Hi sheila welcome, thanks for stopping by to talk about Bikini Season
Opening line of the book:
Was it a bad omen when you couldn’t zip up your wedding dress?
Random facts about this book…
If you’re dieting you’ll want to try the recipes in it! It was inspired by my own diet efforts. Two girlfriends and I formed a diet triage to keep each other inspired and the pounds coming off. Of course, because I was dieting I craved chocolate like a woman in the desert craves water. I had a friend who was a nurse and involved with Weight Watchers who kindly went through all the recipes and added the nutrient values per serving.
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here…
This is a book about friends all wanting to eat better, get healthy, and improve their lives.
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
As with most of my books, this one features a cast of characters. Erin Merritt is having trouble fitting into her wedding gown. Perhaps it’s because she’s engaged to the wrong man. Her freind Kizzy is trying to lose weight but her husband likes her just the way she is and keeps sabotaging her efforts. And then there’s Megan, who has let her weight issues affect her self-esteem, and Angela, who is sure her husband is seeing another (skinnier) woman. One thing that surprised me was how much of myself there was in Megan – not necessarily weight issues, but body image issues. I never used to think of myself as pretty and it seemed I spent most of my life trying to prove to myself and others that I wasn’t ugly. It took years for my mother’s words of wisdom to finally sink in: Pretty is as pretty does. It’s what inside that makes us beautiful.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
Perhaps the whole self-help aspect of it. I believe strongly in the power of women’s friendships. With the help of our friends we can conquer any challenge.
The First kiss…
First kiss in this book isn’t your typical first kiss. It happened when Erin was in seventh grade and her nemesis (not her fiance), was in ninth grade. It was at a typical down-in-the-basement unsupervised kid party and the kids were playing spin the bottle. That first kiss gave her a zing from her bra to her training toes… and turned out to be the most humiliating incident of her young life. No wonder she moved on.
You know, I think that scene I just mentioned would make a fun opening scene. It reminds me of the opening scene in 13 Going on 30.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Lose the weight for yourself and your own health, not for anyone else.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
I’m already hard at work on something for, hopefully, next spring. And I’m looking forward to my holiday releases: a fun anthology with Debbie Macomber, Brenda Novak and RaeAnne Thayne called “Together at Christmas”, my newest Christmas tale, “The Lodge on Holly Road” and, of course, the Hallmark movie of “The Nine Lives of Christmas.” Needless to say, I’m going to have a very merry Christmas!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A print copy of BIKINI SEASON and some sugar free chocolate.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Dieting isn’t all that fun. Neither is making changes in our eating habits. Have you managed to successfully improve your eating habits? If so, how?
Was it a bad omen when you couldn’t zip up your wedding dress? Erin Merritt looked over her shoulder at her reflection in the full-length mirror hanging on her bedroom door and sighed. A good two inches of skin peeked out between the zipper teeth, taunting, Neener, neener, neener. How had this happened in just a few weeks?
Don’t play dumb, scolded her inner mother. You know how this happened. And then her inner mother gave her a little pat on the shoulder. But it’s understandable. You’ve been under a lot of stress.
She had. Her job as an event planner was stressful enough. But in addition to being responsible for making all those fund-raisers and community festivals in nearby Seattle smashing successes, she’d been working on a shoestring on the most important event of her life, her wedding.
If Mom were still alive it wouldn’t have been a shoestring. Mom always said, “What’s money when you’re making memories? Memories are priceless.” Especially wedding memories, and that was why Erin wanted a storybook wedding.
But Adam Hawthorne, her Prince Charming, kept trying to mess up the story at every turn. “We’re going to have some tight years at first. I don’t want to rack up any more debt than we have to,” he was always saying.
If she followed all Adam’s cheap-o suggestions they sure wouldn’t have any debt. They wouldn’t have any wedding, either. His mom had offered to spring for the cake, so there had been no need to argue over that. But they’d argued about everything else, from the flowers (“You don’t need to budget so much for flowers, babe. My cousin could do them for us – she’s big into gardening.”) to the location (“Let’s get married in your aunt’s back yard.”). Nice of him to volunteer her aunt, who had already done so much for her. Adam had no problem with volunteering people to do things for them to save them money. Erin, on the other hand, was reluctant to draft free labor. It was both tacky and dangerous. Just because someone liked to arrange flowers or take pictures, that didn’t mean the person was any good at it.
Okay, she got that he didn’t want her to spend fifty-thousand dollars on a wedding, but he was carrying this broke med school student thing way too far, especially since he wasn’t broke and his grandfather was taking care of his medical school bills. (It paid to be an only child with generous grandparents.) Anyway, it was their wedding, for crying out loud, and she was footing the bill for most of it.
