Monday, January 10, 2022

ALL THE SALT IN THE SEA, by author TAMMY L. HARROW

 In her first year of medical school, Abby West’s goals for the future were derailed by an unexpected pregnancy. Reluctantly, she discarded her dream of becoming a physician in favor of being a wife to one.

Nineteen years later, Abby discovers her powerful, well-connected husband has been keeping a secret—an eight-year-old son from an old affair. Devastated by the betrayal, she flees to her grandmother’s hometown on the Amalfi coast.

There, Abby meets Daniel Quinn, a former American soldier turned photographer. As she travels across Europe with him, she begins to imagine a new life, one without a controlling and unfaithful husband.

Empowered by a newfound sense of freedom and courage, Abby returns to St. Augustine to settle things with her husband. But nothing goes as planned, and what awaits may very well destroy her.

Review:
A sweeping novel that takes the reader from a malfunctioning coach on an Italian mountain top to Paris to Switzerland and to Saint Augustine, Florida. Full of heartbreak and longing, and romance, but also tinged with the distressing truth of how difficult it is to leave a relationship after abuse.

Harrow has created a vivid, detailed, realistic and compelling universe. 
Recommended as a novel for book club discussion, with fascinating questions posed by each of Abby’s decisions.  Lainey Cameron, award winning author and host of The Best of Women's Fiction podcast

Q & A with Tammy:

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

When my youngest son graduated high school, my husband, seven year-old daughter, and I sold our home in Virginia and moved to our favorite vacation spot—St. Augustine, FL. Eleven years later, the kids are all moved out and my husband and I are still here. There’s no place I’d rather live.

I’ve written as long as I can remember. I was one of those kids that made sense of the world by putting words on paper. I have journals full of poems, song lyrics, and catastrophes of my everyday teenage life. The books, ranging from palm sized datebooks to 50 cent spiral bound notebooks, reside in my attic. Some of the writing is in code I can’t decipher.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I’ve been an avid solo traveler for about twelve years. I absolutely love immersing myself in a foreign country alone. There’s no better way to soak up the culture and really take in the surroundings. But, I do also love traveling with my family. We usually take a summer trip to the mountains to hike and camp. We just finished converting a Promaster van into a home on wheels and I can’t wait to hit the road.

Other than travel, I enjoy throwing pottery and doing any type of art project. I’ve been a photographer for about thirteen years now so I love taking photos, especially when its not required (as in a paid job). Candids of people and landscape are my favorite.

In my former life, I was a pastry chef. I still enjoy baking but I have a fierce sweet tooth and can’t resist cookies. These days, I’m trying to eat healthy, so I’ve been working hard to convert recipes into healthier plant based versions. I love converting savory dishes as well.

Finish this: “I can’t write without

silence.” For the past three years, my neighbor’s have consistently had noisy construction crews working on their homes. I finally got noise cancelling headphones and some days I use them without music. I miss the quiet.  

What did you think you’d be when you became an adult?

A pediatrician.

What is something about you that people would surprise people?

I wish I’d had a few more children. Three isn’t enough. If only someone had told me they’d be so much fun once they reached adulthood.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

My brain never shuts down. I’m a terrible sleeper, so the wheels are always turning with story ideas, especially in the wee hours.

 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)

I started querying agents before I was ready. I had no idea what I was doing and my query letters were awful. Naturally, I didn’t get a whole lot of responses. Eventually I had two R&R’s, but they ultimately ended up being “No’s.” It was incredibly discouraging and I was close to giving up. I decided to query a handful of smaller presses and got responses fairly quickly. Two offered to sign me.

 

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

One of the main problems with my novel was that it didn’t fit neatly into one genre. It was a cross between women’s fiction and suspense and that just didn’t work. I ended up having to make a lot of changes. Moving forward, I’ll be sure to stick with a single genre.

 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story about two female best friends in law enforcement trying to catch a serial killer in Key West.

 

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Yes. Plenty. I think most of us writer’s pull from real life experiences, at least a little.

I’m very familiar with the five European countries in All the Salt in the Sea.

 

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

There’s a night scene at a bus stop in Sorrento (Italy) where Abby believes she’ll never see Daniel again. She’s spent the bus ride trying to come to terms with his disappearance. She tells herself that he was only meant to breeze in and out of her life to remind her what it feels like to be alive.

 

Do you have a favorite character?

Abby’s new lover Daniel, the former soldier turned travel photographer. He’s been through a lot, lost a lot, and still persevered and found love when he was least expecting it.

 

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

I’d like to run a home for orphaned children or work in the medical field.

 

Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…”

Deep stories that matter. I want readers to be able to relate and to feel something when they read my work.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Writing is incredibly subjective. Take early reader’s opinions with a grain of salt. Most importantly, don’t give up.

 

Place you’d like to travel?

My goal is to spend a straight year traveling to countries I haven’t yet seen. I’d like to spend maybe a month in each place.

 

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

Thank you. I hope you enjoy reading All the Salt in the Sea as much as I did writing it.

 To follow Tammy: 

https://www.instagram.com/tammyharrow/  





Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A BOUNDLESS PLACE, by author PAMELA STOCKWELL

Twenty-four-year-old Violet wants one thing: to hide from life after her husband's death left her reeling. But life has other ideas. Well, life and a certain seven-year-old neighbor.

Violet moves to Magnolia Avenue, a forgotten street in a forgotten neighborhood filled with forgotten mobile homes. It looks like the perfect place to retreat and lick her wounds. But it's not long before her young neighbor, Arabella, enlists her in the rescue of the cantankerous old woman next door who has fallen ill. But if Violet thinks this is a one-off event, she's wrong. Next thing she knows, she is entangled in the lives of several neighbors from grumpy Mr. Pritchard to the handsome GI across the street. Set against the backdrop of the 1969 moon landing when astronauts broke the boundaries of Earth, 


A Boundless Place shows what happens when people are able to break through their own boundaries and reach out to others.

Reviews:

A heartwarming, delightful debut. You can't help loving Pamela Stockwell's grumpy, quirky characters, and you'll wish you were their neighbor on Magnolia Avenue too.

-Linda Rosen, author of Sisters of the Vine

Stockwell's writing is heartfelt and touching . . . The characters will stay with me for a long time.

-Virginia McCullough, author of Island Healing

Q & A with Pamela ~

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

I have been writing on and off since I was in elementary school. I majored in journalism and worked in corporate writing for years, but I always wanted to write fiction. In my twenties, I wrote a book, but then got pulled away when I got married and adopted my three kids. It took years for me to have the mental bandwidth to get back to it. So at fifty-four, I started A Boundless Place and at fifty-eight, I got finally got published.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

After writing, I love reading. Next to that, I love animals. I volunteer with my high school age

daughter at a cat rescue. 

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)

My ideal day starts with a cup of coffee and some reading, then some form of exercise--yoga,

walking or--when the weather isn’t good--the elliptical. Then shower, breakfast and then I

spend the rest of the morning writing.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

Probably the only thing I can’t write without is my computer, and even then, when I was doing

a writing challenge where I had to write a microfiction short story in twenty-four hours, I took

a legal pad and pen to the beach, proving I can still go old-school. I like a nice atmosphere,

instrumental music, and a good solid hour or two, but I have learned I can write in a mess,

without music, and in fifteen minute sprints. 

What did you think you’d be when you became an adult?

I thought I’d be a fiction writer. I just didn’t know it would take me forty years

What is something about you that people would surprise people?

My book is set in a trailer park, which is where I grew up. I don’t think people expect this.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

After adopting our second child, I quit the job I had and became a stay-at-home mom.

It wasn’t until three years after I started writing A Boundless Place that I got a part-time job

as a tech support agent for a software company. It’s an awesome job for a writer, because I

can “man the desk” while writing when I am not dealing with clients.

Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from life--my own, and people I have encountered or read about.

After reading A Boundless Place, my uncle called me up to tell me how much he liked it

and he was actually pointing out how many things he recognized. For example, a character

in the book is a medic in the Air Force--just like my father. My writing is a mix of what I know and what I have to research.

Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?

My husband and daughter are my out-of-the-gate beta readers. And along with my other two children, my biggest cheerleaders.

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

I read a huge variety of genres: literary, women’s fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and non-fiction. But I think the books I am most drawn to are books like those written by Maeve Binchy and Fredrik Backman because they are very character driven. I love the way Backman reveals his characters layer by layer. I aspire to that, but not sure I achieve it to the level I would like.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)

My first challenge is realizing how far from ready an early draft is. I started querying agents but all the while I was editing. And learning. I asked more people to be beta readers. I hired an editor. And each time, the manuscript was improved.

What are you working on now?

I am working on books two and three, which are set in the same world as A Boundless Place. I am just starting the third draft of book two and just finished the first draft of book three.

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

Quite a few things in A Boundless Place are based on real-life experiences. The setting itself for one. But there’s also a big event that happens to Arabella and her family that was a real-life experience of mine, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what!

Do you have a favorite character?

I love my characters so much, I can’t leave them so I decided to keep writing books they would appear in. But I am rather partial to Mrs. McCabe. She was a lot of fun to write.

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

Second choice career would be librarian.

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

I have a character who has PTSD after serving in Vietnam. I did a lot of research on that, and on reading first-hand accounts.  

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I have three pieces of advice:

Take classes on the craft of writing. A lot of things are opinion, so take what you can from it

and leave the rest. No one thing works for everyone.


Write every day or as often as you can. I find the more I write, the better I become and the moreideas I have. If you want to get really serious, set aside some time daily for writing--and put it

on your calendar.


Try writing things that challenge you. I do a lot of short story challenges and these push me

out of my comfort zone but I think they have also help me improve and gain confidence.

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

Many of my readers tell me how much they like my characters, which is awesome because I like them, too! I hope you will enjoy A Boundless Place and my subsequent books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

To connect with Pamela:

Author of A Boundless Place, out now. Order here.

Website: pamelastockwell.com

Twitter: @PamelaStockwell

Instagram: @PamelaStockwellAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StockwellInk


Review A Boundless Place on Amazon and Goodreads!









Wednesday, November 10, 2021

WHAT WE CARRY, by author KALYN FOGARTY

**The Kindle copy is on sale for $1.99 this month. Grab your copy now!

Fans of Caroline Leavitt will relish this rich, complex novel born of the author's own loss and grief, about how one can overcome tragedy through bravery and self-discovery.

Cassidy Morgan's life has always followed a carefully laid track: top education, fulfilling career, and marriage to the love of her life, Owen. The next logical step was starting a family. But when a late-term miscarriage threatens to derail everything she's worked so hard for, she finds herself questioning her identity, particularly what it means to be a mother. Unable to move past her guilt and shame, she realizes there's more to fix than a broken heart. Grief illuminates the weaknesses in her marriage and forces her to deal with her tumultuous relationship with her own mother.

Cassidy hopes her work as a veterinarian specializing in equine reproduction will distract her from the pain but instead finds that one of the cases she's working on shines a spotlight on the memory of her unborn son. For once in her life, Cassidy is left untethered and wondering why she wanted to become a mother in the first place. 

Then the unexpected happens when Cassidy becomes pregnant again. But the joy over her baby is tempered by her fear of another loss as well as her increasingly troubled marriage. Now, she must decide whether to let her pain hold her back or trust that there's still something to live for.
 
What We Carry is a thought-provoking response to the author's own miscarriage and lack of fiction surrounding the topic, that she and other women in her situation crave.

Praise for What We Carry:

“Layers of insightful, beautifully rendered prose and absorbing monologues shine a light through a multi-faceted prism of loss and grief that ultimately reflects the hopeful beauty of learning how to start over.”
Shelf Awareness

"Heartbreakingly honest and wonderfully emotional, What We Carry is a poignant and heartfelt novel of learning--and loving--through loss, filled with characters you long to root for."
—Kate Hewitt, USA Today bestselling author of When You Were Mine

“In a tender story about one woman’s anguished choices in her determination to become a mother, Kalyn Fogarty takes an unsparing look at the raw courage it sometimes requires to do those things most people take for granted. Fogarty understands human nature and the ways in which compassion for another species — in this case, horses — can teach us the truest understanding of ourselves.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author The Deep End of the Ocean

"What We Carry takes readers on a journey from to the depths of despair and back again in a moving tribute to motherhood. The family dynamics between Cassidy, Claire, and Joan are gripping. Their story of functional dysfunction will keep you turning pages to find out what happens next."
—Jennifer Bardsley, author of Sweet Bliss

