Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THE CHOICES WE MAKE, by author, KARMA BROWN

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls. 

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true. 


Some Q & A with Karma:

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Well, I’m always writing it seems, but in between the words I love to run, bake (I bake a lot – it’s both a stress reliever AND a procrastination tool for me), read, and hang out with my little family, whose company I enjoy immensely.


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
When I started writing my first novel (which is now gathering dust in a drawer, as is the fate of many first books) I was a marketing director, so I did most of my writing in the morning before work or late at night. Then I had a kid, quit my “day” job and started freelance writing, and still found I only had time (and energy) to write before dawn. Now that my daughter is in school, I have more time during the day to write but I find old habits die hard – my best, most creative time is still early (like, 5am early) morning.


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’ve been asked at book clubs if I would change anything in my first novel, and the answer is always, “Not a thing.” The book is not perfect, and that’s just fine. As for what I’d change about the journey to publication…I wouldn’t worry and stress the way I did the first time around. Talk about a losing battle! You can control so little about the publishing process, which is incredibly frustrating to us Type A sorts. So if I could go back to when my first book was on submission, I would likely ask my agent to only contact me when there was an offer!


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Essentially my advice is this: If you want to be a writer, then be a writer. Which really means write every day (even if it’s only 100 words), read every day, and focus on the BIG goal. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day annoyances and struggles, but you can’t let those take you off course. I like to tell people I got published through a combination of coffee, the habit of early morning (daily) writing, and grit.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
The hard parts: Writing in isolation; looming deadlines when your creativity has taken a vacation; lack of control (over everything, except the actual words); there are no weekends, or days off; putting yourself out there to be critiqued and reviewed; trying to balance writing with family; getting published!

The best parts: Writing in your pjs if you want; the creative process; doing what you love, every day; meeting other authors and becoming a part of the writing community; hearing from readers; sharing your words; holding your book for the first time, and seeing it on the shelf; getting published!

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? THANK YOU. Seriously, it’s that simple. J


KARMA BROWN is a National Magazine award-winning journalist, freelance writer, and author of the international bestsellers COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/HarperCollins)—a Globe & Mail Top 100 Books for 2015—and THE CHOICES WE MAKE (MIRA/HarperCollins). 

A former marketing director and copywriter, Karma now spends much time mulling plot lines in coffee shops and lives just outside Toronto with her family. 
Her third novel, IN THIS MOMENT (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), will be published June 2017.

twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterKarma
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Website: http://karmakbrown.com/
Instagram: @WriterKarma







Tuesday, November 15, 2016

BEAUTIFUL SECRET, by author, DANA FALETTI

Set in the lush hills of the French Ardennes and the scorched mountains of Southern Italy, Beautiful Secret is a tale of family secrets, forbidden love, and unexpected blessings.
Maria’s story unfolds in 1940’s Italy, where family ties and tradition are of utmost importance. When Maria is seduced by her cousin's fiancĂ©, she becomes pregnant, and the scandal destroys her family. Whisked away from her poor rural village of Tronca to a severe Catholic convent several mountain towns away, she gives birth to a son. Maria is under tremendous pressure to give her baby up for adoption. Against the odds, she manages to keep her child and then must find a way to get him back to the home and family that is his birth right.
Years later, after being forced to marry and emigrate to America, Maria is at the end of her life. As she lies on her deathbed in a Pittsburgh hospital, Maria shares her story with her beloved granddaughter, Tatiana.
Awash in her own marital troubles, Tatiana agrees to Maria’s dying wish – to travel to Europe and  retrieve a package from an aunt she’s never met.  When Tate journeys to the land of her ancestors, she fully expects to meet her long lost family and to lay eyes on the places that cultivated a spirit like her Nana Maria’s. What she doesn’t anticipate is falling into a forbidden love affair with a sexy French man who happens to be her distant cousin by marriage. Throughout her journey, Tate not only discovers a shocking secret that Nana Maria waited a lifetime to disclose, but she also finds that the trick to life doesn’t lie in the best laid plans but in how you react to the things you never expected.



"Maybe the trick to happiness isn't the best laid plans, but how you react to what you never planned for."


Some Q  & A with Dana:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
I have been writing since I was very young. As a young child, I wrote short stories and silly riddles – Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seussish. In high school, poetry was a survival skill for me as I navigated the myriad of adolescent emotions in my life.  I wrote my first book when I was a junior in high school. It was a romance.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love to cook, and I love to travel. My favorite places to go are Marco Island, Florida – to relax and enjoy the beach, New York City – to eat at the best restaurants in the world and see Broadway shows, and, of course Europe – to visit my wonderful French and Italian family.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences? Yes, Maria's journey is based on the real –life story of my Nana, who became pregnant out of wedlock as a young woman in 1950's Southern Italy and gave birth to my father in a home for unwed mothers.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

One of my favorite scenes is when Maria gives birth. Another is when Tate first arrives in Italy and has dinner under the grape arbor at her Zia Mimma's house – which is based on my Zia Mimma's house!

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? Thank you for reading Beautiful Secret! I hope the story captures your spirit and transports you to Italy and France – the places that hold my most precious 

To connect with Dana:


https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Faletti/e/B01EXDJ1JK

~author of Beautiful Secret and The Whisper Trilogy





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ALL THE BREAKING WAVES, by author, KERRY LONSDALE

From the bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes a gripping tale of long-buried secrets, the strength of forgiveness, and the healing power of returning home for good.

After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made.

Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment―something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to―home to Pacific Grove.

A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood, All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter.


Some Q & A with Kerry:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
Beach lover. Word surfer. Wicked cool mom. Adoring wife. Pet slave. Kid chauffeur. Family concierge. And the list goes on. Then there’s this…
I am the Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Kindle best-selling author of Everything We Keep. (Considering how much time I put into writing, revising, querying, etc. this novel, do you know how COOL it is to type those words??)
I am also a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. But my creative outlet became serious when I completed a manuscript. That’s when I was determined to make my writing into something more than a hobby.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Activities and excursions with the family. Traveling. Reading. Hiking. Skiing. Winetasting. Shopping for shoes.

Where do you get your ideas?
Real life. I’ll come across newspaper articles or news reports and my mind will contort the stories. I like to see where I can take them.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I don’t think my challenges are different than most writers taking the same journey. My debut, Everything We Keep, went through multiple revisions before it was picked up by an agent. Then, after another revision, it had multiple rejections from large publishers. I did one final overhaul and the book was sent to a new list, and this is where things got crazy-real. Within one month, we received an offer. Within two months, there were three or four offers on the table. The book went to auction and was picked up by Lake Union Publishing. They’ve done a phenomenal job marketing the book. I couldn’t be happier.

How do you market your work?
Aside from the marketing my publisher has done, I try to stay active online. Facebook ads help to a certain extent, but the biggest support I get is through my street team/readers’ group. They help spread the word about my news via social media. They also come through in posting honest reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m very grateful for their enthusiasm and support.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on developmental edits for Everything We Left Behind, which will publish Summer 2017, as well as promotions for All the Breaking Waves, coming December 6th. After that, I have several story ideas I’m noodling and hope to work on their proposals.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
My favorite chapter in Everything We Keep is the last chapter, or epilogue. We debated whether to keep the epilogue because at the time, I had no plans to write a sequel. But, what happens in the epilogue is the obvious conclusion for that particular character. Besides, some of my favorite stories are those where the ending isn’t tidy. The stories and characters linger long after the book is finished.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Pay-it-forward. Always help one another within the industry. The connections you make will help get you farther in the industry. Also, if you believe in your story, and your gut’s telling you not to give up, don’t. It took six years from the first word I typed on Everything We Keep to the day it was published. Believe in yourself and your work. Good things will come back to you.

Kerry Lonsdale
Wall Street Journal & #1 Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author

Join the Beach Club for exclusive book news & giveaways.


***Out now: Everything We Keep***
***Coming December 6, 2016All the Breaking Waves***
***Coming Summer 2017: Everything We Left Behind***



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'M NOT HER, by author, CARA SUE ACHTERBERG

Carin, a gorgeous, self-absorbed, entitled young adult, unintentionally swaps lives with Leann, an uneducated, perennially poor, morbidly obese check-out clerk. When Carin’s boyfriend and mother don’t recognize her in her Shop n Save apron and no-name sneakers, she has no choice but to assume Leann’s sad life. 

Meanwhile, Leann wakes up in a body and life much like the soap opera stars she loves. More than a case of trading places, I'm Not Her explores the question of whether appearances or circumstances make us who we are. 

It's a surprising tale about the way the world sees us and the courses we are on.

Some Q & A with Cara:

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

Ever since I got my little pink princess diary with the tiny lock and key when I was six, I’ve written. For me, it’s compulsive. It’s how I sort out my life and figure out what I really think. That said, I never considered being a writer. I studied music and business in college. It wasn’t until I decided to stay home full-time with my three young children that I got serious about writing. I sent a piece to my local newspaper about raising kids to be voters and they published it. Then I began writing articles for magazines on parenting and organic living (my passion) and they actually paid me! I’d been writing stories but never had the nerve to show them to anyone, but getting money for my writing gave me courage and set the ball in motion. Now fiction writing is my favorite part of my day.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I foster dogs for a nonprofit rescue that saves dogs from high-kill shelters in the south, bringing them northward to be fostered and adopted. I am committed (possibly addicted) to this work and typically have at least one dog, and many times an entire litter of puppies in my care.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m a serious people watcher and my ideas come from imagining what it would be like to be the person in the car next to me at the light or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or passing me on the boardwalk. Sometimes I find ideas in music – country music is littered with stories. I think paying attention is the key. I can’t imagine what writer’s block would be like—my problem is too many ideas.

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

I pitched I’m Not Her far and wide and no one seemed to ‘get it.’ I rewrote it three times trying to figure out what would set the hook. I workshopped it and everyone loved it. Finally, after nearly three years of trying, I shelved it and turned to other projects and my freelance work. A year later, on a whim, I entered it in a contest. I was a runner-up and won an ipad mini, which was awesome, but then the publisher contacted me directly and asked about the manuscript and my other work, which was even more awesome. I put him in touch with my agent and a month later I had a three book deal. I’ve always been a big believer that when you finally let go of the outcome, good things find you. It was pretty much the same situation when I found my hubby (except there wasn’t a contest!). I stopped looking and he found me.

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 have worked harder on my platform and learned more about getting reviews and getting the word out. So much is dependent on the author now. Books don’t just happen. As much as I’d like to live in a world where I could just write and someone else would sell my book, that rarely happens anymore. You have to partner with your publisher. They won’t/can’t do it for you.

What are you working on now?

Since I’m Not Her was published, the second book of my book deal has come out. It’s titled, Girls’ Weekend, and tells the story of three moms who escape for a weekend away and don’t come back. They wrestle with universal mom questions of who we become and what we sacrifice in the name of motherhood. My third book is in the copyediting phase and will release in June 2017. It’s titled, Practicing Normal.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

When I was a kid, my mom worked tirelessly to help less-privileged people, and as a young adult I worked with Habitat for Humanity and the I Have a Dream Foundation. Those experiences made me question the assumptions we make about people based on their economic situation and their appearance. I’m Not Her grew out of those ideas plus my natural habit of people watching. I began to wonder, what if I was morbidly obese and poor and grew up in a culture of disrespect and never went to college.….who would I be? I simply asked the question and then followed the story where it took me.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love the scene in the church with the red F#*^-me pumps (can I say that?). I won’t say more. You’ll have to read it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write honestly because you love to write. Set goals and deadlines for yourself. Write from your heart. Be the writer you are, not the writer you think you should be. Learn everything you can. Focus on your craft and be patient. It will happen in its own time.
  
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

If you love a book, write a review. That’s the best way to support an author (that, and paying full-price for their book!) Oh, and-- adopt a rescue dog. Spay and neuter your pets. And thanks for reading!

Author Bio:

Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller. Her second novel, Girls’ Weekend was published May 2016. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com.

Social Media Links:






Tuesday, October 18, 2016

THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS, by author, Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen turns her scrutiny to the every-day women living in bucolic Newport Cove in THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS, where picture-perfect lives play out like a modern day Pleasantville, while dark secrets and insecurities bubble just below the surface. 

Newport Cove is one of the safest neighborhoods in the US, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers. Here everyone lives out the American Dream – cute kids, strong marriages, burgeoning careers – but what really goes on behind closed doors? 

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light. 

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. But the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house, and there’s something a bit off about her husband. Soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all. 

Addictive and keenly-observed, THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS will keep you guessing whose secrets will be revealed til the very end, making it perfect for Summer reading and neighborhood book clubs. 

About the Author: 


Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us, Catching Air, and Things You Won’t Say. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland. 

Q&A WITH SARAH: 

What was the inspiration for your seventh novel, THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS? 

I can follow the roots of THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS back more than a decade, to a morning when I was suddenly cornered by a threatening man. It was a gray, drizzly November day, and I arrived at the zoo with my infant and two-year-old sons just moments after it opened. After we stepped into a small, deserted building to view an exhibit, I looked up to see a man striding down the narrow hallway, his eyes locked on me and his face empty of expression. Had I been alone, I suspect I would have cowered or run. Yet because my children were threatened, I reacted fiercely. 

I lifted my two-year-old up onto my hip and cradled him with my left arm, next to the baby in a carrier on my chest, while thrusting my other hand toward the man’s face and screaming, “Stop!” The man paused, just inches away, and stared at me, assessing me. I knew I would fight him, and that I would win, and I let him see this certainty in my eyes. 

He eventually turned and sauntered away without a word. Later, I realized the man had given me two clues that revealed his intentions: He’d walked directly toward me without glancing at the exhibits lining the hallway as he passed, and just before he reached me, he’d turned and glanced behind him. He’d wanted to make sure no one else was coming. I don’t want to spoil the plot of THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS, but I can say this incident – and the powerful feelings it conjured in me… that I would do whatever necessary to protect my children – inspired the plotline for my seventh novel. 