Adam’s argument to that was that he was going to get her maxed-out credit card bills right along with her. So what? She’d be the one paying them off. Anyway, how many times did a girl get married?
Only once, Mom used to say, and then a woman got smart. But Erin didn’t want to get smart. She wanted to marry Adam. Wait a minute. That hadn’t quite sounded right.
“We can put the money we save toward a down payment on a house,” Adam kept saying. “You don’t need a big party. Let’s be smart about this.”
Depressed, she slipped out of the gown, returned it to its garment bag and hung it back in her closet. She could just imagine what Adam would say if he found out she’d outgrown the wedding gown he thought she’d spent way too much on.
Why had she been so dumb as to come home from work and try the thing on anyway? Oh, yeah, to cheer herself up after her crappy day at work. Well, cheers.
“You’ve got to quit stressing,” Adam was always saying. Funny, considering he was one of her biggest stressers.
Erin sighed. Okay everyone had their faults, and Adam’s cheapness wasn’t really a fault. He just didn’t get how this all worked. Weddings cost money. And you had to plan ahead, far ahead. The Heart Lake Lodge was booked a year in advance, sometimes two. And she much preferred to use that idyllic location rather than make her aunt go crazy trying to get her house ready for a wedding. She could afford to pay her way. She didn’t have to use people.
Adam didn’t know it yet, but Erin had already reserved the lodge. Her friend Bev, who worked there, had told her there’d been a cancellation. Thank God for connections. Bev had ignored the waiting list and put their name on the event calendar. And when the time was right, Erin would tell him all about it and explain how lucky they were, and then he’d be as excited about it as she was.
It was mid-January now. The wedding was in June. Hopefully, the time for telling Adam would be right soon.
Erin suddenly felt a need for . . . something. She found it fifteen minutes later at the Safeway on the chips aisle. There was nothing like chips and salsa to make a girl feel better. Chips, salsa and a Margarita, she decided, and picked up some drink mix, too, to go with the half-full bottle of Tequila she had stashed at the back of the cupboard.
Dan Rockwell was working the express check stand tonight. He smiled at her, then eyed her grocery items. “Party, huh?”
“Not really,” she replied. She should have picked a different register. Then she wouldn’t have had her brother’s old buddy assessing her food purchases.
“Doctor McDoodoo must be coming over.”
“That’s McDreamy,” she corrected him. “Like in Grey’s Anatomy.” If he was going to eavesdrop on private conversations people had every time they waited in line he should at least get the information right.
He nodded, pretending to be impressed. “Oh, yeah. I forgot.”
Erin gave him a look that told him exactly what she thought of his faulty memory. The obnoxious crack was hardly surprising though. Average looking men like Dan always hated Adam Hawthorne because he was so incredibly gorgeous. With his ice blue eyes and that square chin, those broad shoulders and perfectly sculpted abs (not to mention the rest of him), Adam could have been a movie star.
She supposed Dan could have been a movie star, too, a sidekick kind of movie star – the average looking guy with the slightly crooked nose who did dumb stuff and said funny things and was always there for the hero, but never cool enough to be the hero.
Dan was a dork. He’d been a dork ever since she’d known him. Well, okay, there was that time when she was in seventh grade and he was in ninth that she thought he was really fabulous and had dreamed about his brown eyes and cute smile. And when a bunch of them were playing spin the bottle down in the basement at one of her brother Brett’s dumb parties and Dan kissed her, it had given her a zing from her training bra to her toes. That zing turned to tingling mortification when he made a face afterward and said, “Yuck, I’m a pervert. I kissed a kid.” She’d show him, she thought. He’d be sorry when she was older and really, really cool.
Then she got to high school and became a cheerleader, a cute blonde cheerleader. Really, really cool. And it was payback time, payback for the times he’d teased her about needing to start shaving her legs, about that stubborn zit that suddenly appeared on her chin and kept appearing ever after every month like clockwork, about anything and everything that was none of his business. She got so cool she could freeze him with a look. Pretty soon his teasing became less confident and then it dried up, and when he came over to see Brett, he just mumbled, “Hi Erin,” and scooted off down the hall to Brett’s room or out to the driveway to shoot hoops.
He never kissed her again until another one of her brother’s parties in the basement. Brett had managed to become halfway cool, playing on the football team, but for some unknown reason he still stayed friends with Dan. That night, after a few illegal beers, Dan got her in a lip lock. She was no longer in training bras, but she had the same reaction. Scared by her lack of taste, she’d slapped him and informed him he was a dork (just in case he hadn’t figured it out). And that was the last time he ever came near her. Which, perversely, pissed her off even more.
After high school everyone drifted apart and moved away and she only saw him when the holidays pulled them all home. And that was about as much as she cared to see of him. After all, who needed to see someone on a regular basis who had known you since you were a kid and could remind you of all the dumb things you’d done?
Now Dan had wound up back living in Heart Lake this year, like her. Only she wasn’t staying. She was only here because Aunt Mellie was letting Erin stay in her rental house for next to nothing so she could save for the wedding. Once she was married she’d be living in Seattle.
Dan would be here forever, as frozen in time as the TV dinners in the freezer cases he stocked, destined to check groceries for the rest of his natural born days. Rather a waste of a college education if you asked Erin. But what could you expect from a dork?
She, on the other hand, planned to make a big splash in the world of event planning and own her own company ten years from now. And that was why Adam was a perfect match. He was going places, too. And really, except for his obsession over the cost of the wedding (which he was just going to have to get over), he was perfect. Women fell all over themselves to get him to talk to them, but he only had eyes (ice blue) for her. He was going to be rich and successful. They’d live in a beautiful house, have beautiful children (when the time was right), and take romantic vacations together. Life with Adam would be successful and secure. Perfect.
“You could get fat eating all those chips by yourself,” Dan teased, giving Erin a severe yank back into the moment at hand.
Her eyes popped open wide. Fat? Yes, she’d gone up two sizes in the last six months, but . . . oh, God. It was really showing if grocery checkers were feeling the need to make comments. “Why did you say that?”
Dan’s brow bunched in confusion. “Say what?”
“What you just said. About getting fat.”
He shrugged. “No reason. I was just goofing around.”
Being a dork as usual. Where along the way to adulthood had he decided he could start teasing her again? She’d obviously been too nice to him at Christmas. “Do I look fat?” she demanded.
He shook his head. “No, no. You look fine. I was just joking. Really.”
Erin sliced her debit card through the slot on the little box at the check stand. “You should never joke about fat with a woman.”
“Even when she isn’t?”
“Even when . . . ever,” Erin finished with a snap.
“Okay. Sorry. Chill.”
“I don’t need to chill. I just need to . . . not talk to you.” She signed her name on the screen, then grabbed the receipt from him and marched out the door. As soon as she got in her car she ripped open the chip bag, filling her little VW bug with the smell of deep fried cornmeal. She pulled one out and bit down on it violently. Dan Rockwell was a dork.
She drove home, chomping on chips all the way. And all the way her inner mother scolded, This is no way to fit into your dress.
“I know,” she agreed. “What is wrong with me?”
Her inner mother decided it was time to keep her mouth shut and said nothing.
Erin felt the sting from a surprise attack of tears. “Oh, Mom, I miss you so much.” For a moment she considered going over to Aunt Mellie’s house on the lake for some Mom-like comfort, but then remembered that this was dance lesson night. Aunt Mellie and Uncle Jake would be over at the Heart Lake Community Hall stepping on each other’s feet.
So Erin went home and made herself a Margarita to go with the chips and salsa. And called her friend Angela. She didn’t bother with small talk or politely asking if Angela was busy. That would be a dumb question anyway. With two kids under the age of six Angela was always busy. Instead, Erin got right to the point, “My wedding gown doesn’t fit,” she wailed.
The words were barely out when she realized she’d heard more than Angela’s voice on the other end of the line a minute ago. She’d heard a key in her front door lock. She looked over her shoulder and there stood Adam, wearing his old J. Crew jacket, the wool scarf and leather gloves she gave him for Christmas, and a stunned expression.
Pull up your favorite beach chair and savor this funny, inspiring story about four female friends who help each other to follow a summer diet—and their own hearts…
Erin Merritt has returned to her scenic hometown of Heart Lake to plan her wedding, but when she repeatedly runs into her childhood crush, she wonders if she’s engaged to the wrong man. To make matters worse, all the stress is making her eat, and now she can’t fit into her wedding dress.
BIKINI SEASON by Sheila Roberts
Erin enlists the help of her cooking club—Angela, Megan, and Kizzy—and the Teeny Bikini Diet Club is born. The women make a pact to get slim enough to wear their bikinis to the lake by summertime, a pact that changes their lives forever. With a little help from her friends, Angela faces her fear that her marriage is crumbling. Megan confronts the self-esteem issues that have always held her back. Kizzy deals with her husband’s efforts to sabotage her diet and keep her overweight. And Erin learns some important truths about love…
Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s happily married and has three children.
Her books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS has been made into a movie for the Hallmark channel.
When she’s not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.