Thursday, September 21, 2017

WHEN WE WERE WORTHY, by author MARYBETH MAYHEW WHALEN

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

Reviews ~

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

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

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

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

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

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

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

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

No

Where do you get your ideas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would try to not let fear control my decisions.

How do you market your work?

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

What are you working on now?

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

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

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

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

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

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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


Thank you for reading! 

To connect with Marybeth ~  my website, on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram or Goodreads
Discover great new reads at www.shereads.org






Wednesday, September 6, 2017

THE CROWS OF BEARA, by author, JULIE CHRISTINE JOHNSON

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


Some Q & A with Julie ~ 

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

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

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

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

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

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

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

Where do you get your ideas?

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

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

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

How do you market your work?

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

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

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

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

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

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

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To connect with Julie:










Monday, August 28, 2017

WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS, by author ELLA JOY OLSEN

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

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

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

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

Some Q & A with Ella~

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

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

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

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

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

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

To connect with Ella on social media:







Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Women's Fiction Writer's Association ~ general category finalists for Star Award

I’m Laura Drake, the Star Award Contest Chair for Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).
We began this contest to recognize outstanding published Women’s Fiction. The Star Award only has two categories-General and Debut. It’s open to all WF novels from contemporary to historical, commercial to literary, with romance or without, as long as the focus is on the main character’s emotional journey.

I know you usually have one book per post, but you’re in for a treat today, because I have THREE to tell you about! They are the finalists in the General Category. The books are out for final judging, and the winner will be announced at our annual retreat in Albuquerque on September 23.

Here are our finalists (in no particular order):

Carla Damron – The Stone Necklace

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Clawing chest pains and a fiery car crash take one life and change the destiny of four others. The Stone Necklace braids together the stories of a grieving widow, a struggling nurse, a young mother, and a troubled homeless man, reminding us of the empowering and surprising ways our lives touch one another and how, together, we can recover from even the greatest of losses.

Carla Damron weaves the stories of four people in Columbia, South Carolina, whose seemingly disparate existences intersect through tragedies realized and tragedies averted. Lena Hastings survived breast cancer and marital infidelity but now faces an uncertain future and crises with her teenaged daughter Becca without the support of the one person she has always counted on. Intensive care nurse Sandy Albright, newly released from drug rehab, confronts temptations from her past and false accusations threatening her career, leaving her to wonder if a drug-free life is really living. Tonya Ladson, a mother whose child is injured in the wreck, must decide if her domineering husband is right and a lawsuit will solve their financial problems. Joe Booker, a homeless man who sleeps in a graveyard, loses his gentle benefactor and must either succumb to the real and imagined evils of his world or find the heretofore-untapped courage to care for himself and for others as a stranger once cared for him. Weighted down by their respective pasts, the characters must make life-altering choices that reverberate into the fates of the others, ultimately bringing them together in unexpected but healing acts of compassion, forgiveness, and redemption.

The Stone Necklace includes a foreword from novelist Patti Callahan Henry.


Amy Impellizzeri – The Secrets of Worry Dolls

Published by: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

According to Mayan tradition, if you whisper your troubles to the Worry Dolls, they will do the worrying instead of you--therefore, it follows that Worry Dolls are the keepers of a great many secrets . . .

On the eve of the end of the world--according to the Mayan calendar--Mari Guarez Roselli's secrets are being unraveled by her daughter, Lu.

Lu's worry dolls are at-capacity as she tries to outrun the ghosts from her past--including loved ones stolen on 9/11--by traveling through her mother's homeland of Guatemala, to discover the painful reasons behind her own dysfunctional childhood, and why she must trust in the magic of the legend.


Barbara Claypole White – Echoes of Family

Published by: Lake Union Publishing

Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began.
Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.
In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of what if reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
  
If you like Women’s Fiction, or even if you’ve never read the genre, you can’t go wrong, reading these!





