Thursday, October 19, 2017


Will Cann, a recovering heroin addict-turned-counselor for whom truth is a championed element to recovery, has a dark secret — shared with no one outside of his anonymous AA meetings. Over twenty years ago, after an ultimatum from his pregnant ex-wife, Will was forced to assume a new identity and to fake his own death to get out from under his dealer and user-friends once and for all.

Now, Will is counseling Thea Brown, a young woman who has been diagnosed with a pathological addiction to creating fake social media identities, and who founded a start-up company (“Alibis”) that created false internet identities for clients, many with suspect pasts. Thea’s addiction has landed her in rehab as a condition of her parole — after a plea bargain cut short a court case that would have put both Thea and Alibis on trial for a very high-profile crime.

As Will counsels Thea, the past is on a collision course with the present. Both Will’s, and his young client’s, fast-held secrets start to unravel... and reveal, at long last, the truth about Thea.
"Impellizzeri unleashes a tangled skein of half-truths and lies that unravels with each chapter.  Perspectives alternate between that of almost sociopathic Thea and others who are trying to discover Thea’s truth.  This satisfying story will keep readers guessing until the end."

"Clever, mind-bending and darkly original, THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA had me hooked from page one. In Thea Brown, Amy Impellizzeri has created a brilliant, complicated, flawed character that gets under your skin and stays there. Fast-paced and twisty, the unexpected ending will have you gasping for air. "
​-Heather Gudenkauf, NYT best selling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and NOT A SOUND

"A man’s past and a woman’s present collide in Amy Impellizzeri’s latest up-all-night thriller where nothing is as it seems. Filled with questionable characters, long-held secrets, and a tangled web of twists and turns, THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA will keep readers guessing who — if anyone — can be trusted. A perfectly compelling read all the way to the shocking end."
-Kimberly Belle, USA TODAY and WSJ best selling author of THE MARRIAGE LIE

"Thrilling and well-plotted story. You’ve made me a fan of psychological suspense!"
Julie Cantrell, NYT and USA TODAY best selling author

"Filled with tension and twists you don't see coming, Amy Impellizzeri's dialogue crackles and her characters scheme and surprise. I was invested and thrilled -- what a ride!"
-Kelly Simmons, international selling author of ONE MORE DAY and THE FIFTH OF JULY

"Just try to keep your eye on the ball in this intricate thriller. No matter how carefully you follow all the moving pieces, nothing will prepare you for where Impellizzeri takes you. A twisting story where everyone has secrets, and no one can be trusted."
-Rena OlsenAuthor,
Some Q & A with Amy

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I have always been a writer. But in college, I put away all my creative writing journals to get ready for law school. I was convinced I could not pursue BOTH creative writing AND get ready for law school. I’m not sure that was exactly correct. But, hindsight is 20/20. I packed all my journals away, and only re-discovered my creative writing voice when I took a sabbatical from my 13-year corporate law career in 2009. I took a one-year sabbatical that year – and I’m still on it!

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I can never really sit still too long. I love to travel. And I incorporate my adventures into my novels. From New York City to Central America and the Caribbean, the settings of my novels are often based on places I’ve already fallen in love with.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

So even though I left the law in 2009, I’ve pretty much always had a “day job” alongside writing. (See above. I can NEVER really sit still too long!) For several years, I was on the executive team of a start-up company working to raise up and market women entrepreneurs. I’ve also worked as a speaker on career transition and as a teacher of writing workshops nationally, and more recently, I’ve been working in development and marketing for a local private school. Also, I have three children 13 and younger. And a dog. So there’s them. But writing isn’t something I “fit in” alongside my day jobs. It’s woven into the fabric of every day. It sustains me, frankly.

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere. The news, the coffee shop. My friends. (Just kidding! I never use my friends in my novels. But if I did, I would totally change their names. Wink.)

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I used to think I had an unusual journey to publication. But I’m learning that every story is completely unique, so maybe not. I submitted my first novel without an agent to Nancy Cleary of Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing after a former magazine editor friend of mine introduced us. I think I even kind of hounded Nancy to read it after she read the synopsis and declared it intriguing. It was one of those things that could have backfired if the planets were slightly misaligned. But it didn’t. She read it, she loved it, and after I landed my fabulous agent, Bob Diforio, I stayed with Wyatt-MacKenzie for my next two novels. 

What are you working on now?

I am working on a new novel about a powerful political couple from Washington DC – the place where I started my legal career. When tragedy strikes, everything they thought they knew about each other – and wanted for each other – will change. For those familiar with my novels, you won’t be surprised to hear there’s a lot of unraveling of secrets. The working title is “Why We Lie.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes. You have time.

