Monday, December 5, 2022

LAST CIRCLE OF LOVE by author LORNA LANDVIK (out December 6th!)

A funny, heartwarming story about a feisty group of women who shake, spice, and heat things up with a “recipe” book for romance, from the bestselling author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons.

Newly installed at All Souls Lutheran, Mallory “Pastor Pete” Peterson soon realizes that her church isn’t merely going through turbulent waters, but is a sinking ship. With the help of five loyal members of the Naomi Circle, the young, bold minister brainstorms fundraising ideas. They all agree that the usual recipe book won’t add much to the parish coffers, but maybe one with all the ingredients on how to heat up relationships rather than casseroles will…

Pastor Pete has her doubts about the project, but it turns out the group of postmenopausal women has a lot to say on the subject of romance. While Charlene, the youngest member at fifty-two, struggles with the assignment, baker-extraordinaire Marlys, elegantly bohemian Bunny, I’m-always-right Velda, and ebullient Edie take up their contributions enthusiastically. After all, their book is really about cooking up love in all its forms.

But not everyone in the congregation is on board with this “scandalous” project. As the voices of opposition grow louder, Pastor Pete and these intrepid women will have to decide how hard they’re willing to fight for this book and the powerful stories within—stories of discovery, softened hearts, and changed lives.

“A feel-good read for book clubs.” Booklist

Author interview with Lorna~

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

My dad, proud of our Norwegian ancestry, used to tell me that the name Landvik meant ‘Land of the Vikings.’  It does not, but he was a fanciful and funny raconteur and it’s both his and my mother’s senses of humor as well as their love of a good story that first influenced me.  Loved to be read to; loved to be told bedtime stories and when I learned how to read — wow!  I decided then and there, in lovely Miss Carlson’s first grade class that I decided I wanted to be a writer. 

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love reading (what writer doesn’t?), getting my steps in, being on stage either as a speaker or performer, drawing and painting, yoga (when I’m disciplined) cooking, baking, seeing plays and movies, harmonizing to the radio or with my musical friends, daydreaming.

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

I ‘Wordle’ before I get out of bed. Once having found that magic 5 letter word, I get up and chug down a cup (or two or three) of the coffee my husband always makes (nice guy), read our local Minneapolis paper and ‘The New York Times,’ and do their crossword puzzles. Then it’s off to the dog park with husband and hound. I might get to writing in the afternoon or I might get to writing by the evening; whatever the time, I TRY to get some writing done each day.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

…the knowledge that I can. A writer’s confidence (however shaky it may be at times) in herself and the stories she tells is paramount to getting the writing done.  We have to be our own little engine — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…

All the amenities of the deserted luxury hotel on that deserted island — fully stocked kitchen,Tiki bar and library, a working hot tub, a notebook and sketch pad, night skies crowded with stars and the ability to contact the Coast Guard to pick me up.

What career did you think you’d have as an adult?

I wanted to be writer since I learned how to read and so that course was set early. I’ve also always loved performing so assumed I’d translate that into being a movie star.  (There’s still time, right? Although no young ingenue roles for me…)

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I will rarely turn down chocolate but will not touch it if it contains hazelnuts.  Not because of an allergy, but because of an extreme distaste for. Also I can speak good German if the discussion is about cleaning.


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Hallelujah, no.


What was the original title for this book?

Ha!  It was ‘The ABCs of Erotica’ but my editor said anyone Googling that title would come up with a lot of things I might not want to be associated with. 


Where do you get your ideas?

From the world and all its offerings. 


Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?

Yes, one hard copy of a partial novel is gathering dust in a drawer along with old check receipts; there are also about seven (!) novels in various stages of completion in my ‘Documents’ file. 


If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?

On stage or on a movie set.    


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

I usually hand it off to my husband who goes into the bedroom, shuts the door and reads it. He always gives me the only response I want/need:  “I love it!” and I don’t care if he’s lying. Sometimes I give it to a couple friends whose opinions and insight as readers I value; other times it’s straight to the agent/editor. 


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

The Dick and Jane books that taught me to read; CADDIE WOODLAWN in elementary school (I loved her adventurous, daredevil spirit) and TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, taught in Mrs. Harper’s 8th grade English class. That book grabbed me from its opening paragraph, to its characters, to its scope, and lastly, to Harper Lee’s voice.  


