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Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite
"Ooo...Ooo...Ooo! Is it bad that all I can do is make delighted sounds as I am preparing to write my review for Switch-A-Wish by author M.B. Earnheardt? I hope not, because I did, and this book certainly deserves all of my excitement! This is the story of married couple Chris and Amanda Claridge, a familiar couple to many of us: perfect seeming on the outside, resentful and unhappy on the inside. Handsome Chris is a college professor, pretty Amanda stays home with the couple's family. The two are headed for a divorce until they magically find themselves truly in the other's shoes the morning after making a wish for that very thing to happen. Through this unusual experience, they are each able to gain an understanding and appreciation for the other that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. Will their love for each other return as well? You'll have to read the book to find out!
I loved this book. Loved. It. The storyline grabbed me from page one and wouldn't let go. Author M.B. Earnheardt was able to delve deep into the heart of many marital problems, our inability to appreciate fully what the other does for us, and present that problem in an oh-so-readable way. Any reader who enjoys a fun read of women's fiction, chick lit, or just a great read in general should absolutely buy this book. I highly recommend Switch-A-Wish and will have my eyes peeled to see when M.B. Earnheardt's next book will be released. I, for one, will be in line to buy it as soon as I possibly can!"
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Visit Goodreads beginning midnight, Monday, October 26 through midnight, November 23 for your chance to win one of 10 free paperback copies of Switch-A-Wish.
Chris and Amanda Claridge are that couple. They look happy. They live in a well-kept home, have three little girls and fit squarely into the roles of husband and wife. Chris is a handsome college professor who easily charms everyone he meets. He loves his job and can't wait to go to work everyday. Amanda is a dedicated mother and caretaker. She tends to the kids and appreciates how important her job is, even if others don't get it. Underneath the surface of this functioning family, things are unraveling. Marital problems are about to split them apart when something magical happens.Chris and Amanda make a bedtime wish that forces them to live life as the other person. Chris must pretend to be his wife as he takes on childcare and household chores. Amanda steps out of her heels and into her Chris's shoes to tackle his job as a college professor. The role reversal is a revelation for the couple. Neither one has it as good, or bad, as they expected. Can Chris and Amanda make it past the secrets they have kept from each other? Will this new perspective give them the chance to find their way back to love?
Winners are encouraged but not required to review the books they win. In compliance with FTC guidelines, if you review Switch-A-Wish, please disclose in your review that you received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Thanks, and good luck!
Happy Pre-Launch "Sale" Day!
In the lead up to Tuesday's "official" launch of the print edition, Switch-A-Wish is on sale on Amazon. Save 10% when you order the print edition.
Okay, it's a whopping $1.20. But that's a large coffee at the local gas station (and everyone knows, gas station coffee is yummy).
Shhh... I have a secret.
The paperback version of Switch-A-Wish "officially" launches in one week, Tuesday, October 27. But you can get your copy today by click here.
Also, if you're on Goodreads, click the "Add Book" button below to add Switch-A-Wish to your reading list. If you're on Goodreads, and you've already read Switch-A-Wish, please consider leaving a rating and review. Thanks!
I've heard from a few groups intending to use Switch-A-Wish as a book club read. This is exciting, and very flattering. To help guide book club discussions, I've put together a list of questions. Feel free to use them, alter them, and of course, add your own. Please share your questions with me (and others) in the comments sections of this post.
If your club is local to Northeast Ohio (Pittsburgh to Cleveland, Erie to Columbus), I'd be happy to visit your group. If you're not local, I can Skype in to one of your meetings.
Book club discussion questions Switch-A-Wish:
1. The book focuses heavily on empathy (the ability to share and/or understand the feelings of another). Why do the characters find themselves so out of touch with each other and how does the empathy they cultivate in the book bring change to their relationship?
2. Who had the better strategy for dealing with the problems in the relationship before the wish? Was it Chris who wanted to stay married, but was looking to find fulfillment of the needs he felt his wife couldn’t fulfill? Was it Amanda who wanted to end the family and start fresh?
