Tuesday, January 26, 2021


A startling and timely debut, Julie Carrick Dalton's Waiting for the Night Song is a moving, brilliant novel about friendships forged in childhood magic and ruptured by the high price of secrets that leave you forever changed.

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface?

An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. There, Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie’s memory then all her other years combined.

Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farm workers and locals. 

Waiting for the Night Song is a love song to the natural beauty around us, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise. 

Amazon.com Editors' pick: 
This debut novel, which tackles issues as broad as climate change and racism, will rightly be compared to Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. Waiting for the Night Song has the lyricism of a poem and the pacing of a thriller. Dalton is a writer to watch."—Sarah Gelman, Amazon Editor


"Julie Carrick Dalton's deftly constructed, urgent yet slow-burning debut novel reads like a warning from the frontlines of our rapidly deteriorating natural world." --Omar El Akkad, American War

"Both a timely and timeless literary mystery, Waiting for the Night Song is as seductive as it is smart, blending the allure of Julie Dalton's beloved rural New Hampshire setting with the dark undercurrents of a community's racial divisions and betrayals. This is a story of love, of home, of friendship and family, of a childhood's innocence and an adult's comeuppance, all of which are in the line of fire in this beauty of a page turner." --Michelle Hoover, award-winning author of Bottomland and The Quickening.

"Human nature clashes with Mother Nature in this riveting and heartbreaking coming of age story - - gorgeously written, and wonderfully told . With its combination of powerful themes and intensely immersive setting, fans of Delia Owens will swoon to find their new favorite author. A phenomenal debut!" --Hank Phillippi Ryan, award-winning author of The First to Lie

Q & A with Julie ~ 

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

I’ve always written stories and poetry as a hobby. I used to write puppet show scripts and fan fiction scripts of Wonder Woman and Mork and Mindy TV shows as a kid. But I also really loved science and chose Biochemistry as my major when I went to college. Sophomore year, I stumbled into a journalism class and changed course. I continued dabbling in fiction on the side while working as a newspaper and magazine journalist for more than a decade. 

I earned a Master’s in Creative Writing in 2005 and that’s when I started taking fiction seriously. I got involved with several writers’ groups and committed to writing a novel. Once I made that mental commitment, I never considered giving up. I think I’ve always been an author. I just didn’t realize it until later in life. Now, I run a small farm and I just finished a certificate program in sustainable agriculture. My love of science and writing finally found a way to coexist and the result is Waiting for the Night Song.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love to grow things! I own a small farm in rural New Hampshire, which happens to be the setting for Waiting for the Night Song. I grow apples, peaches, berries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and tons of other veggies. I love watching the plants grow. Every single year it seems like a miracle.

Where do you get your ideas?

Most of my ideas grow out of small things I notice in nature. I like to look at the tiny elements most people might not notice and imagine all the ways they could have big, unexpected impacts.

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

I’m a huge Barbara Kingsolver fan. I love her novels, especially Flight Behavior and The Poisonwood Bible. Her memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle also had a huge impact on me. It tells the story of her family living on their farm and growing their own food for a year. I read it right before I built my own farm. I found inspiration in her personal story as well as in her fiction.

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

I built my farm and raised four kids during the same years I was writing Waiting for the Night Song. All of those major life events are tangled up in my memory. There are parts of the book that were inspired by my children when they were younger, and parts of the story that grew out of phenomenon I observed on my farm. Doing all of that at the same time certainly slowed down my writing process. I had so little time. But, It wouldn’t have been the same book if I hadn’t been knee-deep in parenting and farming. As much as they hindered my writing, they also made it possible.

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?

To be completely honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. It took me a long time to write and publish that first book, but everything I learned and every person I met along the way made it completely worth it. I found an amazing writing community. I signed with my dream agent, and, although it took a long, painful year to sell my book, I landed with the perfect editor who shared my vision for my book and helped me shape it into a better version of the story it was meant to be. No regrets. None.

What are you working on now?

I have another book coming out in 2022 called THE LAST BEEKEEPER. It’s another stand-alone novel with themes related to nature and climate change. I’m still revising the manuscript, but so far I’m pretty excited about how it’s coming along.

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

When my four kids were younger, I used to take them canoeing and we would pick blueberries from wide swaths of open shoreline. As the kids got older they started asking whose land it was and if we were stealing the berries. The truth was, I had no idea who owned the land. There were no houses nearby, and I didn’t think anyone would mind some children taking a few handfuls of berries from a canoe. But my kids pressed me on it and I found myself inventing excuses to justify why it was okay to take the berries. Don’t take all the berries from any one bush. Don’t pick berries from a bush with a birds nest. Taking a few handfuls of blueberries on wide open shoreline was a benign action. No one else would have picked those berries. No one would have miss them. But was I teaching my kids it was okay to rely on manufactured rules to justify behavior that was not justifiable, even if it seemed benign? Those rules I invented became the basis for The Poachers’ Code, a code of ethics the characters in my book create to shield themselves from their own questionable actions. I pushed my characters to an extreme limit and forced them to tackle the ethical questions I wrestled with while picking berries with my kids – but with life-and-death stakes.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I’m really attached to the opening of Chapter Two where we meet my main character Cadie as a young girl. She sneaks out of her house early in the morning and jumps off the pier into the lake to rescue a drifting rowboat. This is the scene that sets everything else – the good and the bad – in motion. It’s the moment Cadie will always look back on and wonder: What if I had never jumped in the water? I like this scene because it reminds me of the fearlessness I had as a kid. This was one of the very first scenes I wrote. As I was writing it, I had no idea what Cadie was going to find in that boat. It was a mystery to me too.

Do you have a favorite character?

I do! I love Sal, the daughter of Cadie’s childhood best friend. In the book, Sal is thirteen. She is bold, fearless, outspoken, and has an enormous heart. I absolutely adore her.

Place you’d like to travel?

I love to travel! I have a long bucket list of places I’d like to visit. The top four are: 1) My husband and I plan to walk El Camino in Spain together in the near future. 2) I want to see the Northern Lights. I’m not sure where we will go to see them, but I’m thinking about The Lapland region in Norway. 3) Patagonia! I want to see everything in Patagonia. I want to ski, visit vineyards, and hike. 4) Morocco. So much I want to do! Spice markets, desert tours, and the fabrics! I think I’ll probably come home with suitcases full of fabric.

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

Just thank you! I spent thirteen years writing this book. It still feels a bit surreal that it’s finally out in the world. Every single time a reader reaches out to share a picture of my book or tell me they enjoyed it, I get a rush of gratitude. It means so much to me that readers are willing to invest their time and money to read my story. It’s an incredible honor.

BIO  ~   Julie Carrick Dalton’s debut novel WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG has been named to Most Anticipated 2021 book lists by several platforms including CNN, Newsweek, USA Today, Parade, and Buzzfeed, and is an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best Books of the Month in January. As a journalist, Julie has published more than a thousand articles in publications including The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, The Chicago Review of Books, and Electric Literature. A Tin House alum, and graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, Julie holds a master’s in literature and creative writing from Harvard Extension School. She is the winner of the William Faulkner Literary Competition and a finalist for the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and the Caledonia Novel Award. She is a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League and is a frequent speaker and workshop leader on the topic of Fiction in the Age of Climate Crisis. Mom to four kids and two dogs, Julie also loves to ski, kayak, and hike.

To connect with Julie ~ 

Twitter: @juliecardalt

IG @juliecdalton

FB @juliecarrickdalton

Website: Juliecarrickdalton.com

Thursday, January 7, 2021

BLIND TURN by Cara Sue Achterberg

An examination of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident.

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter—honor student, track star, and all-around good kid—despite the disapproval of her father and her small town. How could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she long ago rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband, while her daughter struggles with guilt and her own demons as she faces the consequences of an accident she doesn’t remember.

Can one careless decision alter a lifetime? A tragic, emotional, ultimately uplifting story, BLIND TURN could be anyone’s story.

Reviews ~

One of the few books in recent memory I was completely unable to put down, yet still wished I could read more slowly so it would never end. Achterberg writes with a seamless combination of aching sensitivity and a page-turning urgency. Easily one of the best books of any genre I’ve read this entire year. -C.H. Armstrong, author of The Edge of Nowhere

From its life-shattering opening on, pages will seemingly turn themselves as you seek resolution for this novel’s imperfect yet courageous characters, and for one eye-opening reason: these events could have happened to any of us. An important story about how taking responsibility for our actions—even if accidental—can turn a nightmare into rays of hope. —Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy

When the unthinkable happens, mother and daughter are forced to look deep within themselves for the truth. Achterberg takes you for a ride that you won’t forget. I loved this book. - Barbara Conrey Author of Nowhere Near Goodbye

Q & A with Cara ~ 

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

My husband and I (and our menagerie) live on a small hillside farm in Pennsylvania, but hope to relocate to the mountains of Virginia very soon. Our nest is nearly empty (if not for the pandemic which brought all the chicks back home) except for our dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and a constant stream of foster dogs, and now—foster kittens!

