In AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, Jen is cast on a reality show after she loses her job, her boyfriend, and her home. She hopes to win the cash prize but finds she also wants to win the heart of fellow contestant Justin. Fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic won’t want to miss this charming, witty read published by Kensington’s Lyrical Shine.
About America’s Next Reality Star:
Title: America’s Next Reality Star
Author: Laura Heffernan
Publisher: Lyrical Shine – Kensington
Series: Reality Star #1
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
SEEKING THE SMART ONE
Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.
Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .
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He touched my chin with two fingers, bringing my gaze up to meet his. Damn those green eyes. I searched them for answers, wishing I knew whether he was putting on an act for the audience. Even with the lights off, the cameras stationed in the yard would capture us. The producers filmed everything, day and night. Everyone in America would know if we kissed. For a moment, I struggled to remember why that was bad.
“I guess it’s not your fault, since I got the question right,” I said begrudgingly, shifting slightly backward.
“If that is the best I can get, I’ll take it. But I’m going to work on complete forgiveness. I’ll pay you double interest on our bet—six cents.”
“Well, then,” I laughed. “Maybe I’ll have to reconsider once I get my money. I’d hate to have to send Birdie to break your kneecaps.”
The image of five-foot-tall Birdie coming after Justin with a baseball bat cracked him up. I laughed, too, crossing my legs and settling more comfortably in the lounger. My knee practically touched Justin’s leg. He didn’t move.
We sat quietly for a few minutes. I wondered if he heard my heart pounding. Even not wanting to get caught kissing on national television with a near-stranger, I found something about Justin irresistible. Possibly his smile. Or his dimples. His brains. The ease of talking to him. His personality. The fact that he was practically perfect for me in every way.
That line of thinking wasn’t helping. I needed to change the subject before I started calling him Mary Poppins.
“It’s a beautiful night.” I gestured at the sky.
“Yes, it is,” Justin said, his eyes never leaving my face. Did he lean forward slightly? Only inches separated our lips.
The warmth definitely wasn’t the beer. I licked my lips nervously and leaned in, closing the gap. If he moved the tiniest bit…
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Heffernan
About Laura Heffernan:
Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.
hog-tied sat down with Laura to talk a little about her writing journey and any advice she might like to share.
Take it away, Laura!
- What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
Honestly, I think the “best” way is what works for you. Some people like the freedom of self-publishing. Some people want the validation of a traditional publisher. Some don’t like the idea of “gatekeepers” preventing books from getting to the market. Some people find traditional publishing more freeing, because you don’t have to deal with things like cover design and figuring out how to copyright a book yourself, so there’s more time to just write. Traditional publishing was the best choice for me, largely because my skill sets don’t translate well to things like cover design and eBook formatting.
- What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
Romantic comedies are my all-time favorite. They’re quick, they’re fun, they go down easy. I read to escape, and I tend to like books that don’t make me think too hard. With that said, I’ll read almost anything: contemporary romance, historical romance, YA contemporary, thrillers, mysteries, YA fantasy, MG fantasy…I like books. I like to read.
- How do you approach starting a new book?
Most of my books start as notes I have in a file on my computer. I tend to let them simmer until I have a pretty good idea of the characters and what I want to happen. Then I start writing – but not necessarily the beginning. Whatever scene is clamoring the loudest. I take it from there.
When I explain my process to people, I often see fear in their eyes. But it all works out in the end.
- What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
Two of my favorite blogs about writing and querying are Chasing the Crazies and Michelle Hauck’s blog. They’ve got a lot of resources for new writers, including insight into the types of things agents are looking for.
- What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
I’m a big board game geek. I meet with friends at least once a month to play all types of games, and several times a year, we’ll rent out hotels and have a big party where we play games all weekend. It’s so much fun.
- Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?
J.K. Rowling. Not only did she write an amazing series that helped millions of children develop a love for reading (and introduce me to the world of YA fantasy), but she uses that success to help other people. I dream of being in a position to do that some day.
- Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?
I may or may not have filled in as a substitute pole fitness instructor upon occasion.
- What was your best date ever?
After we’d been dating about six months, my now-husband and I took a sushi-making class. The instructor was fantastic: he made rolling sushi seem like the most fun thing ever. We learned how to make several types of rolls, plus the rice, and we got to eat as we went. We also got to take home anything we could make in that hour that we didn’t eat (I brought a Tupperware with me).
At the end of the class, the instructor’s wife went around the room and took pictures of everyone holding their creations. They posted the pictures on Facebook, and whoever got the most likes won a free class and an entry into their year-end contest. Well, we won both: meaning we got a free week’s vacation that we used for our honeymoon, and two t-shirts with our picture on them (we tried to wear them ironically, but people just thought we were weird). When we went back to the class and told the owner we were going on our honeymoon with his trip, he was so happy, he cried. It was wonderful.
- Tell us something you are really proud of.
Other than my books? Growing up, I was a bookworm. I was never terribly athletic, and there weren’t really any types of exercise I enjoyed. But a few years ago, I decided to try pole fitness, and it was like coming home. I’m really proud of how much stronger and more confident I’ve become since starting classes. Also, I can do sit-ups while holding myself upside-down on a 45 mm pole. That’s not easy.
Laura is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below: