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.
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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 . . .
Four out of five stars because it was a frivolous, fun read!
Having never been one to watch a reality series since season one of Survivor, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to enjoy this book. I was pleasantly surprised! Many of the characters were likeable and fun. On the other hand, much like there are dimwits and s*it disturbers in real life, how could I not expect them to be in this book. And the ones that were there were obnoxiously grating. Much like Jen, I let Arianna get the best of me, which really grated on my nerves – it’s exactly why I don’t watch reality shows on TV! ARGH!
I did have one particular pet peeve with AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR: I found it too repetitive. Every other paragraph was about Jen getting closer to Justin, Justin telling Jen he really liked her (sorry, *SPOILER ALERT*), and Jen not believing Justin. It was too much, too many repetitions. It was a little bit like watching the movie GROUNDHOG DAY. In any case, the book was fun, and I enjoyed reading it. There were good character interactions, and, I think, something for just about everyone.
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…
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.
Hello Ms. Heffernan, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. I know my readers are as excited as I am to learn a little more about you.
How did you decide what genre you would write?
My first love has always been romantic comedies. My all time favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I’ve seen When Harry Met Sally a hundred times, and I have probably watched every single Lifetime Original Movie produced before 2004. (Should I admit that?) I love watching people fall in love, and I love when it’s light and funny.
Which writers inspire you?
J.K Rowling inspires me as a writer because she uses her money and influence to help people. I’d love to be in a position to do the same some day. I’m also inspired by writers like Brenda Drake and Michelle Hauck, who give so much back to the writing community through hosting contests. They’ve inspired me to work harder, be better, and give back more.
Sophie Kinsella inspired me to want to write light, fun books with romance. I’ve been a huge fan since college, and I’ve read everything she’s published – under either name. My dream to be able to write like her. Michele Gorman and Leah Marie Brown are also big influences.
What must have "must-haves" do you need to write? (Venti triple-caff extra-hot no foam caramel macchiatos, magic underpants, lucky socks, etc).
In the mornings, it’s coffee, in my 26-ounce mug. I go through different phases, but recently, I make the coffee with cinnamon and sweeten it with chocolate milk (trust me – you want to try this). Later in the day, it’s strictly water. And when editing after about 10:00 a.m., I either need my secret stash of Cadbury mini-eggs or chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m pretty hard core about both of these: my relatives in Canada ship me mini-eggs year-round since they’re only available in the US over Easter, and I pasteurize my own eggs so I can eat cookie dough raw.
Which Hollywood actors do you see bringing your main characters to life?
I see Jen as Jessica Stroup from 90210. Although I wrote America’s Next Reality Star before UnREAL first aired, ever since I saw Adam, I’ve pictured Freddie Stroma as Justin (only without the accent, sadly). And I’d love to have Naya Rivera as Ariana.
How much of your own life shows up in your books?
It depends on the book. Usually, I’ll weave in an experience or detail here or there. Very little of my own life appears in America’s Next Reality Star, although it’s inspired by the experiences of some friends. Sweet Reality is basically a love letter to cupcakes, so that’s my real life. J And I did once take a cruise very similar to what appears in the book. The third book in the series is unfinished, but so far, bears almost no resemblance to my life or that of anyone I know.
How much research do you do?
It depends on the book. For this series, I have several friends who were on reality shows, and it’s something we talked about before I ever decided to write a book. I was able to draw on their experiences without needing to do too much other research.
Did you have a mentor or teacher that guided your dreams of writing?
Not exactly. I wrote in secret for a long time, because I worried my work wasn’t good enough. But one of my friends told me about NaNovWriMo and encouraged me every year to enter, and that really gave me the push I needed to commit to writing a complete manuscript.
How old were you when you knew writing was your calling?
I wrote my first short story when I was five years old. When I was 12, a friend and I wrote and produced a play for the drama club (I really wish a copy of that script still existed, because I’m pretty sure it was ridiculously over the top). I didn’t finally decide to take the plunge and write a book until I was much older, but in the back of my mind, I’ve always known I had a passion for it.
Is writing instinctual or learned?
I firmly believe that anything can be learned if you put your mind to it. Anyone can write a book. And even if you don’t have a mind for something like editing or marketing, you can hire it out.
Do you believe that poor reviews are as helpful as good reviews when it comes to the promotion of your book? (All publicity is good publicity?)
Partially. When I see that a writer has nothing but 5-star reviews, my first thought isn’t, “Wow, that must be a great book!” It’s “Hey, that writer has a lot of friends!” To me, having a mix of positive and negative reviews is more authentic. And as a writer, it’s interesting to see what people focus on. Was the book just not for them? That’s fine – you can’t please everything. But if someone picked up on something harmful or offensive in my books, I’d want to know about it.
Thank you for your time today. As a Canadian who LOVES Easter Creme Eggs and has participated in NaNoWriMo, I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!