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I recently discovered a journal from when I was eight years old and reading my angst at the death of our family beagle brought all of it back. That’s probably the best explanation for why I write—it brings meaning, memory, and depth to my life. Those are selfish reasons, but I also write because I want to touch other lives. There is no greater compliment then when someone tells me that my words made them think, laugh, cry, or wonder.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

My day job is being a shelter dog advocate. I am the co-founder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out, a nonprofit initiative whose mission is to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. I write freelance articles, two blogs, and have written two books about the plight of homeless animals in the southern United States. I’ve fostered over 180 animals and traveled to nearly fifty shelters, dog pounds, and rescues in seven states. The pandemic has made this work even more challenging, but it’s also highlighted that the problem is fixable if more people chose to rescue and adopt, as they did during the spring.

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

Gosh, that’s a hard question. So many authors have influenced me—John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Braestrup, Michael Perry, Anne Patchett, Anita Shreve, gosh, there are likely hundreds. The book that made me finally take the leap and start putting my writing out into the world, though, was The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. That book is so full of inspiration and motivation it literally compelled me to share my words.

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

They are the same challenges in getting every book published—getting someone to pay attention. We are all so inundated with media and stories and words, words, words. First the challenge was to get an agent to pay attention, then a publisher, and now, readers. It’s unending and only getting harder, but as I tell my creative writing students – it all comes down to how bad to you want it. Are you willing to eat the ‘s*#t sandwich’ (as Elizabeth Gilbert so delicately puts it) it takes to get published? If it were easy and all butterflies and unicorns, everyone would do it. I do think it was easier once upon a time, but we live now and not then.

This book, in particular, has had a long and winding road to publication. It’s the book that landed my agent and was written before any of my other books were published. It had so many almost-deals I began to believe it was cursed, but decided instead to believe it was following the path it was meant to take. I rewrote it at least four times – changing point of views, tenses, and even genres (once). But I believe in this story and its message and I love the characters. I had to see it out into the world, so I took a leap of faith and queried smaller publishers on my own without my agent (but with her blessing), and if finally found a publishing home with Black Rose.

How do you market your work?

Person by person. I don’t have a publicist for Blind Turn because it is coming out with an independent press, so as you know, the author has to be her own publicist. When I realized the publication date for Blind Turn was only five months after the date for my latest ‘dogoir’ (One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, Pegasus Books, 2020), I knew I needed a plan. I printed out a map of the US and began searching for at least one reviewer in every state. I color the states in as I find them. That’s just a visual to keep me going.

I’m also doing weekly LIVES on Facebook and giving away a book every week (a copy of another of my novels) to try re-engage with my fiction audience. I’ve networked with other authors for blurbs, early reviews, and advice. Beyond that, I’m searching for opportunities with bloggers, podcasters, and pretty much anyone with a platform, plus using Net Galley and Book Sirens. But I do believe it comes down to reaching readers one at a time with a compelling, well-told story.

What are you working on now?

I’m actually taking a little breather from books and working on a film project for Who Will Let the Dogs Out that will highlight the people, dogs, and conditions in the Tennessee dog pound system. I’m also working on building a new business with my husband. We are creating dog-friendly rental houses (and writing retreats!) in the mountains of Virginia. We have our first one up and running—Chateau Frankie in Bentonville, VA.

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

For my novel, Practicing Normal, I had to learn how to break into houses. I was amazed how easy it is to bypass security systems, pick locks, and how just paying attention can make it very easy to know how to get into someone’s house. I also had to do a lot of research about Asperger’s Syndrome for that book and that was simply fascinating. It made me believe that we are all ‘on the spectrum.’

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Try not to prove anything—just write straight from the heart and be brave. The more vulnerable and honest and raw and real you can be, the more you will touch the hearts of readers. And write what you believe, not what you think will sell books. Also, remember that other authors are not your competition, they are your peers, your teammates, and your best allies—treat them as such.

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

Thank you for reading and for sharing the books you love. No very many authors are getting rich, so it’s the readers and their enthusiasm and support that keeps so many of us writing. Your review, your support, YOU matter more than you’ll even realize.

To connect with Cara:

Cara Sue Achterberg is the author of four novels, two memoirs, one work of non-fiction, and multiple blogs. She is the cofounder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out, a nonprofit initiative to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. Cara currently lives in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, and Bentonville, Virginia with her husband and far too many animals. 

For more information visit CaraWrites.com, or look her up on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.