Thursday, July 20, 2017

THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN, by author, ELLEN MARIE WISEMAN

FROM A CIRCUS FREAK SHOW TO A 1950’s HORSE FARM, TERRIBLE SECRETS CONNECT THE EXTRAORDINARY LIVES OF TWO VERY DIFFERENT 20th CENTURY WOMEN IN FOURTH NOVEL BY ACCLAIMED AUTHOR – THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN

by Ellen Marie Wiseman in stores July 25, 2017 – 



On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

Named a Goodreads Best Books of The Month for July~  

The Life She was Given is a vibrant maze of desires. The sharp divide between expectations and painfultruths, mothers and daughters, past and present, culminate in a sensational finale.” – ForeWord Reviews on The Life She Was Given 

"Switching back and forth in time and narration from Lilly to Julia, Wiseman (The Plum Tree) has crafted a can’t-put-it-down novel of family secrets involving two young girls who only seek to be loved. VERDICT Perfect for book clubs and readers who admired Sara Gruen’s Like Water for Elephants." —starred review LIBRARY JOURNAL

Wiseman has created two equally enticing story lines that gradually reveal the commonalities between them. This well-crafted novel provides rewards throughout.—Publisher’s Weekly  

Some Q & A with Ellen:


1) Your second novel, What She Left Behind, was a big word-of-mouth success. What do you think the readers who loved that novel will enjoy in The Life She Was Given?


I think what drew readers to WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND was the inside look into life inside an insane asylum, and the need to find out what happened to the young woman, Clara, who, despite being sane, was sent to an asylum against her will. Asylums have always fascinated a lot of people, and reading about the disturbing things that happened within their walls is a safe way to satisfy their curiosity of the different, frightening, and unknown. Readers of THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN will also have the chance to explore the unknown while discovering what it might have been like to be hidden away in an attic bedroom, with a glimpse behind the lurid curtain of circus life when the main character, Lilly, is taken out the attic for the first time and sold to the owner of a freak show.

2) The story closely and compassionately follows the trials and travails of animals--elephants, horses.  Do you have a personal relationship to these kinds of animals?

I have lifelong love of all animals, and tremendous empathy when I see them suffering. Whenever one of those sad animal commercials come on, my husband immediately changes the channel because they always make me cry. As a child, I carried around an empty dog leash and curled up on a blanket outside with the neighbor’s dog because I didn’t have a pet of my own. (Luckily my parents took notice and adopted a beagle puppy) I first became aware of the plight of circus animals at eight years old, when my family attended a small circus in the Adirondacks. There was one lonesome-looking elephant named Rosie, and I remember her lifting a woman in red tights with her trunk, then spinning around in circles. Part of me wanted to be that woman more than anything, to be able to touch and be friends with that elephant. The other part of me felt an overwhelming sadness radiating from Rosie, and I started crying and had to leave. But much to my good fortune, I do have a personal relationship with horses. Growing up I always wanted my own horse, but I didn’t get one until I was thirty years old. She was a beautiful black mare named Samantha. One horse quickly turned into seven, plus a few goats, chickens, rabbits, geese, ducks, cats, and numerous rescue dogs thrown in for good measure.

3) Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I think my favorite chapter in THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN is the first one, when Lilly sees the traveling circus out her attic window and her mother takes her out of her room for the first time. Or maybe it’s the one where Lilly makes her first appearance in the freak show. It’s too hard to decide! I also like the scene where Lilly & Cole sneak the elephants out of their tent in the middle of the night to take them swimming in a farm pond. I wanted to be Lilly in that one!

4) Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

No I don’t, unless you count mother, daughter, wife, grandma, housekeeper, family event planner, chief dog walker, and head chef as a ‘day job! Seriously though, if I had another job I’d never make my book deadlines on top of the business/promo/marketing end of being a published author. I’d have to give up sleep. My hat is certainly off to anyone who can handle both!

5) What are you working on now?

I’m working on my fifth novel, which is set in the Philadelphia tenements during the Spanish Influenza, the most lethal pandemic the world has ever know. It follows a young girl who, after discovering her mother has passed away, becomes determined to take care of her twin baby brothers until her father returns from the war. Eventually she must leave the apartment to search the quarantined city for food, so she puts her brothers in a bedroom cubby to keep them safe. But when she comes back, they’re gone.

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

Oh my, where to begin? I have the best readers and fans ever, and I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Thank you for encouraging me, for cheering me on, for asking questions, and for being excited about my journey. Thank you for reading my books, for leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and for spreading the word about my work. I wouldn't be here without your support! 


Ellen Marie Wiseman 
Internationally Published Bestselling Author of THE PLUM TREE, 
WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, COAL RIVER and 
THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN (July 2017)