Guest Post: Lori Nelson Spielman talks of New Year Resolutions (wine, books, & the life of an author!)

new year resolutions


Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List, talks about her New Year Resolutions.  Statistics, why she likes New Year Resolutions and the difference between boring resolutions & ones that might be attainable! Read on for Lori’s thoughts.


Lori Nelson Spielman talks of New Year Resolutions

Thanks so much for hosting me today to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Let me start by getting the clichés out of the way. With the New Year comes a fresh start. The New Year provides the perfect time to reinvent ourselves. The start of a new year gives us a chance to reflect on our lives, evaluate what we want to change or improve.


As tired as they may be, I happen to agree with the clichés. I love the symbolism of a new beginning. I have oodles of things I’d love to change, and apparently, so do most Americans. According to, 45% of Americans make resolutions.


Year after year we vow to eat healthy, get wealthy, lose weight and congregate. We plan to volunteer, drink less beer, manage our debt and adopt a pet.


And year after year we fail—at least that’s what my friend, Kathy, believes. I discovered her resolution revulsion while we were having lunch, and the conversation turned to the New Year.


Kathy: I never make New Year’s Resolutions. Ever. Call me the Grinch of the New Year, but I refuse to be pressured to perform under a deadline.


Me: But it’s the perfect time to start fresh, make those changes we’ve been putting off all year.


Kathy: If someone needs to change, then they should change. Immediately. Why wait for January 1st? Resolution-makers are needy. They’re like a group of lemmings, marching to their suicide. Do you realize only eight percent of people accomplish their resolutions? And of those eight percent, seven percent are lying.


Me: You’re so cynical. The important thing is, they make the effort.


Kathy: Uh, yeah, for like three whole days.


Me: I happen to believe in resolutions. As you know, I make one every year. Want to hear this year’s?


Kathy: Let me guess, you’re going to eat healthy, work out more, everything you vowed to do last year.


Me: Well, yes…but this year I thought I’d increase my exercise routine…


Kathy: Bo-ring! The only thing worse than exercising is listening to someone talk about exercise. And food? Trust me, no one wants to hear about it. Rule of thumb: never talk about your diet unless the person you’re talking to is wearing a lab coat.


Me: Okay, forget those resolutions. I’ll just stick with my original goal: Write my next book.


Kathy: You said that last year and the year before. You need something more succinct. How about: When writer’s block hits, I’ll inhale two, rather than three, rows of Oreo cookies.


Me: But those Oreos are so comforting. I know, I’ll organize my office, and keep it organized all year.


Kathy: Seriously? That’s like asking Miley Cyrus to give up twerking. Make it realistic, like stuffing your coffee mug, laptop, pens, papers and candy wrappers into the nearest closet five minutes before your family gets home.


Me: But all that paraphernalia helps me write. In fact, next year I’m going to write 1,000 words per day, without fail. Now there’s a resolution!


Kathy: You already do that. I see your Facebook posts, tweets, emails, Pinterest…


Me: You’re right. Scratch that. By the time I sit down to write my novel, my daily quota of clever thoughts have been used up. How about I vow to keep away from social media while I’m writing?


Kathy: An Internet diet. Interesting. Are you including Sudoku and Solitaire in your diet?


Me: I should. I know I should. Those computer games are a time warp. But I’m addicted. I can’t stop. Hey, why don’t I read 24 books in the New Year? Reading is essential for writers. And I won’t read trashy novels, I’ll finally read the classics.


Kathy: Two books a month sounds reasonable. But make it one classic, one trashy. After all, if you can’t twerk…. I’m just sayin.


Me: Finally, a resolution we agree on! We’re on a roll here. What about this one: I’ll stop reading my reviews.


Kathy: Obsessing over your reviews would be more accurate. But yes, that’s another good one.


Me: And I won’t compare myself with other authors. I won’t curl up in the fetal position for a week when I discover my writer friends have already sold books three and four.


Kathy: Excellent. I think you might actually accomplish these.


Me: No doubt about it. And while I’m writing, I’ll set a timer. I’ll write in two-hour blocks. I’ll limit my caffeine intake to two cups of coffee a day. I’ll—


Kathy: Whoa. Back up…caffeine intake? What about your wine intake?


Me, blanching, aghast: Wine? Come on now, let’s not get carried away. I refuse to be pressured to perform under a deadline. Why set myself up for failure? Do you realize only eight percent of people accomplish their resolutions…



Like Lori’s resolution? Read Lori Nelson Spielman: Author Spotlight or Interview With Lori Nelson Spielman.



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Why I love The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman


Photo Credit: Goodreads

It’s no secret that I adore The Life List. I had such a good feeling about this book from the beginning- and then the first few pages sucked me in. I cried. I laughed. I loved.  I loved so much that I picked this as October Book Lovers Unite selection. I love so much that I tell anyone to read this book.

Why do I love this book so much? That’s complicated. And yet, kind of simple.


While I may not have had an actual, honest to goodness written life list like Brett, I had dreams. Some were simple. Some were silly. Some were dreams that I just assumed would happen as they were more like rite of passages. Some were dreams that upon later in life I’m glad they did not work out!


Dreams and plans are good. In fact, necessary. Without a dream, life is not worth living. For me, over the years some dreams have panned out- I’m college-educated, I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve had some experiences in life that made me feel so alive, so sparkly and wonderful. I’ve also made mistakes. I’ve been too scared at times to take chances. I’ve regretted things.

With Brett, I felt such a kinship. Similar age range, similar education backgrounds- living a good life- just not the life that we’d planned, dreamed about.  Is my life terrible? No, in fact it’s pretty wonderful. However, I do wonder about the unknown.

When I was 14, I dreamed of going to Harvard. This was before I understood things of how much college would cost or the fact that while I was an A+ student at my school- transcript was not going to be quite as impressive as other students who went to more prestigious high schools. I dreamed it because I wanted it. And because, for a long time, no one ever told me I couldn’t.


One day, I hope to find that little girl who dreamed of going to Harvard- who felt brave enough to say she had a dream- even if it seemed impossible. Thanks to Brett and her creator Lori Nelson Spielman, I might be a step closer to finding that girl.




Book Lovers Unite Week 3 Questions for The Life List discussion


Photo Credit: Goodreads


This is it- the last week of discussion for The Life List.  It’s been a great month of discussion and I’m so proud and pleased! 🙂

Here is the previous weeks discussion- Week 1 and Week 2. And join us for November as we discuss Hush Little Baby!

Questions for Week 3

1. Brett and Brad- did you root for them to couple up? Or was there always a friend vibe between them?

2. Meeting Herbert (Dr. Moyer)- at first Brett is hesitant. The more she gets to know him, though, the more she likes him.  Is Dr. Moyer the kind of man that Brett would be happy with?

3. Sanquita dies and makes Brett promise to take care of her baby. Why did Brett promise? Could you promise?

4. Brett meets her father. And as they get to know each other, Brett wonders why he did not come back after her parent’s divorce? Can you understand John’s reasons? Why didn’t Elizabeth reach out to him?

5. Joad is not happy about Brett adopting Austin. Why? Should Joad’s reaction to the adoption give Brett pause about adopting Austin? When her own flesh and blood thinks it’s a bad idea- does that mean anything? Or does it mean that Elizabeth failed Joad in some way? Did Elizabeth fail Joad in some way?

6. What did you think of the ending? Was it a good ending?

Book Lovers Unite Week 2 Discussion Questions: The Life List



Photo Credit: Goodreads


This is Week 2 questions for The Life List! Why am I posting these on Tuesday instead of a Friday? Yours truly forgot to post them last Friday in her rush to pack for vacation over the weekend- so I’m truly sorry!

In light of this, Week 3 Questions will be posted Friday Oct 25th and Final/Overall Thoughts of Book will be posted Thurs Oct 31st.

Week 1 questions are here for you ease of finding them!


Week 2 Questions:

1. Andrew decides to help Brett with her Life List. Why? Is this his way of showing Brett that he is the man for her- her rock?


2. Brett and Carrie- at this point in the book, can you understand why they drifted apart? Should Carrie hold a grudge? What would you do if you were Carrie?


3. Brett thinks she is pregnant. And this thought fills her with joy. How is Brett’s reaction different from an average single woman’s reaction at this possibility?


4. Brett’s father- can they begin a relationship? Has too much time passed? Does too much time ever pass for parent/child relationships?

Book Lovers Unite Week 1 Discussion Questions: The Life List


It’s time! It’s here! All October long we will be discussing The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman- a fantastic debut novel that is heartwarming and made of wonderful!

This is Week 1 of the discussion- here is the Reading Schedule! Need to know more about Lori Nelson Spielman? Read the  interview and author spotlight that was featured on Traveling With T over the summer!

Questions for Week 1:

1. Did you ever make a “life list” for yourself? If so (and if you feel like sharing) what were some of the things on the list?

2. When The Life List begins, we know that Brett has lost her mother. Brett is filled with grief and sadness- but does have to smile a bit that her mother has taken some steps to make this day easier (the champagne and the journal for later). Would you read the journal today or wait?

3. “Who’s going to boost my confidence now that my mom’s gone?”- Brett, pg 7. Is this a normal mother-daughter relationship? Or an extra-special relationship?

4. Is it cruel or loving what Elizabeth has in mind for Brett to receive her inheritance?

5. Brett’s friends try to think of ways that Brett can technically complete the list- is this what Elizabeth was thinking when she stipulated the list in her will?

6. Why is Brett so hesitant to contact Carrie?

7. Elizabeth asks “Where did she go, that fearless, self-assured girl who loved to entertain?” Why is Elizabeth so worried about this? People change- so why can’t Elizabeth accept this is not part of Brett’s personality anymore?

8. Elizabeth gives Brett a deadline as to when to finish the goals. Why? Should the deadline be negotiable? Shouldn’t Brett have time to grieve?

9. Brett loves Andrew.  Can she cross the “falling in love” off her life list?


* These are just some questions to get you thinking- feel free to answer all or just some! If you have a question ask- just don’t ask about anything that did not happen between pages 1-96 #nospoilersplease!


Reading Schedule for The Life List: October Book Lovers Unite selection


Here is the reading schedule for October Book Lover Unite selection, The Life List!


October 4th (Week 1) Pages 1-96 (read through ch 9)


October 11th (Week 2) Pages 97 (Ch 10)- 213 (read through Ch 20)


October 18th (Week 3) Pages 214 (ch 21)- 331 (end of book)


October 25th (Week 4) Overview and final thoughts


Lori WILL BE participating with us- as soon as I have those details finalized- I’ll let you know.

The Life List moves very fast- once the story unfolds and the reader begins to see what is happening, it’s a pretty fast read. Week 2 and Week 3 have more pages to read- but, don’t stress. Take your time and enjoy the book- each week’s questions will be posted on Friday and will be ready for discussion when you are ready!


Need more info about The Life List– visit my sign-up post!

October Book Lovers Unite: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

I debated. I hem’ed. I haw’ed. I looked at tons of books. Pro and con lists were made. I even considered calling a psychic about what should the October Book Lovers Unite book be. I was *this close* to naming MOONRISE by Cassandra King- and yet, I held off. And then I made a choice (and one that I hope you, Book Lovers Unite folks, will like!) I chose: THE LIFE LIST by Lori Nelson Spielman!

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

In this utterly charming debut — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a naïve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, passes away, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago.

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love.

As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.



Reading schedule will be posted later this week- but go ahead and reserve the book from the library or buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indie!

*Current prices: Amazon: $10.99 for paperback, $7.99 for Kindle; Barnes and Noble: $11.55 for paperback, $9.99 for Nook.


Lori has already agreed to a Q&A session- the format is to be determined, though. We may email her questions or have a set time for discussion with author on blog. As soon as I have those details finalized- you will know!