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

There were so many — the biggest challenge being the word ‘no.’  It took a long time for me and a lot of rejections to find an agent for my first novel, PATTY JANE’S HOUSE OF CURL and then a longer time and more rejections for that agent to find a publisher.  What I’m most proud of in my writing career is my decision to not take all those ‘nos’ as my final answer.


How do you market your work?

Not well — promotion is anathema to me, although I’m trying to get better.   


What are you working on now?

A novel (well, actually I’m zigzagging between two) and a screenplay for my novel, OH MY STARS.


What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?



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

I grew up in the Lutheran church and my mom was a long-standing church circle member who really valued the friendship and fellowship she had within that circle. I guess I wanted to explore more in-depth a group that’s easy to write off as unhip or irrelevant.  

My mom was fun-loving, imaginative and creative but would she and her church circle have come up with the fundraising idea that the circle in my book did?  It makes me smile to think about…


Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love the chapter in which the women come up with their particular (and peculiar) fundraising idea, but the most fun for me was figuring out what alphabet letter had what significance to the characters.  


Do you have a favorite character?

If I named one, the others would feel bad.  


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

The novel that has been #1 on the ‘New York Times’ bestseller list for a record-breaking two years…


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I always enjoy reading books about how writers write, thinking I might learn some secrets or shortcuts. Mostly they’re heartening because you learn there’s no right way to write. Whatever works for you, be it outlining or ‘pantsing’ or a hybrid of the two, is the way you should write.  

Also, believe in yourself!  When I was writing my first novel, I pictured myself holding a little flame of confidence — while others tried to blow it out (“do you know what the odds of getting published are?” etc., etc.) — my job was to shield that little torch and keep it lit. Find out if you like to write alone or it’s more productive to belong to a writers’ group.  Read, read, read!  And most of all, don’t give up. 


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

Any time I’ve faltered in my writing career is when I didn’t trust my own voice. That’s not to say I’m always right (not always, haha) but not speaking up for yourself or your work is never a winning strategy.  But my complaints are minimal when compared to the great privilege of writing and then getting that writing published and out in the world.   


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

Thank you for taking my books with you under the covers, in the bathtub, onto the recliner, and hopefully, into your hearts! 

To connect with Lorna:



Monday, November 28, 2022


We've got a double feature this week! Two bestselling suspense thriller authors with new releases this week! And both are members of the Killer Author Club (see link with their social media links.)


USA TODAY bestselling author Kimberly Belle returns with a deeply addictive thriller exploring the dark side of the digital world when a mommy-blogger’s assistant goes missing.  

When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she’d amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job—one that was impossible to manage without her sharp-as-a-tack personal assistant, AC.

But all the goodwill of her followers turns toxic when one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way. Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but her assistant has gone silent. This young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, who had access to her personal information and front-row seats to the pressure points in her marriage and family life, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC’s identity – and a woman is found murdered – she’ll find the greatest threat isn’t online, but in her own living room.

Written in alternating perspectives between Alex, her husband, and the mysterious AC, this juicy cat-and-mouse story will keep you guessing till the very end.


"A missing assistant to an Instagram influencer, a mysterious dead body, and a nesting box of family secrets drive this cat-and-mouse thriller to a deliciously unexpected finale. A great page-turning read!" —Wendy Walker, bestselling author of Don't Look for Me

“Kimberly Belle has delivered another twisty, tense and terrifying tour de force! 
The Personal Assistant shows the consequences of living in an online world where nothing is as it seems, turning the glamor of an insta-worthy life into a nightmare. If you ever had dreams of being an Instagram influencer, this book will have you thinking again. Unputdownable and impossible to forget.” —Julie Clark, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight and The Lies I Tell


A husband with secrets. A wife with no limits. A riveting novel of marriage, privilege, and lies by Kaira Rouda, the USA Today bestselling author of The Next Wife.

Jody Asher had a plan. Her charismatic husband, Martin, would be a political icon. She, the charming wife, would fuel his success. For fifteen congressional terms, they were the golden couple on the Hill. Life was good. Until he wasn’t.

Martin’s secret affair with a young staffer doesn’t bother Jody personally. But professionally? It’s a legacy killer. Soon a reporter gets word of this scandal in the making, and Martin’s indiscretions threaten to ruin everything Jody has accomplished.

