BOOKISH PEOPLE!

Hey, hey, two blog posts in less than a week, whaaaaat?! Must be the holiday spirit ;)

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a Bookish People interview, so I’m really excited to let y’all in on this one. If you follow me on Instagram or FB, you saw the cover reveal of my friend Rachel Linden’s third novel, releasing next year, THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF BEES, and today you’ll get a chance to get to know her a little better! I’m excited to officially meet her in person in January when we’ll both be at the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter conference.

Rachel Linden author photo.jpg


Here’s her interview…

1. Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.

I write women’s fiction novels about hope, courage and connection. All my stories feature strong female protagonists facing big life challenges, exotic international or Pacific Northwest settings, and social justice themes woven throughout.

Ascension of Larks is about a documentary photographer who loses the only man she’s ever loved and must embrace an unexpected life on remote San Juan Island. Becoming the Talbot Sisters details estranged twin sisters learning to be every day brave on an unexpected journey across Central Europe as they face issues like infertility, surrogacy and sex trafficking. The Enlightenment of Bees, (available July 2019) is the story of an idealistic Seattle baker. When her carefully planned life crumbles, she embarks on an international humanitarian trip to find her place in the world. It explores the sweet spot in life where our passions meet the world’s great need.

2. What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback?

I studied writing and literature for a semester at Oxford and my tutor Nigel, a brilliant, eccentric poet who wore felt slippers with curled up toes, gave me the best criticism. He told me a piece I wrote was technically adequate, but that he could tell I hadn’t put my heart and soul into it. “Storm yourself!” he urged me. “Stir up those deep passions in your soul and put more of your inner self on the page.” That was the best criticism/advice I’ve ever received! Now I try hard to really engage my own heart and soul in the stories I write. Thanks, Nigel!

3. Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?

I totally forgot my grown up nude high heels for my first ever TV interview! I was just wearing some normal brown leather walking flats. I tucked my feet under the couch and hoped the camera couldn’t see them!

4. Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?

I have a toddler and preschooler, so my process is a bit harried and erratic. I brainstorm while doing normal life stuff –laundry and making mac-n-cheese - then buckle down and write like a fiend when I have a quiet hour or two. I’d describe my current process as a mixture of panic, sheer determination, and brisk efficiency!

5. Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?

I’m always fascinated by relational connection versus isolation and how we build a sense of place in the world and a sense of home. I’ve got a new story percolating about the strong bond between a grieving mother and her deceased child and about grace and forgiveness.

6. What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)

Oh you name it. Growing up I always had a book or two or four in my bag. Always. Weddings. Church potlucks. A blind date. I learned to wash dishes while reading a book! I am a true book nerd.

7. Tell us a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.

The Great Alone by fellow Pacific Northwest author Kristin Hannah. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall.

8. Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.

 One of my favorite books this year was The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs. I expected a memoir about a young mother dying of stage 4 breast cancer to be terribly depressing, but Riggs’ philosophical bent, dark humor, and tender observations about life made it a remarkable book about how to live fully. I adored it! Also I finished it sobbing at 1 in the morning on my birthday. So readers, be warned!

9. What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?

I love details, those specifics that give a story a sense of place. Since I’ve lived abroad and traveled so much, I struggle if an author doesn’t give a well-rounded and authentic sense of place, especially if it seems like they haven’t been somewhere they’re writing about. I find it hard to really engage with the story. And it’s difficult as an author not to read other books with an editorial eye. If I find I’m editing sentences in a book I usually lay it aside and find a story that fully engages me as a reader and suspends that editorial side of me! I also want the books I read to affirming the value of this life in some way. I want to come away from each book enlightened, encouraged or at least entertained. If not, I feel cheated!

10. Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?

I love the tactile nature of real paper pages but since I lived in Europe for years, my faithful old first generation Kindle became my best book buddy! I could download books from the Seattle Public Library and it was my literary lifeline. I love the convenience of Kindle for travel too. As for a calendar…I use a hopelessly messy paper calendar shared by the entire family. Not the most effective method probably!

11.  Chocolate or vanilla?

I’m firmly in the chocolate camp! Preferably dark and European. Vanilla tastes like eating cold air to me, like eating nothing!

12. Coffee or tea? Or something else?

Bubbly water. I lived in Budapest for 5 years and Hungarians LOVE their sparkling water. Now I crave it.

13. Tell us what you’re working on now.

I’m finishing up edits for The Enlightenment of Bees and starting to plot book #4. I’m really excited about this one. It’s set on an island in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s a unique twist to the story!

To connect with Rachel, find her on her website, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

 

GLORY ROAD, a giveaway, and other odds and ends

Friends! Hello!

It’s been tooooo long since I’ve updated this poor blog and I’m sorry! I have random bits of news, so I’ll start with the biggest (for me, anyway!)…

My next novel, GLORY ROAD, is coming sooooon! It releases March 19, 2019, and I’m so very excited to get it in all of your hands! Of course, it’s available for preorder now, wherever you like to buy books. And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the cover in all it’s, well, glory ;)

Glory Road final cover.jpg

My editor Kim and I went back and forth and back and forth with the design team a whole lot, all of us trying to get just the right look and—most importantly—feel for the cover. I’m so thankful for a team that not only asks for my input, but is willing to go back to the drawing board when necessary. I think we all won on this one! It’s just so pretty.

Here’s a quick summary of GLORY ROAD…

At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she's fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she's really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter's wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who's known her better than anyone and whom she hasn't seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie's fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions--particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who's moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie's mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.

As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change--whether they're ready for it or not.

I can’t wait for y’all to meet Gus, Jessie, and Evan. I really had a lot of fun creating and developing these three women.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

Next bit of news…I’m working on book 4! It’s so early in the process, it doesn’t have a title, and it’s still in a pretty fluid form, but I have a feeling about this one. This one takes us back to the water, in south south Alabama (yes, that’s two souths), and so far, there’s a charming older gentleman who goes by Coach and rides in a golf cart decorated with Hawaiian leis and fuzzy coconuts, a young mother in need of a do-over, and a hair salon. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I’ll keep you updated as the writing progresses.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’ve read some good books this fall. Here are just a couple I really enjoyed…

 Loved this road trip of memories and music. I felt like I was learning a lot about Elvis, although the Author's Note in the back tells you exactly what she fictionalized and what came right from history. I loved the way she structured the novel, telling one story as a road trip from Beaufort to Memphis, and the other story the other way, from Memphis to Beaufort, but in reverse order. (It sounds confusing, but it's not. The two stories flow together beautifully.)

Loved this road trip of memories and music. I felt like I was learning a lot about Elvis, although the Author's Note in the back tells you exactly what she fictionalized and what came right from history. I loved the way she structured the novel, telling one story as a road trip from Beaufort to Memphis, and the other story the other way, from Memphis to Beaufort, but in reverse order. (It sounds confusing, but it's not. The two stories flow together beautifully.)

 This book gets all the stars from me. It hooked me quite literally from page 1 (with that amazing phrase "the tinnitus of technology") and I looked forward all day to the time when I could pick it back up and read more. I loved Eunice and Bomber and Anthony and Laura and Sunshine and Freddy. I loved the touches of magic, which will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen. Loved her use of alliteration! And her English wit! (The humor reminded me a little of Abbi Waxman's The Garden of Small Beginnings.) Utterly charming and original.

This book gets all the stars from me. It hooked me quite literally from page 1 (with that amazing phrase "the tinnitus of technology") and I looked forward all day to the time when I could pick it back up and read more. I loved Eunice and Bomber and Anthony and Laura and Sunshine and Freddy. I loved the touches of magic, which will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen. Loved her use of alliteration! And her English wit! (The humor reminded me a little of Abbi Waxman's The Garden of Small Beginnings.) Utterly charming and original.