Spread the word- and tell your mama and friends to come to discuss this book with us!



Monday Mashup


It’s been a lovely few days off due to the 4th of July (although my blog was still having things posted!) I read, ate homemade ice-cream, and visited with family. And thought of how, next 4th of July, I’ll be an aunt- and have a baby niece or nephew to take patriotic pictures of!


1. The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman- still plenty of time to enter my #giveaway– but Goodreads is also hosting a #giveaway!

2. Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber (you might know her as Avery Aames)- well I’m hosting a #giveaway of that as well!

3. Recipe for a Happy Life– interview and #giveaway with Brenda Janowitz! Plus Brenda was featured at Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers website- read all about why Brenda Janowitz’s third novel was worth the wait for her (and the readers!)


Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club

4. It’s July- so the adorable Jen S of Book-alicious Mama got to choose the book- She picked The Painted Girls!  Join in the chat all month long!


Happy News!

Love at First Book celebrates 1 year as blog! Join me in congratulating, R, for this achievement- and here’s to many more!






The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

IMG_1491_2_4Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places……………

Brett, a 34 year old woman, has the life. Living with her long term boyfriend, working for her mother’s cosmetic company- Brett feels that life is pretty good. Then her mother, Elizabeth, dies and Brett’s world begins to crumble. Fully expecting Elizabeth to leave the cosmetic company to her, when Brett and her brothers meet with the attorney- and Brett gets a shock. Her mother ties her receiving the inheritance to Brett completing her life list goals that she made at age 14.

Brett is hurt, confused, grieving- and wondering how she will even begin to complete some of these goals- for example, she wanted to have a better relationship with her father; but her father died a few years earlier. Slowly, Brett begin to complete some of the life list goals- and with each goal she completes, the lawyer her mother hired gives her a letter. The letter is part of the lesson- another way to show Brett how far her life has been from the fearless spirit she had as a child.

Elizabeth loved her daughter, Brett, with a fierce determination that survives even death. While it is Brett’s life list, Elizabeth is determined that Brett will not take the easy way out- she will live the life, with the all the decadent goodness and even some sorrow, that Brett deserves. With each life list goal Brett checks off, she gets closer to the life she’d dreamed of and learns a bit more about herself- her real self; not the person she’d tried to be for others. In the end, at the very core, by completing her life list- will Brett have won the prize of getting access to her inheritance- or was the real prize in stepping out of her comfort zone to the life she really wants?

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

I loved this book. I cried for Brett, for the sorrow she felt about her mother, for the abundant love her mother felt for her. I felt a connection with Brett, as well, being of similar age and having similar concerns about life. This is not to say that the book is a total cry-fest, because it is not. It’s got laughter and humor to balance the sadness. It’s got lessons for people about life and love. It’s not a “thinker” book, nor is it heavy handed with it’s lessons. It’s got some light and fluff to balance with the sorrow- and it leaves the reader with a warm feeling. It’s like a mother loving you- wanting you to be the absolute best version of yourself that is possible. Have Kleenex ready and a glass of wine to enjoy while reading.

* This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Interview with Lori Nelson Spielman- author of The Life List

IMG_1491_2_4Today, Lori Nelson Spielman, stops by to answer some questions about The Life List (her debut!), writing space, and many other things. Plus: A lucky person will win a copy of The Life List!


Interview with Lori Nelson Spielman

1. What was the inspiration for The Life List?

–First I want to thank you, Tamara, for hosting me today. A few years ago, I came across an old cedar box, and tucked alongside my grandmother’s rosary and my first bankbook was a yellowed piece of notebook paper folded into a neat little square. In my flowery 14-year-old handwriting, I’d written “Lori’s List” across the top, along with 27 life goals. As I read it, I thought about the dreams I once had, some of which had been fulfilled, others that never would be. It struck me how very different my life would be now, had I achieved each goal. Suddenly a story was taking shape…the story of a woman forced to complete her old life list, humble goals she thinks she no longer wants.

