Monday, November 28, 2022

THE WIDOW by KAIRA ROUDA, & THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT by KIMBERLY BELLE (both out this week!)

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.)

THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT~

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.

Reviews~

"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

THE WIDOW~

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.

Reviews~

“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:

Kimberly~

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 killerauthorclub.com. 


Kaira~

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: www.killerauthorclub.com

 


  


To connect with these authors:

Kimberly  Belle:

website instagram facebook twitter goodreads

Kaira Rouda:

https://www.facebook.com/KairaRoudaBooks/



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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5vSLh3oPXI&t=2s

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 (https://www.etsy.com/listing/884177250/book-in-a-bag-kityour-bestseller-is-inand 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 ~













Monday, October 24, 2022

WHEN WE WERE FRIENDS, by author NANCY YEAGER (debuts 10/25!)

They were best friends. Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime. Until they got caught…

Five years ago, Frannie Willets committed grand larceny to help her best friend, Lexi Maddox, escape an awful situation. Now paroled and prospectless, Frannie needs to disappear from her dead-end life. To do so, she’ll need her share of the stolen money that Lexi has been hiding all these years. But Lexi has other plans.

By all appearances, Lexi is thriving, but in truth, nothing in her life is going according to plan. She can’t carry a pregnancy to term, her sweet stepdaughter hates her, and even the family’s new rescue dog knows she’s a failure. Lexi’s only path to happiness is making amends with the friend she dearly misses. But the only thing Frannie wants from Lexi is cash.

Out of desperation, Lexi offers Frannie all the money, with one catch: Frannie must stick around for one month. Stranded in their suffocating small town, Frannie gets tangled up in Lexi’s issues, her mother’s questionable dating life, a lonely kid’s desperate attempts to find friends and a high-school crush’s fantasies about what could have been. Suddenly, leaving doesn’t look as easy as it once did. But when an old enemy surfaces, Frannie realizes her staying endangers everyone she loves. And even though she might have found her heart’s true home, there’s no guarantee she can keep it.


Reviews~

"A touching tale of the ability of friendship to weather adversity and heartache. In order to become best friends again, Frannie and Lexi must confront their pasts and conquer their demons all while dealing with family issues, a misbehaving mutt, and a high school crush." - Maria V. Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Study.

"How far you would go for your best friend? Prison? In the compelling 
When We Were Friends, Nancy Yeager explores how trauma, a fateful decision, and a cache of stolen money can test the bonds of friendship. Add in a touch of romance and an irredeemable villain, and you have the recipe for your next weekend read." - Jennifer Klepper, USA Today Bestselling author of Unbroken Threads

"Told in dual timelines where the innocence of a childhood friendship must stand up to the rigors of adulthood and all its complicated ugliness, Yeager spins a bold tale of truth and lies and peppers it with a passion that will leave you breathless." - Barbara Conrey, USA Today bestselling author of 
Nowhere Near Goodbye and My Secret to Keep
 
"Taut, intricate and ultimately warm-hearted, WHEN WE WERE FRIENDS is one of the best girlfriend friendship stories I've read. Yeager's romance chops are on full titillating display when Frannie is re-introduced to an old crush. Escalating danger, accelerating romance—[this book] is one fun, precipitous ride! - 
Read+Worthy Reviews
Author interview with Nancy ~

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

The important things about me are laid out in my official author bio: I write historical romances, contemporary romantic suspense, and women’s fiction books. When I’m not reading, writing, or binge-watching stories, I’m often pursuing physical goals like completing 90-day fitness challenges and aspiring to achieve the perfect crow pose. I also spend my time drinking too much coffee, not enough red wine, and just the right amount of bourbon. I live in Maryland with my husband and our spoiled rescue cats, not too far from my adult daughter and son-in-law.

As for writing, it was the first thing I ever wanted to do, but I followed a circuitous path. I studied sciences and pursued other careers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, I was often recognized for my writing skills and eventually hired for new positions because of them. Along the way, I decided to pursue fiction writing on the side.

Shortly after I made that decision, I was visiting my hometown, about an hour from where I live, and walked into a bookstore where a local author was speaking. After her presentation, I asked her if she knew of any local writing groups. I don’t know why I thought that was the time or place to ask that question, but she had an answer and gave me the name and phone number of another writer. I called that stranger, learned about and started attending a monthly critique group, and eventually attended semi-annual writing retreats with them. It took me a long time to realize I also needed to study my craft and pursue more formal training, but from that wonderful, supportive group, I learned the basics of fiction writing and formed my first author friendships.

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

There have been two major changes in the novel since the early draft. The first came before I sent the book out on submission. I knew there was something missing in the story, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I started fiddling with the structure and added a second timeline, and finally the story clicked for me.

Weirdly, though, while the “now” of the story was written in third-person point of view, the earlier timeline was written in first-person. When my editor at the publishing house asked me why I’d used first-person, my only answer was that it had come to me in that voice. I’ll fight to keep something I think is integral to a story, but that reasoning sounded lame, even to me, so I agreed to change it. Thus began the second major revision, which moved the earlier timeline into third-person perspective. During that revision, I also changed one significant plot points, but that will have to be my little secret because I can’t explain it without revealing spoilers.

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

Let’s see… Indoor plumbing, running water, electricity, my own pillow. What can I say? I’m a comfort hound. Maybe it would be best just to send me to Richard Branson’s private island some week when he’s not using it.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

 

I think people who don’t know me or have just met me IRL don’t realize what a klutz I am. Maybe because I’m small, the size of a ballerina or a gymnast, they think I’m graceful like those athletes. Meanwhile, I regularly trip over pets, sidewalk cracks, and occasionally, my own feet. I get minor injuries during workouts all the time. Then there was the time I fell up the stairs and broke a finger.

 

What was the original title of this book?

 

Originally, this was was going to be a caper book. The main characters were going to be a less destructive, and less doomed version of Thelma and Louise. The title of that book was Take the Money and Run. That idea didn’t survive the trip from my brain to the page, and once I realized I’d written a friendship story with a colorful cast of secondary characters and a strong romantic subplot, I knew I had to change the title.

 

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

 

I owe a lot to Dr. Seuess! I was about four years old when I realized he was a person whose job was to write books. I think I asked my mom multiple times if that was really something you could do when you grew up. Books were my favorite things in the world, so if being an author was an option, I was all in.

 

What are you working on now?

 

I don’t like to say too much about books-in-progress, but I’m very excited about my current commercial fiction project. It’ about a group of women who are friends through their suburban book club. Of the two main characters, one is in politics and the other is a “mommy influencer.” The book group members read a high-profile book by a hot new author, draw undue attention to themselves, nearly derail the author’s book tour, and get themselves cancelled on social media. And that’s just the beginning of their problems.

 

What would your dream job be if you didn’t write books? (assuming this is your dream job!)

 

Truly, the very first thing I ever wanted to be was an author, so I’ve come full circle now. But I’ve taken a lot of detours. As a teenager, I wanted to be a vet, and I started my college career as a biochemistry major with a pre-vet advisory. I also loved archaeology, which is a subfield of anthropology. In my second year of college, I changed my major to and ultimately earned my degree in anthropology.

 

Another subject I’ve loved since childhood is astrophysics, although I could not have told you that was the name of the field when I was six and desperately wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still a big NASA fan and delight over every new collated image that comes in from the space telescopes.

 

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

 

I have a romance series set in Victorian England, and in one of the books (Four Corners of Heaven), the female protagonist is trying to get into medical school. Among the subjects I researched for that book were Victorian-era surgery (yikes!), the Edinburgh Seven (the first class of women medical students at the University of Edinburgh), and all the hoped-for and abandoned medical uses of the poison curare.

 

Favorite band or music? 

 

I am a lifelong, die-hard Beatles fan, even though I’m not old enough to remember when they were still together as a band. And of course I have a favorite Beatle! It’s Paul, and not just because he was the cute one and I’m shallow. I also love that he’s a huge reader, and I think that love of story comes through in his music and creative projects. But also, he was (and still is) super cute!

 

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


To my biggest fan, I’d like to say, “Hi Mom!” To other readers, I’ll just say that if you like stories about strong women weathering life’s ups and downs with grit, determination, humor, and snark, you should check out my books. Also, I love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a line. 


To connect with Nancy ~


nancyyeagerbooks.com


https://www.facebook.com/nancyyeagerauthor



















Monday, October 17, 2022

IN THE SHADOW OF THE APENNINES by author KIMBERLY SULLIVAN (book debuts October 21st!)

An American divorcĂ©e. An Italian shepherdess. Separated by a century, united by common dreams...

The sleepy little Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano seems about as far as Samantha can flee from her failed marriage and disastrous university career. Eager for a fresh start, Samantha begins to set down roots in her Italian mountain hideaway.

At first, the mountain retreat appears idyllic, but an outsider’s clumsy attempts at breaking into the closed mountain community are quickly thwarted when the residents discover Samantha’s snarky blog ridiculing the town and its inhabitants.

Increasingly isolated in her mountain cottage, Samantha discovers the letters and diaries of Elena, a past tenant and a survivor of the 1915 Pescina earthquake. Despite the century that separates the two women, Samantha feels increasingly drawn into Elena’s life and discovers startling parallels with her own.
 

Reviews:

"An emotionally nuanced thrill ride. Sullivan's expert prose allows a deeper look at her protagonists' feelings, fears, and vulnerabilities. The novel succeeds as both a contemporary fiction and a thoughtfully told story of a heartbroken woman trying to come to terms with the new circumstances of her life. A tale of heartbreak, grief, courage, and self-realization that will resonate with many."  -The Prairies Review


"A compelling literary work. Sullivan's novel is romantic in the way only foreign travel can be, with the prose beautifully describing the sights and sounds of Italy, as well as unveiling the captivating story of two women's seemingly disparate lives woven together across time."   
-Self-Publishing Review

Interview with Kimberly ~

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

I always loved creative writing when I was younger, but life took me in another direction. About ten years ago I started writing in the evenings after work, and published a few short stories. Soon after, I joined a writers’ group and took craft classes, attended writing conferences, and began writing novels. I haven’t looked back since.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I’m a traveloholic, and never pass up the chance to travel. I adore road trips and traveling to different countries. A new country, a different language, food, architecture, and people never fails to excite me – and always sparks new story ideas. I also love swimming, and I come up with a lot of story ideas and plot points as I’m swimming laps. And I live in Italy, so I also have an appreciation of art, opera, and great food and wines.

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

My (outside) workday begins fairly early and my daily routines tend to be associated with my regular workday. I need to do my writing during the evenings and weekends, so I try to be kind to myself. I’m lucky to write fairly quickly, but I also don’t beat myself up if I struggle to meet goals. I feel like I have enough stress and deadlines for my day job, and I do my best to limit that with my writing – so no set routines.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

I don’t really have set routines or the need for a dedicated writing space or silence. I began writing when my kids were small and after returning from a long workday, so I could write anywhere – a few minutes snatched in a playground as I scribbled on paper or typing manically away at home as my sons were wrestling one another and making as much noise as humanly possible. Maybe one day I’ll develop zen rituals and have a cool writing room, but for now, a pen, paper or computer and a bit of time is all I need.

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

Bathing suit, sunscreen, and a bag full of books.

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

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an author, but I passed through journalism, government positions and international development organizations on my path there. I am still working in the latter, but enjoy moonlighting in the career I dreamed of as a child!

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I live in a football (soccer)-mad country, but it’s one of the few sports I don’t enjoy watching. But that all changes with the European Cup or the World Cup when I become a super fan. I love it when it’s country against country, and matches can’t end with ties – but must be determined by overtime and penalty kicks. I love watching those matches and continue cheering on Italy long after my family members (aka the real Italians who should be following)  have long gone to bed.

 

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

 

Yes, I work in international development, working with socioeconomic development activities and projects in developing countries around the globe. I love it. It’s incredibly stimulating and rewarding work, with an international outlook I love, and – even after 23 years there – I feel that I am constantly learning new things at my job.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

Despite being a writer, I’m a very visual person, so my ideas often come from a setting and the vaguest notion of a character or plot point. For my upcoming novel, it was the shells and ruins of buildings in an Italian town that had undergone an earthquake over a century earlier. For my last novel, the idea struck as I took a Jane Austen walking tour around Bath, UK, and felt I’d stepped back to the nineteenth centrury – and wondered what it would be like to time travel back to 1813. That imagery always drives my stories.

 

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

 

Haha. I do! I have my practice novel. I’ve learned so much since I wrote it, so it would need lots of work and rewriting before I could get it out there. But who knows? Maybe one day I’ll tackle all the major rewrites so it can see the light of day. TBD…

 

If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?

 

Someone who works in international development. So it would seem I got the best of both worlds!

 

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

 

Yes, I have a fabulous friend who has read many of my manuscripts as my first reader, and has always given me valuable feedback before I start workshopping them through writing groups, and eventually on to my editor.

 

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

 

My go-to books are always Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. I love their works and they constantly inspire me to keep going and to fulfill my dream of writing.

 

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

 

I’m an indie-published author, so it’s all one big challenge. My first book was the most difficult since I had everything to learn. It’s still tough, but at least I have more experience now. I’m hoping by about book number ten, I’ll have the hang of it…


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 probably would have started publishing my work earlier.

 

How do you market your work?

 

I’m self-published, so this is an area I’m working to learn quickly! I always get new manuscripts out on NetGalley for early reviews. I also set up blog tours and Instagram tours, and reach out to blogs and podcasts for interviews or guest posts. I also keep up a blog of my own and try to incude novel background and related posts. And I try to be active on social media.

 

What are you working on now?

 

My next project will be a collection of short stories. I know these are a much tougher sell in today’s market, but I so love short stories, and feel like there should be some advantages to self-publishing. I am now finalizing a collection of shorts that are women’s fiction all tied to Italy. I’m preparing that now, with the hope of publishing the collection in May 2023. I’m also finalizing writing for a dual timeline story set in Rome, Italy taking place today and back in the 1890s, hoping to release it in autumn 2023.

 

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

 

Quite a bit, because I tend to create stories that research time periods or settings of great interest to me. My next novel, In The Shadow of The Apennines, takes place in a region of Italy I love: Abruzzo. I bought a small weekend house there years ago, and spend a lot of weekends out there with my husband and children hiking or skiing. The area was terribly affected by the 2009 earthquake, with its epicenter near L’Aquila – just a few miles from our place. 


A lot of the reporting at the time of that earthquake referred to the devastating 1915 earthquake in nearby Pescina, and I began to read about it and went to visit that town, which is still marked by that tragedy. When I visited, I found the atmosphere so haunting, and I knew I had to set my story there.

 

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

 

Connected to what I wrote above, I appreciated writing the very sad earthquake scene in my novel, In The Shadow of The Apennines. As heartbreaking as it was, I wanted to capture the magnitude of the tragedy on the small group of survivors, and to understand – from their perspective – the devastating consequences of that event, combined with Italy’s entry into World War I.This was a painful chapter for the region, and I wanted to ensure I was framing it correctly.

 

Do you have a favorite character?

 

Flaws and all, I always fall in love with my main characters, and, as someone who loves history, I believe that we can be touched or influenced by those who came before us. I loved weaving together the story of modern-day Samantha who goes to heal her heart in a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo, and how she gains much needed strength and perspective learning about the life of Elena, an Italian sheperdhess who lived in her cottage over a century earlier. I loved both characters.

 

Do you have other books you’d like to talk about here? (The research, how you came up with the idea for your story, etc.)

 

I am just beginning the research for a story I would like to tell – a possible triple timeline story set in Italy under Fascist Italy and the Rome of the 1960s and contemporary. I still have to finalize my research, but I would like it to be focused around sports. Still have lots (and lots and lots) or research to do, however.

 

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

 

Everything that interests me. All those little kernels of ideas floating around in my muddled brain…

 

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

 

I have had a story idea rattling around in my head for a very long time – a dual timeline modern days and early twentieth century, taking place largely in Albania. I have travelled in Albania and have done a lot of research, but I need to get back to the rugged mountain region of the north to “see” this region more, and to hike there, if I am to write about it, since much of the story would be set there. This is always my favorite type of research!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

 

Keep at it and find your tribe. There are so many great resources out there today. I’m partial to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) – a one stop shop for writing seminars, sharing industry knowledge, writing meet-ups, support and new writing friends. Writers are such a wonderful and generous group – and they are eager to share their knowledge and experience. Make sure you’re tapping into those resources.

 

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

 

I’m still new to this, so it can often feel like a long slog/tremendously steep learning curve – learning about marketing, book formatting, trends, platforms, etc etc. The best part is when a reader contacts you and tells me how much your book touched her, or brightened her day.

 

Favorite book and/or movie?

 

For books, my favorite authors are Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. My favorite adaptations are the BBC Pride and Prejudice and The Age of Innocence.

 

Place you’d like to travel?

 

I’m a travel addict, so I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to many countries across all continents except Australia and Antarctica – and I’m constantly dreaming about new places to explore. What I haven’t yet done (and have always wanted to do), is to organize a round-the-world-tour to hit many countries I haven’t yet visited. This is an idea I’ve had rattling around in the back of my brain for ages. Maybe an idea for retirement…

 

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

 

Thank you so much to all who have read and enjoyed my books. I love to stay in touch – so please reach out through social media or my author website. Thank you so much for your support! We couldn’t do any of it without you.


To connect with Kimberly:


Book info: In the Shadow of the Apennines | Kimberly Sullivan (kimberlysullivanauthor.com)

Author website: Kimberly Sullivan (kimberlysullivanauthor.com)

Goodreads: Kimberly Sullivan (Author of Dark Blue Waves) | Goodreads

BookBub: Kimberly Sullivan Books - BookBub

Instagram: kimberlyinrome

Twitter: @kimberlyinrome