When Lynn and her husband set out for a weekend retreat to repair their rocky marriage, icy roads lead to a fatal collision that ends Lynn’s life. Stranded between the physical world and the afterlife, Lynn experiences the grief of her loved ones as they process her death.
Lynn’s life-long friends are tortured by not only loss but also unspoken wounds in their friendship. With clever influences from above, Lynn coaxes them to reunite at a beachside cottage on the one-year anniversary of her death. Determined to prompt their healing so they can help her family move on, Lynn reminds them of a sacred promise, hoping it will lead to truths they can't face on their own. Will it be enough to remind them of the power of their bond?
As Lynn struggles to repair the relationships she left behind, she soon realizes the greatest challenge will be letting them go.
"All That is Sacred written by Donna Norman-Carbone is a stirring, thought-provoking piece of literature that I can only describe as art. [...] a beautiful story that is packed with satisfying thoughts and feelings that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page." —Reader Views
"Get ready to review your life, your friendships, your family, and possibly change the trajectory to live your life in a more thoughtful, forgiving way." Rebecca Rosenberg- Award-winning author of Madame Pommery and Champagne Widows
Author interview with Donna ~
a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I began writing when I was given the proverbial pink diary with a gold lock and key. I don’t remember how old I was but very young. My first story was written at age eight when I was people-watching while waiting for my parents to arrive at a train station. I dabbled in poetry throughout middle school and high school–certainly a good outlet for teen angst which hit me hard. My first writing class was an introduction to creative writing during my junior year of high school; I was hooked. Once I got to college, I minored in Creative Writing, taking every course I could fit into my schedule. I had some very good mentors, including author Richard Russo who was my college advisor, and a strong community of writers.
After I graduated, writing became a solitary/sometimes act for me, as I had become an English teacher, then married and had children. When my three children got older, I found myself gravitating back to writing, mostly for myself. It wasn’t until a colleague said, “I know this agent. You should send him your work.” I did. It was rejected, but in the kindest of ways. That started my journey to publishing.
Is there anything major that changed in the novel from when you first plotted it out?
This novel had two major (MAJOR) overhauls. Inspired by an actual event, I started writing this novel to make sense of my grief over the loss I suffered. It was very personal and therapeutic. Then I set it aside for several years. When I revisited it, I changed it drastically and morphed it to fiction. That draft included five voices, one for each of the main characters. My critique partners kept asking me, “But whose story is this?” That’s when I decided to give it a complete revision by using the dead friend as the narrator. A lot of world building ensued.
What was the original title of this book?
My original title was Affinity, which there is a nod to in the final version of the book.
I liked that word because I wanted to highlight the everlasting bond of
friendships through time and place. One editor said it was too science fiction
sounding. I came up with All That is
Sacred from a line in the book where one character asks another not to
share a secret. The character responds, “I won’t. This is all sacred sister
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Of course, I enjoy reading; I do believe every writer should also be a reader. While I gravitate to women’s and historical fiction, I also enjoy rom-coms, dystopian, psychological, and certainly the classics, nonfiction and poetry. My favorite place to read is on a sunny beach; my back porch is a close second.
Travel is essential for me. I’m happiest (if
not writing) planning my next trip. My happy places are Cape Cod and England.
Europe is currently my favorite travel destination; there’s just so much more I
need to see there. I love losing myself in a foreign cities and towns, veering
off to the places where the locals go. My next trip is to Italy, Turkey and
Greece for two weeks in July.
I am a history buff. In that vein, I set out
on a journey in advance of a family reunion on my father’s side to track our
lineage. Ancestry.com was a huge help in allowing me to track my family back to
the 1700s. Fun fact, I am related to Paul Revere, very distantly by marriage;
something that was a bit of a folktale in my family for generations has been
traced and proven. Right now, I’m working on my mother’s side of the family,
hoping to find some relatives in Naples to visit on our upcoming trip.
Do you have a day job as well?
I’ve been a teacher for 30+ years. The early part of my career was spent as an adult educator and a university adjunct. For the last 21 years, I’ve taught junior and senior high school students. I consider myself very lucky to be able to share my passions for writing, literature and film with my students. I’ve also been lucky enough to take some groups on tour through England in conjunction with my British Literature class and to a Behind-the-scenes in Hollywood tour with my film class. I do believe the best kind of learning is experiential.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or your decision to write?
As a teacher of writing and classic literature, this is a hard question. I admire the fluidity of Virginia Woolf’s writing and her ability to capture her characters’ thoughts. I was first drawn to Judy Blume, first reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, as a young reader, and later reading Summer Sisters which definitely influenced All That is Sacred. I also drew from Rebecca Wells’ Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood; that book was a favorite of mine around the time I picked up writing again. Finally, my favorite author over decades has been Anna Quindlen. I love both her fiction and nonfiction.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
I would have begun getting serious about publishing my writing at a younger age. I have enjoyed this journey so far. I believe this is what I was meant to do. Of course, as a younger writer, I didn’t have the confidence or life experience I have now, and I didn’t prioritize myself as much as this stage of life affords me. I am a firm believer that things come to us in life just as they are meant to and when we’re ready for them.
To connect with Donna ~