Thursday, September 21, 2017


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

Reviews ~

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

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

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

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

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

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

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

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?


Where do you get your ideas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would try to not let fear control my decisions.

How do you market your work?

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

What are you working on now?

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

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

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

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

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

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading! 

To connect with Marybeth ~  my website, on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram or Goodreads
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Wednesday, September 6, 2017


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

Some Q & A with Julie ~ 

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

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

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

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

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

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

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

Where do you get your ideas?

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

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

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

How do you market your work?

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

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

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

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

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

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

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To connect with Julie: