Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Would've Pushed Him Overboard If We'd Gone On A Cruise

OK, so Jeff and I have alluded to the fact that there might be some truth to the stories we write about. Now, before you go "WHOA. Jeff really is an uber-rich travel writer and Liz really did get fired from a job and OMG, they took a high school reunion cruise!!" -- these are not the true things.

Although I'm sure Jeff would make a really fantastic travel writer.

But one of the truths from One Last Chance is that he did sort of stand me up for prom when we were in high school.

I know. It's true. And I had this awesome dress (black, skin-tight, lace dress. It was smokin'.) and I absolutely was planning to spend the night with him in a hotel afterward (sorry, Mom).

And then he went and broke up with me over the phone.

Yeah, he was an idiot.

But, being the super-awesome person I am, I didn't hate him or make a Jeff voodoo doll or anything like that. And prom came and went (I went my fabulous dress...with my fabulous best of whom just happened to be Jeff's sister) and then Jeff graduated and moved away and we never saw each other again.

Cue twenty years later.

There is nothing exciting in the details about how we reconnected. But our first face-to-face meeting in twenty years?

He came to Minneapolis. Flew in for a weekend.

A friend of mine was having a birthday party the night he flew in.

Not just any birthday party.

A Prom birthday party. Meaning, we all got dressed up in fancy prom dresses and did our hair and make-up and looked hotter-than-hot.

I showed up at his hotel before midnight. Knocked on his hotel door (after I accidentally went to the wrong hotel and knocked on a different room door and scared the bejesus out of some poor, elderly woman with foam curlers in her hair).

We hugged.

And Jeff finally got to see me wearing a prom dress. Different location, different circumstances and different dress. But it didn't matter.

I was there. Wearing a prom dress.

With him.

Jeff says: I can't really dispute any of this, other than the fact that I sort of believe there was a Jeff voodoo doll in existence at some point. Just a gut feeling. And deservedly so.

Monday, February 4, 2013

From 0 to 4

Confession time: I (Liz) read reviews. I sorta obsess over them. Like, in a bad way. Jeff does not. In fact, I can call him or text him and say, "Hey, did you see you got a new review on Thread of Suspicion? You're up to 25." His response? "Oh. Last time I looked, I had four."


So, with One Last Chance, I might be checking reviews on Amazon and Good Reads and a billion other places people might leave reviews.

Anyway, there was a string of reviews -- three in a row! -- where some readers were miffed that Claire bemoaned going from a size 0 to a size 4. Readers who basically said she was a whiny snot and how on earth could that be such a big freakin' deal?

I am here to tell you.

OK, so when Jeff and I started seeing each other again (after a twenty-one year hiatus. Leave of absence. Horrible break-my-heart-breakup in high school. Whatever you want to call it), I was rail-thin. Teeny-tiny. I could almost shop in the kids' department. Part of it was from the tumultuous changes in my life. Part of it was because I'd been unhappy and sort of just...stopped eating.

Cue a few months later. Jeff and I are blissfully happy, rediscovering how great relationships and love can be. And maybe, just maybe, we're blissfully discovering this over Five Guys burgers and Rolo McFlurries.

And suddenly, my clothes aren't fitting me anymore.

No worries, I think. I mean, I probably was a little too thin. I can go up to a size 2. Easy peasy.

Cue a few more months. We're still insanely happy. And maybe, just maybe, we're insanely happy eating foods like cheeseburger soup and chocolate caramel brownies.

And, suddenly, the size 2 clothes aren't fitting me anymore.

To someone who has never been a size 4, much less a size 0, this might be an eye-roll moment. OK, it probably definitely is an eye-roll moment.

But for me? Someone who had been a size 0 for almost three years -- you know, after all the baby weight finally melted off and you finally feel like you again?

It was tragic.

I might have shed a few tears. More than a few. They might have filled a bucket. Or two. It's hard to see your body change. To see the shorts you wore last summer can't even be buttoned now. To pull on a t-shirt that used to fit perfectly but barely covers your stomach anymore. To realize that the perfect pair of jeans you found (after twenty years of searching) won't even go over your hips now.


And I just gotta say to those who is it any different than going from a size 8 to a size 12? Or a size 12 to a size 16? Wouldn't that be cause for a tiny freak out? Or a big one?

And what if you'd gained all that weight and then saw -- unexpectedly -- the guy you'd been gaga over in high school? Would you swallow and stammer and suck in your stomach just a little? Uh. I would.

I think it was natural for Claire to worry, to acknowledge that her body had changed since high school and she didn't know if it was a good thing. As women, we all obsess over our appearance. And it isn't fair that we live in a culture where unrealistic expectations of beauty are fed to us daily. But we do. And it doesn't mean that we can't change those expectations, that we can't wake up in the morning and decide that we are beautiful just the way we are, size 4 or size 28 or anywhere in between. But I think Claire's reaction was dead on.

I might have told Jeff about those reviews while he was at the Dallas airport, waiting to fly to me in Minneapolis. And I might have told him it while holding a doughnut and a French Vanilla coffee.

I'm pretty sure the number 6 is just around the corner...


Jeff says: She's perfect, whatever size she is.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shelby Gates: What's My Name?

Who am I? Why am I here?

The most important thing that you should know is that I am not an...I. I'm actually a we.

Confused yet?


Shelby Gates is actually a pseudonym for bestselling romance writer Liz Appel and bestselling mystery writer Jeff Shelby.

So I'm a We!

Why do we write together? Well, One Last Chance started out as a way for us to fictionalize what happened to us in real life. Are some of the details in One Last Chance true? Perhaps. :) Anyway, we had so much fun writing One Last Chance that we wrote Second Chance. And that was so much fun that we're working on a third novel. Can you tell? We really like writing together.

Anyway, we hope you've enjoyed reading our books as much as we've enjoyed writing them. And we hope you decide to follow us here or on Facebook or on Twitter -- we'll share book release info but we'd also like to share some of the real stories that brought us back together and got us writing as a team in the first place.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

SECOND CHANCE -- Available Now!

SECOND CHANCE is now available! Love, love, love this cover -- and love Elle's story, too!

Elle Middleton deserves a second chance. A second chance at life, that is. Despondent over a lost job and a singular lack of direction, Elle reluctantly returns to the only place she's ever found peace and solitude: Keefer Island.

With a nanny job lined up on the island and a directive from her mother to sell her grandmother's island house, Elle is ready to forget the past and live fully in the present. But when she arrives, she learns that her nanny job no longer exists and the only real estate agent in town is Cash Brady, the man she loved and the man who ditched her twelve years before without any explanation. And the man who can still completely disarm her with a smile.

Determined to give herself the summer she deserves and to honor her promise to her mother, Elle remains on the island. But with memories lurking behind every corner and Cash demanding answers to questions she didn't even know existed, Elle begins to realize that she may be getting more than a second chance at life. She just might get a second chance at love, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


SECOND CHANCE is coming soon. Check out this smokin' hot cover courtesy of Painted Motion Designs.

Love, love, LOVE it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Last Chance

The last place Claire Woodward wants to be is standing on the dock, waiting to embark on a cruise to celebrate her ten year high school reunion. Her high school career was a disaster and her life following graduation didn't improve—divorced, recently fired from her job and no prospects on either front. But she’s reluctantly talked herself into going, hoping maybe it can jumpstart her life in the right direction. And given that she’s checked the RSVP list obsessively and knows with certainty that Griffin Benson won’t be on the cruise, she figures she can live through it.

Griffin Benson has one regret in his life—breaking up with Claire Woodward before their senior Prom. It’s haunted him for the last decade and he’s been waiting ten years to apologize. When he sees that she’ll be on their high school reunion cruise, he thinks the time has finally arrived to say he’s sorry and to maybe pick up where they left off. He waits until the last moment to sign up, making sure she’ll be on that ship.

When Claire arrives for the start of the trip, her bad luck continues—the cruise line has mishandled her reservation and she’s without a room on a sold-out cruise. There’s only one empty bed on the vessel…and it just happens to be in Griffin Benson’s room, which he’s more than happy to let her have.

Reluctantly, Claire agrees to the arrangement and is immediately torn by her reunion with Griffin—does she hold steady to her vow that she won’t let him break her heart again? Or does she forgive him and rekindle the spark that is so clearly still there? Should she give Griffin one last chance?