How much improved our lives would be if we treated each other with kindness. There’s a reason your parents try to live through you sometimes. I know it makes you mad, but think would you trade for their lives? Their long work days, waiting for weekends filled with chores, to do-lists, and family obligations?”
Today I challenge you to open your heart and make a friend. Many friends if your soul’s big enough. Find someone you might not have talked to before. Look out for each other – starting today, and make a school we can be proud of.”

Five Facts about Renegades


S.A. Mason

1. Renegades was actually inspired by the television show Firefly. The short-lived show was much different than other science fiction shows; it really broadened my traditional notions of science fiction and helped me think outside of the box to just combine the things I was interested in. I had always heard the advice to write the book you’d want to read, and Firefly really helped me do that. I wouldn’t call Renegades fanfiction because it takes place in a whole different universe with new characters, but the Firefly inspiration is definitely noticeable, if you’ve seen the show. (If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it immediately.)

2. I spent almost four months doing world creation and developing the characters before I even made an outline. I wanted to know every detail of the world and people I would be writing about. Once the outline was done, I wrote 1,000-1,500 words a day and finished the first draft in two months. Renegades wasn’t published until almost a year after that because I couldn’t stop editing.

3. I had originally named the protagonist Elena, but as I was doing my character development, I read the 50 Shades of Grey series, and one of the characters was named Elena, so I changed her name to Elora. Not only did I not like Elena’s character in 50 Shades of Grey, but since that series was so popular, I didn’t want any kind of association with it. In the end, I’m glad I went with Elora. It’s not a very common name, but still pronounceable, which was what I aimed for with all the character’s names.

4. Nigel is my least favorite character. I find him to be very needy, annoying, and immature. But I think his character is necessary for the book to unfold how I wanted it to. His skill set is obviously necessary, but for him to stick with Elora through everything, I felt like he had to be in love with her. His level of dedication had to be more than friendship.

5. I decided to forgo the traditional publishing route and self-publish Renegades mostly because I’m impatient. Querying agents and securing a publisher can take years, and I wanted my book available as soon as possible (and my mom wouldn’t quit asking me when she could read it). The actual writing, editing, and publishing part of self-publishing wasn’t as hard and time-consuming as I thought it would be. Marketing, on the other hand, takes up more time than expected.



Amazon | BN | Kobo Smashwords
Elora Pertin spent her life trying to please her father, an esteemed General for the Empire.

When he convinced her to leave her quiet life as a scientist to advance a secret project for the Emperor, she had no idea what she was getting into. The seemingly innocent projects she engineered were actually being used to develop a genocidal weapon. After uncovering the Emperor’s plot, Elora had no choice but to act.
Elora finds herself fighting for her life against the Empire she once served, abandoning everything with only a handful of friends and an unlikely ally—the Emperor’s deadliest assassin. Will he prove himself true as her protector, a loyal servant of the Empire, or a romantic distraction? With the law and assassins searching the star system for them, Elora and her team are determined to accomplish their mission . . . or die trying.
Sara Atherton Mason

Sara Atherton Mason was raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, with an amazing immediate and extended family. 

She attended Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, graduating with highest honors in Chemistry. She then graduated from the Florida State University College of Law with high honors. 

She lives in the Florida with her toy poodle, Melvin, and clerks for a United States District Court Judge. She enjoys coffee, wine, sports, and science fiction television shows.

Five Facts about A Fair Exchange

This month, Monique McDonell is the first author to reveal FIVE FACTS about her latest release (she is also offering prizes. Scroll down for details). During the FIVE FACTS month we’ll  be discovering facts about books that their author would rather not be known.

Over to Monique…

1. Just like the main character in my novel, A Fair Exchange, I was an exchange student in Massachusetts as a teenager.

2. Of all my novels this one had the longest gestation period.

3. I had lots of fun researching this book doing road trips in Australia and eating out at places in the book.

4. The character of Stacey in the book is an amalgam of a few of my friends when I live in America. (Stacey is a very American name and was not common in Australia in the 1980s and yet I had several American friends by that name – all my Australian friends were called Jennifer, Emma or Kylie).

5. Of all the male characters I’ve written Matt is my favourite so far. If I wasn’t happily married he’d be welcome on my door-step anytime!

A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?
Amelia Armstrong is about to find out!

It’s just a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself, and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.


It was not as if he was the
first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment
had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise
empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said
“Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I
might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a
vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?
What amazed me was that the
Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
 Not that Nick had dumped me,
after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking
basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and
an enormous mortgage.
 No one even commented about
the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way
too much to me.
 No, they commented on the
 What I could not understand
though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue
commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing
sea of tears?
 How had this happened? How had
I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up
thirty-six and alone?
 Didn’t I used to have so much
potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?
 “Amelia Armstrong is something
 I was one of those shiny young
girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what
she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
 If I hadn’t been that kind of
a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl
would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen,
staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.
 So where was that girl right
now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so
horribly wrong?

About the author – Monique McDonell:

‘I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.’