Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fortytude by Shelly Hickman - Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shelly Hickman will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I had a hip replacement when I was 41. I’d already had a hip surgery called an acetabular osteotomy when I was 36, in hopes of delaying or even preventing a hip replacement. My pelvic bone was cut and rotated to compensate for a shallow hip socket. I should have just gone with the hip replacement from the get-go. It completely got rid of the pain, unlike the osteotomy which was much more invasive. My dad always likes to joke that he was a “nooner” because of his various health issues. I tell him he’s one to talk because he didn’t even take enough time to give me two fully developed hip sockets. ;)

2. As an undergraduate I majored in Fine Art in hopes of either becoming a gallery/museum curator or graphic artist. UNLV didn’t offer any kind of commercial art program at the time, so I went with Fine Art and didn’t much enjoy it. I felt several of the professors were pretentious and insincere, and I wasn’t up for the game playing that was involved in that world. I’m just not good at it, nor do I care to be. If web design or computer graphics were a thing back then, I would have been all over it. Four years after I graduated college, I ended up going back to school for my Master’s degree in elementary education and eventually became a teacher.

3. My youngest daughter was born on 9/11—the actual 9/11—so I’m sure you can imagine what a bittersweet day that was. She is proof that good things actually happened on that day. It sounds so corny, but she is an absolute joy in my life. At fourteen, she could have easily ended up being the stereotypical sullen, reclusive teenager who tells me nothing of her life. Okay, she has her sullen moments like the rest of us, but most of the time she’s a silly, funny, sensitive girl who shares her world with me and I love her to pieces. Of course I love my son equally, but he’s nineteen now and I recognize that my access into his life is limited. Sigh…

4. When my family lived in California, my parents were approached by a talent scout with an interest in putting me in commercials. I was around two at the time but we were about to move to Las Vegas, so my parents declined. Just think, I could have been a messed up, washed up former child star right about now.

5. My maiden name was Schanzenbach. How’s that for a good German name? After spending my whole life writing a name that was nearly half the alphabet in length, I could not wait to unload it. Alterations given to it while I was growing up included Schanzensnot, Scratcherbacker, and Skazzenback, (with a short a). By the way, it’s pronounced Shon-sen-bock, in case you were wondering. My sixth grade math teacher affectionately referred to me as Redenbacher, after the popcorn.

And get this—my dad wanted to name me Bernadette. Can you imagine? Bernadette Schanzenbach! Thank God my mom vetoed it. Shelly Schanzenbach did have kind of a cool flow to it, though. One thing was for sure—on the first day of school when teachers called attendance and they got to a name and paused, it was usually mine.

The exchange normally went something like this, “Shelly…” beat, beat, beat.


Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard.

Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her.

In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”

The sequel to "Vegas to Varanasi" catches up with Anna and Kiran a couple of years after the event that brought the once “ugly duckling” high school acquaintances together. But will their romance continue to flourish in the face of a whole new set of insecurities brought on by middle age?

First, there’s Kiran, who has an unexpected health scare. While his doctors assure no permanent damage has been done, there seems to have been some damage to his personality, as the normally respectful and reserved Kiran begins behaving erratically and overtly. Anna wants to hope that this is temporary, sparked by the visit of Kiran’s womanizing, free-spirited cousin, Seth. But is this just the midlife Kiran surfacing?

Anna has midlife issues of her own. Now forty-eight, she’s navigating the onset of perimenopause and all the delights that come with it, from facial hair to mood swings to body temperature issues. On top of that, her two-year-old granddaughter is starting to show signs of a behavior disorder, bringing with it a whole other level of stress and worry.

Will Anna and Kiran finally find their happily ever after? Or end up stuck in a midlife mess in this romantic comedy of accepting change, and “the change.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

When I look up, Kiran is regarding me so intently, I swear he’s mentally calculating the diameter of my pupils. “It was truly exceptional, for someone your age to be so compassionate toward others.”

This is becoming far too intense. My insides feel as if they’re playing musical chairs. “I could really use a drink. You?”

“I’ll get it for you. What would you like?”

“A glass of white wine, please.”

“Any particular kind?”

“Whatever they have is fine.”

I sit down on one of the sofas while he walks to the bar for our drinks.

This is childish. Why am I acting like I’ve never had a man give me attention before? It has to be because I’m letting his looks intimidate me.

Luke never flustered me, but maybe that was because he was my buddy first. Despite his good looks, he was approachable. Kiran, on the other hand... I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone in real life who was so arresting.

I feel flushed and touch my face.

He’s not full of himself, and he genuinely seems to like me. Clearly, he has these idealistic memories of me which are far too much to live up to. I’m not Gandhi, for crying out loud!

About the Author:
Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as a computer illustrator. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer literacy and media technology at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dogs, Frankie and Junebug.

Amazon author page:

Buy the books: Amazon: Vegas to Varanasi Menopause to Matrimony
Barnes and Noble: Vegas to Varanasi Menopause to Matrimony

NOTE: Vegas to Varanasi is now perma-free on multiple platforms

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great interview! The name you could have had, Bernadette Schanzenbach, reminds me of the character, Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, from Big Bang Theory!

    1. Haha! Me too, Betty. The Big Bang Theory is one of my favorite shows, and I always think of how close I came to becoming a Bernadette when I hear her name.

  2. Enjoyed the post and the excerpt, sounds like a great series, thanks for sharing!

  3. Really great interview, I enjoyed reading it and the excerpt! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I enjoyed the five things. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it you for free?

    1. Mai, I would only wear it for a designated ugly sweater day at work. I could actually use one for next week. :)

  6. Great post! I really enjoyed reading the excerpt and the interview. This book series sounds like such fun, interesting, exciting, and intriguing reads! Totally can't wait to read these books!

  7. I enjoyed the entire post! Thank you so much for sharing.


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