When Martin suddenly dies, it’s a chance to change the narrative—but the reporter won’t let go of his lead. As the balance of power shifts in the Asher house and on the Hill, it’s time for Jody to take control. And there’s nothing the ruthless widow won’t do to secure the future she’s entitled to. Even if she has a secret of her own.


“A deliciously diabolical take on marriage, politics, and the lies that bind.” Library Journal

“[A] wild mix of intrigue, secrets, and corruption.” Publishers Weekly

“What happens when ‘the woman behind the man’ has a dark secret of her own? Slick and rocket-paced, The Widow by Kaira Rouda is a top-notch political thriller. With hairpin twists and turns, insider knowledge, glamorous settings, and a whole cast of untrustworthy characters, Rouda expertly ratchets the tension, keeping her readers breathlessly turning the pages. And the deliciously devious Jody Asher is as cold and calculating as she is riveting. A captivating read!” —Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six

Author interviews:


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

I worked in nonprofit fundraising for years, both in the Netherlands and in the States, until 2008, when the economy crashed and so did my job. By that point I was pushing forty, and I still hadn’t written that novel I’d always dreamed of writing. I decided to see my sudden unemployment as a now-or-never moment, so I sat down and my computer and….realized I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the next couple of years learning how to build a story. I took courses, read everything I could get my hands on, found some critique partners and mentors, and then I wrote a book and then another. I was almost done with the second story when I attended a local conference and pitched it to a couple of agents. I ended up signing with one by the end of the month, and eight+ books later, we still make a great team.

Do you have a particular writing routine?

When I’m working on a story, I’m usually behind my laptop by eight, and then I give myself an hour or so to warm up by reading the news and checking emails and social media feeds. After that, I jump right in to writing, and I keep going until I hit my daily word count, usually by afternoon sometime. I’m not a fast writer but the words I produce each day are generally keepers, and my first draft is pretty clean.

Is there anything major that changed in this novel from when you first plotted it out?

I write from an outline, but even the most detailed plans can go sideways once I get into the weeds of writing. Sometimes the pacing is off, or a character’s actions don’t fit their personality. Sometimes a character I didn’t plan for walks into a scene and has something essential to say. I always give myself room to rework the story as I’m writing, but my beginnings and endings rarely change—and they didn’t in The Personal Assistant. What did deviate from the outline, though, were Anna Claire’s chapters. My editor loved that character and she wanted more, so I went back in edits and expanded, adding three more chapters in her voice. Luckily, they were easy to weave into the current story.


What was the original title of this book?

My original titles have never stuck, and honestly, I’m okay with it. The marketing and sales folks at Harper Collins are so much better at it than I am, and they’re thinking about things like title trends and catchy words, so I’m happy to let them do their thing. When I turned in The Personal Assistant, its title was “book 8.”


If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?

I worked for years in non-profit fundraising, and as much as I loved the job, I’m not sure it’s something I would go back to. I would miss the flexibility of working from home, and the creative kick I get from finding just the right word. But I do love to travel, so I would probably look for a job that allowed me to see the world. Especially now that my kids are grown, I could spend much of the year on the road and not get homesick for a single minute.


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

My agent is my first reader. She’s so good at story and plot and holding the suspense until the last possible moment, and I really trust her vision for not just my individual books but the Kimberly Belle brand as a whole. That’s one of the many surprises I had when I began in this industry, that books really are a team effort. Yes, I write the words, but my agent and editor and all the folks at my publishing house creating covers and writing back copy are really helping to elevate the book and make it as good as possible.


What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on two projects: Desperate Deadly Widows, an Audible original and second book in the Widows series, coauthored with Vanessa Lillie, Layne Fargo and Cate Holahan. My solo book is The Paris Widow, a thriller about a couple vacationing in Paris when the husband is killed, the victim of what looks to be a freak accident—but when the gendarmerie point to him as the target of the explosion, she begins to wonder what kind of man she married…and worse, if his killers might be after her next.


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

Yes, finally! I’ve been dying to write about my second hometown of Amsterdam, and in The Paris Widow I got to set a scene there. I also based a character on a real life Dutchman, an art detective known as “the Indiana Jones of the Art World” for his remarkable recoveries of looted artifacts. My character in The Paris Widow is the female version.


