In honor of International Chick Lit Month, a celebration of the most fabulous fiction on the planet, 34 authors (myself included) are hosting a blog hop complete with some pretty incredible prizes—literary and otherwise—for a few lucky readers.
But before we get to that, I couldn't help thinking about how I was even introduced to chick lit in the first place. Ever have one of those moments where just the right novel just happens to make its way into your hands at just the right time? Well, that's precisely what happened to me with Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary.
Funny enough, I still remember the first time I read it, even though nearly a decade has passed since I was first introduced to Bridget, her diary and a slew of dating woes so bad that being single suddenly didn't seem so bad. If anything, those who were regularly dating were the ones with leprosy, which was a giant relief considering I hadn't met anyone even remotely interesting in a good, long while.
It was Spring, and I was holed up in an nondescript room at a Hampton Inn (or maybe it was a Marriott) for the first of many boring business trips in Richmond, Virginia that year. Needless to say, whichever hotel it was, there was a whole lot of beige in my immediate vicinity, and I was feeling pretty uninspired.
While I'm pretty sure I should've been using my free time to do something productive and possibly even work-related, I immediately reached for the remote control, hoping there would be a great movie (or even a guilty pleasure Lifetime made-for-TV movie, I really wasn't picky) to distract me from all that beige. Problem was, there were only four channels in the queue, and I'd exhausted my possibilities in practically two minutes flat.
So with no place to go and far too much pride to call it a night at only 7:30, I suddenly remembered that I had a new book in purse...one I'd been hearing a lot about, mostly that it was impossible to read without laughing until your abs hurt. If anything, that would justify skipping a workout, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
As you've probably already guessed, I absolutely loved it and plowed through it in no time. Unlike many romantic heroines, Bridget was neurotic, positively self-deprecating and obsessed about everything from her fluctuating weight, to what her parents thought of her, to her bad, bad taste in men. And cad or not, who didn't love Daniel Cleaver? In fact, the only thing that made me love him more was watching the ever-charming Hugh Grant play him on the big screen.
If that wasn't already exciting enough, Bridget had a modern-day Austen man (played by the oh-so-dreamy Colin Firth, no less) waiting in the wings when the bad boy was no longer the best option. Seriously, what's not to love about having Hugh and Colin fighting over you? That's female wish fulfillment at its absolute finest.
Beyond that thoroughly delicious love triangle, however, what was probably my favorite thing about Bridget Jones's Diary was that for the first time in recent memory, I could totally relate to the leading lady. Rather than making her this perfect, unrelatable specimen that you'd never want to be friends with, we were introduced to someone who wasn't afraid to be a fool for love (and really, who hasn't done a silly thing or two on the journey to Mr. or Ms. Right?).
A year after reading Bridget Jones's Diary, two major milestones happened in my own life. Not only did I finally score my first stamp on my passport when I visited jolly old London for work and play (and no, my hotel room wasn't beige...thank goodness), but I officially began writing what eventually became my first romantic comedy in literary form, Around the World in 80 Dates.
And while I didn't thank Bridget in my novel's acknowledgments section along with my family, friends, editor and the like (for whatever reason, I thought it would be a little strange to give props to a fictional character), I probably should've.
Truth be told, it was that book that made me want to write something real, something in the first person for that particular genre. See, I knew I always wanted to write fiction, I just didn't know what kind of story I wanted to tell. But when I met Bridget, I know I wanted an equally plucky protagonist who wasn't afraid to speak her mind and even (gasp!) make a few mistakes along life's way. And if I could make people laugh until their abs hurt, too? Well, mission accomplished.
Now if you're eyes haven't glazed over yet from my incessant rambling, here's the details on how you can possibly score some seriously cool prizes in conjunction with the International Chick Lit Month festivities.
Each of the 34 participating authors has written a special Chick Lit-centric piece and these posts will go live on Monday, May 14th. At each blog hop stop, you will have the opportunity to enter to win a FREE Chick Lit e-book from that particular blog's owner/author.
All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog post, including your name and e-mail address, and you're automatically entered to win. If you visit each blog hop stop, that means you have the chance to win 34 different e-books!
In each of the author's blog posts (the list of authors is below, along with links to their respective blogs), there will be a "secret word." This word will be italicized, so it will be easy to find. All you have to do is make note of this secret word at each blog hop stop.
Collect all 34 secret words and submit your list to CLABlogHop@aol.com before midnight on Sunday, May 20th and you will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing! The winner of this drawing will receive that $150 Sephora gift card! This gift card can be redeemed online or at any Sephora store in the US.
Winners of each of the participating author's e-books, as well as the Grand Prize winner of the $150 Sephora gift card will be announced on Monday, May 21st. Contests are open to citizens of the United States only.