2. The main character, Brett, seems to have quite the life- until her mother passes away. How hard was it to write about a mother passing away and the affect it would have on Brett?

— I wrote so many of Elizabeth’s letters with tears rolling down my cheeks. But I didn’t want the book to be a downer, nor did I want it to be complete fluff. So it was tricky balancing lightness with heft. The aftermath of her mother’s death was devastating, yes, but also bittersweet. In the end, it forced Brett to become the person she was meant to be, exactly what Elizabeth had hoped.

3. From the beginning to end, how long did The Life List take to write?

–I started writing in October of 2009 and finished the first draft in January, 2010—record time for me. And that’s when the real work began. I polished and re-wrote for a year, then spent months querying agents. I was offered representation from Jenny Bent in August of 2011. I spent another six months revising, and the book sold in March of 2012. Then time seemed to stop. Nobody outside the business seems to understand why it takes another 16+ months for the book to be published. My mother would say, “It’s finished, so why can’t they just publish it now?”

4. Do you have a writing space? A writing routine?

–I do have an office where I keep my laptop, but I often unplug and take it elsewhere. We have a high counter in one room where I can stand, rather than sit, which as any writer knows, is a nice relief! Because I work full-time, my writing time is generally reserved for late afternoons and evenings. I know the common wisdom is to write every day, and I try to, but I’ve learned not to torture myself if I don’t.

5. Are any of the characters based on people in real life? Or just figments of your imagination?

–That’s an interesting question. I think bits and pieces of my friends and family can be found in almost all of these characters, but there is no character who is completely true to life. I’ve done some volunteer work in a homeless shelter, and I work as a homebound teacher in an inner-city school district, so although these characters were completely fictitious, I was able to draw on real-life experiences when writing these scenes.

6. Will you be going on a book signing tour? If so, what are you looking forward to the most about the tour?

–I’ve got quite a few events lined up, which simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. I’m honored to be invited and cannot wait to connect with readers, but public speaking isn’t my forte, nor do I enjoy being in the spotlight. These events will definitely force me beyond my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll try to channel Brett’s courage when she had to do her stand-up routine!

7. Do you want The Life List to be made into a movie one day? If so, who are the actors that would comprise your dream cast?

–It would be a dream come true to see The Life List on screen. And this dream is an inch closer to reality because Fox 2000 has purchased the film option! I say an inch because it remains a long shot that it’ll ever be produced. Still, it’s exciting to think about the possibility. And my dream cast? I’d love to see Emma Stone, Hilary Swank, or Jennifer Garner as Brett; Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, or Gerard Butler as Brad; and Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper as Garrett. (Sadly, Clooney might be just a tad old for a role…darn!)

8. After a person reads the last page of The Life List- what is the most important thing you hope the reader will take from the experience?

–I get the most satisfaction from people who tell me the book inspires them to take a look at their own goals. So many of us feel we have no control over our destiny. Sure we have dreams, but we never really seize them, and before long another year has passed, then a decade. I’d love to think the story might motivate someone to find a new job, dump Mr. Wrong, move to a new place, or anything else they’ve been too timid to do.

9. Are you working on another book? If so, can you tell us what the book is about?

–Between my full-time job and promoting The Life List, I haven’t had the time to fully immerse myself in my new project, but it’s one I’m very excited about. It’s about forgiveness—granting and seeking it. Once again, life forces a woman to make changes, this time to atone for a serious accusation she made years ago, an accusation that as an adult she’s come to doubt.



*Special thanks to Lori Nelson Spielman for agreeing to be interviewed!


lori twitter


Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut novel, The Life List, will be in stores July 2nd! To find out more about Lori, visit her website, Twitter, and Facebook page.




**Giveaway! Traveling With T is giving away a copy of Lori’s book, The Life List, to a lucky person (Thanks Lori!) To enter: Leave a comment telling 1 thing that is on your “life list”!  Please leave a email address in the comments (you may use the AT and DOT). Giveaway begins July 2nd and ends July 9th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified by email July 10th.