Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Dear reader: If you are interested in receiving emails each time an author posts, fill in your email address on the right side of this blog where it says "follow by email". You'll be notified each time a new author posts!  Jill

A chance encounter with a celebrity, an impromptu video, and a shiny new espresso machine. It all added up to a juicy tale for 24-year-old Rachael Allen to share with friends. But when her best friend posts the video online, bizarre threats, home break-ins, and deadly gifts from an obsessed fan follow close behind.  Mick Sullivan, the star in her video, offers to help and in the process, Rachael discovers that despite his reputation as a player of Olympian caliber, he’s down-to-earth—and emotionally damaged. He has secrets; some he’s shared only with his pseudo best friend. Others he's shared with no one. But there's one secret he’s hidden from himself, washed away by too many beers.  Despite wildly divergent life paths, their shared southern upbringing (and a passion for good music) creates a common thread that draws them together. As the threats escalate, and their relationship deepens, Rachael struggles to accept Mick’s past—and his present. And she is forced to confront her own obsessive love to ultimately decide if being with Mick Sullivan is worth the collateral damage. 
YOU'LL BE THINKING OF ME is the story of Rachael's serendipitous encounter with a celebrity, her brush with obsessive love, and the bittersweet gift left behind by the very person fixated on destroying her life.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
I see authors all the time, who say they’ve always written stories, starting when they were kids. That wasn’t really me. I actually make my living writing, but it’s writing of a different sort—mostly scientific stuff about health and nutrition. The fiction bug didn’t bite until about 6 or 7 years ago. My debut novel, “You’ll Be Thinking of Me” came out about a year and a half ago and I’m working on two others. I hope to have complete draft of one by the summer and then I’ll pick up where I left off with the second one. Now I can’t see me not writing stories.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Movies and music. I always have music running in the background. Popular and alternative when I’m walking or writing stories, classical when I’m working on my day job, which requires an excess of concentration. I love movies, good and bad, studying all the different approaches to storytelling. I’ll watch almost anything except slasher movies. And, of course, I read. You can’t be a writer, if you’re not a reader.

Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. Reading stuff on the internet, newspaper articles, YouTube videos, overheard conversations, talking to strangers. I’ve gotten some really good stuff from my kids, both of whom are in their twenties now—the age many of my characters tend to be. And, my own life, of course. Just listen and take notes. Always take notes. There’s a line I’ve seen countless time “The biggest lie I tell myself is that I’ll remember that.” I nod vigorously each time I read it.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
There are several writers that I love to read, but I’m not sure they inspired me to write. I never really thought I could do it. My need to write sort of bubbled up of it’s own accord and, of course, with huge encouragement from a long-time friend. Wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for all my awesome women friends.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Does any author not have challenges getting published? I spent about 5 years give or take, writing, editing, taking pages to critique group, revising. I began querying and didn’t get much interest. That’s when I submitted it to a developmental editor, and there was more editing, moving things around, deleting scenes. And I wrote maybe 100 different versions of the query letter (I’m not exaggerating) until I finally felt like it was where it should be, Then, I began querying. I got several requests for partials and fulls, some positive feedback and one near miss. I decided to submit to small publishers that accept manuscripts directly. It didn’t take long. And as soon as I signed a contract with my current publisher, I received an email from another publisher, expressing interest. The book came out as an ebook first and a paperback about 9 months later. The audiobook rights are mine, so I worked with acx.com to get the audiobook produced. The whole process was faster than going through an agent and one of the big five publishers, but slower than self-publishing.

If you had to do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
It was all a part of the learning curve. I actually like the story in my novel very much. Unless I could somehow begin where I am now in terms of knowing about writing, storytelling and the querying process, I can’t really think of anything I would do differently.

How do you market your work?
I’ve done a bit of everything, except live events. Facebook ads, Twitter, guest blog posts, magazine ads, contests, giveaways, posting on other Facebook groups, online book launch party. I’m thinking of diving into Instagram next.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a paranormal romance, which is anchored in reality, as much as these things can be. No underworld lords, werewolves or demons. And I’m about 30,000 words into a women’s fiction WIP—a family drama, which I’m really excited about.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
“You’ll Be Thinking of Me” is about a chance encounter with a celebrity and a celebrity stalker that turns lives upside down. I’ve never met a celebrity, much less had a relationship with one. Never even been on a movie set. Never had an alcoholic in my family. I did, however, live in Brooklyn for years (where my main character lives) and I was born in Louisiana (where my characters are from). There are things that characters say that come from my life, but there’s not a thread of truth in the story itself. After reading the book, a friend of mine asked, “Are you leading some sort of secret life I don’t know about?” I took that as a compliment.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
That’s a tough one, but I think it’s the introduction of the celebrity’s mother. Her character is an amalgam of people I knew growing up in Louisiana. I’ve had readers tell me how much they liked her character. I have a soft spot for her.

 Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s been said so many times, but never give up. Writing a first draft is actually a small part of the whole process. You have to really, really, really want to do this. It can be frustrating, soul destroying, tedious. You can only get to the good parts if you’re willing to deal with the hard parts. I’ve seen too many people give up when they realize how much dedication, perseverance and hard work it really takes.

 What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
For me, it’s time. I work full time and it’s hard to find the time to write, when my brain isn’t drained from my day job. I’d have to say the best part is the absolutely amazing group of writers, who offer advice, council, sympathy, congratulations. I can’t think of any other profession where it truly feels like “we’re all in this together.”

 Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
This is not just for me, but for any author whose work you enjoy—write a review, recommend it to a friend, ask the library to order it, suggest it for your book club. It’s the only way to spread the word and give the author the opportunity to keep writing the next story.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Dear reader: If you are interested in receiving emails each time an author posts, fill in your email address on the right side of this blog where it says "follow by email". You'll be notified each time a new author posts!  Jill

When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take the reader on a journey to the past.

It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, landing a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.

What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

What readers are saying . . .

“Susan Meissner deftly casts a fascinating friendship between two complex women against a glittering 1930s Hollywood backdrop. You will love this book for its very human characters and for its inside look at one of the greatest movies ever made.”
   Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Belong To Me

"A lovely, well-crafted story that peeks at a fascinating moment in cinematic history and examines the power and vulnerability of sincere friendship."
   Kirkus Reviews

Q & A with Susan~

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

I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember; I was already writing little poems and stories – and they were rather uninspiring! – when I was seven. I had a wonderful high school teacher who told me I had the gift for writing. but I decided to keep it as a hobby after graduating because I didn’t want it to become a drudgery; I didn’t know then that if your day job is something that you also enjoy on your off-hours, you get to spend a lot of time doing what you love. I finally figured that out in my 30s and started working at a newspaper as a reporter and later a managing editor. I wrote my first novel in 2003 and realized it was the kind of writing I liked best. I’ve been at it ever since.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love long walks, cooking, and enjoying fine wine, real cheese, and dark chocolate. I like to travel to faraway places, and to sit by the fire and read, and I love it when I have all my family gathered around the dinner table.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I gave up my part-time job as a small groups director for a church three years ago to write novels full time. So very glad I could make that adjustment in my life.

Where do you get your ideas?

I have an idea file on my computer for historical nuggets I come across online and a drawer in my desk for the ones I find in newspapers or magazines. Sometimes the idea suggests itself to me out of my own life experience. For my current novel, STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, it was my love for the movie Gone With the Wind that gave me the itch to write a story with the making of the movie as the backdrop.

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

When I was a teenager I read and loved Colleen McCullough’s THE THORN BIRDS, and I distinctly remember thinking I wanted very much to someday write a novel like that. It took me 25 years to finally give it a try. I think what finally prodded me to stop thinking about it and just do it was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s THE POISONWOOD BIBLE. Again, I was struck with the notion that I wanted to write a book as compelling as that one. So both of those books feel like they played a role in my decision to write novels.

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

Getting published when you’re new to the industry and don’t know anyone and no one knows you can be daunting. God was nice to me in the beginning, I think. An editorial assistant happened to scroll past my book proposal on an online site for that purpose, told the editor she worked for that she thought he might like it and next thing you know I was offered a contract. I’d already sent numerous query letters by then and worked through the aching disappointment of rejection from both agents and editors, but in hindsight, it only took ten months to get a publisher once that first book was done. That’s not so very long. See? God was nice to 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?

While you could do things differently if you had the chance for a do-over, I think you’d end up meeting different people. It’s the people I’ve met on this journey and now have great affection for that I am most grateful. What you learned on the first go, you wouldn’t on your second (because you already know it) so you’d end up in a different place altogether and with different people in your circle of closest friends. I don’t want to mess with that. So, no. I would change nothing.

How do you market your work?

I am a writer first and while I participate in marketing because I must, I like to point out when I can that publishing houses have editorial departments and marketing departments and they are completely different, and are made up of different kinds of people. I am more like the editor in a publishing house than the marketing person. For marketing, I do what is most closely related to my forte, which is writing. I do blog tours, participate in blog appearances with Q & As (just like this one), I am active on a handful of social media platforms, I keep an active blog, I send out an e-newsletter that I write, and I try to treat my reading community with love and respect so that they like me and will tell their reading friends about me so that I can gain new readers via word-of-mouth. I also try very, very hard to write a dang good book so that it will market itself.

What are you working on now?

The book I am working on at the moment is titled A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN. One of its key settings is the HMS Queen Mary during one of its many GI war brides crossings. The Queen is such a perfect place to set a story because she has such a marvelous past. She started out as a luxury liner, was made a troop carrier during the war, and has been a floating hotel here in California since 1967. She is also fabled to be haunted by numerous ghosts, a detail I simply cannot ignore. So there is a ghost or two in this next book! This story thematically, though, is about three female characters, two of whom are war brides – one French and one German – who meet on the Queen Mary in 1946. The current-day character, Brette, has the family gift of being able to see ghosts and she really wishes she couldn’t. She also doesn’t want to pass along that hereditary gift to a child, but her husband is anxious to start their family. All three characters will face a bridge they need to cross where the other side is hidden from their view. The concept of a bridge across the ocean speaks to how difficult it is to go from one place to another when you can’t see what awaits you on the other side.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

If we’re talking about the book I am working on, I’m actually happy to say, that no, I don’t see ghosts (!) and no, I haven’t experienced the hell of war. I’ve been to the Queen Mary, stayed in a stateroom and have walked the decks – even taken the ghost tour – but everything else about this story came about from reading historical accounts of WW2 in Europe and from my very vivid imagination.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Omigoodness, yes! But I can’t tell you what it is or it would spoil everything. Seriously.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

First, be assured that if you write, you’re a writer. Getting published doesn’t make you a writer, it makes you published. You became a serious writer the moment you got serious about writing. Second, don’t let envy spoil the joy of being a writer. In the end you need to write for the joy of it, because there are too many aspects of the publishing side of writing that you simply can’t control. If you struggle with writing, just know that every skill, unless it’s an innate ability, takes work and refinement over time. Keep at it. The more you exercise a muscle, the stronger it gets.

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

The downfalls of a writing career, I think, is that there is never enough time or money to read and travel to expose yourself to all that could help you tell a story that much better. The best part is the thrill of creating something out of nothing. I begin a new book with a blank Word doc. Just one page. And it’s blank. When the book is done, there are 100,000 words and 400 pages. That’s the best!

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

I am so very thankful to have such wonderful readers and fans who write to tell me I’ve given them stories that have resonated so deeply they can’t forget them. You are the reason I write, dear reader. Thanks for showing up. For reading the pages. For letting me know I had you in tears and in stitches. I’m forever grateful. 

About the Author

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named by Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She is also a RITA finalist, and Christy Award winner.

A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she's not working on a novel, she writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. She is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Website:        susanmeissner.com
Facebook:      www.facebook.com/susan.meissner
Twitter:          @SusanMeissner
Instagram:     soozmeissner

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Dear reader: If you are interested in receiving emails each time an author posts, fill in your email address on the right side of this blog where it says "follow by email". You'll be notified each time a new author posts!  Jill

Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.

Gripping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman’s emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

Some Q & A with Emily~

(I'm in the middle of reading this book and love it! Jill)

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

I originally wanted to break into the movie business as a screenplay writer. I was working for two CBS soap operas at the time, and I didn’t realize it but I was really absorbing some key elements of storytelling and suspense. The whole screenwriter gig never really took off, and it suddenly occurred to me, I might have better luck telling these same stories in the form of novels. So I wrote this romantic comedy about a woman who uses tango to test the men in her life, to determine which one would make a good boyfriend.

2.    What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love hanging out with my kids – I have three teenage boys – I love talking to them and eating with them and binge watching whatever show they’re into. I love working out; I have a great boot camp class I go to that just kills me, in a good way. I used to dance Argentine tango, but I haven’t in years, but I miss it. I’d love to get back to it. I love seeing movies with my husband. When I met him, he rarely went to see a film. Now, he’s like Siskel and Ebert rolled into one. Very into movies. Very opinionated about them. Wants to deconstruct them afterwards.

3.    Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I don’t, not in the sense of an office I go to. But I am a full-time mom and housekeeper and laundress and cook.

4.    Where do you get your ideas?

Years ago I took this test – it’s called the Johnson O’Connor, and it assesses aptitudes, which are, basically, abilities you’re born with. I tested off the charts in the area of “Ideaphoria,” which essentially means my brain is bombarded with new ideas on a constant basis! So, for me, new ideas are not a problem. Crafting them into coherent and compelling stories can be a bit more of a challenge. I do draw a lot of inspiration from news stories and things in the cultural zeitgeist. Sometimes even just a really evocative setting – a house or piece of land – will trigger something in me and I’m off!

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

Back when I was banging away at screenplays - entering them into contests and getting just enough strokes to know I was a competent writer, just enough encouragement not to give up writing altogether – I heard about a grade school friend of mine, Amy Plum, who had written a YA trilogy called “Die For Me” (The Revenant Series). I read the first book and was floored by her amazing talent and the characters and world she built. I thought, this is freaking fantastic…and maybe I could do this, too. Maybe this would be a way to tell stories that didn’t involve having to break down Hollywood’s door, which seemed like an impossible task. She was a great inspiration to me. And, by the way, go buy her books. She has another YA series and an adult horror novel on the way. Such a talented writer.

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

Every step was a challenge. Writing that first book, the tango book. Querying agents. I didn’t actually get an agent with the first two books I wrote; the third was the charm. After that, there was a lot of revision and rewriting and really trying to shape the book into something my agent could pitch to editors. Finding the right publishing house for the book was a whole other process. It was basically a six or seven year journey from start to finish.

7.    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?

The book started off with three flashback sections dropped in to the present-day action. It was basically me trying to write this epic saga, which, in the end, turned out to be at odds with what the book actually was - a suspense / thriller. It took way too long for me to figure out that I needed to excise two of those long flashbacks and turn the novel into a dual narrative that stuck to the essential, most interesting stories. If I could go back, I’d realize that sooner and not mess with those long, involved and in the end, unusable chapters!

8.    How do you market your work?

I do basic social media stuff and try to be available when readers want to connect. I love to be myself on social media – just share random tidbits about my life that I think are funny; I’m not a huge fan of the hard sell. Except the week my book released. That week I was on Facebook and Twitter so much I had a gross social media hangover. I love book clubs. I’m just starting to do those. And I’m scheduled to speak at a couple of conferences this summer. I’m looking forward to that. Marketing is a whole world that sort of baffles me a bit, and I’m trying to learn more about it. On the other hand, I also realize a good portion of what we writers think we control is really out of our hands. It’s my job to come up with a kickass idea and write a compelling, fun book. After that, it’s up to the reader to spread the word.

9.    What are you working on now?

Another suspense / thriller set on one of Georgia’s sea islands. This one has a really fun, fraught relationship between a mother and daughter, and it’s been interesting to explore my main character’s yearning for a close mother relationship and how it blinds her some important things she should recognize.

10. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Nothing is based on my personal experiences. There are a few historical events that form the backdrop of my story, but if I say more, it would get spoiler-y.

11. Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love Jinn’s chapters, my character in 1937 Alabama, especially her introduction. I love when she meets the savvy business women from Chattanooga and they tell her she’s beautiful like Myrna Loy, the movie star, and buy her homemade honeysuckle wine. You can see right then that she is starting to feel her power. That her “head is being turned.” You can tell there is going to be a problem ahead for her.

12. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write as much as you can and try to finish projects, even when you think they might not be all that great. Editing is a magical thing; it can transform a so-so work into something spectacular. Also, read tons of books, especially current ones. I mean, I adore Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson and a slew of other classic writers, but the truth is, today’s market is really unforgiving in terms of how long you have a reader’s attention before you jump into the action. I believe it’s really beneficial to see what’s working in the market now. You don’t have to necessarily write to the market or pander, just know what’s what.

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

Sometimes it can be hard dreaming of stories and characters all day and then have to transition back to paying bills or making your kids’ dentist appointments. But there is no better job than writing. None.

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

Thank you for reading! Connect with me on Facebook at Emily Carpenter Author or Twitter @EmilyDCarpenter. I love to connect, see who’s reading and what you guys think.