Tuesday, June 28, 2016


UNTETHERED tells the story of Char Hawthorn, the stepmother to a fifteen-year-old, Allie. Before the book begins, Char’s husband dies, leaving open the question of who Allie should live with--Char, the devoted stepmom who has raised Allie full-time for the past five years but has no legal rights to her, or Allie's self-involved bio mom, who lives across the country and has never been interested in parenting, yet who now has sole legal rights to the teenager. While this situation plays out, Char and Allie get swept up in the life of a ten-year-old girl, Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care and then subsequently “rehomed” by her adoptive parents.

"Timmer handles the sensitive, emotionally charged nature of her plot with reverence and openness, avoiding harsh judgments. Untethered is a beautiful mosaic of love’s many fragments, no matter how shattered." Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] thoughtfully written and ultimately uplifting celebration of families that are not bound by blood or by law but by love." Kirkus Reviews

"Harper Lee famously wrote that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. In Untethered, Julie Lawson Timmer makes mincemeat of this old chestnut, proving that a modern family can indeed consist of people who find their own way to each other, however circuitously. The pulse of the story is in the journey, and the triumph is in the unexpectedness of the destination. If you’re inclined to gently strong-arm your book club, Timmer’s is a poignant page-turner worth going to the mat for." Elizabeth Egan, author of A Window.

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

I am a just-turned-50 mom/stepmom to 4 teens. I live with my husband, Dan, and two of those teens (two are in college) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I grew up in Stratford, Ontario, but have now been living in the states for longer than I lived in Canada.
I made some lazy efforts to write at various stages of my life, but the year I was turning 45, I decided I needed to buckle down and really make it happen. A few months before my birthday, I decided I would not turn 45 without a completed draft of a novel. Having that deadline in mind was a huge help. Also at that time, I lost a friend to cancer, and her death inspired me to write my debut novel, FIVE DAYS LEFT (I dedicated the book to her). Having my friend as a guiding light was incredibly motivating. Any time I considered giving up, I thought about her, and pictured the dedication page which I knew from the start would have her name on it, and that was enough for me to sit back at the computer and keep writing.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading and spending time with Dan and the kids. I’m interested in personal fitness, and spend time taking classes (spinning, barre, Pilates, yoga, etc) at a terrific gym in town. I’m a recovering CrossFitter and often do “TimmerFit” with Dan, who has rigged our basement up into his own personal CrossFit gym. I also love spending time at my favorite place on earth, our cottage north of Ann Arbor. We have no Internet or TV up there so we completely unplug--relaxing, reading, sleeping in. It makes me smile just to type that! 

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Yes. I’m a lawyer, and I work as in-house legal counsel for an automotive company. In 2015, I went part-time at work, and this has made a huge difference in my life! I used to write from 4am-6am every morning, and now, thanks to the additional days at home, I can sleep until a much more sane hour.

Where do you get your ideas?

Some materialize in my head based on a fleeting notion about a character--I tend to start with characters and build stories around them. But some ideas have come from friends, and one in particular (also a writer) who has a wonderful habit of sending me articles she thinks I should base stories around. My newest book, UNTETHERED, came from one such article.

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

Margaret Atwood. When I was just out of law school, I read CAT’S EYE, about a regular girl growing up in Southwest Ontario. Until then, I hadn’t thought that I, a regular girl who grew up in Southwest Ontario, had anything to write about. Reading that novel made me see that it’s not so much in the story--explosions! Disaster! Mystery!--but in the telling, and the characters, and finding a common human emotion or experience that readers can identify with.

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

Oy! I queried easily 100 literary agents before I landed my agent. I was shopping around FIVE DAYS LEFT, my debut novel. That took about 2 years, during which I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote the book so thoroughly that its final form bears almost no resemblance to the first draft. My journey from agent to publication was short--21 days!--so no complaints from me there. It was the querying that was exhausting. I became an expert in receiving rejection.

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

I would be sure to celebrate every single step more, and to worry less about the steps to come. This is the advice I give to people who have a first book coming out: cherish the exciting moments and try not to let yourself be consumed with the stress of impending deadlines, publicity requirements, etc. This is a lifelong dream for most of us, yet we can manage to turn it into drudgery if we fail to remind ourselves to stop, breathe, smile, celebrate.

How do you market your work?

Ha - not very well! I’m the worst when it comes to selling my book. Usually, in response to the question, “What’s your book about?” I’ll answer by talking about someone else’s book, and hand selling that. I’m much more comfortable promoting other authors than I am in promoting myself. For this reason, I rely on the publisher’s marketing and publicity, and with UNTETHERED, I’ve also used an outside publicist. 

What are you working on now?