Right now, I’m reading two books—All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy and the follow-up to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea. When I need the silence and stark beauty of the wide-open southwest, I go with the horses. When I need something charming and light, I pick up Anne. ;)

horses.jpg
anne.jpg

GIVEAWAYS COMING!

Y’all keep your eyes on my blog around December 12—I’ll be posting a special blog entitled “My Favorite Christmas Disaster” as part of a blog tour I’m doing with eleven other authors. If you participate in the 12-day tour, (December 10-21) you’ll be entered to win TWELVE signed books! One from each of the authors (mine will be HURRICANE SEASON)! That’s a huge prize, friends. (Plus, it’s possible I may add a separate giveaway of my own, for an advance copy of GLORY ROAD!!)

I’ll pop back in here soon with details about the contest so everyone knows what to do. I’ll also mention it on Instagram and Facebook.
And speaking of Insta and Facebook, if you don’t follow me there, just know I post there much more frequently than here on the dear blog.

Find me on Insta here: https://www.instagram.com/laurenkdentonbooks/

And on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/LaurenKDentonAuthor/

I’ll be back soon with contest details and maybe some info on a GLORY ROAD giveaway. Thank you all for reading and may all your Christmas trees stand proud and your to-do lists be short!

Love,
Lauren

Return to Regular Programming

There's well over a month left of summer, but for those of us with small kids, specifically in Homewood, Alabama, summer ends this week. Though it's still steamy hot outside, the minute all our kids begin the trek to the little red brick building, the lazy, carefree days of summer are over. (That cacophony you hear is a combination of parental sobbing and celebration.)

I've been both dreading and anticipating this week for a while now. It's been a mostly glorious summer, full of late bedtimes, sleeping in (by the kids), reading, puzzles, lots of beach and pool time, hanging out with friends, and porch time. In the last few weeks, however, things have started to unravel a bit. My oldest daughter's inquiries as to "What are we doing tomorrow? What are we doing after lunch? What's for dinner? What will we do after that?" have begun to wear away at my patience. My youngest daughter spent the first month and a half of summer contentedly traipsing through the backyard in search of bugs and treasures, but it seems our yard's treasure trove has been emptied. And where the two sisters played so beautifully together for the majority of the summer, they're now bickering over things so ridiculous, when I ask them about it a few minutes later, they can't even remember why they're mad, just that they ARE. I think the return to routine and structure will be good for sisterhood, for imagination, for patience, for world peace. 

Another thing--this summer, I *haven't been writing* and it's been such a welcome break. I told everyone (and by everyone, I mainly mean my agent and my editor) that after turning in the GLORY ROAD manuscript back in February, I didn't plan to start writing anything new until the kids go back to school in August. I needed the mental break, time for creative juices to flow again, and I wanted time to read for pleasure. Which I've done. A lot. But now that school is starting (in two days!!), it means I'm staring the blank notebook in the face. (I actually have a new blank notebook. I bought it about a month ago in anticipation of THIS week, when the kids start back and my time turns back to brainstorming and writing. It's purple, and cheap, and this time has 3 subjects instead of just 1. More room to write and scratch out, write and scratch out.)

I admit it, I'm a little scared. I worry, "What if I can't do it again? What if another story just won't come?" I worried about this after THE HIDEAWAY and again after writing HURRICANE SEASON and both times, another story came. But here I am worrying about it again. I do have some ideas. I have several pages in another ratty old notebook where I've jotted down ideas and thoughts about various story possibilities. Yes, one is rising to the surface a little more than the others. But I've purposely held off on doing any serious plotting or outlining until after August 8, because I know once I get going, I'll want to really get going, and I can't do that until I have a chunk of time that's mine all mine. And I haven't had that since May 24th. 

So it is with fear and trembling, and celebration and rejoicing, and yes, plain old sadness that my babies are getting older, that we enter into this important week. We meet our new teachers today, then tomorrow we are having a lemonade stand with some friends, then school starts Wednesday. Wednesday morning, I will take pictures of the girls holding their handmade "First Day of..." signs, hold back my tears as I walk them to their new classrooms and kiss their faces, then go across the street and have a mimosa with other moms who've just done the same thing. Then I'll probably spend that first day wandering around my empty house wondering what to do with myself. 

Maybe Thursday I'll buckle down and start that book. 

 

SUMMER IS HERE!

Hi all!

It's been a while since I've updated my blog! The reasons are many and varied, but the main hold-up has been spring/end-of-school madness coupled with first-round edits on book three, which now has an official title of GLORY ROAD. (I'm tickled to say it's MY title! I'm three for three on choosing titles!)

How about a little photographic recap of the last several months....

Our Birmingham launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

 Our launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

Our launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

 My brother and sister-in-law on the left and my adorable editor extraordinaire on the right.

My brother and sister-in-law on the left and my adorable editor extraordinaire on the right.

 My sweet parents and my partner-in-crime and travel companion Anna on the left.

My sweet parents and my partner-in-crime and travel companion Anna on the left.

 My daughters' sweet teachers came to the party!

My daughters' sweet teachers came to the party!

 My sweet and proud husband.

My sweet and proud husband.

I've had a few book signings too. I chatted with author Kristy Woodson Harvey at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA, and with author Emily Carpenter at The Book Exchange in Marietta, GA. 

IMG_4941.JPG
IMG_5069.JPG

We've had some kid stuff going on too...

 Sela the sassy narwhal. (The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea.)

Sela the sassy narwhal. (The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea.)

 Sela's dance recital. 

Sela's dance recital. 

 After Kate's end-of-the-year jazz performance. 

After Kate's end-of-the-year jazz performance. 

Lastly, we had a second launch party for HURRICANE SEASON in Mobile. Lots of friends and family there to help of celebrate! 

 Kate loved helping the booksellers! She handed out bookmarks and added lots of cuteness.

Kate loved helping the booksellers! She handed out bookmarks and added lots of cuteness.

IMG_5126.JPEG
IMG_5129.JPG

I've also met with some amazing book clubs! 

IMG_4979.JPG
IMG_5215.JPG
IMG_5078.JPG
IMG_5060.PNG

Whew. So, you know, not much going on at all ;) It's been a lot of fun though. I love meeting with book clubs and book groups--book people are definitely my people! And it's been a fun season of life with our girls too. They're getting older, which brings with it a measure of sadness because of the passage of time, but it's wonderful too--we can do more with them and they're enjoying each other a lot too. (As soon as I say that, sibling rivalry will kick back into high gear, I'm sure, but for now we're enjoying the laughter and friendship!)

WHAT I'M READING
I always like to tell you what I'm reading, and right now I'm reading this book that's totally obscure and I'm sure none of you have heard of it.....

Just kidding--it's Anne of Green Gables! I've never read it and I'm LOVING it! What a spunky and clever and hilarious girl. 

WHAT I'M WRITING
Nothing! And I admit, it's kind of nice. I'm currently working on first round edits for GLORY ROAD. I'd planned to have them finished by tomorrow when the kids get out of school, but I don't think I'm going to quite make it. I'm very close though. And as usual, I'm enjoying the editing process. Having a fresh set of eyes on my words (those of my wonderful editor Kim) has made the story even sharper and more alive. I can't wait for this one to release! It comes out in February. 

I'm thinking about my next book, of course, but I probably won't give it serious thought until a little later in the summer. The short 10 or so weeks of summer flies by and I want to enjoy it with my kids and catch up on as much reading as possible. (I do have a couple of ideas I'm batting around...)

I hope you all have a nice start to the summer--even if it's not official summer, it's the start of the school summer, and that counts for me!

Love,
Lauren

Release Week! And a Facebook Live Chat!

Hi friends, today is the day-before-the-big-one! Although it's funny to even say that--tomorrow won't necessarily feel like a big day because not much is happening (other than people finding my book (my book!) on their doorstep). I'll take the kids to school, probably go for a walk, and swing by a bookstore to check out HURRICANE SEASON on the shelf. The kids will come home and it'll be business as usual. But I'll have a second book out in the world! The magnitude of that is not lost on me. I still feel like such a new author, like THE HIDEAWAY is still fresh in the world, yet here's another one coming along. I love this story, love these new characters, and I'm so excited for people to be able to read about their world. I really hope you love them as much as I do!

As far as I know, I will be doing a FACEBOOK LIVE event tomorrow night (Tuesday 4/3) at 7pm CST on my author page.  It'll be a chance for us to chat about whatever you want--any questions you have about either THE HIDEAWAY or HURRICANE SEASON, anything about books or writing or publishing or how ready we are for summer! I'll talk more about HURRICANE SEASON, my inspiration for the story, and what got me interested in writing a book set on a dairy farm! I'd love for you to stop in if you can. If you go onto my author page tomorrow at 7, you should be able to see me chatting away!

If you're not following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's where I've been posting a lot of goodies like behind-the-scene Pinterest boards and quotes from the new book. I'll be listing some giveaways soon too! But don't worry, if you're not a social media person, I'll post about giveaways here too. (If you do want to follow me, click the links above or click the FB or IG buttons at the bottom of the page.)

What I'm Reading

news.jpeg
light.jpeg

 

I recently finished two really good books, News of the World and The Hidden Light of Northern Fires. It was interesting to read them back to back. Hidden Light takes place in a small town in New York (actually a town that seceded from the Union, despite being so far North) during the Civil War and News of the World takes place during Reconstruction, although this time in Texas. Both have a type of outlaws--Hidden Light has bounty hunters looking for runaway slaves and News has Indians and a wave of ruthless cowboys in a basically lawless land. I really enjoyed both stories. 

gift.jpeg

 

I stumbled on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift from the Sea in a used bookstore in Bryson City, NC, on our spring break. I've been wanting the book for a while and was so pleased to find it. Now I have to decide if i'm going to start it now or wait until I'm farther south near the water. 

LAUNCH PARTY

We're putting finishing touches on the launch party for HURRICANE SEASON! It'll be this Saturday, April 7 (also known as TRP's birthday ;) at Little Professor Book Center in downtown Homewood. 6-8pm. If you're anywhere close by, I'd love to see you! 

I'll be updating my EVENTS page very soon with new book signings and appearances (including Page and Palette in June!) so check back in!

Hope to "see" you tomorrow night on FB Live and/or at the party Saturday night! Have a great week!

 

Contest ends Tuesday March 6!

Hi friends, 

I just wanted to remind you the drawing to win the advance copy of HURRICANE SEASON ends Tuesday evening at 7pm CST! If you haven't entered, all you have to do is sign up to receive my newsletter! (By doing this, you'll also get a notice when I update this blog, which I only do when I have important news to share--events, book news, giveaways, etc.

I'll announce the winner soon after 7. Good luck!!

Hurricane fanned cover with blurb.jpg

Few updates and a GIVEAWAY!

Hi friends! I'm so glad it's the weekend. We had a doozy of a week and we're supposed to have sunshine on Saturday, and that's a good thing. We have no plans, which is a relief. I foresee maybe pulling some weeds out of our front flower bed (a never-ending process), maybe a trip to the library with the girls, and hopefully some reading in a sunny spot in the backyard. 

A few things to note...

HURRICANE SEASON was just included in Southern Living's list of Best Spring Break Reads! This is a huge deal and I'm so honored to be included. 

It's also had some nice reviews coming in from all over...
Publishers Weekly said it's "a heartwarming, character-driven story that will appeal to fans of Southern fiction."
RT Book Reviews called it "a truly remarkable read." 
Book reviewer Kristen Swanson called it a "really enjoyable read- just like The Hideaway was. Denton has a delicate way of presenting her characters and enabling you to fall in love with them."

I make it a point to not read reviews, but as these early ones come in, it's hard not to peek!

Hurricane Season_Cover.jpeg

 

Lastly, I'm giving away a signed advance copy of HURRICANE SEASON to one lucky reader! To enter the contest, just sign up for my newsletter/blog. There's a spot just over to the right--> 

I promise to not bombard you with annoying emails! I only post when I have important things to tell you--new books, giveaways, events, Great British Baking Show wisdom, etc. Contest ends Tuesday, March 6 at 7pm CST. Good Luck!!

Hope you all have a good weekend. If it's not warm and sunny where you are, I hope you can find a warm spot to read for a while.

Lauren

Hi friends! 

Lots of things are happening these days in my book/writing world, so I thought I'd give a little update.

The Hideaway

Hideaway USA Today cover.jpg


This continues to be the little book that could! Bookpage called it a "word-of-mouth surprise hit," which means so much to me because it shows people are continuing to read it and tell their friends about it! It's nice to know its success isn't just because of a publisher's money or connections (though those are nice too!) but it's in large part due to people like you spreading the word. So thank you!! 

It recently reached #27 on the USA Today Bestseller list, its highest position yet! It was also sitting at #13 on the Amazon Charts Most Sold list, and #10 on the Wall Street Journal eBook bestseller list. Whew!

I'm continuing to meet with book clubs and library groups to discuss The Hideaway. My head is two books past this (working on book 3) so it's really fun to go back to these original characters and relationships.

Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season_Cover.jpeg

Friends keep asking me how this one is going, and it's wonderful to say it's totally out of my hands at this point! All edits are complete, the final cover is complete, endorsements are in. Release date is April 3! 

My experiences with The Hideaway and Hurricane Season have been so different. From the very beginning, I was in love with the world of The Hideaway and the characters. I knew it was a special story and I really had a deep feeling that people would like it. Hurricane Season felt different as I was writing it. It felt like an important story, but I had a lot of fear that it wouldn't live up to the first book and that I wouldn't feel as proud and confident as I did with The Hideaway. Well, I can honestly say those fears were unfounded, as I am so proud of this book. I've already told myself I'm going to avoid reviews like the plague because I don't want negative words to taint my own feelings about this book, but I have a feeling many people will empathize with the characters and situations in this story.

[Note: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about a book, whether they think it's amazing or completely terrible. I just wish they'd remember that an actual human wrote the words and could potentially read the review. The anonymity of the internet doesn't excuse cruelty!]

Bottom line, I love it and I can't wait to share the world of Betsy and Ty, Jenna and her girls, Franklin Dairy Farm and Rosie, and all the other characters with all of you! 

Others are getting excited about it too. It was recently listed on Bookpage's list of 2018 Most Anticipated Fiction! It was also listed in the Spring/Summer 2018 BuzzBooks from Publisher's Marketplace!

The book is available for preorder from anywhere you buy books. You can even ask your local bookstore to order you a copy. If you prefer to do it online, here are a few places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Thomas Nelson, Indiebound

Book 3
This one will release in February 2019! The titling process is underway, so hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can reveal the official title. I have my working title, which I hope they'll settle on, but we'll see. A few weeks ago, I finished reading through my draft of the story. Here's an idea of what the manuscript looks like after a couple rounds of reading and Post-It-ing:

IMG_4255.JPG

 

 

My process in revisions is to read the entire manuscript on paper, make my corrections there in pencil, then transfer all those changes to the Word doc. Then I read through it again on the computer. Then I tinker. Then I usually I send it to beta readers then--a few trusted friends who will read it and give me feedback before I sent it to the editor. However, this time around my timeline is tighter so my only beta readers are my mom, my husband, and my agent. Pretty great crew though. I'm a little nervous BUT I'm loving this story and I feel really good about it. 

Reading

I've read some good books lately: 

garden spells.jpeg
First Frost.jpeg

I'm on a major Sarah Addison Allen kick right now. Garden Spells was my first introduction into the genre of magical realism. Magical realism is different from fantasy in that it's set in a totally normal world--not something like the world of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones where it's obvious it's not the world we live in--but touches and hints of magic are thrown in. In Garden Spells, the main character Claire Waverly can change the course of someone's life (or at least their day) by baking particular ingredients into her food. There's also an apple tree in the backyard that throws apples at people it doesn't like, and if you eat one of the apples, you'll see the most important event of your life. The sequel, First Frost, is equally as dreamy and lush, and it continues the story of Claire, her sister Sydney, and Sydney's daughter Bay. I reread both these books in the last couple of months and I wish I were still in the Waverly world.

bookshop.jpeg

I read Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner over Christmas when I wanted something light and fun and easy, something that wouldn't tax my brain too much while I took a break from my manuscript, and this book totally fit what I wanted! It follows a young woman who loses her job and instead of taking another job she doesn't love, she moves to Scotland (from England) and opens a library-on-wheels. The book is laugh-out-loud funny and has charming Scottish people, a gorgeous landscape, and lots of books. 

liturgy.jpeg

I read Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren over about six months because I wanted to savor it. I read it almost as a sort of morning devotion. It's about slowing down enough to see the holiness in even the most mundane moments. Chapters are broken down into things like "Making the Bed," "Brushing Teeth," "Losing Car Keys." (And they're not just about those specific things--she doesn't spend 20 pages talking about actually brushing teeth, trust me.) Good for anyone who feels caught up in the rush of life. But more than just a caution to slow down (because life doesn't really slow down, does it?), she helps us see the theology of every day by looking at the small moments and habits that form us. Really, really good. 

Book Clubs

I've had such fun with book clubs lately! Sometimes I forget to take photos, but here are a few recent ones. 

BUTS.jpg

                                                                               BUTS (Birmingham Ultra Trail Society) book club

Debra.jpg

                                                                                           Basketweave and Books!

Bossypants.jpg

                                                                    Bossypants Book Club (through Homewood Public Library)

 

Odds and Ends

Next Wednesday, I turn in my Book 3 manuscript to my editor and then Thursday head to Nashville to meet that editor for the first time, along with everyone else on my publishing team AND my agent, who I've never met in person. I'm really looking forward to it! It should be a great day of introductions, questions, and learning more about each other. 

Friday, I head to a huge cabin in north Alabama with fifty awesome and interesting women from my church for a long weekend of rest, eating, drinking, chatting, laughter, and more rest. I really can't wait for it. 

THEN I'll be on an official break from writing. For the first time since I started writing The Hideaway (FIVE YEARS AGO--WOW!!) I won't be jumping from one story right into another one. I think it'll be good for my brain and my creativity to take some time off before beginning my next one. (Although the idea for Hurricane Season and book 3 both came to me out of left field when I wasn't expecting them, so who knows when the idea for the next one will begin to materialize? When it does, I'll just take notes for a while!)

I hope you're all doing well and hanging in there while this chilly weather continues to cling. I'm so very ready for warmer weather. I can feel the heat and my toes in the sand!

Take care, 

Lauren

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Hi friends! It has been a while! What's taking up my time these days, you ask? Here's a quick visual.

 Sela and Kate on Hero day at school.

Sela and Kate on Hero day at school.

 Kate's 8th birthday party!

Kate's 8th birthday party!

 Sela at Christmas/Frozen/Cinderella madness at the mall.

Sela at Christmas/Frozen/Cinderella madness at the mall.

But what's been taking up my free time the most? 

IMG_3727.JPG

This friendly little chart is keeping me on track to finish this draft of book 3 by the time my kids get out of school for something like three weeks for Christmas. I made up the schedule when I realized that having to squeeze writing time into the days while my kids are home through New Years would make all of us fairly miserable. Especially the days leading up to Christmas. It's always a bit of a struggle to keep things peaceful and restful in the midst of Christmas frenzy, trying to remember what and who we're celebrating, but much more so if I'm trying to wrangle words as well. So, deadline to the rescue. And I have to admit, as I near the end of this story, I'm starting to feel a teeny bit excited about it. I'll put it aside after the 13th and hopefully not pick it up again until at least after Christmas, if not when the kids are back in school. Then it'll be a last push to reread, ask a few people to read it for me, and do final revisions before turning it in Feb. 1. 

HURRICANE SEASON
I can't wait to get this book out into your hands! It releases April 3, 2018. In short, it's about marriage, motherhood, sisters, daughters, cows, photography, and hurricanes. I'm a little biased, but I think you'll like it ;)

THE HIDEAWAY
This sweet little thing has stayed on the USA Today Bestseller list for 8 weeks! Amazing. And thank you for helping it make it to the list! I've had so much fun talking and Skyping with books clubs over the last several months, and I have several more on the calendar in 2018. If you're part of a book club, I'd love to come visit--or Skype if you're not in the Birmingham or Mobile area! Shoot me and email and let's talk!

WHAT I'M READING THESE DAYS
 

night.jpeg

I recently finished this little gem, The Longest Night by Andria Williams. It's her debut novel but you'd never know it by its beautiful prose and tight tension. It's centered around the country's only fatal accident at a nuclear reactor (in the early 60s), and the marriage of one of the reactor's operators and his wife. I really enjoyed it. 

bright edge.jpeg

This was another fascinating read, about the man who led the exploration of a portion of Alaska; his wife Sophie who stayed behind; and a wonderfully crotchety old man writing letters to a young staffer at a museum in Alpine, Alaska. Eowyn Ivey wrote The Snow Child, which I haven't read, but it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, so I'm assuming it's pretty good ;) This one kept me up many nights until I finished it. It was beautiful.

COMING UP
If you're anywhere near Mobile, AL, I'll be signing copies of The Hideaway at LUSH Home and Garden during the Christmas at the Loop holiday open house! It's Friday Dec 1 from 5-8pm. I'd love to see you there! Remember BOOKS make great gifts! Especially signed ones. And I can personalize them for anyone you want. 

I hope you all have a restful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Love,
Lauren

 

 

 

USA Today Bestseller!

So, THE HIDEAWAY had a bit of a good week last week! Wednesday I learned that the book made it on to the Top 20 Most Sold list on Amazon, coming in at #17. This on its own was exciting enough. 

amazon.jpg

THEN, oh but then, on Thursday, I returned home from dropping my kids off at school, started scrambling eggs for breakfast, and saw an email from my friends at Thomas Nelson informing me that THE HIDEAWAY debuted at #39 on the USA Today bestseller list!

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.46.13 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.46.23 PM.png

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I sobbed over my plate of scrambled eggs. My brain was total mush for the rest of the day. It's crazy that we keep getting good news about the book--making it onto these lists, seeing numbers continue to rise, etc. But honestly, the best part of it is that daily, I'm receiving email messages from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the book. Those messages are so precious, and I've saved every single one in an email folder. I plan to pull them back out and read them on difficult writing days or when a particularly stinging negative review comes in. So THANK YOU to all of you who've read the book and THANK YOU for spreading the word to your friends and family. I love knowing Mags and Sara (William and Crawford, Dot and Bert, Glory and Major, and of course Allyn) are having such an effect on readers. 

**Sidenote: The eBook was on sale for $1.99 for all of August, BUT in case you missed out or know of someone else who did, the sale has been extended for all of September! Please spread the word to your book-loving friends. Here's a link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks.

READING:

I just finished reading an advance copy of Billy Coffey's STEAL AWAY HOME. 

steal.jpg

I loved this book. Here's my review of it: During the course of one fateful night--his first game in the Major League--Billy Coffey's main character, Paul Cross, is confronted by his childhood love, aspirations, and regrets. Baseball fans will love the behind-the-scenes peek into a night game in the Major Leagues, but even non-baseball fans will be pulled into the beauty and tension of Coffey's writing, the lovely and tragic Blue Ridge Mountain settings, and his compelling characters who make both selfless and heartbreaking choices. This is a powerful story of grief, love, forgiveness, and holy mystery, and I loved it. Billy Coffey is a master storyteller. 

Next, I'm reading Patti Callahan Henry's THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER'S END, Emily Beck Cogburn's AVA'S PLACE, and Johnnie Bernhard's A GOOD GIRL. The four of us are going to be on a panel at the Louisiana Book Festival at the end of October. 

WRITING:

I've started going through my rough draft of book 3 (which I'm tentatively calling Glory Road). I'm about 5 chapters in and relieved that I still like the story! I think the three women in this story will resonate with readers and fans of Sara and Mags, as well as fans of Betsy and Jenna, the main characters in next April's HURRICANE SEASON. Right now, I'm trying to parcel out my day to include a decent chunk of writing/revising, reading, and "adulting" i.e., keeping the laundry from overtaking the house, making sure dinner gets on the table, making sure Kate does her 20 minutes of reading a day and keeping Sela from bringing cicadas inside the house. 

Speaking of HURRICANE SEASON, I just received the designed pages of the book and I have my last chance to read through and catch any last hiccups before production begins! So exciting. I can't wait to get this book out to everyone. I love it. 

Hope y'all are well and finding time to do things you enjoy. And if any of you are in Florida, please be safe and careful. 

Lauren

Bookish People: Colleen Oakley **Plus a Giveaway!!**

Contest closed--winner is Robin Ruiz!

This month's Bookish People interview features Colleen Oakley, author of Before I Go and Close Enough to Touch.

 

I was lucky to meet her a few months ago at The Book Exchange in Marietta, GA. She has a kindergartener and a second grader, like I do, so I'd imagine we're on the same page as far as trying to fit writing/editing/promotion in around the edges of parenting and life!

before.jpg
touch2b (1).jpg

**GIVEAWAY ALERT: To celebrate this week's paperback release of her most recent book, Close Enough to Touch, Colleen has generously offered one lucky reader a copy of the book! See details about the giveaway after her interview!**

Welcome Colleen!

1. Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.

My debut, Before I Go, is about a young woman dying of breast cancer, who decides, in the time she has left, to find a new wife for her husband to take care of him after she’s gone.

My latest, Close Enough to Touch is about a woman with a rare and potentially deadly medical condition—she’s allergic to other people.

2. What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback?

Tough question! Hardest criticism is pretty much any review that pans your book in a mean way. A blogger once wrote a one-word review: “Don’t”. I understand that not every book is for everybody, but after working so hard on something, it still stings!

3. Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?

I love enthusiastic fans! The best moments are always the people who are excited to meet you and love your work—it’s such a great feeling to see that something you’ve written has had such an impact on someone.

4. Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?

Definitely something in between. On deadline I write every day, but there’s nothing organized about me or my writing. I’m an OCD person’s worst nightmare.

5. Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?

There are so many! I have a list of book ideas that I can’t wait to tackle. As far as setting, I’d love to do a book set in Italy, just so I have the excuse to go there.

6. What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)

The carpool lane picking my kids up from school. I know I’m meant to be paying attention to make sure I don’t accidentally take out any children, but it’s a long line and a book helps pass the time.

7. Tell us a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter, Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

8. Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I LOVE Taylor Jenkins Reid, but this book was a step out of her typical genre and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it when I started reading, but then I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s such a great page-turner with a fascinating— and multi-faceted— main character.

9. What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?

I don’t like clichés, predictable endings or boring dialogue—three things I work really hard as a writer to try and avoid (even though I don’t always succeed!)

10. Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?

Books— always print. Calendar— electronic

11. Chocolate or vanilla?

Both!

12. Coffee or tea? Or something else?

Coffee! And vodka.

13. Tell us what you’re working on now.

I’m halfway done with a book about dream telepathy— and whether true love is fated or a choice.

**To enter the giveaway for Colleen's book Close Enough to Touch, leave a comment here and tell us what you're reading now! Contest ends at 7pm CST Tuesday 8/15.

Thanks for reading and thanks Colleen for the interview and for the giveaway!

 

 

Back to School (aka the most bittersweet day of the year)

Hi friends! It's been a while. First, a little housekeeping:

It feels pretty self-serving to direct you to my Facebook page, but since you're here to see what's going on in my world, I guess it's not too much of a stretch to think you might be interested to know I post more frequently (but hopefully not enough to be annoying ;) on my author Facebook page. If you haven't stopped by there, feel free--find it here.  You can also find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, if you're so inclined. 

What's going on with me:

My babies went back to school today!

 

As expected, I feel both relief and sorrow in equal measures. I loooove summer and really enjoyed the freedom of this summer--not having to get up and get going any any certain time, letting the kids stay up late, loose schedules, etc. But there was also the bickering. And the "I'm bored"s. So going back to school is a relief because my kids (especially my 7 year old Kate who LOVES to know the EXACT plan for the day) will have a schedule for their days and I will have time on my own. . . but I really will miss them. And my baby Sela (just turned 5 in July) is in kindergarten now, sniff sniff. I could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say, I'm a little heartbroken. 

However, my time opens up so much now--from 8 until 2:45 I am on my own, which feels like a ridiculously long amount of time, though I fear I could waste a bunch of that time if I'm not careful. I had to be so careful with my four hours a day of preschool last year, and I know i need to be on my guard to not think, "Oh, I have pleeeeenty of time for writing. I can do that later". . . and find myself at 2:45 picking the kids up with nothing to show for it. I want to make the most of my time and do the things I need/want to do, so that when I pick the kids up, I'm not still thinking of all the things I didn't do. I feel like that happened a lot last year and I was always operating with a tiny bit of frustration in the afternoons because my writing/alone time for the day was over and I left things unfinished. Sending *both* my kiddos off to big school makes me more than ever think I don't want to waste time with them feeling frustrated by things I need to do. As everyone says, kids won't notice a dirty floor or unfolded laundry (or an unfinished chapter), but they will notice a totally distracted mama. 

Speaking of writing:

Hurricane Season is mostly wrapped up and edited. Soon, I will receive page proofs--essentially the book all laid out nice and pretty for one more read-through before it goes into production. It's crazy to think I'll be doing this whole shebang again next April! (April 3, 2018! And shameless plug, you can preorder it anywhere you buy books! Here's the link to Amazon.)

After I get over the shock of this quiet house and my brain settles down, I will be hitting book 3 hard! I have a very rough draft of it already written, but it needs a lot of work. I'm excited about it but also slightly terrified. There's this feeling of, "I know I've done this before (twice now) but what if I just can't make it happen again?!" But I trust that I can. 

Events coming up:

I am meeting with various book clubs this fall--some in person, some over Skype--to discuss The Hideaway. I'll also be in Greenville, SC, on August 28 at M. Judson Booksellers. I'm part of their event called Page Pairings, which pairs books with wine--not sure how they do that, but I'm all for it! I know of one author who's going to be there, Joy Callaway, and I'm so excited to finally meet her in person. 

I'll also be in Baton Rouge, LA, October 28 for the Louisiana Book Festival. There are a ton of awesome authors coming, so if you're anywhere near Baton Rouge, come check it out. 

What I'm reading:

First Frost is the sequel to Sarah Addison Allen's first novel, Garden Spells. If you've never read anything in the magical realism genre, this is it. It's not super magical, a la Harry Potter, but it's our normal, everyday world with small touches of magic/mystery thrown in. I love it. And I'm loving this book. It's delicious. 

On my list to read next (ish):

Ann Kidd Taylor is the daughter of Sue Monk Kidd, also known as the author of one of my very favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees, which was the book that made me think, "Maybe I want to try my hand at this fiction writing thing." I admit I checked the book out just because of who her mom is, but the story is really intriguing and I'm hearing good things about it. 