What I hear most from aspiring writers is that they want to write a story, but they can’t find the time. And in my writing workshops, I work hard to help students find it. I’m not interested in covering up the truth that writing DOES take a lot of time. And sometimes carving out the time feels a little selfish at first, but I work with writers to help them get over the guilt and carve out the time anyway.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you! It’s been an amazing and humbling journey putting three novels out into the world and watching readers and Book Clubs embrace them. I’ll never stop being grateful. 

To connect with Amy:

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017


New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature.

Some Q & A with Kate ~

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I started writing when my youngest was an infant and slept 22 out of 24 hours a day. I KNOW! Don’t kill me, my oldest had colic. I earned it! I’ve always written and always wanted to write a novel, but just never knew how. I thought the words would just flow out of me, all 85K of them (*dies laughing*). Now I know it’s a daily push and dedication!

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

Family time. My kids are into sports and activities and elementary school age is filled with a zillion To-Do lists. I’m not 100% sure I enjoy every single minute of it, but between that and the day job and the writing, I don’t have time for another hobby! I’ve started going to the gym again a few months ago. I’m trying to enjoy exercise! Last winter, I took my daughter skiing and remembered that I loved it (my knees do not). I’m finding my way back to the kitchen, now that I’m part-time at the day job. I love decorating and after I finished my last book, I shut down my computer for a week and redecorated my living room on a shoestring budget at a barn sale.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I work part-time for Johnson & Johnson. I’m a technical writer for them, sometimes from home. I spent 20 years in the lab and at some point, you get tired of the demands of lab work, especially working with cells and biologics. They wait for no one! I love the flexibility of my current job. It allows me to spend more time with family, while still keeping my toe in an industry I love.

Where do you get your ideas?

I have no idea. They come to me when I see something in real life and think “wow, that’s kind of interesting” and wonder how I could turn it around or spin it into a story. I don’t feel like I have control over what sends my brain into overdrive. A friend Kimberly Brock once called it “catching lightning” and I’ve never forgotten that. I feel like I do that constantly. Sometimes, I’ll feel that buzz of this would be a good story but then get distracted and poof, it’s gone. So it really does feel that transient.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

You know, I don’t think so. Yes, I’ve made mistakes and yes, I wish I would have dug deeper here or knew then what I know now, craft-wise, but honestly, the journey has been so incredibly rewarding, I’m not sure I’d go back if I could.

How do you market your work?

A little bit every day! I make connections with other writers as much as possible. I try to give back as much as possible. I try to be as generous as I can and talk about other writers more than myself. I try to respond to readers (I don’t always succeed, and it’s never a result of anything other than slipping through the cracks!). It’s been a long, slow process of getting my name out there, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s been five years now!

What are you working on now?

I’m between projects! It feels so relaxing. I have ideas brewing and a proposal I’m working on, but it’s been nice to focus on articles and blogs and let the next project marinate.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

Only in little unrecognizable pieces :). Parts of friend’s personalities, conflicts I’ve seen or observed, nothing directly translated.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Nothing that hasn’t been said a million times: keep going. The writing is the thing. Don’t get too distracted by all the “other”. The person you’re admiring and think has everything feels exactly like you do about someone else, no matter who they are. The feeling of insecurity you have right now? Get used to it. It never goes away, no matter how much success you have. In fact, I’d say the more successful you are, the more uncomfortable you feel. There’s more to lose! This career is made for people who can ignore the discomfort and enjoy the writing. Everything else is just noise. (I hope one day to be able to take this advice!)

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

THANK YOU!!!! Truly. 

   Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of four novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew YouWhile You Were GoneBinds That TieThe Vanishing Year, and Blackbird SeasonHer first novel THOUGHT I KNEW YOU, was a New York Times bestseller. THE VANISHING YEAR was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called "chillingly satisfying." (Publisher's Weekly) with "superb" closing twists (New York Times Book Review).   
    Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children, and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway.

To connect with Kate:

Thursday, September 21, 2017


A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.
When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.
At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

Reviews ~

“A fast-paced, heart-pounding story with secrets, tragedy, finger pointing and forgiveness. The characters are multifaceted and interesting: some are caring, some cunning, some are hard as stone, and others are unpredictable. Whalen is a talented author and she brings small town values and troubles to life in this novel.” —RT Book Reviews

When We Were Worthy is a startlingly clear look at life in a small town where the carefully crafted characters are neither heroes nor villains—they are simply real people wedged into an unimaginable situation. Heart-wrenching and vivid, this is a beautifully written novel about letting go and holding on, of family, of love, and, ultimately, of forgiveness.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

When We Were Worthy is a poignant, haunting story of truths and secrets—the power of tragedy to unravel an entire community, and then stitch it back together—I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” —Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be

Some Q & A with Marybeth:
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I’ve been married for 26 years to the love of my life and best friend (I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true) and we have six children, ranging in age from young adult to tween. When I’m not chauffeuring them around or cooking for them, I try to eke out some writing time.
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a child I always had a notebook of stories I was working on, though at that point I never dreamed I’d actually write a whole novel. I majored in writing in college. Basically it’s the only skill I came with. 

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

Watching You Tube planner videos, working on my journals/planners, hanging out with friends, reading, traveling or dreaming of traveling

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?


Where do you get your ideas?

Mostly news items or stories people share with me—I can hear a story and think “what if…” and my imagination just takes over from there.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

When I was young I thought that only people who lived in New York City could be “real writers.” J Pat Conroy and Lee Smith taught me that wasn’t true.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I had a lot of challenges getting published when I tried writing nonfiction. I wouldn’t attempt fiction because I was scared of rejection. It was only after I decided to go for it that I finally did get published.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

I would try to not let fear control my decisions.

How do you market your work?

I run a site called She Reads with my best friend Ariel Lawhon, who’s also an author. While we spend most of the time promoting other writer’s books, when we have a new book come out we do have the site, and our various social media platforms, in place to reach readers about our own novels.

What are you working on now?

My next novel is called ONLY EVER HER, a domestic suspense about a bride who disappears from her small South Carolina town a few days before her wedding, leaving friends and family to search for her while guarding their own closely held secrets.
I’m writing it now and, Lord willing, it’ll be released next fall.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

In 2007 I read an article in People magazine about a carload of cheerleaders who were hit head on by a semi on their way to a party in MI. I tore out the article and saved it because I thought I’d write about that someday. Then about two years ago I saw a tv show about the same thing happening in TX. Not long after I saw that show I began fleshing out WHEN WE WERE WORTHY.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

The novel opens and closes with the dead cheerleaders talking, kind of the Greek chorus of the book. I really love their voices.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read a lot. It’s like the example of the math problem in the textbook. It’s one thing for someone to tell you how to do it. It’s another thing to see it successfully done.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

The downfall is that you have to govern yourself, you have to be disciplined about working steadily so that word count will keep going up. And sometimes you just plain old don’t want to. Also the self-promotion aspect of marketing your book can get kind of wearying sometimes.
The best part is connecting with readers and knowing that you gave them some enjoyment or insight from something that you made up in your own head.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for reading! 

To connect with Marybeth ~  my website, on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram or Goodreads
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Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart
When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.
Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.
Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.
Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.
Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

Some Q & A with Julie ~ 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I grew up in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains, on a slice of paradise that is Washington state’s northwest corner: the Olympic Peninsula. Thirty-five years after my parents’ divorce started an avalanche of life changes and I left the area at the age of twelve, I returned here to become a writer, surrounded by the mountains and water which shaped me.

In between, wanderlust carried me across the country and around the world. But it wasn’t until reaching Seattle in the late 2000s that I began writing. I took a workshop at Seattle’s Hugo House in the Fall of 2010, and then another. I wrote a short story, it was accepted for publication, so I wrote another. And another. In July of 2012, I wrote the first words to my first novel, In Another Life, and I kept going until it was done. By the time In Another Life was published in 2016, The Crows of Beara was already under contract.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I’m outdoors as much as possible: I hike, bike, swim. I attended culinary school and I’m a certified wine educator; a love for cooking, good food and wine carries through in how I relax and share my time with others.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I work full time for a local winery, managing our tasting rooms, working with our winemaker in the production of our wines, and hosting special events. A dream job!

Where do you get your ideas?

There’s usually an idea whispering away at me—an image, snippet of overheard conversation, something I read in the paper, a place I’ve visited. Holding that idea loosely in my mind, I begin to work on character sketches and follow where those lead. Whom am I writing about and how do they relate to the idea I can’t seem to let go of? I’ll research enough to get a sense of the place, issues, and time as it relates to the plot, but research for me is an ongoing process as the story develops. I try not to set things out too far in advance, preferring to layer in details as I discover where the story is taking me.
The amount of time it takes me to write a novel (first draft!) has varied wildly. It took me eighteen months to finish a first draft of In Another Life; ten weeks for The Crows of Beara; nine months for my novel currently on submission, Upside-Down Girl. I revised and edited the first two novels while writing the third.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

As a child, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh lit the fire of my determination to be a writer, and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia filled me with the wonder and joy of storytelling. As an adult, every word written by Jane Austen, for her sense of humor, the sheer beauty of her sentences, the way she can tell the most delicious and satisfying of stories; Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, for its strong, sensual women and breathtaking world-building; and Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. This novel made me crave to put words on paper. I read it years before I began writing, but it nudged open the door of my writer’s heart.

How do you market your work?

I’ve worked over several years to build relationships with writers and readers via my blog (, Goodreads, and Twitter, long before I knew I’d be a novelist. It was less about marketing or even building an author platform than it was about sharing my writing, my voice, playing with different styles, challenging myself with regular, focused writing through blog posts and book reviews. When I began publishing stories and essays, social media became a way to reach out: if people connected with my voice and the things I had to share, perhaps they’d go on to connect with my work.
Now that I have novels to promote, having a focused presence on reader blogs, doing author events, reaching out to book clubs for in-person or virtual discussions, attending conferences, networking with other writers, reaching out to libraries, pitching to book festivals, keeping up with my blog, my website, seeking targeted advertising opportunities, and still submitting work for publication—there are so many ways to market and promote one’s work, and I’m still learning what’s most effective. I want to spend my time and energy connecting with readers who will stay with me for the long haul, rather than seeking sales for my books.

What are you working on now?
My third novel, Upside-Down Girl, (working title) follows the journey of Holly Dawes as she emigrates from Seattle to New Zealand, where she befriends a young Maori girl and realizes there is more than one way to fulfill her desire to be a mother and more than one way to lose a beloved child. Upside-Down Girl is currently on submission.
I’m in the development stages of a YA series that set in the near future and the distant past, returning this author to the land of the Cathars, in Languedoc, where my first novel is set, but also keeps me close to home, in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s about misfits and magic, faith and fury.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

I just went through the Rolodex of my characters and I can think of only one short story—a work-in-progress—in which the characters are based on real people. Very present in my writing, however, are deeply personal themes. For example, Lia in In Another Life is acutely claustrophobic. So is this author! I haven’t been in an elevator in years. The character in my third novel, Upside-Down Girl, is coping with child loss and has immigrated to New Zealand, both of which I have experienced. And I often write about how a place changes and shapes us. My characters undergo major life upheavals and sortings-out once they leave the United States, when they are forced to confront themselves away from familiar social and cultural norms. 

Annie, the protagonist in The Crows of Beara, and I don’t seem to share many similarities, but I adore her. By the novel’s end, she’s just starting to come into her own, to realize her own emotional and artistic strength. I’m a few years older than Annie—forty-eight to her late thirties—but I see in her the same sense of purpose, a reinvigoration of character and self and determination that arrives with turning forty. You look around and say, “Right. This is who I am at this moment. I am beautiful, strong, I have so much yet to give, to discover. Let’s do this. Let’s live.”

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

There’s a scene about midway through where Annie sees Daniel’s art for the first time. And in observing his own work through her eyes, he realizes the power of what he does, how his art can change minds, perspectives, lives. It’s very much how I feel about what I do as an artist. Words are my voice, my sword, my hand out to the universe. Art, whether it’s visual, literary, musical, or of the body, is what connects us to ourselves, to each other, to the greater world. It’s what keeps us all truly alive. This is one of the major themes of the book, and I love showing Daniel coming alive through the power of art.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

It takes a village to publish a book. No matter which path to publishing you take, traditional or independent, you cannot do it alone. Find mentors—writers at different stages of their careers—and listen, watch, learn. Ask questions, be humble, and don’t wait—reach out now. Writers’ blogs, Facebook groups, Twitter chats are all great resources for connecting with writers and finding your tribe. Reach out in both directions—up and back. Always be willing to help someone right behind you.
And always, always be working on your next story. Don’t sit hitting refresh on your email when you begin sending out queries or your novel is on submission with editors. The process can take months, a couple of years, even. Always be writing the next book. The first thing my now-agent asked me after reading and expressing enthusiasm for In Another Life was, “What else do you have?” I sent her a draft of my second novel and I had an offer of representation by the end of the week. 

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

My entire life fell apart after the publication of my first novel. I don’t know how else to say it. My husband and I divorced after twenty-five years of marriage; I fell into a series of deep depressions. Writing changed ME, publishing changed the course of my life.
Last October, I returned to a full-time job after four years of writing full-time; the need for a stable income and health insurance compelled me back into punching a timecard. I’m grateful to have found something I love (I work in the wine industry), but it’s meant putting the brakes on publishing goals.

And yet. My second novel has launched. I have a third on submission and I am working on a fourth project. I spent two blissful weeks at a writers’ retreat in France last September. The writing I did on retreat has been the thing that I’ve held onto this past year as proof that my writing fire still burns deeply inside and I will return to those embers when I am able. I’ve kept up my physical health through yoga, swimming and hiking, as I know this is the key to strong mental health. I’ve also recently fallen in love and embarked upon a new relationship with a visual artist who is so supportive of what I do and gets it. Gets the calling to create that is impossible to ignore if the soul is to survive. It’s so beautiful, this crazy life. And yes, I’m still writing. The stories are piling up in my heart and I believe that the space and time to release them will come my way again.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you. Thank you for reading, for supporting writers by buying our books or requesting them from the library, by sharing our work with your friends and family, for writing reviews. Storytelling, as a reader and as a writer, has saved my life and I know it’s brought so many out of their darkness into the light of hope and belief. Whether you read to escape or to learn, to explore or to find comfort, the simple act of reading means that the world goes on, one page at a time.

Thank you, Jill, for the wonderful interview and for sharing The Crows of Beara with your readers!

To connect with Julie:

Monday, August 28, 2017


Ella Joy Olsen, author of Root, Petal, Thorn is back with a powerful story of resilience, hope, and the secrets that, no matter how deeply hidden, can shape and ultimately unite a family. What connects us to one another? Is it shared history? Is it ancestry? Is it DNA? Or is it love?

People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don't move at all. A year after her young son's death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah's suggestion that they try to have another child.

As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family's past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son's disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle.
Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at--a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last.

"With clearly drawn, authentic, and endearing characters and a well-crafted plot filled with subtle tension, Olsen’s latest is a meaningful read. Her thought-provoking storytelling is filled with beautiful language and stark with honest, heartfelt emotion, and delicately navigates the world of Emma and Noah as they deal with the aftermath of loss and struggle through their marriage. A wonderfully tender story, readers will not be able to put this one down.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Some Q & A with Ella~

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
Hi my name is Ella and I’m a reader. That’s how I started writing. I started reading at age four and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in the middle of at least one book (usually more). After my youngest kiddo started first-grade and full-time work loomed in the near future, I suddenly had this desire to write. My husband was amenable to the delay in gainful employment, so I blindly and blissfully started. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect from the process. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I long for those halcyon days.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Reading. Did I already say that? I also love to travel, and plan travel, and dream about traveling. I like to hike with my dogs. I enjoy dinner and drinks al fresco with my husband (and friends). These days I like spending time with my three teens more than they like spending time with me.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences? 
I think most authors draw textural detail and truth from their real lives, even if they write science fiction or fantasy. In WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS, my main character, Emma Hazelton, has a close relationship with her Grandpa Joe. To write many of their scenes, I drew heavily on my relationship with my grandpa, Ralph Reese. Like Emma’s grandpa, mine played hours of Solitaire while on-call. My grandpa was on call for the Union Pacific Railroad and Emma’s was an OB/GYN, but the click of playing cards against the kitchen table was the same. My grandpa was also a smoker who told me daily about the dangers of his addiction. Like my character Grandpa Joe, my grandpa hid the smell with Butter Rum Lifesavers.

What are you working on now? 
I’ve been toying with a historical fiction set in Gilded Age New York City. During those prosperous years the American Museum of Natural History was at the forefront of scientific discovery, sending expeditions all around the world in search of unknown truths. The character Indiana Jones was actually based on one such museum employee. I wanted to spend some time in this age of optimism and discovery, but as I was researching I learned that in the quest for naming rights or fame, and especially because of religious conviction, some of the discoveries were forged, changing the course of scientific understanding for decades. Ah, conflict…the basis for a good story. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
I recently started teaching a Continuing Education class at the University of Utah called Remaking the Past (how to write historical fiction). I’m teaching how to find primary and secondary sources, about researching just enough to give the story an authentic and historical feel, but not so much that you’re tempted to dump everything you know onto the page. We’re discussing story question, character arc, and dialogue. But in the end, the one thing an aspiring writer must do is write. There’s nothing to analyze, to edit, to fix…unless words are on the page. You can’t tell if your dialogue is clunky until you write a scene or two and read it out loud.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? 
Thank you for reading my work. I’m still amazed that people actually lay eyes on my words. Thank you for contacting me to tell me about scenes that have moved you. And thank you for leaving reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Reviews mean so much to the author. 

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