I’m doing publicity for my second book, UNTETHERED, which came out in June, and I’m about to start edits on my third book, MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES, which comes out summer 2017.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Yes. UNTETHERED is told from the point of view of a stepmom, and I’m a stepmom. It also tells about the practice of “rehoming,” which is, sadly, a real-life phenomenon involving adoptive parents giving away their adopted children through ads they place on the Internet.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Good question. I always tend to like endings, as they wrap everything up, and I feel UNTETHERED ends in a satisfying way.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Be careful about taking writing advice from other people, including me! We all have to find what works for us. I hear about a lot of writing “rules” and I fear some aspiring writers take those to heart. I’m a believer in making up your own rules based on trial and error. I don’t write every day, for example, and that is often the #1 rule in any list. It doesn’t work for me, so I don’t do it. 

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

A downside I’m really feeling this summer is the sense that I never have a day, or even an hour, off. “I should be writing” is a phrase that haunts me every time I sit down to watch a movie or read a book or do anything that’s not writing. That’s a problem when, as I’ve said above, writing daily doesn’t really work for me. But it also doesn’t work for me to feel guilty on days I take off. I’m trying to figure out a way to assign myself days off and take them without guilt.

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

I am so grateful for readers, fans, book bloggers, booksellers, librarians and (to the extent not covered by those categories) family and friends. Support from these groups is not something I ever take for granted. Every email or phone call or post on social media from someone who enjoyed what I wrote is an absolute gift.

Julie's Social Media:

Twitter: @JulieLTimmer
Instagram: JulieLawsonTimmer (https://www.instagram.com/julielawsontimmer/)

Thursday, June 23, 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

Proclaimed to be Desperate Housewives meets Beverly Hills 90210, The Goodbye Year is the must read novel of the spring by USA Today bestselling author Kaira Rouda. 

Melanie is a perfectionist mother who is in disbelief that she only has one year left to live vicariously through her son, Dane. She sees his high school graduation and the end of her parenting as a type of death. 

Sarah is just realizing that her graduating daughter, Ashley, has been serving as a stand-in for her traveling husband. The thought of her only daughter leaving is slowly chipping away at Sarah’s perfect façade. Will and his wife are fine, so long as he follows her directions and keeps his affair with Lauren, who also has a graduating daughter, a secret. 

Told from the parent and kid’s perspectives, The Goodbye Year delves into hot topic issues, such as peer pressure and empty nesting. It is a breathtaking depiction of the all too real struggle that parents and children face when transitioning into life post-high school.

Some Q & A with Kaira~

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

I knew from elementary school on that I would be a writer. It's what I dreamed of becoming as early as I could envision a profession. It still makes me smile to think about it. Later, in middle school and high school, I lost confidence in my writing and didn't write for publication until after college. I was an English major without a byline. That changed once I graduated and started working in the real world first for newspapers and then magazines, and then advertising agencies. But I wanted to write novels. So I did. On the sly, at night after the kids (4 in five years) arrived, and somehow kept the dream alive. Ironically, my first book published was in 2009, a business book for women entrepreneurs titled REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. I had never dreamed of writing a nonfiction book, but when I was asked, it made sense. It became a great summary of all I had learned in my working life up to that point. It's still popular and I'm proud of that as it was one of the first business books for women without a pink cover. (I'm not kidding.)
My first novel, Here, Home, Hope was published in 2011 and marked the beginning of the next chapter in my life. We moved from Ohio to California, my husband and I sold the business we created, and it was time to take the chance. 

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

I am so blessed to live in Laguna Beach, California, the inspirational setting for my contemporary romance series of the same name! Here, almost everyday is perfect. So I try to be outside as much as possible, walking, hiking, just enjoying the sunshine. I’m a fan of yoga, and of spending as much time as possible with friends and family.

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

No. This is my full-time job. After a long career in marketing, journalism and entrepreneurism, I’m enjoying my second act.

4.    Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are everywhere. When something touches my heart, good or bad, it usually appears somehow in a story.

5.    What are you working on now?

Since I write both contemporary women’s fiction and romance, I most always have a WIP. On the women’s fiction side, I’m about to begin a re-write of a book I’m really excited about, and in the world of romance, I’m so excited that Amazon has offered me a Kindle World. Kaira Rouda’s Laguna Beach launches on July 7th with an amazing group of talented authors writing stories in the Laguna Beach world. It’s exciting! If you aren’t familiar with Kindle Worlds, here’s a link: https://kindleworlds.amazon.com

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

I wrote THE GOODBYE YEAR during my son’s senior year in high school. He is my youngest, so his goodbye year had the added stress of my approaching empty nest. Yes, there are some real life experiences in the novel, twisted and fictionalized, of course. Here’s a piece I wrote for Woman’s Day about it! http://www.womansday.com/relationships/family-friends/a54482/empty-nesters/

7.    Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I have a favorite character in The Goodbye Year. His name is Dane.

8.    Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

 1. Write what you know, in your heart.
 2. Don’t write for money, fame or other people. Write because it is  what you must do.
3. Read, read, read. And then, read some more.

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

There aren’t any downfalls in my opinion. I’m enjoying the career of my dreams. The best part is the people – especially the other authors I’ve met either online or in person. They are, without question, the most supportive amazing group of women I’ve had the opportunity to meet and spend time with. The other best part is when I see somebody smiling as they read one of my books. Or when I read a positive review. That is the best feeling.

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

THANK YOU. For reading my words, for supporting me and my stories. Without readers, it would be a really lonely profession. I learn so much more about my characters when I have the chance to interact with readers. Basically, thank you so much.

Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women's fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart.
Her women's fiction titles include THE GOODBYE YEAR, HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER'S DAY. Her sexy contemporary romance series include the LAGUNA BEACH Series, the INDIGO ISLAND Series and a new MALIBU Series launching in 2016.
Nonfiction titles, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and REAL YOU FOR AUTHORS: 8 Essentials for Women Writers (available for free download on her website) continue to inspire. 

Kaira's work has won numerous awards including the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader's Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer's Digest International Book Awards. She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. 
Connect with her on Twitter @KairaRouda, 
Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books 
and on her website, http://www.KairaRouda.com.

Kaira Rouda
USA TODAY Bestselling Author
Stories that sparkle with humor and heart 

Tuesday, June 14, 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

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start.  But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.
But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.
As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.


'...McNeill kept dangling me above the motivation until she finally explained it to me. I highly recommend this book to everyone.' (Fiction 411)

'Overall, it’s an original twist on the wrongly accused victim trying to exonerate herself, and will keep readers interested throughout.” (RT Book Reviews)
Some Q & A with Laura:

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

I was very fortunate to have a lovely, idyllic childhood. Growing up, my parents kept the TV off all summer, every summer. While I wasn’t thrilled at eight years old, at about age 28, I discovered it was the best gift they could have given me. I trekked to the library and back by myself almost every day of the summer and it grew my love of reading exponentially. As I grew older, I still turned to books and always dreamed of writing a novel. I decided to give it a go in 2011 and indie published under the pen name “Lauren Clark” (Amazon). It was through those books that I landed the two-book deal with Harper Collins.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love traveling and have friends all over the world. I am looking forward to visiting more of Europe and I would love to fly to Greece one day for an extended vacation! I also like to exercise, spend time outdoors, swim, boat, and ski.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I do have a day job. I am an instructional design manager for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I help faculty put Face-to-Face courses online. It combines a little bit of writing, with structure, organization, creativity, insight, and some technology skills. On Friday, for example, I helped edit a 10 minute video introduction to a course on Health Care Quality Management. I created a fun slide show to go with it, and the instructor was really pleased with the result. Those sort of days are really satisfying for me.

Where do you get your ideas?

My book ideas usually start with a “What if” question. For example, Center of Gravity began by me asking myself, “What if a young woman married a man who wasn’t at all who he said he was. What if they had a child together, and what if the man had a dark and violent past?”  Sister Dear began quite the same way, with me asking “What if a woman went to prison for a crime she didn’t commit, and left a young daughter behind? What would her life look like and how would she cope reconnecting with her family in a small Southern town?”

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

I definitely am a fan of Jodi Picoult’s and I do enjoy JoJo Moyes very much. I think the book that is most inspiring, to me, as a writer, is Stephen King’s “On Writing.” It’s definitely a toolbox for writers.

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

I sent out a LOT of letters to agents when I first began writing under “Lauren Clark” … In fact, I still have about 40 of those rejection letters! I finally decided, on the advice of a friend, to give self publishing a go in 2011. It was a great decision (and a lot of hard work), as it all led to the contract with Harper Collins!

How do you market your work?

I travel to indie bookstores, visit book clubs, am active on social media, and speak at conferences, which is all so much fun!

What are you working on now?

The World Breaks Everyone. It’s the story of sixteen-year old Olivia Jacobs, on the run in New Orleans after she and her celebrity chef father are brutally attacked at his French Quarter restaurant opening.
From the Garden District to Baton Rouge, the dark secrets Olivia uncovers along her journey challenge everything she believes about her life, her future, and, most unsettling of all, the tragic death of her mother several years earlier.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

My best advice is don’t give up. New authors need to finish their first manuscripts, even if they think it is the most awful piece of garbage in the world. Typing “The End” gives a writer an amazing sense of accomplishment, and it teaches tenacity and perseverance. Writing can be discouraging, and it requires discipline to keep at a project for 80,000 words or more. My first awful manuscript is finished, stored on a flash drive, and will never see the light of day. The story isn’t pretty, but it’s done, and that’s a huge part of the growing process as a writer.

As many authors say, success in this business is a marathon and not a sprint. Center of Gravity was a labor of love and went through years of changes and revision. My first Center of Gravity manuscript looks nothing like the first, and that’s a good thing. I learned so much in the process.

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

There’s a bit of wisdom someone once shared with me, and it makes a lot of sense: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

I’ve learned that there will always be “Hey, Mom” moments. Even if you don’t have kids to worry about, a neighbor might be outside trimming the hedges or leaf blowing when you need to edit, there may be a crisis at work, or your home’s A/C unit may decide to quit in the middle of writing the final chapter of your manuscript. All in all, it’s better to write with a bit of chaos than not at all.

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

I’m so grateful to the amazing bloggers and wonderful reviewers and all of the friends and family who’ve supported Center of Gravity and Sister Dear from the very beginning. I’ve been touched by all of the positive feedback about the novel from Beta readers and have been blown away by my fellow authors’ support on social media. If you’ve Tweeted, shared, or told a friend about my books, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

About the Author:

Laura McNeil is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a PhD program in instructional technology at the University of Alabama. When she s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Birmingham, AL with her family.
To connect with Laura ~

Tuesday, June 7, 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

Sophia Douglas can’t shake the fear that she’s in over her head. A spontaneous elopement and a layoff from her high-paying job are stressful enough, but a plus sign on her pregnancy test sends her into a panic. Fearing her husband, Terrence, might leave like her father did, Sophia confides her insecurities to Tara, her friend and mom of three. 

Though Tara Fisher encourages Sophia to trust Terrence, she’s hiding her own secret: a handsome attorney is pursuing her, and she’s questioning her commitment to Josh, her husband of ten years. After a devastating career-ending accident, Josh has changed and so have Tara’s feelings for him. 

When a crisis arises that threatens to destroy Sophia and Terrence’s young marriage, Sophia must either overcome her fear of abandonment or lose everything she never knew she wanted. Meanwhile, as Tara is torn between responsibility and passion, her imperfectly put together life starts to unravel, and ghosts from her past resurface to haunt her. 

As these two couples grapple with secrets, temptation, and illness, only time will tell if their vows are strong enough to hold them together.

Some Q & A with Alessandra ~

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.  I graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Comparative Religious Studies.  I spent most of my time reading sacred religious texts and non-fiction, but I had always wanted to write a book. After volunteering for an online magazine from 2007-2010, I took an introduction to fiction writing class and fell in love with the creativity and endless possibilities that writing fiction provides.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?  I’m a mother of four, so I enjoy spending time with my husband and kids. They keep me pretty busy with their school and extracurricular activities.

Where do you get your ideas?  I usually start thinking about a character in a scenario that fascinates me.  I think “what if…” and then my mind continues to expand the situation until it’s time to write.  Once I sit down to write, I have a very sparse outline, if one at all, and more ideas come as I go.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?  My late maternal grandfather, Dennis Brutus, was a poet, activist, and professor born in Rhodesia and grew up in South Africa.  He was a tremendous influence in my life, and I believe that since he had written books, it made me know that I could write one too as well.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?  I queried agents for a year and half in all manners possible – email queries, pitch sessions at conferences, online contests - before deciding to shelve Blaming the Wind.  I wrote another manuscript and began to query that instead.  But then I decided to give it one last shot and researched small presses.  Red Adept Publishing was the first small press I submitted to, and three months later Blaming the Wind was accepted.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?  I would have hired a professional editor before querying, and I would have started querying much later, when my novel was 110% ready.

How do you market your work?  My novel’s only been out for a few weeks, but there will be a blog tour and it is listed on Netgalley.  I’m also giving away a novella, Valley of Deceit, for people that sign up for my mailing list on my website, in the hopes that they will enjoy my writing and go on to buy my novel.

What are you working on now?  My second novel is under contract with Red Adept Publishing, so I am working on some notes the publisher gave me before the novel begins content edits.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  It’s cliché, but I would definitely say never give up.  Rejection is tough, but if you believe in your story, it’s worth it to persevere.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?  The downfall is that I always have a story in my mind, nagging me for attention.  But the best part is when I actually sit down and spend time writing.  A new best part is reading good reviews.  There’s nothing like having people read your work and say they enjoyed it.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?  I’d like to that everyone who takes the time to buy and purchase Blaming the Wind.  Small presses need support, and word of mouth really helps to get novels to sell.  I’d also like to thank you, Jill, for having me on Sharing Your Book and helping to get the word out.

Thank YOU, Alessandra, for taking the time to share some of your writing life with us!

To connect with Alessandra:
twitter is @AlessandraH17