Monday, June 29, 2020

THE EXIT STRATEGY, by author Lainey Cameron

Silicon Valley, sexism and the power of female friendship

Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan is on the verge of achieving everything she’d dreamed. She’s proven herself in the male-dominated venture capital world, benefits from the support of her successful husband, and is about to close the deal of her career.
Everything is going exactly as planned, until she meets Carly, her husband’s mistress, across the negotiating table.

Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, loving single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her perfect fiancé, she’ll secure that ‘normal’ life she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married—to Ryn, her company’s biggest investor.

In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak and ensure their success?

This book debuts July 8, 2020!


"Timely and provocative with ripped from the headline themes, you'll want to rise up and cheer on Cameron's witty and ingeniously crafted characters." - Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author

"A rollicking read complete with lightning-fast pacing, witty prose, lovable characters. Unputdownable!" - Samantha Vérant, author of Seven Letters from Paris 

"In the spirit of Katherine Center with Liane Moriarty- style twists. A rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together." - Leah De Cesare, author of Forks, Knives, and Spoons

"An uplifting tale for turbulent times. Cameron...forges an unshakable female alliance that aims to do what women do best: change the world, one heart at a time." - Kathryn Craft, author of The Far End of Happy 

"A #MeToo story powered by real life, real hope, and an unlikely friendship. Cameron brings warmth and emotion to this Silicon Valley story of power, ambition, and friendship." - Jennifer Klepper, USA Today bestselling author 

"You will want to finish the book over a weekend." - Sweta Srivastava Vikram, author of award-winning novel, Louisiana Catch

"...Silicon Valley tale of bad choices, deceit, sexism, but ultimately, POWER. Specifically, the power of women, who raise their voices, instead of remaining silent." - Amy Impellizzeri, Award-winning author of The Truth About Thea and Why We Lie

"...you'll cheer for Ryn and Carly as they navigate self-doubts, forge a solid friendship, and fight the status quo in this page-turner." - Rebecca Hodge, author of the award winning novel, Wildland

Some Q & A with Lainey ~

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Until four years ago I was a full-time executive in the tech industry, working 80-hour weeks and racking up two million airline miles flying around the world (No joke on the miles–over the course of my tech career I flew the equivalent of four round-trips to the moon).

After I left my last job as head of marketing for a Silicon Valley startup, I had this idea for a novel, and I realized that if I didn’t stop and take the time to write it, I’d be eighty years old telling friends that I, too, once had an idea for a book…

So I decided to rely on my savings and take six months, then a year, to see if I had an entire novel in me. After a ton of classes and coaching, a good dose of writerly angst, winning two awards, and ten plus versions later, that same book is releasing on July 8th.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Absolutely! Like I said, I’m a recovering tech industry executive. I explain in the author’s note in the book that although the core story of my two main characters is fiction, the background of the continued sexist climate in the tech industry is not.

A good part of my inspiration was a desire to share my personal experience of not-so-subtle sexism and how it feels to be the only woman in the board room. What I say in that note is that, for credibility, I actually toned down quite a lot of the sexist incidents in the book.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
There’s a scene in The Exit Strategy where the husband in the book fills the house with flowers, to beg his wife for forgiveness. At several points that scene almost got cut, but it’s one of my favorites, perhaps because it’s cinematic and plays out so clearly in my mind.

I’m so glad it made the final version. At one point, an alternate title of “Blue Roses and Other Lies”, was in consideration for the book, based on that one scene.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
The biggest is travel and experiencing new cultures. Since I became a writer, my hubby and I have turned into digital nomads, meaning we pick locations to live for up to six months at a time. Few things give me more joy than making a connection across cultures and learning something that opens my eyes to different ways of living.

Also, it’s probably the Scot in me (I’m originally from there), but I’m a big fan of good malt whisky and rooftop bars. I have a popular blog on the rooftop bars of San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico, where hubby and I now live part time.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
For the last decade I’ve been a big fan of women’s fiction, in fact, before I even knew what that term meant. Liane Moriarty and specifically her book “The Husband’s Secret” is an author who first inspired me to think “Maybe I, too, could write that type of story?”

Since then, I’ve met so many amazing and supportive writers in the genre. Among the best-sellers in contemporary women’s fiction, Kerry Londsale, Camille Pagán, and Rochelle Weinstein are some of my favorites. Each time I read something by one of them I see a way to improve, or it sparks ideas for my own writing.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Oh boy, can I speak to this! When I started looking for a path to publication for The Exit Strategy, several agents and one publisher told me they didn’t see a readership for women’s fiction set in the workplace. But as women, most of us spend more than half our lives at work. So was I seriously being told that books about women’s lives can only be about motherhood or romance?
To me that just didn’t seem right, so after 135+ rejections from agents, I was thrilled when several smaller publishers made offers for this book. I talked to a lot of authors with those smaller publishers and based on their insight I chose The Wild Rose Press to bring this debut novel to the world. I’ve been super pleased with their collaboration in the entire process, including marketing.

For me to see that early readers are enjoying it (so far I’ve heard the book called "timely and provocative",  a "page-turner", and "unputdownable"), has warmed my soul. Luckily, my experience in the corporate world must have taught me not to take no for an answer!

What would your job of choice be if you didn’t write books?
This is a funny question, because authors are supposed to hate marketing, but I’d probably help other writers with marketing and technology. I’ve been an active volunteer with Women’s Fiction Writers Association for the last years applying my tech and leadership skills, and few things give me more pleasure than helping promote other authors’ books. I even produce a TV show for Instagram called The Best of Women’s Fiction, where I interview some of the best and most interesting authors in the genre.

Place you’d like to travel?
Pre-pandemic, my hubby and I had booked tickets to the eclipse festival in Argentina, close to the border with Chile for late this year. Both countries were high on my list of places I’d like to visit, as is the city of Ushuaia, right at the tip of South America.
I’m not sure those plans will come to fruition now, but the idea would have been to spend up to 6 months working remotely in that part of South America. Maybe next year?

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
First, I’m not a fan of using the term “aspiring” to describe ourselves as writers. I actually wrote a whole blog post about how, from my perspective, the term saps creative confidence and plays to our writerly insecurities.
What I explain in that post is that one of the biggest challenges as a new writer is finding confidence in the value of our own work. Sure, we will always have craft learning to do, but in what other career do we call those new to the field, but already doing the work, call themselves “aspiring”?
Aspiring implies a lack of capability and skill, that you’re not a “real” writer yet. Unless you are sitting at your desk day after day, failing to put fingers to keyboard and write a single word, let me assure you that if you write, you are a writer., I’d be happy to see the term aspiring obliterated from our joint vocabulary. J

What are you working on now?
I’ll admit that a good chunk of my time is going into book marketing and launch activities, but I’m looking forward to getting back to my work in progress, which draws inspiration from my life as a digital nomad. It’s about an adventure travel instagrammer living under a new name to hide her dark past. Given her new-found fame, she fears her identity will be exposed and she’ll be forced to face a history she’s fought valiantly to escape.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Being a debut author has been inspiring, thrilling, and has sure taught the class of 2020 (who are doing online pandemic book launches) to roll with the punches!

But what makes a writer’s life worthwhile is when we get to see reviews and hear how readers enjoyed our books. I’m even starting to receive the odd email about how women relate to the elements of sexism in this novel, and those give me such joy, knowing that something I wrote made a connection.

So I’d like to say the hugest thank you to everyone who is reading or about to read my book, and especially to those readers who make time to leave a review for any author. Even a one liner makes a world of difference and helps keep us motivated to stick with the lengthy task of writing the next one!


 Bio:

Lainey Cameron is a digital nomad and author of women’s fiction. A recovering tech industry executive, her award-winning novel, The Exit Strategy, was inspired by a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom.

A digital nomad—meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time—Lainey is an avid instagrammer, and loves to share her travel tips and insights with readers.

Originally from Scotland, Lainey has a soft spot for men in kilts and good malt whisky.

To connect with Lainey:









Tuesday, May 19, 2020

SISTER DEAR by HANNAH MARY McKINNON

Beauty. Wealth. Success. 
She’s got it all. And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.


Reviews

"A stunning achievement!"
-- "Samantha Downing, USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author"

"Dark, twisty, compelling...Highly recommended!"
-- "Karen Hamilton, internationally bestselling author"

"A brilliant, breathless thriller that crackles with suspense and heart-thumping twists. Sister Dear is McKinnon's best book yet."
-- "Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author"

"Sister Dear is fabulous, with a bombshell twist you won't see coming. I devoured it."
-- "Kaira Rouda, internationally bestselling author"

"An electrifying read. If you think you know where this story is headed, watch out...McKinnon has a few tricks up her sleeve. A must-read!"
-- "Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author"

"A slow-burn domestic suspense, with complex, remarkable characters, that hurtles to a shocking, fiery climax you won't see coming."
-- "Samantha M. Bailey, author of Woman on the Edge"

"This one creeps up the back of your neck then explodes into an ending that I guarantee you won't soon forget...and will leave you begging for a sequel. Smart, addictive, and genuinely surprising."
-- "Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author"
Some Q & A with Hannah ~ 

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

Writing novels wasn’t on my radar until we moved from Switzerland to Canada in 2010. When we arrived, and my HR start-up company failed, it catapulted me into deciding what I truly wanted to do, and whether I wanted to reinvent myself. After a long while (with a lot of moping about) I realized the answer was to become an author, and I got to work, making a ton of mistakes along the way (more on that later…).

My debut was a rom com called Time After Time (June 2016) a light-hearted story about paths not taken. After that I decided I wanted to write grittier stories, and quickly transitioned to the dark side of suspense. The Neighbors published in March 2018, Her Secret Son in 2019, Sister Dear is this year’s novel (May 26) and there are two others scheduled for 2021 and 2022 (and hopefully more thereafter) – all of them in the suspense genre. Sister Dear will also publish in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It’s an exciting journey to say the least!

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I read a lot, as one might expect, and love being whisked away into the worlds other authors create—thrillers, or otherwise. I love getting outdoors for a hike, I’m a huge fan of the movies (I love the trailers!), I go to the gym and participate in a few obstacle runs in the summer (I live for the mud and obstacles, I’m rubbish at the running part). We have three teenage boys, so my husband and I spend time with them as often as they’ll let us. Watching films as a family is one of my favourite things. There’s something deeply comforting about us having a laugh together and just hanging out. Oh, I cook too, and love to bake. I make a mean zucchini-lime loaf, and yummy beer bread.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are funny, fickle things. Just when I think I don’t have any, three pop into my head, and I can pinpoint where each of them for my novels came from. Time After Time had a lot to do with how unhappy I felt about my company failing, and my being homesick. The Neighbors is a tale about an ex-boyfriend moving in next door, and it occurred to me when two houses on our courtyard went up for sale and I found myself wondering who might move in (an ex? Awkward!). Her Secret Son is the story of a man whose partner dies and leaves behind her seven-year-old son…and lots and lots of secrets about him—the genesis for the idea came from a news segment I saw while on the treadmill.

I’ll elaborate a little more for Sister Dear: I heard a radio segment about a woman who’d found a wedding ring at a playground and was trying to locate the owner through social media. It got me thinking—what if the woman found out the ring’s owner had a dream life, and felt jealous? The more I thought about it, the more twisted things became. I realized the individuals had to be related somehow, and if I made them half-sisters it would add to the drama and intrigue. It seems some of the most despicable acts are carried out within families. That was something I wanted to explore.

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

I’ve had a long-standing love-affair with both Lisa Jewell and David Nicholls’s books. I discovered Lisa Jewell’s first novel, Ralph’s Party, at the airport back in 1999, and have all her books. She has a shelf to herself! I adore how she expertly shifted from rom-com to family drama to domestic suspense throughout her career, and her stories always pull me in.

A friend gave me David Nicholls’s One Day when it published. I devoured it in a matter of days and ordered all his other books so I could do the same. His characters are so rich, his dialogue perfect, his stories funny yet poignant, he’s an auto-buy author for me and I love his work.

I must also mention Jennifer Hillier. While waiting for my son at our local library I spotted her debut Creep on a shelf. Intrigued by the cover, I picked it up, read the blurb, took it home and couldn’t put it down. It was a turning point in my writing career. When I was younger, I mainly read thrillers, but after a personal tragedy in my early 20s, I could only stomach light-hearted reads. Creep reminded me of my love of thrillers, and I realized the second book I was working on, The Neighbors, was far grittier than my debut (rom com Time After Time). Jennifer’s book gave me that final push I needed to cross over to the dark side. Fun fact: we live in the same town and have become great friends. Jennifer is an inspiration to me and fiercely talented, and I have all her books. I’ll read anything she writes!

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

The biggest challenge was myself because I rushed submitting Time After Time to agents when it was far from ready, only I didn’t know it at the time. After multiple rejections I took creative writing workshops and weekly courses, and had the manuscript professionally edited, which was eye-opening. A few agents were kind enough to tell me the premise was good, but the execution was flawed, so I had a lot of work to do. On the other hand, my inexperience perhaps wasn’t such a bad thing. If I’d known how difficult it was going to be from the outset, maybe I wouldn’t have persevered.

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?

My first novel? I wouldn’t have sent it out to agents but taken my time to ensure it was as ready as it could be. Having said that, while the rejections hurt, they also made me more determined. I’m a very driven person, and I just wouldn’t quit.
  
How do you market your work?

In collaboration with my publisher, HarperCollins who are incredibly supportive and have a fabulous team I can’t praise highly enough. I’m also very active on social media and love connecting with readers, reviewers and bloggers. My author friends are fabulous champions of my novels, too. Their tireless enthusiasm is a balm for the writerly soul and I’m grateful to every single one of them. It really does take a village.

With Covid, a group of us were discussing how we could promote one another. I half-jokingly offered to read the first chapter of their novels on Facebook and Instagram, and within a few days I had over 40 daily readings lined up and launched First Chapter Fun. I read from March 17 to May 8, introducing viewers to a new novel and author each day.

As of May 12, I teamed up with my partner-in-fictional-crime, powerhouse Hank Phillippi Ryan. We created a new Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/firstchapterfun and Instagram account www.instagram.com/firstchapterfun. We read twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday (the days with a “T) on both platforms simultaneously at 11.30 am ET, and already have readings scheduled until late October. All the previously aired episodes are saved and can be viewed at leisure.

The one thing that surprised me the most about this industry is how genuine, welcoming, and helpful other authors are. This project is my way of paying it forward.

What are you working on now?

My next two novels are psychological suspense stories. Book 5 is back with my wonderful editor, Emily, after structural edits. Book 6 is outlined and I’m about to get to work. I’m incredibly excited and can’t wait to put fingers to keyboard.

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

None of the sinister parts! Thankfully, my books aren’t true crime. I do sprinkle little details here and there my family would recognize: Superman pajamas, a stuffed toy, mud runs—those kinds of things. In Sister Dear, my protagonist Eleanor has some emotional eating issues, something I’ve dealt with for years, but otherwise I pull very little from my life. My job is to make things up, and it’s a part of the process I thoroughly enjoy.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

In Sister Dear it has to be the last chapter because it was so dark and deliciously evil to write. I’ll admit I cackled a little, which sounds as creepy as it felt.
  
Do you have a favorite character?

Eleanor for the win! Writing the entire story from her point-of-view allowed me to really get inside her head and understand how and why she’d become who she was. Right from the start I knew Eleanor would have a distinct lack of confidence, particularly regarding her physical traits. She’d perceive herself far more negatively than anybody else did—primarily because of her relationship with her mother—and she’d suffer from a kind of body dysmorphia. I wanted to show how the attitude of others can impact a person, how we carry these things forward and what they can do to us. It made Eleanor complex and interesting to write, and most of the time I wanted to give her a hug. Having said that, while I hoped the reader felt sympathy for her, I didn’t want it to be so during the entire novel. She did make some rather dubious choices, after all.

What would your job of choice be if you didn’t write books?

I worked in IT recruitment for fifteen years before coming to Canada and was the CEO for a European company. Perhaps I’d still be doing that if I didn’t change careers a decade ago. If I was told I had to stop writing today, then I’d have to find a job in publishing somewhere. I can’t imagine working in another industry now.

What was the most unique research you had to do for a book?

That’s such a great question and my dubious search history has definitely got me flagged somewhere. I think the most unique bits so far are how to get rid of an extra body in a graveyard without it being detected, how to muddle a crime scene enough to mess up forensics, how allergy meds can jumble your memory, and how a person can die while working under a car. Like I said: dubious!

I’ve also sought help from an advisor from child services, a lawyer, a medical examiner, poison control, and a police detective, to name but a few. I’m continually amazed how people are so incredibly generous with their time, knowledge and expertise when I call and say, “I’m an author, honest, and I have a few weird questions.” For example, fellow author Bruce Robert Coffin is a retired police detective, and he’s helped me get away with fictional murder multiple times. His input is incredible!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read as much and often as you can and listen to audio books. I wrote an article about how the latter make you a better author here. Write, even if you think it’s rubbish, because an empty page is impossible to edit. Another tip someone once suggested was to skip ahead if I couldn’t get a grasp on a chapter or scene, that I should focus on another part of the manuscript and trust myself enough to backfill later. It was revolutionary to me, and it beats the heck out of staring at a blank page or shoving my hand in the cookie jar. Also, I was advised to read my manuscript out loud. Every. Single. Word. Doing so helps avoid repetition, improves cadence, and zaps stilted dialogue. And, finally, share your work. It can be scary, but it’s the only way you’ll get feedback and improve your craft.
Favorite band or music?  Favorite book and/or movie?

I listen to all kinds of music but I’m useless at remembering the names of singers or bands. Impossible to choose a favourite book, but my favourite movie is Love, Actually. I watch it every Christmas, know most of the words and absolutely adore it.

Place you’d like to travel?

Once things go back to normal, I’m looking forward to visiting my family and friends in Switzerland. I was supposed to go in April 2020, but that trip was cancelled, and I can’t wait to get back into the mountains.

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

Thank you for your continued support. Readers, reviewers, bloggers and bookstagrammers are so generous with their support and everything they do for the book community. It’s truly a wonder to behold.


Bio:

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. While her debut, TIME AFTER TIME, was a rom-cm, she quickly transitioned to the dark side. Her suspense novels include THE NEIGHBORS, HER SECRET SON and SISTER DEAR. Hannah Mary lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons. For more information and to connect on social media, visit www.hannahmarymckinnon.com


To connect with Hannah:



  



Thursday, May 7, 2020

THE LONG PATH HOME, by ELLEN LINDSETH

A young woman on the run finds a second chance in World War II Italy  in a thrilling novel of love, intrigue, and redemption by the author of A Girl Divided.
1944, Chicago. From desperate small-town teen to star of the burlesque circuit, Violet Ernte has survived tough choices and more than one reinvention. Now, framed for an underworld murder, she has one way out: agree to keep Marcie, a reckless USO showgirl and mobster’s daughter, on the straight and narrow. Vi’s new act: play innocent ingenue and join the all-American song-and-dance troupe bound for overseas to a war-torn Italy.
When a USO headliner goes missing soon after landing, the disappearance has treacherous implications for the entire troupe. With Marcie’s safety in peril, Vi turns to battle-roughened army sergeant Ansel Danger for help. But getting closer to Ansel means exposing her past and her double life of scandal and deception. And in a heartbeat, she could lose everything.
Defiant and resilient, Vi is used to taking risks. This time it’s for redemption. To love, and to be loved. And for a second chance at a future she thought was lost forever.

Some Q & A with Ellen:

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

Authors seem to fall into two camps: those who always knew they wanted to write, and those who unexpectedly stumbled into it later in life. I am definitely a member of the latter tribe. That said, I’ve loved reading since the moment I learned how. My favorite tales were ones of adventure, whether it was Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown solving the case, or Alec Ramsey guiding the Black Stallion to victory. Reading gave me – an admittedly active and tomboyish girl – a way to continue the excitement of exploration and learning about the world long after I was called inside for bed. So how did I end up writing, if I wasn’t particular drawn to it growing up?
Fast forward through a BA in Classics from the University of Colorado (and yes, I was trained to be an archaeologist, but fell in love with a pilot), a move to Minnesota, the birth of two children that I adore and quit working to raise … and we arrive at that moment where, one day, I wanted to read a particular kind of story but couldn’t find it anywhere. What I wanted was a romance set in the U.S. during WWII, preferably starring an injured military intelligence officer with a secret. What I found was . . . nothing.
This is where I’m going to quote the wonderful Toni Morrison, so you’ll understand what I did next: “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Seemed simple enough, so I did, and thus began my later-in-life adventure in becoming an author. It took nearly five years of study and revisions, and then another year or so of polishing to create – but that story went on to be a finalist in the 2014 Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest for unpublished manuscripts. It was also the story which ended up attracting my now-agent, the talented Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
             
Oh, absolutely! In the case of The Long Path Home, I stumbled across a wonderful firsthand account of a joint USO/American Theater Wing production that finds itself touring a war-torn Italy during WWII. It’s by Margalo Gillmore and called The B.O.W.S. (The Barrets of Wimpole Street). Building on that premise, I was then able to weave in the true story of missing Nazi gold last seen in Bunker Soratte just north of Rome. I was even lucky enough to tour the bunker ruins with my husband, and our friend, Riccardo, last year. Finally, being a bit of a method-writer, and wanting to get a better feel for my heroine who was a burlesque star in Chicago, I took a beginning burlesque class from the Rose Academy of Burlesque in Minneapolis, and even agreed to strut the stage with my classmates. I have to say, it was quite the experience! Definitely fun and exciting, but not something I see myself pursuing as a second career.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Actually, I do. It’s the climax scene of The Long Path Home, when Vi’s life is on the line and the very thing she has considered a curse up until this point becomes the one thing that will save her, and those she cares about. That moment of realization, of self-acceptance, speaks to me every time I read it. I think we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of being our own worst critics, and to be gifted that moment of self-acceptance, that realization that perhaps we’re not as as awful as we think, is something I would wish for everyone. It brings to mind something my 8th grade art teacher once told me: a weed is just a wildflower in disguise. I’ve always loved that thought. What a better world this would be if we could all just celebrate that ‘wildflower’ within us, don’t you think?

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Persistence, persistence, persistence. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop learning and trying to better your craft. And remember – just like not everyone will like a particular movie, not everyone will like your story, and that is okay. Write the story you want to read, write it well, and take pride in your work. And don’t give up.

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

I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has read one of my books, and offer an ever bigger thank you to anyone who has left a review! Reviews are the greatest gift you can give any author, even if it isn’t a raving 5-star one. Don’t worry about being eloquent, either. I love hearing from my readers, even if they are taking me to task over how ‘eggrolls’ are an American invention first prepared in New York during the 30s, and not ethnically Chinese (true story). And if you haven’t read either of my books yet, I hope you will!
To connect with Ellen ~




Monday, April 13, 2020

STORIES WE NEVER TOLD, by SONJA YOERG

From the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of True Places comes a suspenseful novel of love, secrets, and obsession.
Psychology professor Jackie Strelitz thinks she’s over Harlan Crispin, her ex-lover and colleague. Why should she care if Harlan springs a new “friend” on her? After all, Jackie has everything she ever wanted: a loving husband and a thriving career. Still, she can’t help but be curious about Harlan’s latest.
Nasira Amari is graceful, smart, and appallingly young. Worse, she’s the newest member of Jackie’s research team. For five years, Harlan enforced rules limiting his relationship with Jackie. With Nasira, he’s breaking every single one. Why her?
Fixated by the couple, Jackie’s curiosity becomes an obsession. But she soon learns that nothing is quite what it seems, and that to her surprise—and peril—she may not be the only one who can’t let go.

