About the Author
Author Lisa April Smith lives with her husband, He-Who-Wishes-to-Remain-Anonymous, in Eternal
, a delightful spot just off I-95. Ms. Smith describes Eternal Playland as "a little piece of level heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon." Playland, Florida
Before discovering a passion for writing, Ms. Smith sold plumbing and heating, antiques, taught ballroom dancing, tutored, modeled, designed software and managed projects for IBM. She returned to college multiple times to study anthropology, sociology and computer science, in which she holds degrees, as well as psychology, archeology, literature, history and art. Combine those widely diverse interests with a love of travel and a gift for writing page-turners and it’s easy to understand one reviewer’s unbridled praise for Exceeding Expectations, “She (Ms. Smith) has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail . . . that make it fun to read . . . ” But it takes much more than lush settings, an eye for detail and a love of history to write a page-turner. Read what another reviewer said about Exceeding Expectations: “Lisa April Smith . . . has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop. . . Clearly, this author has, and wishes to share with her readers, what the French call joie de vivre – not simply the joy of life – but an all-encompassing appreciation for every facet of life.”
For more about Lisa, her books, and upcoming projects visit her website: http://www.LisaAprilSmith.com.
Lisa April Smith can be contacted at WriteLisa(at)LisaAprilSmith(dot)com
Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LisaAprilSmithFriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LisaApril.Smith
1. Do you get to choose or have a say in the cover of your books?
1. Do you get to choose or have a say in the cover of your books?
I have a lot of say and sometimes I’m wrong. The graphics artist for Dangerous Lies had a huge say about cover design and I’ve only received praise for it. I thought a framed self-portrait of a male artist would be perfect for Exceeding Expectations’ cover but nobody like it except me. I’m only hearing nice things about the new one.2. Do you get some sort of a vision when you get an idea for a story?
My books are generally inspired by media coverage of events and people that I find intriguing. To use the alphabet to demonstrate, B, G, H, I, M intrigue me. A quirky character in an intriguing situation. Given a few days my imagination adds A, C, D, E, F, N, P. Additional characters in additional situations. I jot down a few notes. I have the outline of a plot.
With Exceeding Expectations, in 1998,
Floridatelevision and newspapers were reporting a story of a local socialite (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s plush lifestyle. Palm Beach
Neighbors, friends and the teachers at the girls’ tony private school all described him as “likeable,” “charming” and “devoted father.” Throughout his arrest and subsequent proceedings, his loyal third wife steadfastly stood by him, as did both daughters. Perhaps what most surprised people who followed the case were that the girls’ mother, a research scientist teaching at the
, through the media and her attorney, repeatedly begged her daughters to meet with her and they refused. To my knowledge, that continues to this day. Universityof Virginia
As I was following the case I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in
, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. (B, G, H, I, M) Over time my imagination happily supplied the rest. A riveting past for Jack Morgan: skilled lover, lack-luster artist and irresistible rascal. (A, C, D, E, N, P.) A townhouse off Palm Beach Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in . Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. (Q, R, V, X) A full-blown range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie). It’s a process that I adore. Virginia
3. How do you decide on your book titles?
1. What is your favorite TV show?
My goal is to have a title that is both memorable and unique. As an author I love playing with words. I chose Exceeding Expectations as a fun homage to Charles Dicken’s immortal Great Expectations. Its sequel, Paradise Misplaced, is obviously a play on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. My first book, Dangerous Lies, was intended to remind readers of Dangerous Liaisons.4. Did you have many struggles with self-publishing?
The difficult part was the decision to self-publish. Some aspiring authors never find an agent willing to read their manuscripts, let alone represent them. I’ve had three. I won’t bore you with the sorry details of near-miss sales, including a full year spent doing rewrites for a senior editor at Putnam Penguin, who was fired in a downturn. My third and last agent belonged to one of the largest literary agencies in the world and represented long list of successful authors. The day I received word that she wanted to represent me, I literally danced around the room. Unfortunately, in 5 years under contract she sold nothing of mine. April 1, 2011 I severed our contract. I don’t blame her for trying to stay afloat by concentrating on her A-list authors. The stories she shared were scary.5. What are you currently reading?
Publishing isn’t the business it was twenty years ago. It isn’t the business it was three years ago. It’s changing so fast the principals don’t know how to react. It’s being attacked on all sides, not only by the Great Recession but also by the continuing growth of major competitor Amazon. At one time, recently demised Borders had 1,200 stores. But perhaps the greatest blow came from eBooks coupled with the unprecedented success of self-published eBooks. In March, almost 1 out of 3 of Amazon’s 50 top selling eBooks sold for less than $3.99 – the overwhelming percentage self-published. Apparently, price matters to buyers. With the ability to read the first 30 pages free before buying, readers no longer dismiss self-published authors. I decided to join the eBook revolution and self-publish.
Edith Whaton’s books. She gives readers wonderful insight into the imprisoned constricted lives of women in early 20th centuryFun-related
, particularly the seemingly privileged women. America
1. What is your favorite TV show?
I watch documentaries because I love learning new things, 30 Rock because I think it’s hilarious, American Pickers because I’m amazed that junk has such value and Project Runway and Fashion Star because I am fascinated by the creativity.2. Do you like chocolates? What is your favorite?
Do I like chocolates? I’ve left instructions to my children that if I lose the capacity to speak, it’s their job to see that I get a generous piece of chocolate every day.3. Do you like sushi? What is your favorite roll?
I really do like sushi but I think I like the pickled ginger served with it even more. I guess my favorite is a rainbow roll.4. Would you come to San Diego and do a meet up? :)
I would love to do just that. There’s a great expression – Mountains are fixed and can never meet but with people, who knows?
It’s 1961 andI enjoyed this book. There were so many things going on but they all seemed to be related in some way. The whole idea of the story was great. However, with all my reviews from self-published authors, there were things that bothered me, so I thought I should get that out of the way first before I get to the good stuff :)
socialite, irresistible rascal and devoted father Jack Morgan encounters genuine danger while staging his suicide to shield his beloved daughters from disgrace. Next, meet his daughter Charlotte (Charlie), an over-indulged 23 year-old struggling to cope with the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, her sister’s resulting mental breakdown and the discovery that she’s suddenly penniless. Fortunately Raul, an admiring young attorney, appears to offer assistance. As terrified as she is about daily survival, Charlie soon realizes that she has to learn what drove her father to kill himself. With Raul’s much needed ego-bolstering, the drive of necessity and unforeseen determination, Charlie finds a practical use for her annoyingly lean 5’ 11” frame. In time, this career finances her hard-wrought independence, her sister’s costly treatment and an emotional eye-opening journey to Palm Beach . Paris
Jumping back in time to romantic pre-WWII
, readers meet young Alan Fitzpatrick – aka Jack Morgan – lack-luster artist and expert lover and the bewitching girl who will become the mother of his children. Not even Charlie’s relentless detective work will uncover all Jack’s secrets, but in a fireworks of surprise endings, she discovers all that she needs to know and more: disturbing truths about her father, her own unique talent, crimes great and small and a diabolical villain. Paris
- The time period was set between 1930-1960s. I love the old times and all the historical things incorporated in the story. However, I'm not sure I liked that the dialogue and descriptions were too modern to be in that era. If the dates were not specifically mentioned in the story, I would have thought the story was set in present time.
- Located in the very last page of the review copy that I received was a note saying: "Any remaining typos were inadvertently placed there by the ten thumbed author, while correcting identified errors." Just to make sure, I looked up the word "inadvertently" in the dictionary. According to dictionary.com, it means "unintentional." Despite all of that, I didn't think it was okay for those errors to be there. There were spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Being from the country itself, I specifically noticed that "Philippines" was misspelled. I think the errors increased as the book were coming to an end. With another proofread or two, I think those errors would have been completely eliminated.
Now that all of that is out of the way, on to the good stuff. There were so many, I hope I can remember them all!
- Characters - I love the development of the characters. I like how in each chapter, the characters would grow into the kind of person that they were meant to be - the main characters that is. If they didn't appear in more than 3 chapters, then obviously, they weren't as developed, but that's expected.
- Charlotte "Charlie" Morgan - If I understand it correctly, she was supposed to "exceed expectations" in society in a way that she would rise from the obstacles that were thrown her way when her father committed suicide. I didn't see her suffering as much as I would have expected. However, the character itself was great. I LOVED her independence. When she continued to refuse to settle down, I really admired that. I love that she was strong enough to say "no" even though it hurt her extremely.
- Raul - the love interest :) He sounded very attractive and irresistible. He was a good friend and a lover, not to mention a very smart lawyer.
- Disraeli/Willy - he was a great character. I can't say any more without spoiling the book except that there is a reason he has two names ;)
- All the other characters were great. I love that they were able to be distinct from everybody else and be their own person. It was as if I knew them in real life or seen them in a movie the way they were written.
- Deception - I thought this was one of the main themes of the story. So many lies were woven and told until someone decided to end his life because of the fear of them getting out in public and ruining reputations.
- Overall, I loved how the past and the present were interwoven together to make a story such as this :) When I was about to finish the book, I could figure in my head an outline where the past is meeting the present in a Y-shaped road.
There you have it :) And as usual with all my reviews, scenes and quotes I enjoyed from the book!
Raul and Charlie
"I'll pick you up at seven-thirty. Put on your sexiest dress and wear your hair down."
The look I shot across the room left no doubt of my opinion of that suggestion.
He grinned at me and shrugged. "I like looking at beautiful women. Shoot me."
"I'll leave you to your low-level client and congratulations on your semi-promotion." I turned the doorknob. "And for the record, I wear what I please and seven o'clock is better. Try being on time."
R: "You need time. We're going to wait."
C: "What are you? The last man in North America with principles?"
C: "I don't own a skimpy bikini."
R: "In my fantasies you do."
R: "When did I say you were spoiled? Over-indulged and pampered maybe, but not spoiled. Spoiled is what happens to milk. Now, tell me how much you miss me -- that other men can't compare -- that you have erotic dreams where I make mad passionate love to you and you wake up dripping in perspiration."
C: "You are impossibly egotistical."
R: "Egotistical, am I? Last night I walked into the shower with my shoes on. That's right. I ruined a perfectly good pair of shoes because I was thinking about you -- wondering what you were doing. Just hearing your voice makes me want to quit my job and jump on a plane.
C: "I miss you too."
R: "I suppose that's about as much racy conversation as I'm going to get from an uptight Brahmin WASP."
"I'm trying to be patient, Charlie, but I hate when you're away. We are going to be together at some point, aren't we? I'm not just kidding myself, am I?"
C: "Are we walking fast, or is it just my imagination?"
R: "We're walking fast. Do I have to explain that your man needs attention?"
Alan/Jack about Nicole (his wife)
"She's a half-witted overindulged child, spoiled beyond reason...I should throw her out. The miserable ungrateful brat criticizes me. She calls me a peasant. She says that I chew with my mouth open."
Alan/Jack to Nicole
"Are you so ignorant you don't know it takes nine months to have a baby?"
"Are you a complete fool? Do you want to die? Don't even think of such a thing! You're too far along. If I ever hear you talk like that again I will beat you until you bleed. Your skin will be raw. Do you understand me? Raw!"Don't the quotes just make you want to read the book? I love it when characters talk like that! :)
If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.
Thank you Lisa for allowing me to be a part of the tour!