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

So much of what happens once we send a book out into the world is out of our control. Market trends, publicity that doesn’t quite catch on, a pandemic that comes out of nowhere. Success isn’t always predictable, and penning a bestseller often feels like a mixture of hard work and pixie dust…which is why I’ve worked very hard to find my tribe. Fellow authors who are not competition but a refuge. I use them as sounding boards, brainstorm buddies, and accountability partners. I ask them questions, get their advice, let them talk me off the ledge. They make this job so much more fun and fulfilling.


What do you do to support other authors?

Every month, I choose my Top 5 favorite new releases and announce them via livestream on Instagram and in the Facebook group Readers Coffeehouse. One lucky winner goes home with all five books, so make sure to check it out on the last Wednesday of every month at 11 am ET. And on the Killer Author Club, Kaira Rouda, Heather Gudenkauf and I interview killer authors every other week in our Facebook group and on YouTube, and we’ve recently started a monthly book club, as well. All the links and past shows are at 


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

My first novel, Here, Home, Hope,  published in 2011 and it represented a lifelong dream come true. I knew I wanted to be an author in third grade. Needless to say, it took a long time for the dream to happen, but I never gave up. Resilience is the name of the game in publishing, and in life.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love to travel, especially with my family. We have four adult kids and any time we get to spend with them is a treasure. I love to play pickleball with friends.

Do you have a particular writing routine?

I prefer to write in the afternoon. But aside from that I just write.

What career did you think you’d have as an adult?

I always wanted to be an author, as I mentioned, and I also loved marketing. My dad was a marketing professor in the business school for Harvard, Ohio State and UT so I always say I earned a homeschooled MBA.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I lived in five states growing up, and went to college in a sixth. I like that I had experiences living all across the country.

What was the original title of this book?

The original title of The Widow was The Widow’s Mandate. The tradition of The Widow’s Mandate is what inspired the novel. First there was Mae Ella Nolan from California who became a US Representative after her husband died in 1922. Throughout the next century, 47 additional American women followed in her footsteps most notable recently including Mary Bono, Sonny Bono’s wife, and Cindy McCain, John McCain’s wife. Their husbands’ deaths made them widows. The Widow’s Mandate made them politicians. When I realized that statistically speaking, for women aspiring to serve in congress, the best husband has been a dead husband. This notion could lead to the ultimate perilous power struggle. And that’s where my story began.


What do you do to support other authors?

During the pandemic, it was both isolating and frustrating not to be able to have book events, especially around the launch of a new book. So my fellow authors, Heather Gudenkauf and Kimberly Belle and I, got together and created the Killer Author Club, a bimonthly show where we host suspense and thriller authors. It was a great way to connect during the pandemic and we decided it is a fun way to stay connected now. We have a private Facebook page – Killer Author Clubhouse – that’s growing every day, and our YouTube channel, Killer Author Club, is, too. For more, please visit our website:



To connect with these authors:

Kimberly  Belle:

website instagram facebook twitter goodreads

Kaira Rouda:

And check out the Killer Author Club 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

THE QUARRY GIRLS, by author JESS LOUREY (out 11/1!)

Killers hiding in plain sight. Small-town secrets. A girl who knows too much. From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things and Bloodline comes a nerve-twisting novel inspired by a shocking true crime.

Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games.

Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can’t forget. They’ve decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is tested when their friend disappears—the second girl to vanish in a week. And yet the authorities are reluctant to investigate.

Heather is terrified that the missing girls are connected to what she and Brenda stumbled upon that night. Desperately searching for answers on her own, she learns that no one in her community is who they seem to be. Not the police, not the boys she met at the quarry, not even her parents. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger.

She also knows she’s next.

Reviews ~

“[The Quarry Girls is] one of the most anticipated thrillers of the fall season…[The] novel is about innocence lost, the unwritten rules of silence in small towns, what ‘broken men’ do to others, and what boys growing into men do in packs that they would never do alone. And then there’s the courage of one woman who will not allow herself to be killed.” St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Jess Lourey’s new novel The Quarry Girls is a love letter to Gen-Xers and Murderinos everywhere.” The Big Thrill

“Few authors can blend the genuine fear generated by a sordid tale of true crime with evocative, three-dimensional characters and mesmerizing prose like Jess Lourey. Her fictional stories feel rooted in a world we all know but also fear. The Quarry Girls is a story of secrets gone to seed, and Lourey gives readers her best novel yet—which is quite the accomplishment. Calling it: The Quarry Girls will be one of the best books of the year.” —Alex Segura, acclaimed author of Secret IdentityStar Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall, and Miami Midnight

“Jess Lourey once more taps deep into her Midwest roots and childhood fears with The Quarry Girls, an absorbing, true crime–informed thriller narrated in the compelling voice of young drummer Heather Cash as she and her bandmates navigate the treacherous and confusing ground between girlhood and womanhood one simmering and deadly summer. Lourey conveys the edgy, hungry restlessness of teen girls with a touch of Megan Abbott, while steadily intensifying the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small 1977 Minnesota town where darkness snakes below the surface.” —Loreth Anne White, Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Patient’s Secret

“Jess Lourey is a master of the coming-of-age thriller, and The Quarry Girls may be her best yet—as dark, twisty, and full of secrets as the tunnels that lurk beneath Pantown’s deceptively idyllic streets.” —Chris Holm, Anthony Award–winning author of The Killing Kind

Author interview with Jess ~

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

It all started when I was six. I wrote this Minnesota haiku for my awesome grandpa: 

Grandpas are full of love. Grandpas are full of tickles. But grandpas are especially full of pickles.

People loved it. Aunts hugged me, cousins were jealous, uncles asked me to immortalize them next. My poetry skills have not evolved since that day, but the enchantment with words and their power grew inside me like a watermelon seed. I wrote my first novel when I was 26. It was also my Master’s thesis and featured three women traveling across the United States, three women suspiciously like myself and the two best friends I had taken a road trip with a couple years earlier. Like most first novels, it was embarrassingly self-involved, full of overwritten description and twenty-pound dialogue tags:

"Why doesn't my alcoholic father accept me for who I am?" Hannah asked pityingly, rubbing the burning, salty tears from her chocolate brown eyes.

Amazingly, no publisher would take a look at the first three chapters. (The fact that I was submitting directly to publishers shows just how green I was.) I tried some light revising, working under the misconception that my work was great and the world just wasn't ready for it yet. When the adding of more adjectives didn't net me a three-book deal, I took a sabbatical from writing the Great American Novel and got a real job. (By the way, I'm forever thankful it wasn't so easy to self-publish back then, or that stinker would be out there, following me everywhere.) I ended up with two Master's degrees, one in English and one in Sociology, and a teaching job at Alexandria Technical and Community College while living in rural Battle Lake.

But, like most writers, I couldn't stop thinking of book ideas, scribbling down sparks of description or snatches of conversation that I overheard and would love to work into a story, feeling lazy and envious when I read a fantastic novel. When a traumatic life event reminded me of the true power of writing, I started penning MAY DAY, the first in my Murder-by-Month mysteries for adults. Complete story here on that is here, in my TEDx Talk:

It turned out mystery writing fit me well. I enjoy structure, adventure, humor, justice. My first draft was complete, I thought, at 45,000 words. Confident that I had found my niche, I sent out 50 query letters and received 50 rejections. I researched the field, poring over the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime websites, reading all that Preditors and Editors had to offer me, camping out in Jeff Herman's fantastic reference book as well as the Literary Marketplace and AAR. Out of all those resources, two points stuck with me: no one would read a book shorter than 50,000 words, and if you're writing a mystery, publishers only want series.

I hired a freelance editor and pumped MAY DAY up to 52,000 words. Next, I wrote JUNE BUG. Then I implemented my systematic plan to wear down the publishing behemoth. I sent out 200 query letters. When the rejections started trickling in, I sent out 150 more. Not an agent or small press was spared. If they represented mysteries, they were queried.

If you're keeping score, that was three books written, zero books published. Why did I put so much effort into this? Because when I write, I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time. How did I know MAY DAY and JUNE BUG didn't suck on five different levels like my first novel? Because they were inspired by crucible experiences and I had done the research, including reading nearly forty books in the mystery genre. I had studied what made them great, and I had sought out and adhered to feedback from a reliable and well-recommended editor.