3. Switch-A-Wish adheres closely to traditional patterns in a marriage (wife at home with kids, husband working outside of home). Are these traditional roles important to the story, or would Switch-A-Wish have worked if Amanda worked outside the home and Chris was the primary caretaker?
4. What does the book tell us about the life-cycle of romantic relationships?
5. How did relationships with other characters (friends, family) impact Chris and Amanda’s understanding of each other?
6. Thinking about Chris and Jenna’s relationship,clearly he handled it poorly. What would you have done differently? Would you have ended it differently?
7. Thinking about Amanda and Linda’s relationship, did she handle it poorly? Would you have treated Linda differently?
8. Who is someone you would want to switch places with? What would you picture your switch looking like? What’s one thing you would be excited to do as the other person and one thing you would dread the other person learning about your life?
9. Did Chris and Amanda stand a chance at staying together without the wish and switch? What would have happened if they never switched back? When they try to switch back at the end, will the wish work again? What more would they hope to learn about each other?
Thanks to all of you who downloaded and read (or are reading, or plan to read) Switch-A-Wish. I love hearing your reactions and reading your personal messages about the book, and I promise to respond to each and every one.
I'm hoping you might take your reviews of Switch-A-Wish one step further. For each person who posts a review of Switch-A-Wish on Amazon or Goodreads in the next week (by Monday, October 12, 2015), I promise to send you a print copy when it's officially launched in late October.
When you post your review, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to my Facebook page and leave a message. Please be sure to include your address in an email or private message to me so we can be sure to get you a print copy.
Thanks again for all the wonderful things you're saying about Switch-A-Wish.
Many thanks to Gina Wynn for posting her wonderful review of Switch-A-Wish on Goodreads:
"A solid 4 1/2 stars for M.B. Earnhardt's debut novel, Switch-A-Wish. She has woven an intriguing story..." read more at Goodreads.com.
Thanks, Ms. Wynn.
Get your copy on Amazon, or click on the "Book" link to find more options for getting your copy.
Switch-A-Wish is told from the points of view of a married couple, Chris and Amanda Claridge. As I prepare for the release (September 18), I’m also trying to prepare myself for the reaction my friends and families will have to the central relationship.
Based on reading Facebook posts and comments by other authors, people who know me and know my husband, Adam, will assume I’ve written a memoir. I took the classic advice people give new writers, “write what you know,” and now I’ve written myself into a position that makes it look like my marriage is in jeopardy.
Adam was my beta-reader and the first to realize this could be a problem. After reading the first draft he said he felt uncomfortable because everyone would think it was us. I had exacerbated the problem by giving Chris and Amanda physical characteristics that were reminiscent of me and Adam. I didn’t really do it on purpose. It’s just kind of how they turned out when I was writing.
I also made Amanda’s past occupation a journalist and Chris a college professor. Adam and I are both professors (I specialize in journalism). Adam is worried that our friends, family and colleagues will think he’s contemplated an affair with a student. I don’t blame him, it kind of looks that way.
In an attempt to offset this speculation, I thought it may be good to go on my blog and write a little about how I came to the story.
First, I grew up watching daytime television shows like Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey. My favorite episodes were the ones where people shared their personal stories. When Oprah launched Dr. Phil, I had found a daily dose of personal stories with a dose of real psychological insight. I love this stuff. When I was trying to determine what type of conflict would be at the center of Switch-A-Wish, I drew from my experience watching married couples struggling to connect. Looking outside the relationship to feel better seemed like a reasonable way a man would react. When I started to think of the way this would play out when my main characters switched bodies, I knew it was the way to go.
I didn’t have personal experience with an affair. I had heard of students who slept with their teachers, but it had never been something that was close to me. I turned to blog posts about these types of relationships. I read a post, written by a professor, which detailed his affair with a student. I read postings in a discussion group about students who had slept with professors. I read reports by psychologists about student/teacher relationships. This was how I built a body of knowledge I could use to explore the relationship between Chris and Jenna.
Another concern was writing about sex (see my guest blog post at Gina Wynn’s http://ginawriteswords.com/ for details). I didn’t want people to picture me having sex and I still don’t. The good news is that reading a book is a personal experience. So, if I did my job well, the reader will be so caught up in his or her own world that I won’t even be involved.
I wish I would have made different choices. I wish I would have changed the details of Chris and Amanda to make their marriage less like mine, but now it’s too late and I have to own it. My advice to people thinking about writing is to write what you know. But once in a while, it might be good to consider different occupations, or at least different hair colors.
You can purchase Switch-A-Wish on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, ARe, and Nook.
My favorite part of Switch-A-Wish is the premise. I believe many couples can relate to seeing the world through their partner’s eyes. I would love my husband to see our marriage, parenting and life through my lens.
In thinking about what he’d like me to better understand, I landed on a hard truth. He’d like me to understand his feelings about our sex life. My avid viewing of Dr. Phil and Oprah upheld this conclusion. Married couples who have kids often have problems with sexual intimacy.
After taking time to digest this revelation, I landed on another hard truth: my main characters, a married couple living in each other’s bodies, would have sex as the other person.
At first I thought that maybe I could get away with eliminating sex scenes by stating my main characters didn’t want to do it because it would be too strange. But in trying to justify this, I couldn’t think of one person I knew who would let this opportunity pass unexplored. Sex is too much of the fabric of a marriage to be ignored.
Because of this, Switch-A-Wish has sex scenes. It has descriptive sex scenes. It has scenes that were incredibly uncomfortable to write. I had to suppress my inner prude and let the characters take over in order to get through it. I had to read other sex scenes to find language that would describe what was happening in a way that didn’t sound too vulgar, but also didn’t sound too much like I was trying not to be vulgar.
When I was editing the first draft I almost deleted it all because I knew my mom would want to read the book and I couldn’t imagine how embarrassing it would be for her to know what a dirty mind I had.
I had to make justifications that allowed me to move through it. The first is, they are married, and married people should have sex with each other. The second is, even if they weren’t married, our bodies are designed to create and embrace intimacy this way. Third, I’m just editing a rough draft, no one will ever read it. In honesty, it was the third one that worked best.
Now, it’s out there. My voice, my name, my words about sex will be shared with the English reading world. It helps to write this blog post, admitting to the fact that writing about sex was embarrassing. Because it was hard for me, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
That said, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself writing a story where the characters are going to have sex, and you have to write it down for them:
1. Do some research. Don’t run out and have sex with someone and take notes throughout (unless you’re into that, who am I to judge?). I mean go online and read about sex. Go to blogs and discussion forums. Amanda and Chris’ sex lives were not about me. So, looking at other people’s sex lives helped depersonalize the scenes.
2. Don’t edit yourself as you write. I’m not someone who just writes and then revises when it’s all done. I write a little, then go back and edit, then write some more. It works for me. That said, I didn’t do this when I was writing the sex scenes. I just tried to picture what was happening and record it. I used whatever strange vocabulary that came to mind (wiener, anyone?) and didn’t judge myself. I let these scenes alone for a while and then I came back later and edited them. It was easier because now it felt like work, trying to take words and make them understandable and arrange them properly. This I could do.
3. Read other sex scenes. There are many, many, many writers who have done this longer than me and have figured out beautiful (and incredibly raunchy) ways of describing sex. Some are very graphic (as in, pornographic), while others hold details. By examining their language, their words and the intent of the scenes, I started to figure out what I liked. I was able to find my comfort zone and this gave me boundaries.
4. Get a second opinion. I trust my husband’s opinion. He’s also a writer, albeit an academic writer and columnist. But he reads, and he’s not a prude. So I bounced a few of the scenes off him to get a sense for what words he would use, and how he would react if trapped in my body.