"Few losses are as shattering as the death of a child, but when that loss occurs as a miscarriage, parents often find themselves isolated in their grief. This fresh, unflinchingly honest story depicts the chronic ache of grief, the challenge of self-forgiveness, and ultimately, the achievement of a new sense of balance. With fully drawn characters that will live in your heart long after the last page, this moving portrait is not to be missed."
—Rebecca Hodge, author of Wildland

Some Q & A with Kalyn ~

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

I’m an author and professional horseback rider and instructor. I began writing at a very young age- mostly books about ponies!- but have evolved over the years to writing Women’s Fiction. I am also trying my hand at a YA series.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I am an avid reader. I love Women’s fiction, psychological thrillers and anything by Stephen King. I ride horses for a living and enjoy anything horse-related.

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)

When I am in the middle of drafting, I like to write from 4:30-6:30. This is the only time of the day that is quiet in my house. My two kids (3 year old and 15 months old) wake up around seven and from then until bed time I’m full speed.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

Coffee and my notebooks.

What did you think you’d be when you became an adult?

A horse trainer or veterinarian. Although, I always secretly wanted to be an author.

What is something about you that people would surprise people?

I am am introvert by nature, but my job and life are very extroverted.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Own my own horseback riding instruction business.

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

I love Jodi Picoult’s style and ability to take very important- and often controversial- topics and show all the different sides and facets of that topic.

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 pitched to agents and small presses simultaneously. I actually heard back from the small presses first and ended up going with one of my top choices. However, after signing the contract I was contacted by a few dream agents. But since I already got the deal, they asked me to send my next project to them. I wish I had waited a few extra months to get the agent first!

How do you market your work?

Social media, especially Instagram. 

What are you working on now?

Novel 2, a women’s fiction story about an unlikely friendship between a young mother experiencing postpartum depression and a septuagenarian widow. I am also in the early stages of a Young Adult series- think Oregon Trail meets Jumanji and Outlander.

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

The inciting incident of WHAT WE CARRY is a late-term miscarriage. It is loosely based off my own experience of miscarrying my first pregnancy at 17 weeks in 2017.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love the parts of the novel where the main character is describing her equine patients. It was really fun to combine my two passions- horses and writing.

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

My day job is my other dream job, so I’m very lucky!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write truthfully. Readers are very perceptive and can tell when the writing is coming from a place of honesty. I think this resonates the strongest.

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

The self-promotion and marketing are tough, but I love the writing and research. I especially love the revision process.

Favorite band or music? 

Anything country. I love Tim McGraw.

Place you’d like to travel?

Safari in Africa, road trip through the Rockies, and adventures in Costa Rica are all high up on my list.

Kalyn's social media links:


Website is kalynfogarty.com





Wednesday, November 3, 2021

THE WAY WE WEREN'T, by author PHOEBE FOX

This debuts November 9th, and is an Amazon pick for November! 

An unlikely friendship between a septuagenarian and a younger woman becomes a story of broken trust, lost love, and the unexpected blooming of hope against the longest odds.

"You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?"
 
Marcie Malone didn't think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger's home, she doesn't seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.
 
Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it—he's learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she's on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.
 
As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damage life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’ve each been running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most.

Reviews ~

"A story of the reassessment of the lives of two unlikely strangers who meet--an old man and a young woman--who together discover that the place in life they have chosen for themselves does not bring the fulfillment they had worked to have.  An insightful and compelling read of the courage to change horses in midstream to reach the shore of new beginnings.”—Leila Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of Dragonfly

"Phoebe Fox simply keeps getting better. Her latest The Way We Weren’t is so deeply satisfying on every level that it will continue to resonate with you long after you turn the page on one of the most exquisitely perfect endings you are likely to encounter in some time. As finely wrought as all of Fox’s characters are, special mention must be made of how fully and lovingly  she brings the Gulf Coast of Florida to life. The Way We Weren’t  is exactly the beach-trip-in-a-book that you are yearning to dive into right now.  An achingly artful portrayal of love lost and love reclaimed."—Sarah Bird, author of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

"Fox’s sharp storytelling will endear Marcie and Herman to readers, and a solid support cast (especially bar owner Darla) adds some heft. It’s a simple story, but the author gets it just right."—Publishers Weekly

Some Q & A with Phoebe ~

What did you think you’d be when you became an adult? 

I’ve always written, from the time I learned how to write, but I didn’t think it was something you could make a living at until I became a features journalist and entertainment reviewer, in my thirties.

When I was younger I thought I’d be a psychologist. Later I wanted to be--and was, for many years--an actor. The connective tissue of those careers—what I realize I really wanted to do all along—was figure out why people did what they do, to tell their stories.

What is something about you that people would surprise people? 

I’m six feet tall! Especially in the era of Zoom and social media I always forget that’s unusual for a woman (especially living in Texas) until I meet people in person, and invariably the first thing out of their mouths is: “You’re so tall!”

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well? 

I’ve been a book editor for the last thirty years, and I think I’m the luckiest person on the planet to do what I love most for a living. Now I don’t just get to tell my own stories--I’ve gotten to help thousands of authors tell theirs too.

Where do you get your ideas? 

Almost always it’s inspired by something in my life that suggests some “nut” I want to crack—something I’m trying to work through or figure out for myself.

For my first book, The Breakup Doctor, I’d had a very out-of-character reaction to a guy I’d been dating suddenly ghosting me after a very ardent courtship. I am usually cool as a cucumber in situations like that (my friends called me the breakup ninja), but this time I catastrophized it. I wanted to write about what happens when someone who advises people about moving past their breakups falls apart after a bad one of her own.

(BTW, that guy is now my husband, and he would like everyone to know that he did not in fact disappear, but went to a “no phones/no internet” yoga retreat for a week, which he’d told me about in advance, and called me from the airport en route both to and from the place.)

For my last book, A Little Bit of Grace, I wondered how you could forgive the unforgivable with someone you loved. For The Way We Weren’t, I wanted to explore what might happen in a relationship after a foundational breach that seems insurmountable. I seem to write a lot about family and forgiveness, in various permutations.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)

Yes, please--authors, take note! I got my agent after 113 queries. With my first submitted manuscript we got a full round of publisher rejections on it, followed by another full round of rejections on a second manuscript. I did a major overhaul of the first manuscript (reworking and rewriting all but one scene), and we finally found a publisher for it, which turned into a four-book series.

Then I pulled my fifth book from the publisher before publication, worrying my writing career was over—till my wonderful agent Courtney Miller-Callihan submitted it elsewhere and we got a two-book deal with Berkley/PRH, a dream publisher for me.

Everything in this crazy career is a challenge. Know that going in and understand what an author friend of mine was kind enough to share with me early in my career: What separates published authors from unpublished ones often comes down to persistence.

What are you working on now?

Last May I released a book for authors on how to edit their own work, Intuitive Editing (under the name Tiffany Yates Martin), based on my thirty years working as an editor in the publishing industry. I’m currently working on the first of a series of follow-up books for it that dive deeper into specific areas of craft.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

In The Way We Weren’t there’s a party scene, and things get…well, a little wild. Now, I’m the farthest thing from a cool, hip party chick, so I had to call a good friend of mine who is much more savvy about such things and have her talk me through an Ecstasy trip. I have no idea if it’s true to life, but if it’s as much fun to actually do it as it was to write about it, I get the appeal. 😊

Do you have a favorite character?

In the Way We Weren’t, Darla, the beef jerky of a woman who owns the run-down beach bar where Marcie winds up working, just kills me in every scene. I would love to meet her.

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

I’m doing it--I love helping authors bring their vision to life on the page as an editor.

Favorite book and/or movie? 

Please, please put this interview down and go watch I Love You, Man right this minute. You can thank me later.

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

Just thanks, with all my heart. Readers are the reason we do this—to share our stories, and they don’t come fully to life until they’re in readers’ hands.

And thank you, Jill, for inviting me to share some of my writing life with your readers!

Author bio:

Phoebe Fox, a former journalist and actor, is the author of A Little Bit of Grace; the Breakup Doctor series; and—as Tiffany Yates Martin—of the bestselling nonfiction Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide for Revising Your Writing. Her most recent novel, The Way We Weren’t, releases November 9 from Berkley/PRH. Visit her at https://phoebefoxauthor.com.

To connect with Phoebe: 

www.phoebefoxauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/PhoebeFoxAuthor

Insta/Twitter: @phoebefoxauthor







Tuesday, October 5, 2021

THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS, by author BARBARA DAVIS

This book released on October 1st and is already a best-seller! Make sure to pick up a copy of this must-read! 

An enchanting novel about fate, second chances, and hope, lost and found, by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Last of the Moon Girls.

Soline Roussel is well schooled in the business of happy endings. For generations her family has kept an exclusive bridal salon in Paris, where magic is worked with needle and thread. It’s said that the bride who wears a Roussel gown is guaranteed a lifetime of joy. But devastating losses during World War II leave Soline’s world and heart in ruins and her faith in love shaken. She boxes up her memories, stowing them away, along with her broken dreams, determined to forget.

Decades later, while coping with her own tragic loss, aspiring gallery owner Rory Grant leases Soline’s old property and discovers a box containing letters and a vintage wedding dress, never worn. When Rory returns the mementos, an unlikely friendship develops, and eerie parallels in Rory’s and Soline’s lives begin to surface. It’s clear that they were destined to meet—and that Rory may hold the key to righting a forty-year wrong and opening the door to shared healing and, perhaps, a little magic.


Reviews ~

“Historically sound with a thread of supernatural intrigue, this exploration of shared experiences, learned adaptations, and the power of trust is a book that fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde, Erica Bauermeister, and Lucinda Riley will fall in love with.” Booklist

“Davis’s tale of love and loss, expertly woven around the lives of two women who have nothing—and yet everything—in common, inspires hope that our own happy endings might be biding their time, ready to show up when and where we least expect them. The Keeper of Happy Endings is a perfect blending of romance and mystery with a sprinkling of magic—heartwarming and satisfying. Don’t miss it!” —Kerry Anne King, bestselling author of Whisper Me This and Everything You Are

“Like a wedding dress lovingly crafted, The Keeper of Happy Endings is stitched through with secrets, romance, and mystery sure to enchant…and leave readers believing in the magic of second chances.” —Christine Nolfi, bestselling author of The Passing Storm

Q & A with Barbara ~

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

I’ve been writing all my life in some form or other, though I didn’t pursue writing as a career until about ten years ago, when I was laid off from my corporate job in the jewelry business. I’d been sitting on an idea for a novel for about four years, and when I found myself out of work my husband urged me not to get another job, to stay home and chase my dream of being a women’s fiction author. It was a scary decision, for a lot of reasons, but with his support, I wrote The Secrets She Carried and was blessed to find a wonderful agent who sold it to Penguin a few weeks later. It’s been like a dream, and as I work on my eight book, it still feels that way.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love to cook and to travel with my hubby, Tom. We’re both foodies and love trying new restaurants and local wineries. I’m also a HUGE college football fan, (Go Gators!) so in the fall my Saturdays are spent in front of the television, where I have sole control of the remote until the last game ends around midnight!

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)

I have a process I call “Bringing the Joy” that I run through every morning before I start to write. I decide what “My Three” are for the day: the three areas where my focus will yield the best results. Then I decide how I want to FEEL while engaging in “My Three.” (ie: focused, empowered, energized, on purpose) Next, I mentally run through what might derail me during the day, (ie: interruptions, stress, distraction) and come up with proactive strategies to cope with or avoid the derailments. Last, but not least, I come up with three things to feel excited about or grateful for, and let them fill me up as I begin to work. 

The whole process takes about ten minutes, and I find that focusing on how I want to FEEL and how I can stay “on purpose” makes an enormous difference in my level of clarity and joy throughout the day.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

Coffee. (dark roast w/hazelnut creamer)

Where do you get your ideas?

I wish I knew! As a rule, I don’t hunt for ideas. They just seem to find me, often nearly fully formed, and always when I’m not expecting them. It’s always a rush when an idea shows up like that. One minute it isn’t there, the next minute it is. I never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does I grab a pen and a notebook and just pour it all out onto as many pages as I can fill. 

The idea for my first novel was triggered by an oddly placed gravestone on the side of the road. Moon Girls came to me while I was driving and listening to a song called Water’s Edge. When Never Comes showed up while I was cleaning the toilet. Whoosh! I had the whole thing all at once. It still feels a little overwhelming when it happens, but I’m always grateful when it does.

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

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved books and wanted to write, but in middle school I absolutely fell in love with To Kill a Mockingbird and it turned up the creative flame. I wanted to be able to do what Harper Lee had done to me, to set a reader down in a stranger’s shoes and make them feel all those emotions way down in their own bones. And to do it with such beautiful, lyrical language. I still read To Kill a Mockingbird every few years—or any time I feel my prose is getting flat or stale. It always flips that switch for me.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on something kind of fun and different. It’s about a woman named Ashlyn who owns a rare bookstore and has the ability to hold a book in her hands and feel the echoes of it’s previous owner’s emotions while they were reading it. One day she stumbles onto a beautifully bound book dated 1940, but there’s no author name or copyright page. The book is entirely anonymous, but the minute Ashlyn touches it she registers an almost palpable sense of betrayal. 

The book reads like an angry letter from a jilted lover to the woman who broke his heart—a woman named Belle. Ashlyn tries to research the book’s history, but there’s no record of it ever being published. It’s as if the book doesn’t really existed. The plot thickens when a second book turns up, apparently written by Belle herself, as a rebuttal to the first. When read together, the books read like a bitter lover’s quarrel, portraying very different versions of the same events. Convinced the lovers actually existed forty years ago, Ashlyn embarks on a mission to discover their identities and learn once and for all which version of the doomed affair is true.

Do you have a favorite character?

My favorite characters, in my own books as well as those by other authors, are always those who have endured the most adversity, so I’d have to say Soline is my favorite. She has lost so much and buried so many dreams. Yet she comes through it all with such wisdom, grace, and empathy. Like most of us, she has scars, but she’s had to learn to live with them, and even move beyond them, and eventually uses her own understanding of grief to help others.

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

I loved learning about The American Hospital in Paris, which was located directly across the street from Nazi headquarters and remained open throughout the war because letting the American Hospital treat wounded Allied servicemen allowed the Nazis to conserve their own valuable resources. During the occupation, the hospital’s Chief Surgeon, Sumner Jackson, was actually instrumental in smuggling wounded servicemen to safety, and was eventually arrested for collaborating with the resistance. He died while in Nazi custody.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Here are my Big Five: 1) Read good books by good authors. Study them: how their scenes work, how their dialogue works, how they pace their action. 2) Read books on craft. Learn about novel structure, dialogue, scene pacing, character arc. You really do need to know all that stuff. 3) Write every day. Real writers don’t wait for inspiration. They show up to the page every day, and create their own inspiration. 4) Get feedback on your work. Not your mom or your BFF. Real feedback, as in a writing group or a critique partner. Then be willing to listen and act on what you hear. 5) Keep Writing. No matter what, just keep writing. It’s the only way to get good.  

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

The biggest downfall for me is that it’s such a sedentary job. You’re basically sitting on your butt eight hours a day, and the inertia that develops during all those sedentary hours can eventually lead to some unpleasant health issues if you don’t counter it with regularly scheduled movement. The upside is absolutely the people I’ve gotten to meet along the way. Book lovers make great friends because you never ever run out of things to talk about!

Favorite band or music? 

I grew up in performing arts and was the front girl for an 80’s cover band for several years, so I have pretty broad taste when it comes to music. I love anything I can belt out at the top of my lungs. (Adele, Benetar, Streisand) and adore old school R&B (Gap Band, Midnight Star, Earth Wind & Fire) But if I had to chose one band to listen to for the rest of my life I’d have to go with Depech Mode.  

Favorite book and/or movie?

Books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Outlander

Movies: Schindler’s List, Now Voyager, The Lion in Winter

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

Yes! I want them to know how much I value each and every one of them. Our lives are so crowded these days, with so many things vying for our attention every day, that I’m honored and grateful that they would chose to spend a slice of that busy life with one of my books. Thank you for reading, sharing, and reviewing. You’re why I do what I do, and why I love what I do every single day. 

To connect with Barbara:

www.barbaradavis-author.com

Barbara Davis, best-selling author of women’s fiction

The Keeper of Happy Endings
The Last of the Moon Girls
When Never Comes
Love, Alice
Summer at Hideaway Key
The Wishing Tide
The Secrets She Carried