Finally, a bite. I found an agent. We never met -- she lived out west on a commune, where she edited technical manuals and studied the healing power of crystals. After six months and a handful of offers from publish-on-demand companies, we parted ways amicably. I found another agent shortly after that, and after a year of rejections from New York publishing houses, she found my books a home with Midnight Ink, an innovative new imprint of a respected Minnesota publishing house. 

MAY DAY was released in March of 2006, happily received critical acclaim, and is available anywhere you can buy books. The rest of the series followed—12 books total, all set in Battle Lake. I love reading and writing mysteries, but in 2008, around the time my kids started reading chapter books, I realized that there is this amazing genre called young adult (YA). I started devouring my kids' books (figuratively speaking, munch munch bwahaaa, crazy mom), and somewhere in there, the kernel for my own YA trilogy sprouted. I called the series THE TOADHOUSE TRILOGY, and the first in the series Book One (Yes. I know). Alas, although my agent loved Book One, she couldn't sell it, and so began my odyssey into the world of self-publishing. I also ended up self-publishing THE CATALAIN BOOK OF SECRETS, which is set in a fictionalized version of Fergus Falls (I call it Faith Falls in the book).

I moved to my current agent in, I believe, 2012. I loved my other agent, and we still hang out when I’m in New York, but business-wise, she and I were not an ideal fit. My current agent and I, though? It’s magic. With her help (as well as an incredible editing team at Thomas & Mercer), I had my breakout book in 2021 with Unspeakable Things, a thriller inspired by my time growing up in Paynesville in the 1980s, when boys were getting abducted and returned. My next three thrillers—Bloodline, Litani, and The Quarry Girls—are also inspired by Minnesota true crimes. 

I've written two books a year since 2006, and I write whatever story idea captures my mind at the time, regardless of genre. As of today, I'm at over 400 rejections, twenty-one novels, and one nonfiction book. Most people would have given up a while ago with those odds, and there is a word for those type of people: sensible. The rest of us, we're called writers.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I absolutely love to read and travel. Now that I’m writing full-time, I’ve got more time for both.

Do you have a particular writing routine?

I’m under contract to write two books a year, so I have to be disciplined. Or, I should be disciplined, and mostly I am. J I try to write in the morning because if I meet my goals for the day, it makes everything else more pleasant. I usually spend two-three weeks outlining a book using my Book in a Bag method ( then another two-three months writing it. Once I have my first draft done, I sit on it for a week, edit it, then send it on to a freelance editor I hire and my agent. After I get and make their edits, I send it to my publisher.

Is there anything major that changed in this novel from when you first plotted it out?

When I wrote the first draft of The Quarry Girls, Beth—who turned out to be a central character—was never in the book. She didn’t enter the scene until I was in first round edits and was lucky to catch Mare of Easttown on TV. Watching that show made me realize my story was missing a ticking time clock. That’s when Beth showed up. Surprisingly, it didn’t require a major rewrite to add her. It’s like the story was waiting for her…

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

An outline. I’ve tried because it seems so very creative and free to be a pantser, but I need my plots before I can write. I never follow them exactly, but they’re my security blanket.

What career did you think you’d have as an adult?

I thought I’d be a psychologist because growing up, I was surrounded by so many people struggling with their mental health. I am forever grateful that I ended up with my dream career of being a full-time writer.


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?


In August 2021, I retired from 22 years as a college professor to write full-time. I loved so much about teaching, but I don’t miss the grading.


What was the original title of this book?


The Deep Dark Below. I’m terrible at coming up with book titles, and I’m glad my publisher passed on this one.


How do you market your work?


When I first dreamed of becoming an author, I never realized how much marketing it would take. I have a publicist and marketing team who handle the big picture stuff; that leaves me to send out a regular newsletter and post regularly to social media. I also send out about 100 promo boxes when I have a new book. For my indie-pubbed books, I add BookBub feature deals, Facebook ads, and Amazon ads to the marketing to-do list.


What are you working on now?


I just turned in edits on The Taken Ones, a new series I’m writing for Thomas & Mercer. It introduces Agents Reed and Steinbeck of the Minneapolis BCA, and it has a touch of paranormal a la The X Files.


What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?


I just bought Barbara Kingsolver’s latest release, Demon Copperhead, and can’t wait to dive in!


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

Thank you for your time and support! This wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you.

To connect with Jess ~