This is another WWII novel, but different in that it's not set in Europe. A woman learns her Jewish father was a sergeant in charge of a platoon of black soldiers in 1940s Alabama. 

 

That's about it from me. I'm going to keep myself busy for the next hour before I run out the door and dash down the street to meet my kiddos at school pick-up. Never have I wanted 3:00 to get here more than today! After today, I probably won't feel as out of sorts (and that fresh new Word document will start calling my name) but today I can't wait to see their faces!

Good luck with school if that's your thing. If not, enjoy the rest of your summer!

Lauren

Bookish People: M.O. Walsh

Y'all, forgive me. It's been a while since I've posted a Bookish People interview, but I'm back with a good one! 

Those of you who know my husband know he's a runner. In the last several years, he's concentrated his running on mountains and trails, which makes me happy because there are no cars or angry drivers to deal with. A few years ago, I traveled with him to the far reaches of Tennessee for a weekend stage-race at a horse farm. Not being a runner, I came supplied with a good book and my computer with the idea that I'd get some writing done. However, I didn't even crack the computer open because I spent the entire weekend sitting in a fold-out chair with my nose in M.O. Walsh's debut novel My Sunshine Away. It wasn't an easy breezy read--it was gritty and dark and at times painful, but it also had a strong sense of nostalgia for easier days of childhood, plus unexpected sweetness and love. Walsh is so skilled with words and creating a sense of place--so much so that it carried me away from the heat and the strange bugs and the scary little roadside motel we stayed in. I really enjoyed it, so consider this my endorsement. (*Note if you're a sensitive reader--like I said, there are some gritty, painful parts.)

I'm really excited to feature M.O. on Bookish People! And his is a fantastic interview. I laughed and nodded as I read through his answers. (It always makes authors feel better about themselves to hear another author talk about his or her struggles with writing! It's self-serving, but it's the truth. Or maybe it's just my truth.) Anyway, I hope you enjoy the interview then check out his books. I'm already excited about his next one. 

 

1. Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.

My first book is a collection of short stories called The Prospect of Magic, which is about what happens when a travelling carnival goes bust in a small Louisiana town and the carnival workers decide to make a home there.  The stories are kind of strange, halfway split between realism and a type of magical realism. As a note, I consider the story about a family of bat people to be realism. My most recent book is a novel entitled My Sunshine Away, which is a sort of coming of age literary suspense set in suburban Baton Rouge, mainly in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

magic.jpg

 

2. What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback?

I had a 6th grade teacher once send me an email to tell me that she loved my novel but she thought I should go back to sixth grade before I ever wrote another one.  She was of the opinion that I (and all my editors and copyeditors, I suppose) don’t understand proper grammar.  I think the fact the novel is written in first person, and follows more colloquial speech patterns, was an unsatisfactory answer to a person who has spent their life teaching the rules. I get that. Plus, I never take that sort of criticism too seriously. After all, no one could be as harsh to me in an email as I am to myself on a daily basis.

The best criticism has come from the dozens of teachers and peers I’ve had throughout my many years of schooling and writing.  This advice typically tends to be about clarity, about making sure that readers can see the simple things you are describing before worrying about being pretty or smart. It’s important to remember that and I sometimes need to be reminded. Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

3. Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?

I had a reading at book festival where I walked in and saw about 10 people already there waiting (which is a great number!). I was pretty psyched. Plus, my family had come with me so all in all there were about 15 people.  Then, when I got introduced, the people who had been waiting started to look confused. They shuffled around to find their programs and all, simultaneously, it seemed, realized they were in the wrong room. After they politely filed out, one by one, I realized it was just me and my family in there. Since they had all heard me read from that same book many times, I begged them to let me take them to lunch instead.  However, like the loving family they are, they asked me to continue.  I think they were hoping more people would show up, which they did not. I don’t know. I couldn’t help feeling guilty that they’d gotten out of their pj’s for that.   

The best moments are typically those in which anybody shows up at all, in which you meet other writers and booksellers, perhaps see an old friend who now lives in that town you’ve travelled to.  A store called Watermark Books in Wichita, Kansas once made a gumbo dinner for my reading, which was awesome.  When I read at Lemuria in Jackson, where my grandparents used to live before they passed away, one of my grandmother’s dearest friends showed up and gave me a photo album full of pictures of them with my grandparents. Playing golf. Smiling. Being together in life. That sort of thing, any unexpected moment of connection, is hard to beat.

4. Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?

I write best in the early mornings, before I’ve let the real world bat me around.  However, these days, with a family and young kids and a full-time job, I pretty much have to steal my writing time. I don’t have any rituals or superstitions about it.  I typically just look at the screen and think, why is this not as good as I want it to be?  

5. Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?

My first two books are set in Louisiana, as is the one I’m working on now. I think my next one, if I’m lucky enough to write it, will be, as well.  I’ve lived here for most of my life and feel, when you’re writing fiction, it’s sometimes best to play to your strengths. I know what the houses look like here. I know which trees dot the medians.  I know the heat.  That helps.

6. What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)

Does the bathroom count?

7. Tell us a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.

I think Miss Jane, by Brad Watson, is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in years.  I also really enjoyed Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.  That book was a lot of fun. I also thought Exit West by Mohsin Hamid was incredible and I learned a great deal about slow burning suspense from Megan Abbott’s novel You Will Know Me. As far as older books I finally got around to reading, the ones that most blew me away were The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I can also remember finishing Jess Walter’s novel Beautiful Ruins and thinking, damn, I wish I could write like that.

8. Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.

I liked The Martian by Andy Weir a good deal more than I thought I would.  I don’t read a ton of sci fi, but that wasn’t what surprised me about it.  What surprised me was the great pleasure I get, as a reader, out of watching problem-solving in novels.  That book has a new problem every page, it seems, that we witness the narrator solve in surprising and inventive ways.  I think that’s what all fiction ultimately does, present problems and try to solve them unexpectedly, but this book was like dosing that feeling with steroids. 

9. What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?

I have way too many to list.  The verb “pad” instead of walk. Errors in agency, like when a person’s hands feel greedy or jealous (which hands obviously can’t do).  Eyes flashing. Mouths gaping. People having “frames” instead of bodies. I think most writers have these sort of pet peeves.  They are the by-product of the hundreds of hours we spend berating ourselves about out our own prose. It doesn’t mean the other person’s writing is bad.  It means that we have convinced ourselves that we are bad writers when we write that way.  So, to see other people do it and get away with it just sets off a sort of petty sounding bell in our ear.

10. Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?

Books: print or audio.  Calendar: about 5 different ones on 5 different platforms that are inevitable un-synched.

11.  Chocolate or vanilla?

Swirl.

12. Coffee or tea? Or something else?

Coffee if writing. Bourbon if not.

13. Tell us what you’re working on now.

I am working on a novel about what happens to a fictional town in Louisiana when a machine shows up at the grocery store that is able to predict, through the science of DNA, what people are truly capable of achieving.  It is called The Big Door Prize and is slated for publication by Putnam in 2021. I imagine that seems like a long time from now to anyone who doesn’t actually have to finish the novel.  To me, it feels like it is due tomorrow.

You can find M.O. on Twitter, Facebook, or on his website

Thank you M.O. and thank you for reading!

Catching up...

I've received my first award for The Hideaway. My seven-year-old Kate brought this to me a couple days after the book came out.

 

Naturally, it's the best kind of prize. Done novel. Check. 

In case you missed it, I posted photos of the book release party on Facebook--you can find them here. It was a great night, full of new and old friends and great conversation. 

 

On book reviews: 
My general rule for myself regarding reviews is DON'T READ THEM! I do read them if I'm tagged in them however, and I've been tagged in many lately because The Hideaway is the focus of a blog tour right now through TLC Blog Tours. You can see the whole schedule here. It's been really fun to hear people's thoughts of the book, and a few of the reviews have been especially nice to hear because the reviewer picked up on a theme or idea that I hoped would come through to readers. Here are a couple...

"This particular plot has become a classic for a reason – in the hands of a good writer, it makes a powerful (and lovely) story, as it does here in The Hideaway." From Marlene Harris's review at Reading Reality

"The Hideaway and Sweet Bay, Alabama were like additional characters. They held such prominence and beauty in the book, and I loved seeing the history The Hideaway B&B had through the years–first for Mags, then for Sara with Mags, and finally for Sara without Mags." From Heather's review at Bewitched Bookworms.  

I've also had a few late-night texts and early-morning emails from people I know and don't know telling me how much they enjoyed the story and various reasons why. These are so wonderful because usually the person has just finished reading the story and I get their immediate thoughts. One sweet friend who had just closed the book said The Hideaway made her grateful for the beauty and brokenness in her own life. That my story could lead someone to reflect on her life in that way is the highest praise I could get. 

Upcoming events for The Hideaway:
I'll be on Talk of Alabama (Birmingham's ABC 33/40) the morning of May 25 to talk about the book. My first TV appearance! Not nervous at all. (Bites fingernails.)  I have a signing and talk at the Homewood Public Library on July 13, and hopefully another signing or two around Birmingham. I'll let you know details when and if I figure them out. I'll also be talking to a few book clubs either in person or through the magic of FaceTime or Skype. (I'm really excited about doing these!) I'm also working on setting up a signing or two in the Mobile area, so I'll keep you posted on that and any other signings as they come up. 

Hurricane Season:
I turned in my manuscript for my second book a few weeks ago and just received the letter and notes back from my editor! I wasn't expecting it so soon, so it was a total surprise, but a really good one. As soon as I got the email yesterday, I quickly scanned the first part of the letter and was so relieved to see that she liked it! She had only read about 100 pages from a very early draft of the story, and it was a really long time ago, so I had no idea if the story would sit well with her. I've felt a whole new kind of pressure with this one, being the sophomore book. You always hear about authors writing a great first book, then people not being happy with the follow-up. Not that I have any control over how people react to my books, but the goal, obviously, is to continue putting books out there that readers can connect with and that fit together well as a whole. (We want the body of work to be *cohesive* as Tim Gunn would say.) 

Book 3:
I've been thinking ahead to what book I'll do next after Hurricane. (I know, it's crazy to think that far ahead, but since we're already into edits with Hurricane, it really is time to be thinking about what comes next. Plus, I'm getting the itch to write again.) Back in 2015, I was working on another book that I thought might be the follow-up to Hideaway. I decided to go with Hurricane as the follow-up, so this other book is still here with me, and I think I'm going to submit it as my book 3. These characters have stayed in the back of my mind these last couple of years, and I keep thinking about the setting and the premise. I just sent a summary of the story to my agent, and I thought I'd be digging back into the draft of the story, but now it looks like it'll have to wait a few weeks while I work on edits for Hurricane.

Suffice it to say, I'm seriously going to need to work hard these next few weeks of school to get as much done as I can before summer hits and the kiddos are out of school. I long for summer for so many reasons (hello not having to make school lunches at 7am every day) but it's also hard because of the small amount of time I have during the day to write. I think I saw something a few days ago that said my youngest Sela has 17 days of school left. So I have 17 school days to crank out as much as I can! If I can just get myself off Homewood Trading, that'll be a good first step toward not wasting so much time...

Lastly, what I'm reading.

I'm loving Karen White's newest book. And isn't that cover gorgeous? It came out the same day The Hideaway did. She's such a master of telling a great southern story. 

 

I think this will come next. I've read her first two books, The Historian and Swan Thieves, and I've been waiting for another one from her. (The Historian is SO good.) I've read great things about this next novel. 

Hope you all have a great rest of the week as the countdown to summer gets underway...

 

 

 

Release Day!

I don't know what I expected this day to feel like. Way back when, when I first started writing and dreaming of publishing books, I imagined the life of a writer to have a touch of glamour. I guess I was hanging onto images of writers as sitting in cafes, congregating together to talk about the art of writing and their place in the writing world. I imagined what it would feel like to hold a printed book with my name on the cover and what it would feel like to see it on a bookstore shelf. I know now that the writing life isn't glamorous, that some write in cafes (or anywhere with free wifi and preferably free refills of coffee) though I prefer my own quiet house or the library. I also know writing is mostly a solitary pursuit and you're lucky if you find other writers (in real life and not via the internet) who you can talk to about the craft and difficulty of writing, and maybe laugh about it a little. Incredibly, I know what it feels like to hold a printed book with my name on it, and I guess today I'll know what it feels like to see my book on a bookstore shelf. (Little Professor, here I come.)

So all in all, at one point, I probably expected this day to have a little more pomp and significance--but that was back when I still thought the writing life was glamorous. Not too long ago I heard an author talking about release day as an incredibly normal day (other than the fact that all over the place, people are seeing the book in stores and seeing their pre-ordered Amazon box on their doorstep containing your book). After all the build-up--the writing, editing, revising, hand-wringing, beta readers, query letters, rejections. After more edits, editor phone calls, marketing information, cover reveals, excitement, line edits, proofreads, more proofreads. After all the articles and essays you write to get your name out as much as possible, after the reviews start coming in...release day is pretty much a normal day, just like that author said. At least I imagine it will be. I have no essay due today, no signing, nothing I need to do except drop off the kids at school, buy some plastic Easter eggs, have lunch with Matt (and spy on my book at the bookstore!), call the oven repair people, and pick the kids up. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, as my daughter Kate would say. 

Except that now I'm a published author. And man, that's just completely wild. I'm not crazy about a lot of attention on me--I get nervous and awkward and sort of forget how to sound like a normal person, but I'm not nervous about attention on The Hideaway. I still, after all this time, love the story and I'm really excited about people I know and don't know meeting Sara and Mags and everyone else. I'm a tad nervous about the follow-up coming next year, but I'm sure after my editor Karli gets her hands on it and makes her careful, insightful suggestions, I'll end up in this same place--loving a group of people and a little place in the world that doesn't exist outside my imagination and the confines of 350 pages of paper. 

Huge thank you to those of you who've been on this journey with me from the start. And for newcomers, I hope you like The Hideaway enough to stick around to see what comes next. 

 

Bookish People--Judy Fogarty

I'm so excited to have Judy Fogarty here for this month's (late--sorry!) Bookish People interview. If you remember, she wrote the book Breaking and Holding that I reviewed a few weeks ago and loved so much. It has a great mix of heavy and light--dysfunctional marriage, addiction, secrets, and abuse plus a sweet romance, friendship, longing and hope. And some tennis! 

 

Judy was kind enough to do the Q&A with us, despite a nasty bout of pneumonia and her own deadlines and time commitments. Thanks Judy!

1. Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.

Set in 1978, Breaking and Holding is a story of deception, betrayal and love that can't let go. It begins when Patricia Curren, searching for the courage to end her desolate marriage to a controlling husband, spends a summer alone on Kiawah Island. There she takes a tennis lesson from collegiate player Terry Sloan and a physical attraction begins a slow burn to obsession. What gives the novel its edge is the presence and perspective of career-driven Lynn Hewitt. As Patricia's closest friend and her husband's assistant, Lynn is trapped in the middle, trying to protect everyone from life-shattering consequences.

 

2. What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback? 

Throughout countless revisions, my writing group posed one elemental question I had trouble answering: Whose story is this? I had Patricia and Terry and their story of unshakeable love, but I also had first-person narrator, Lynn, in a Nick Carraway role. I wrote 15 beginnings trying to clarify her role before finding the simple lines that open the novel today. The final line, which now seems equally obvious, didn't come to me until the proofreading stage and barely made it into print.

3. Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?

