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) 











Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Three Star Award Contest finalists from Women's Fiction Writer's Association

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.

You’re in for a treat today, because I have THREE debut novels to tell you about! They are the finalists in the Debut Category, which means it is the author’s first book, in any genre. 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):

Tiffany McDanielThe Summer That Melted Everything
Published by: St. Martin’s Press

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.


Julie Christine JohnsonIn Another Life
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark

Three men are trapped in time. One woman could save them all.
Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region's quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life-and about her husband's death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.


Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time, and the lost loves that haunt us all.

Marilyn Simon RothsteinLift and Separate
Published by: Amazon Digital Services

Marcy Hammer’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband, the head of a global brassiere empire, didn’t think twice about leaving her after thirty-three years of marriage for a 32DD lingerie model. Now Harvey the Home-Wrecker is missing in action, but Marcy’s through thinking about what a cliché he is. What she needs now is a party-size bag of potato chips, a good support system, and a new dress.
Striking out on her own is difficult at first, but Marcy manages to find traces of humor in her heartbreak. Even while devastated by Harvey’s departure, she still has her indomitable spirit and her self-respect. She has no intention of falling apart, either, even when her adult children drop a few bombshells of their own and she discovers a secret about her new, once-in-a-lifetime friend. Life may be full of setbacks, but by lifting herself up by her own lacy straps, Marcy just may be able to handle them all.


If you like Women’s Fiction, or even if you’ve never read the genre, you can’t go wrong, reading these!







Wednesday, June 7, 2017

THE WEIGHT OF LIES, by author, EMILY CARPENTER ~ debuted yesterday!


In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.


Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

Some Q & A with Emily:

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

Growing up, I read voraciously, but then I dropped off a little when I got to college and had to read so much for school. In my early 20’s I worked for two soap operas, Guiding Light and As the World Turns, and wrote a spec script for an episode for GL. What I learned from that experience was a) writing for a daytime drama was much harder than it looks and b) I wasn’t that good at it. After that, I attempted a short film screenplay which I thought was fantastic. My boss read it and was really generous and nice enough not to tell me to give up forever. I wrote several screenplays after that and entered a bunch of contests, but I basically ended up banging my head against the wall that is Hollywood. Not an easy place to break in to. A feature script I wrote was shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and I was crushed when I didn’t get in. But that failure eventually led me to writing novels, which I’m actually better suited at, I think. Which is to say – isn’t it interesting how failure can lead you to the thing you are meant to do?

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I’m a huge TV/movie fan, love finding a fantastic new series to binge. I love to exercise (I do a boot camp) and hang out with my family. I love traveling but am really bad at making plans. I hate the planning phase, only the fun part. If I had a million bucks I would have a personal assistant who was strictly in charge of all that – plane tickets, AirBNB, rental cars. I would prefer that all those things just magically appear when the mood to go on a trip hits me.

Where do you get your ideas?

I took an aptitude test once and one of the things it measured for was this thing called “Ideaphoria,” essentially the rate of your flow of ideas. Apparently, my ideaphoria is through the roof. I don’t know where the ideas come from, but I will say, at times, it can be an onslaught.

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

I think in a general sense, I could say that every single book I’ve ever read has contributed to my love of stories and my desire to write. And, now that I think about it, I really like that thought: that every book had a part in developing my style and desire. But I think on a literal level, there was a book I read – a YA paranormal by a childhood friend of mine, that just swept me away (The Die for Me Trilogy by Amy Plum) – and I thought, “Oh. This is a real person, a person I know, who wrote this book. Maybe I could do this, too.” Up until that point, I didn’t know any authors personally, and I think it was just a moment of connection in my brain that hadn’t happened before. She absolutely inspired me.

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

Well, I had to find an agent, and I wasn’t successful doing that with my first manuscript, so I ended up writing another book (which I scrapped) then another. On my third book, I got a wonderful agent. But then there was a ton of editing – I mean intense editing – and submission, which took, roughly, a year. I think the whole process taught me a lot about the marketing side of publishing. That publishing is actually a business, and any book I wrote was not just my personal “work of art” but was eventually going to viewed as a product that needed to be positioned in the marketplace and sold. It was kind of hard to wrap my head around that. Since then, I think I’ve gotten better at incorporating that understanding into the process of my writing, anticipating how the market will view the book.

How do you market your work?

I love to connect with real readers – on social media and at book clubs, to let readers know what’s going on with my books. I’ll do the occasional festival or convention, but mostly my publisher does the heavy lifting in terms of marketing.

What are you working on now?

A book about a woman who’s been hiding a secret from her past who accompanies her husband to a couples retreat up in the mountains and discovers the place and the doctor running it are not exactly what she expected.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love all the Kitten chapters in the book. It’s supposed to be this iconic, not-so-well-written, horror novel from the 1970s that everybody went nuts for. I had the most fun writing the excerpts because I got to adopt a different writing style, one that was a little more formal and stilted. And I could just go all out with the horror and the kitschy 70s tropes. In preparation, I read and re-read several classic horror novels from that time: Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist. It was an interesting couple of weeks, to say the least.
  
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Every writer is unique and has such different ways of approaching the work and marketing and the way they conduct themselves on social media that I don’t really like to get specific about the “how” of writing. I just know what works for me – when I need to write, when I need to rest and think, when I need to think in terms of the business of publishing, when I need to keep my head in that strictly creative, free space of making “art.” I will say, I think that no matter what you end up deciding to write, you have to understand that publishing is a business and publishing companies make decisions based on the bottom line, money. So, I think it’s smart to do your homework - understand why they buy certain books and promote certain authors. After you’ve educated yourself, you’re in a better position to make an educated decision about what you want to write.

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

The way I see it, there are no downfalls. I love getting paid to write books and to know that I’m entertaining readers, providing them an escape from everyday life. It’s so fun. An absolute dream come true. Making up whole worlds and then playing in them like a sand box—what could be better?

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


I’d like to tell each and every person who read my book, THANK YOU! It really does mean so much to know people are reading and enjoying what you wrote. To everyone who reviewed my books, even if it was a negative review, thanks for taking the time. Seriously, it means a lot to us authors to have reviews. Now, if someone’s an actual FAN? I don’t know, that’s so hard to wrap my head around that. I think that instead of saying anything, I would just dance around them and toss flower petals.

About Emily:

Emily Carpenter is the bestselling author of two thrillers, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and The Weight of Lies (June 6). After graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, she moved to New York City. She’s worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for the CBS shows, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

Visit Emily at emilycarpenterauthor.com and on Facebook and Twitter.





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK CLUB, by author, JILL HANNAH ANDERSON (my book debuts today!)

Who can you turn to when your life falls apart?

In this moving debut ~ Peyton Brooks, a newly-empty nester with a comatose marriage, loses her three friends in a car crash, and reaches out to women in the To-Hell-And-Back Club, hoping they’ll help resuscitate her life.

Through the “Hell Club”, Peyton learns it’s never too late to begin again. These been-there-felt-that women use their sense of humor, strength, and support to help pull her off the couch and back to living her life.

She rebuilds the life she’d put aside two decades ago. But when Peyton digs up time capsules she and her friends buried years ago, and uncovers secrets about those she loved, she struggles to keep her own life-changing secret buried.

The “Hell Club” women help remind Peyton of the strength within her. She finds a renewed hope in life and love when she faces the mistakes and guilt that have troubled her for years. When Peyton’s secret is discovered, she needs the “Hell Club” women more than ever. The To-Hell-And-Back Club is an inspiring book that reminds us that it’s never too late to start over, and that living a life of regrets is no life at all.

Some Q & A with myself (yes, that sounds weird, even to me!) ~


Where do you get your ideas?

There are endless ideas jumping around in my head every day. Seriously. I hear a conversation, and my brain conjures up a scene about it. Or I see something unusual, and think about a “what if something happened” scene. The problem is getting all of these ideas to make up a story!

What are you working on now?

Honestly? Everything to do with writing except actually writing! I put book #2 aside so I could focus on enjoying my book debut, and help promote it to readers. It is a lot of work, but anything you love and feel strongly about, is worth the time and effort. Hopefully.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

A few experiences are slivers of my life, along with slivers of experiences from people I know. To be clear, yes, I’m divorced, but no, Jerry (the soon-to-be-out-the-door husband in the story) is not based on my ex-husband. Same goes for the friends in my book!

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

A scene toward the end with Peyton and her sister, Grace, who comes to visit her all the way from Texas (the story takes place in Minnesota.) It is a heart-wrenching scene, and I choked up writing it. Not having a sister of my own, I imagined how important it would be to have a sister like Grace, to be there for you as she was for Peyton. I hope I did their relationship justice.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I sure do. I’ve been at a communications company for close to twenty years. The upside? It is a whopping 1.3 miles from my home. The commute is brutal. ;) The downside? All day at a computer, which makes coming home to sit and write on a computer not-so appealing.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I started writing and running, two “bucket list” goals of mine, after I turned forty-five and heard the saying “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Those two things came to mind. I’m still running, and absolutely love the sport of curling, and the women I get to curl with. I love being outside (thank goodness for laptops or I’d never write in the summer!) and I especially love time spent with our kids and grandkids.

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

There is no such thing as “I” in writing. Yes, yes, I know, it is in the word twice. But writing a book is just that, writing. Without the editors, publishers, book reviewers, book bloggers, fellow supportive authors, and book lovers, a book will hibernate in the soul of the writer. I appreciate every single person who has helped, cheered, and pushed me along to get to this point.

If you ever think your opinion doesn’t matter, it does as a reader! If you’ve read a book you enjoyed, the best gift you can give an author is to read ~ review ~ recommend.

You can connect with me here:

Instagram: @jillh.anderson






Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ALL THE GOOD PARTS, by author, LORETTA NYHAN

At thirty-nine, Leona Accorsi is broke, single, back in school, and living in her sister Carly’s basement. She’s perfectly content being quirky Auntie Lee to Carly’s four children. That is, until Leona’s doctor tells her that if she wants to have a child, she’d better do it now.
Leona does want a baby. She always has, but the circumstances have never been right. Now she has a huge decision to make: face motherhood on her own or risk missing out on its rewards.

Unfortunately, she’s let her romantic life go stagnant. She barely even knows any single men. She has just a few prospects: a Vietnam vet and partial amputee, his intimidating son, the sweet but troubled man who tutors her niece, and a fellow nursing student she’s never actually met.

As Leona discovers more about each one, she realizes any of them could be the right man for the job. The more important question is, has she become the right woman?


All the Good Parts is wildly original and features a mixture of heartfelt and laugh-out-loud moments. The main character’s quest for motherhood is poignant and relatable...[but] it’s the ensuing complexities that arise as the main character tries to find a suitable daddy donor from a varied potential list that make this story hard to put down.” RT Book Reviews

“[Nyhan] creates an original and endearing contemporary heroine in Leona Accorsi...[Her] novel tells a surprising, sweet, and unconventional story about family and friendship.” Booklist

Some Q & A with Loretta: 

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

I wrote for trade magazines after college, but the thought of trying to write fiction was terrifying to me in my twenties. Instead, I went back to school for an advanced degree and then taught college writing. The desire to write fiction never left me, though, and after my youngest son started school, I told myself either I was going to really give writing a try or I wasn’t, and if it was the latter, it was time to retire that particular dream. I couldn’t give up. I started writing and I haven’t stopped.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

Um…I’m usually writing! When I’m not, I ride my bike, bake, watch Catastrophe and Homeland, and hang out with my kids.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I teach part-time, online only.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’ve never heard a writer give a good answer for this, because there really isn’t one. Basically, a bunch of different things you’ve noticed, people you’ve met, ideologies you’ve considered, come together to form a cohesive story. Sometimes, just a character shows up and you figure out what her story is while you write it. It’s magical and then…it isn’t. It’s just how your brain works if you are a creative type of person.

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

Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew), Judy Blume, and S. E. Hinton made me an obsessive reader, which is how all writers start out. Later, Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and Kerouac’s On the Road showed me what really well written books could do—they could powerfully shape a reader’s worldview. Those three are still my all-time favorites.

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

My first book was published because publishing is such a challenging business. I’LL BE SEEING YOU, was written because Suzanne Palmieri Hayes and I had other books on submission with publishers. Suzy said, “Why don’t we write something to keep our minds off things while we wait?” That project ended up being the first I sold, to Harlequin-MIRA.

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 wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve met some of the loveliest, smartest, kindest people on this publishing journey.

How do you market your work?

Marketing is not my strong suit. I have a strong Facebook presence, and I visit book clubs. I’ve visited over fifty book clubs!

What are you working on now?

Finishing up another women’s contemporary novel, DIGGING IN. It’s the story of a woman who, at the lowest point in her life, digs up her backyard to start a one-woman urban farm. She’s a disaster at it, but learns some important life lessons along the way.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Elements of my life will always filter into my writing. I think this is true for all writers, because the initial spark will usually come from life experience. I don’t recreate people I know on the page in a recognizable way—that wouldn’t be fair. However, I have created characters by borrowing traits from multiple people I’ve known at different times in my life.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Any scenes with humor. Comedic writing is definitely the most difficult, but it’s the most rewarding. I think my favorite scene in ALL THE GOOD PARTS is the baby shower from hell. It was so fun—and challenging—to write!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep at it. I’ve known plenty of very talented people who never finish a novel. Success really is most determined by persistence.

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

The only negative is instability. Nothing is predictable in publishing. Everything else falls into the positive column. The absolute best? When my book connects with a reader, and she tells me it gave her joy/made her think/entertained her for a few evenings.

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

Thank you. It sounds cheesy, but I am so grateful to every person who has ever read my work. 

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