Wow – it sounds a bit darker than most of your novels, which fall into the women’s fiction category. 

Not necessarily. I’ve written books about a range of morally complex and controversial issues, including the fictional shooting of a Hispanic teenager by a white police officer in THINGS YOU WON’T SAY. Women’s fiction doesn’t mean a book is light – every woman I know faces struggles, even if they’re not readily apparent in the glossy, Facebooked lives we tend to present publically. In fact, that’s a theme of the novel, too: My four main characters – all mothers who live in a bucolic, tree-lined neighborhood where children play outside and neighbors hold spontaneous block parties – are each hiding a secret. As Gigi, one of my main characters, puts it: “The dozens of women she passed every day – the women peering at the covers of tabloids in the grocery store check out lane, and waiting in line with a preoccupied gaze at the bank, and putting on lipstick at the red light in the next car over in traffic – were all holders of mysteries.” 

Is it difficult to write from the points of view of four different narrators, as you’ve done in this book? 

Books are like children, in that they each present unique joys and challenges. For some reason – and I hope I don’t tempt the writing gods to punish me by revealing this – THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS came more easily to me than any other novel I’ve written. I couldn’t wait to sit down at the keyboard and see where my characters would take me every day. It’s always bittersweet when you finish a novel and say good-bye to your characters, but I especially miss these women. Maybe it’s because they formed such a supportive community, and writing can be isolating – like motherhood can be at times. I felt like a part of that fictional community when I shared their stories. 

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

I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a kid, I actually used to pen novels on three-ring binder paper and mail them to top New York publishers. I was always surprised when publishers passed on my masterpieces, like Miscellaneous Tales and Poems.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading – I always have a few books going at a time. Hiking with my rescue lab, crushing on Blake Shelton on “The Voice,” and seeing movies. And of course, hanging out with my three sons tops the list.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Caring for my sons and writing one novel a year are my full-time jobs. I’m very lucky to be able to earn a living by writing, and to have a career that gives me flexibility. 

Where do you get your ideas?

I honestly have no idea! They never come to me in a flash, fully-formed. What I would give for that! Instead, they tend to come together slowly. I always think of my book plots as a kind of stew – I add ingredients, like an unusual setting or a particular crisis I want a character to grapple with – and let the ideas simmer a bit. Then I toss more elements into the stew and let it simmer, and repeat until my ideas seem fully cooked.

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

Jennifer Weiner. She writes in such an engaging and warm style, yet her plots are so compelling you can’t stop turning the pages. Plus, she’s an incredibly generous and kind human being who is an incredible champion of female writers. She’s a terrific role model.

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

The trick is you need to have a complete novel before you approach an agent. So the biggest challenge is a mental one: Are you so committed to writing a book that you’re willing to spend literally years of your life on a project with no guaranteed positive outcome? I knew I had to write books, but when you’re up late at night, feeling tired and struggling with thoughts that won’t cooperate when you’re trying to translate them onto the page, it can be easy to get discouraged and wonder if you’ll ever have a book published. But if the desire to write is stronger, you can’t stop.

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?

Not a single thing. I adore my agent, my editor, and my publishing house. My experience has been pretty wonderful.

How do you market your work?

Lots of interviews (like this one!) and I’m very active on social media. Atria Books also sends me on book tours around the country so I connect with readers and booksellers when I’m touring.

What are you working on now?

I’m always working on a new book!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Not really, but I have experienced all of the emotions of my characters – in order to write convincingly, I need to feel what my characters are feeling. So I cry when I write wrenching scenes, and I rejoice when things go well for my characters.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

The ending of Skipping a Beat may be my favorite finale of any of my books.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t overthink things, just write. Get down a page a day, minimum. If you do that, you’ll have the draft of a book in a year.

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

Truthfully, there are no real downfalls. This is a dream job. I’m doing what I have always wanted to do, and in many ways, it’s so much better than I imagined. When someone takes the time to enter the fictional world you’ve created, and engage with it, they transform it. I cherish every email and Facebook and twitter message I receive, and I try to respond to every one personally.

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


A huge thank you for supporting me. I would not have this job without you.


SARAH PEKKANEN’S NOVELS ARE… 

“Gripping reading.” —People 
“Sparkling.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 
“A standout among standouts.” —Glamour 
“Compelling.” —Library Journal (starred review) 
“Fresh, funny, and satisfying.” —Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author 
“Page-turners.” —Marie Claire 
“Fantastic and realistic.” —Examiner.com 
“Smart and soulful.” —Redbook

To connect with Sarah: