If you've finished our "GMA" Book Club pick this month and are craving something else to read, look no further than our new digital series, "GMA" Buzz Picks. Each week, we'll feature a new book that we're also reading this month to give our audience even more literary adventures. Get started with our latest pick below!
This week's Buzz Pick is "If the Shoe Fits: A Meant to Be Novel" by Julie Murphy.
Murphy's reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and believing in the happy ending that each and every one of us deserves.
"If the Shoe Fits" will follow a plus-size aspiring fashion designer, Cindy, as she shakes things up on America's favorite reality show -- and shows the world what it means for a plus-size heroine to step into the proverbial glass slipper.
Having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America's favorite reality show, "Before Midnight."
When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion. Turns out being the only plus-size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn't expect? That she may just find inspiration -- and love -- in the process.
Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn't fit, maybe it's time to design your own.
"If the Shoe Fits" is available now. Get started with an excerpt below and get a copy here.
- 1August 2, 2021
- 2July 23, 2021
"Ladies!" Beck says through a bullhorn. "Your seats are labeled. This is the order you will be going in. You'll get in the white Rolls-Royce, and yes, she is our baby. A 1950 original. The car will take you through the gates, you'll meet the suitor, and then head into the house, where the bar will be open to you. When we're done filming out front, the suitor will come and mingle out in the courtyard. This is your time to get to know him before this evening's elimination ceremony. Reminder: Some of you will be going home before light's out tonight."
Beside her Wes crosses his arms and smirks. "Go big or go home," he yells. "Literally!"
I glance around nervously, searching for Anna and Drew. I see them both sitting together in the second and third chairs beside Addison, who is wearing a gold lamé gown with a front and back so low it makes me nervous. Still, she looks like an actual goddess.
I wave to them, but they're both nodding intently as Beck talks to them.
I find my seat down near the end, next to a woman with red curly hair and three oranges in her lap.
"I'm Judith," she says as I sit down. "I juggle."
"Cool," I say, unsure what to make of that.
From years of watching this show and living with Erica, I know that intro night is a beloved fan favorite. There's Twitter discourse, message boards, and even drinking games! (Drink every time a contestant introduces themselves with a pun the suitor doesn't get!)
But the point is that the most memorable women on the first night receive the most camera time when they get the public talking. Of course, the decisions are always left to the suitor, though I can't help but wonder how many of his decisions are influenced by producers pulling strings behind the scenes.
The question is what can I do or say in ten seconds that will make me stand out among the crowd? (The very beautiful and glamorous crowd.)
Between Juggling Judith and Meme Icon Addison, I don't really have much to offer in such a short span of time.
"Twins!" Someone shouts. "You're up."
Anna and Drew stand up, and I nearly shout, They're not twins! But they're gone and in the Rolls-Royce before I can even give them a good-luck wave.
"Twins," says Judith. "Now that's a good schtick. They haven't had that before."
The line moves more quickly than I expect, and with every girl that leaves, the rest of us move down a chair until it's just Judith and me.
"Good luck!" I call to her as she slides into the back of the limo, the oranges gathered in her arms.
"I don't need luck," she says seriously. "I've got skills."
"We saved the best for last," Beck says as she slams the door.
I scoff at that. "Yeah, right. More like this guy is gonna be a total zombie from meeting twenty-five women back-to-back."
Wes tilts his head, listening in on his headset. "Move it!" he shouts as he runs past someone from craft services balancing a tray of sandwiches. "We've got a breakdown happening by the pool." He holds the walkie-talkie up to his mouth. "No, let her spiral! I need those tears!"
I don't know if it's his gross reaction to some woman in crisis or if it's just my nerves, but I feel sick to my stomach.
"Whoa there," says Beck, steadying me. "Ignore him."
I shake my head. "I don't think I can do this. I need to go home. There's still time. Erica would only be a little bit annoyed if I left now. I haven't even really been on camera. And I can apologize to the whole crew that came out to the house the other day for wasting—"
"Stop." Her voice is stern. "You can do this, Cindy. You look incredible and you're smart and funny and talented. The suitor is going to love you. The audience is going to love you. And most importantly, they're going to die over those shoes."
I look down at the feathers framing my ankles. My shoes. My beautiful shoes. Even if all I do is walk out there and introduce myself, millions of people will at least know my name and see my shoes. Even if I never design another shoe again, I'll always have that moment.
I take a deep breath. I can do anything in these shoes.
"Wait!" Ash yells, sprinting up the hill from the trailers down below. "Wait!"
When she reaches us, her chest is heaving, but she's holding a highlighter and brush in her hands. "Sorry Wes had us so busy all night, but I wanted to get up here to check on you."
"Me?" I ask.
Ash smiles with a laugh. "Yes, you, Cindy." She winks. "We all have our favorites, you know."
And that little piece of information steadies me even more. "Thank you," I whisper.
She dusts my cheekbones and the tip of my nose with rose gold. "Perfect."
The Rolls-Royce is straight out of a fairy tale—a glistening white against the swirling sunset sky and welded to the grille is the sparkling Before Midnight logo, a ticking Roman-numeral clock. This is really happening.
The car drives me the short distance up the rest of the hill and through the gate of the château as though this were my first time arriving here.
The car stops, and the driver in the front calls, "That's your cue!" through the crack in the divider.
I open the door and step out, imagining the camera zooming in for a close-up of my shoes. (Hey, a girl can dream.)
As I stand, I take a deep breath and a quick moment to smooth out my dress, and for just a millisecond, I think, What if…What if this random guy really is the love of my life? What if fate is actually real and the two of us are meant for this moment?
I look up and am briefly shocked by all the lights and cameras and crew quietly stepping around us.
My vision focuses and my gasp cuts through the humid night air.
Tall, dark hair, impeccable suit.
Prince Charming himself.