Reviews ~ 

Stories We Never Told is a beautifully told story of love and obsession, a gradual unearthing of long-held secrets that can unravel even the happiest of marriages. Yoerg has a real talent for creating compelling and complex characters who wrestle with real-life situations, leaving the reader wondering who to root for until the very end. Yoerg should be on every reader’s radar.” —Kimberly Belle, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Wife

“Sonja Yoerg expands her literary repertoire into suspense with Stories We Never Told, a tale of obsession, love, secrets, marriage, and the lies we tell ourselves. The prose is lyrical and immersive, and the story builds delicious tension. But the characters are where Yoerg truly shines: they’re all so keenly developed, so realistic, and so surprising with their own crackling takes on relationships, academia, and each other that the story itself starts to feel almost immaterial. Until, of course, it shocks the living hell out of you.” —Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year and In Her Bones

“Obsession, jealousy, and secrets smolder into a deadly fire in Yoerg’s latest, as a woman’s marriage and career implode at the same time her ex’s life seems to be on the rise. Astutely observed and beautifully written with echoes of Highsmith’s Ripley, this one’s got a deliciously diabolical villain to die for.” —Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and Until the Day I Die

“Truth and trust relentlessly collide in this beautifully written and riveting page-turner. Talented storyteller Sonja Yoerg will ensnare you from page one—and her determined and endearing main character, twisted by love and betrayed by expectations, will keep you turning pages as fast as you can. Loved this! — Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List

Some Q & A with Sonja:
Tell us about yourself and how you started writing.
In my first incarnation, I was an animal behaviorist. I taught at the university level and conducted research on how animals use learning to solve the problems of survival. I studied all sorts of critters, including blue jays, spotted hyenas and kangaroo rats.

Writing has always come easily to me but never considered writing a novel until a few years ago when my daughters were poised to leave the nest. I needed a new focus and now look what happened! Writing novels is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the constant learning and challenges is what I love best about it.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Before the coronavirus pandemic, my husband and I traveled the world, mostly to hike for weeks at a time. Other than those adventures, we are homebodies. We enjoy sports together: running, weightlifting, more hiking. We have an enormous vegetable garden, plus an orchard, and I spend hours and hours tending vegetables and fruit, and harvesting, cooking, and preserving them. And eating! We really enjoy our food and our wine. It’s simple stuff but immensely satisfying.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My first book was actually a popular science book about animal intelligence, CLEVER AS A FOX, published in 2001. But I sold my first novel the hard way, by sending out queries until I emerged like a sea creature from the slush pile. Once I found an agent—or, rather, the agent found me—HOUSE BROKEN sold quickly.

What are you working on now? My book for 2021, THE FAMILY SHIP, is in the hands of my editor right now. It’s about a family with nine children who turn a backyard boat into a make-believe naval destroyer. The story is told from the points-of-view of six of the children, ages five - twenty-two. It was an ambitious project, so I’ll soon find out what my editor thinks of it!

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences? 
Of course! But I never kiss and tell.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t expect what you learn about one project to apply to the next. In my experience, the only certainty about the creative process is the lack of certainty, and what seemed like the perfect approach to the last book might be an abject failure for the next. It might be that I haven’t written enough books to see an overarching pattern in the process, something I can grab onto for the next book. Who knows? For now, the upside is that I’m unlikely to get bored since I never know exactly what I’m going to do next or how I’m going to do it. Stay tuned!

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? Stay safe and stay well. I’ll keep writing stories if you promise to keep reading. 

To connect with Sonja ~ 

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