Thursday, March 26, 2020

IN AN INSTANT by author, SUZANNE REDFEARN

Here's a note about this book: I think it's a must-read for everyone! My biggest takeaway from the story is, how do we act when we think nobody is watching? It was important when I read the story months ago. Even more important now in this worldwide crisis.  Jill

A deeply moving story of carrying on even when it seems impossible.


Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.
Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?
Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on… even when it seems impossible.

Reviews:

“The characters are sensitively portrayed, as is their recovery, and the hopeful ending is realistic. Readers of domestic dramas will be enthralled.” Booklist

“Suzanne Redfearn’s latest is a wonder. A thoughtful exploration of life, death, and the world in between, In an Instant is a powerful and poignant read.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

In an Instant begins as an action-packed tale of survival that is positively addictive; then it digs deep into an emotional and thought-provoking exploration of our humanity and what it means to make difficult moral choices in the most harrowing of circumstances. Redfearn tackles it all brilliantly and compassionately in this mesmerizing and wondrous novel. It’s a triumph on every level, and I absolutely loved it.” USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean
Some Q & A with Suzanne ~

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

Prior to becoming an author, I was an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. When the economy slumped and my architectural practice slowed down, I turned my creative energy toward writing. It started as a bucket-list endeavor. I wanted to see if I could write a novel. I discovered a love for storytelling, and I was hooked. I continued to write and to study the craft and finally wrote a novel that made it through the publishing gauntlet and into the world.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

When not writing, I enjoy doing anything and everything with my family—skiing, golf, tennis, pickleball, hiking, board games, and reality TV. I am an avid baseball fan. My team is the Angels. 

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Not anymore. Prior to IN AN INSTANT getting published, I still did architecture part-time. But now, my plate is full with writing. I have a new novel that is scheduled to release next January, and I’m writing a new story to be published after that.

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere. I always tell people to be careful what they say around me or it might end up in a book. I’ve been lucky as far as ideas go. So far, each time I’ve sent the intention into the universe that I’m looking for inspiration, some wonderful idea is gifted to me. I’m curious by nature, so almost always my stories start with some sort of question I’m interested in exploring.

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

THE POWER OF ONE by Bryce Courtney. It was the first book I read that made me realize how powerful and inspirational a story could be.

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?

Nope. This journey has been difficult and yet remarkable, and it led me to this wonderful place where my story is in the world and being appreciated by others. Each day I marvel at that, the idea that characters and ideas that started in my head are now being read and considered by strangers. It’s astounding.

How do you market your work?

I am part of a remarkable team and I feel a great responsibility to do my part. My approach is to have a positive attitude and say yes to whatever marketing opportunities come my way. Because I’m with Lake Union Publishing, which is an Amazon imprint, the responsibility to market myself is a lot less than it was with my previous two books, which is wonderful. It allows me a lot more time to write.

What are you working on now?

My next novel, Hadley & Grace, is scheduled to be released January 21, 2021. I’m very excited about this book. It started as a modern retelling of Thelma & Louise, but turned into another thing altogether. It’s the story of two remarkable women on the run with their kids. Here is the description:

Desperate to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each much decide how much they are willing to risk for the other.

A powerful story of self-discovery, Hadley & Grace is the heart-pounding tale of two women facing insurmountable odds, racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them, and discovering new kinds of love and family along the way.

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

The idea for the story was inspired by something that happened to me as a little girl. But in addition to some of the big ideas being based on real-life, there are always small things as well. For example, when my daughter returned from her first driving lesson, the instructor told me she had “pedal dyslexia;” repeatedly she mixed up the brake and the gas—terrifying! That made it into the opening pages of IN AN INSTANT.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I really like the chapter with Chloe and Ann when they go to the symphony. I feel like there’s so much healing in that chapter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write. And when you’re done, start again. Writing is hard and it hurts, but it’s the only way there is to get it done. So sit your butt in the chair and do the work. Don’t worry about whether it will get published or whether anyone will like it. If you have something worth saying, figure out the best way to say it and get it done, and if you do that often enough, eventually people will take notice and will want to hear what you have to say.

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

Writing is hard, and rejection hurts. Having my stories out in the world and appreciated by readers is the most amazing feeling in the world.

Place you’d like to travel?

The next place on my list is Australia. I’d like to visit with my kids and see the Sydney Opera House and hike in the amazing outback.

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

Thank you. “We read to know we are not alone,” C.S. Lewis said that. A writer writes for the same reason, for that magical connection that’s felt when a reader picks up a book and travels a journey of an author’s imagination with them.

To connect with Suzanne ~

Website: www.SuzanneRedfearn.com
Facebook: @SuzanneRedfearnAuthor
Twitter: @SuzanneRedfearn
Instagram: SuzanneRedfearn







Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WOMAN ON THE EDGE, by author, SAMANTHA BAILEY (debuts in the U.S. on March 3rd!)

A moment on the subway platform changes two women’s lives forever—a debut thriller that will take your breath away.

A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”

She places her child in your arms. She says your name. Then she jumps...

In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.

Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.

The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.

Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.

Praise for Woman on the Edge “A fast-moving thriller with satisfying twists.”
— Toronto Star
“Bailey has talent and I, dear reader, am looking forward to her next novel.”
— Globe and Mail
“[A] nail-biting debut. . . . The tension becomes unrelenting . . . Fans of psychological suspense are in for a treat.”
— Publisher's Weekly (Starred review)
Woman on the Edge races towards its final destination with breakneck speed.”
— Chatelaine
 “The debut novel from Toronto writer Samantha M. Bailey mines maternal anxiety, marital secrets, female friendship, and C-suite power grabs—not to mention public transit horror—for a satisfyingly twisty psychological thriller.”
— Toronto Life 
Some Q & A with Samantha ~ 
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I wrote and submitted my first book when I was ten years old. It was called Freddy the Flame, and I thought it was awesome. Apparently not, though, because it was rejected with a very sweet note. But a lifelong passion was born, and I haven’t stopped writing since. But it wasn’t until I did my Master in Applied Linguistics that I attempted a full-length novel. After taking a course on imagination, in which one of the assignments was to create a character, I felt the compulsion to sit down and type. At the same time, I had just finished reading Jennifer Weiner’s fantastic debut, Good in Bed, and that book gave me the courage to actually do it. In fact, my best friend and I set out to write a novel together, but she was in law school and didn’t have quite the same obsession for writing as I did. She’s gone on to become a very successful lawyer and now reads all my books.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading so much and watching TV. Those are my pleasures. I also enjoy dancing, and hanging out and laughing with my loved ones. Oh, and singing karaoke in a room with friends where no one else can hear us.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I’m a freelance manuscript editor. I absolutely love helping other authors polish their beautiful work, and I learn so much from them and the process. It gives me the opportunity to better hone in on my own writing, and I also really understand how invaluable critical feedback is.

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

Ha ha! This would take a whole book itself. In a nutshell, I’ve had two agents and have written five books in a seventeen-year span. My first two books, which were rom-coms, didn’t sell traditionally so I self-published one of them. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it introduced me to an incredible community of writers, bloggers, and readers. But I always wanted to be traditionally published so I kept going, book after book after book, until it happened with Woman on the Edge. I am very, very lucky.

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 don’t think so. I learned crucial skills and developed my craft. I spent many years revising with my agent, and she taught me so much. Woman on the Edge took six years from concept to publication, and I’m still learning. Sometimes I wish it had happened for me when I was younger and there were fewer things in my life to juggle, but at almost forty-seven, it feels that much sweeter to see my dreams come true because I worked so long for it.

How do you market your work?

I have an amazing team at both my publishers, Simon & Schuster Canada and Headline in the UK, a wonderful network of support—from writers, bloggers, bookstagrammers to librarians, booksellers, and readers—and I just hope people connect with my work. I definitely spend time on social media, probably too much time, and I prefer Instagram and Twitter. Bookstagrammers and bloggers do so much for the book community, and they are absolutely one of the biggest reasons anyone knows about Woman on the Edge. I’m also so fortunate to know so many talented, prolific authors willing to read and blurb my work.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I do! First of all, don’t give up. Ever. It might not be easy and it might not be fast, but it will be worth it. My other advice would be to connect with other writers. The author community is incredibly warm and supportive, and no one can truly understand what you’re going through more than other writers. Without my community, who are my beta readers, critique partners, sounding boards, and inspirations, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish my goals.

Favorite band or music?  Favorite book and/or movie?

My favorite band is Nine Inch Nails. Showing the 90s girl I still am. One of my favorite books is The Bridge to Terabithia, and movie, that’s a hard one. I have always loved The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Bridget Jones’s Diary. I have eclectic taste. Oh, and Reality Bites. I can watch that a million times. I probably have.

Place you’d like to travel?

British Columbia and Alberta! I’ve been to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Canada. But I’ve never seen the West Coast! And I’m dying to go to LA.

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

Thank you. A huge, heartfelt thank you, and so much gratitude, because without my readers, I couldn’t live my dream and have the career and life I have always longed for.

To connect with Samantha:

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Connect with me on Instagram
Find me on BookBub
Visit my website

Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist, and freelance editor. She is also the co-founder of BookBuzz, a promotional and interactive author-reader event held in New York City and Toronto. Her #1 bestselling psychological thriller, WOMAN ON THE EDGE, is published by Simon & Schuster Canada and Headline UK, and will be translated into seven languages.







Sunday, February 2, 2020

MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES by KATHLEEN WEST

Debuts February 4th! Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette &  Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High—the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle—and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.

When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.
 
Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she’s in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school’s winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.
 
Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.


Reviews ~

“A smart and delightful story of entitlement, friendship, and overparenting, with page-turning twists galore. West writes across lines of class and generation with grace and ease. A big-hearted debut."—Bruce Holsinger, author of The Gifted School

“As intriguing as it is timely. West provides a funny and shocking glimpse into American parenting through the lens of an out-of-control stage mother who has lost all sense of boundaries.”—Amy Poeppel, author of Limelight

"Helicopter parenting and high school politics at their worst—and funniest. A smart, fast-paced, and deliciously entertaining debut!"—Meg Donohue, USA Today bestselling author of You, Me, and The Sea

"West offers a sharp, unflinching look at her characters: teachers and administrators trying to do—and keep—their jobs; busy, high-powered parents who buy the best they can for their families; helicopter mothers who see themselves as the omniscient beings who control their children's lives; and the high school students themselves, who sometimes have to learn about kindness and mentoring, bullying and inappropriate behavior by judging their parents' and teachers' actions rather than those of their peers. An excellent, nuanced exploration of the world of high school and the students and adults who live within it."—Kirkus (starred review)
Q & A with Kathleen:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m a 41-year-old white woman living in Minneapolis. I have a husband, two sons, a dog, and I’ve driven a minivan for the last 10 years. The first time I remember thinking about being a writer was in the fourth grade. I wrote a short story about a pirate and some treasure, and when I shared it with the class, the teacher asked me if I was sure my parents hadn’t helped me. I took this as a great compliment.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I love running. I’ve been a runner for thirty years. I also enjoy cooking, podcasts, my dog, and doing the New York Times mini crossword puzzle. Does that sound suburban, or what?

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I was a teacher for 20 years before writing Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes. Now, I’m all-in on the writing game. It’s an easier leap to make when you have a partner with a steady job, as I do. At some point, I may return to teaching. I’ve always loved it.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or the decision to write?
I was reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng when I decided to finally take the plunge and begin writing a novel. It turns out I’m not ready to write a literary multi-generational family saga, and I bagged my Ng-inspired novel after a year. Then, I leaned into my humor and started something based on my daily experiences working in schools. When people compare me to Liane Moriarty or Amy Poeppel or Maria Semple, I’m thrilled. I love those writers. The novel A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan was also a huge inspiration for me.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The biggest hurdle for me has been getting used to soliciting, processing, and incorporating feedback. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s hard not to read critique as condemnation. You can’t, however, publish a book without executing major revisions in response to feedback, so I keep pushing forward and reframing my own thinking about the writing process.
  
What are you working on now?
I have turned in my second novel, and while I wait for an edit letter (When the time comes, I’ll try to internalize the feedback without thinking every suggestion is code for, “You suck”), I’m brainstorming new ideas. I’m not the kind of person that has myriad ideas for novels floating about up there in my brain. It takes me a long time to explore and solidify a premise.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Minor Dramas is definitely rooted in my experiences teaching in “elite” suburban schools. However, none of the characters are based on real people, and thank goodness, none of the events in the book happened to me. The only thing that actually comes from my life are the comments the principal gets when he calls parents as part of his investigation of Isobel Johnson, the main character. The parents’ responses are from an anonymous survey I was required to send to my own students’ families. I had 155 students that year, and I got about 20 responses to the survey – 10 from parents who really loved me, and 10 from those that really, really didn’t.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s cheesy, but I repeated it to myself a lot when I was writing, querying, on submission, and still: As Wayne Gretzky famously said (and then Michael Schoot famously quoted), “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Favorite band or music?  Favorite book and/or movie?
I have compiled an excellent playlist on Spotify called “Mom on the Run.” I make my children listen to this in the car when their music puts me over the edge. It’s got Peter Cetera, Ace of Base, Tiffany, Kelly Clarkson… Basically, if you’re a white woman over 40, I think there’s a 90% chance you’ll think it’s the best exercise playlist of all time. Ferris Bueller is a movie I can rewatch, and I’ve loved too many books to name a favorite. Most recently, I’ve added A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti to my list of all-time faves.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading! I’m so humbled and grateful.

To connect with Kathleen:
Twitter: @kwestbooks 
Instagram: @kathleenwestwrites
Facebook: Kathleen West, Author