At my launch party in my native Savannah, Georgia, people I hadn't seen in years turned out to buy my novel. Many, I'm sure, didn't know its elements: an illicit love affair, a hot steamy summer at the beach, and the Me Decade of the 1970s ("If it feels good, do it!") At one point, I looked up from my table and saw a contingent of octogenarians, including my elementary school librarian, my childhood ballet teacher, and my sweet neighbor hobbling on two canes to buy ten copies. All of them are dear to my heart. And I'm still wondering what each of them thought!

4. Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?

I'm an orderly lark, at my best in the morning. I wake daily at 4:00 without an alarm and write until life demands otherwise or I hit the wall. I love the quiet of the morning, the darkness outside and the moment when the first bird sings. Apart from schedule though, I'm a total mess, with an office, desk, bulletin board and countless laptop files to prove it.

5. Is there a topic/theme/setting you're particularly interested in that you'd like to write about in a future book?

Breaking and Holding was somewhat dark. My second novel is darker. So, craving something light and aspiring high, I'd like to discover my Nora Ephron side.

6. What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)

Never to church or a sports event, but to every other place you can think of.

7. Tell me a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.

Paulette Giles had me at page one of News of the World, and held me all the way with her poetic prose, voice, scene setting, dialogue, meticulous but unobtrusive historical detail, and most of all, with her story. I didn't read. I rode with Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd and ten-year-old Johanna, from Wichita Falls to San Antonio. I would say much the same thing of Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton. I didn't read. I listened to Lucy, lying in a hospital bed, conversing with her mother for the first time in years about their relationship and her childhood of poverty, abuse, shame and separateness. I loved Lucy's wisdom and her exuberant appreciation of small kindnesses, all related in her distinctive voice and Strout's spare, resonant prose.

8. Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.

My go-to genre is literary fiction, but I'm trying to read more of what I write: commercial women's fiction with a literary bent. I wasn't expecting to love Big Little Lies, my first Liane Moriarty novel, but I did, for its wittiness, edge and brisk pace coupled with important issues of domestic abuse, bullying and facets of marriage, parenting, and divorce.

9. What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?

Pedestrian prose or voice, even in a well-plotted page-turner. If the prose isn't rich, quirky or original, or if the voice is flat, I have a hard time going on.

10. Books: print or e-reader?

Both. I like the feel of a book in my hand and the sight of books on my shelves or in one of many stacks you'll find around my house. They're like art—colorful, meaningful, valuable. But I love the immediacy of downloading to my Kindle when I hear about a new book and just can't wait.

11. Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?

Electronic only, though I do have a wall calendar with inspiring daily quotes.

12. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate. Especially dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt.

13. Coffee or tea?

Starbucks Sumatra, always with half and half.

14. Tell us what you’re working on now.

A novel that takes place over 30 days, between two full moons, the second of which is a blood moon. Set in present-day on the Isle of Hope in Savannah, it's a relationship story with strong elements of suspense. The widowed protagonist's son, four-year-old Zach, is an absolute joy to write.

You can find Judy on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.  

Thanks Judy and thank you for reading!

To not falling asleep during spelling homework

A few days ago, I fell asleep at the kitchen table while going over spelling words with Kate. Chin propped in hand, eyes closed, sank into sleep, and jerked awake. All while Kate carefully wrote out "germ" and drew a little googly-eyed creature next to it. (The assignment was to draw a picture of the words.) It was 3:30 in the afternoon. I'm not proud of this, but I'm not surprised either. Sometimes when my brain hits total overload, it just shuts down. It was like my eyelids were telling my brain, "You better find some place to land because I'm coming down in three...two...one..." 

The day before, I'd spent a couple of hours in our new house with our decorator (who's also such a nice, fun person, so major bonus) and deliberated over everything from paint colors to how to hang a glass shower door here without cracking it on this awkward corner ledge. And do we do a built-in desk here or a separate desk? Should the girls' beds be arranged this way or that way? And wait, does that ceiling look a little bit pink to you? Then there was the backing of more boxes (we fit packing into the margins of the day), working on finding a good balance for the social media aspect of being an author, keeping Kate and Sela from bickering over the white blanket, and analyzing Sela's eye to see if it's red from pink eye or just because she has a cold. The next day, I spent an hour with the wonderful Jake Reiss from Alabama Booksmith talking about my book, which sent my head spinning in a million different directions ("Wait, did he just say he liked my book? I wonder if I can ask him to say it again."), worked on the guest blog posts that are due soon, researched mattresses (what's the deal with this Casper mattress that comes in a box and unfolds over the course of a couple days?), and kept Kate and Sela from fighting over the white blanket (see a pattern here?). 

That's when my brain gave up the fight during the spelling of "germ."

I've been overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion before--funny how our brains can be exhausted just like our bodies can after a lot of exercise--but this time, all the things swirling around are really good things. I've been waiting on both of these for a long time--moving into a bigger house that we get to decorate and settle into, and my book making its way into the world--so it's all pretty darn exciting. My brain just has to take a breather now and then. Though hopefully not at the kitchen table again. 

I'm trying to do things that allow me little bits of mental break and relaxation, even though there's not much free time these days. Most "free" time is spent packing boxes or responding to a question over email or refereeing yet another fight over that white blanket. But I'm trying to keep a book with me at all times--in the car if I'm early for pick-up, in the kitchen while I'm waiting for water to boil, etc. Reading is my go-to stress relief and it helps turn down the buzz in my brain. I'm also trying to save the the first bit of my early-morning work time for this little book called "Seeking God's Face." It's a way to pray through the Bible in a year through fixed, common prayers. I don't always fit it in as regularly as I'd like, but when I do, it calms and reorients me before I start another day. And exercise. Yesterday, I found pounding out Natalie's 9:30 YCross was a great way to tamp down the nervous energy. And sleep. Getting in bed at 9:00? Sign me up.

The move happens two weeks from today, and the book comes out in 40 days. We have about 100 more boxes to pack (though Matt says we have about 30 empty boxes in the garage and once we fill those up, we're not moving anything else ;), a launch party to plan, several more articles and guest posts to write, another book to polish and send to my editor, a new house to figure out, and two little girls to entertain and to hide from a lot of this chaos so they don't get nervous or sense that things are changing as quickly as they are. And probably many other things I'm forgetting about. Whew. Hopefully we'll all stay healthy through all this and by the time May rolls around, all will have gone...well, I was going to say smoothly, and while that's a good goal, I'm sure there will be things that go terrifically awry, because that's life. So I'll say hopefully by the time we get to May, we can look back and enjoy the good parts and laugh about the crazy parts. And then move on to whatever else comes our way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty--and a giveaway!

[Update: Giveaway closed. Winner: Tonya!]

I read BREAKING AND HOLDING by Judy Fogarty for a blog tour. A blog tour is essentially a virtual book tour where an author is featured on a bunch book blogs over a short period of time. (Incidentally, THE HIDEAWAY will be featured in a future blog tour with this group, TLC Blog Tours. I'll let you know when that starts!)

 

Here's a summary of BREAKING AND HOLDING:

For Patricia Curren, the summer of 1978 begins with a devastating discovery: an unfamiliar black pearl button in the bed she shares with her controlling husband, Jack. Seeking the courage to end her desolate marriage, Patricia spends a quiet summer alone on beautiful Kiawah Island. But when she meets Terry Sloan, a collegiate tennis player trying to go pro, their physical attraction sparks a slow burn toward obsession.

Once Patricia and Terry share closely guarded secrets from their pasts, they want more than a summer together. But their love soon fractures, as a potential sponsor takes an unusually keen interest in Terry—both on court and off. And when single, career-driven Lynn Hewitt arrives, other secrets must surface, including the one Patricia has kept from Terry all summer.

An intimate portrait of the folly of the human heart, Breaking and Holding explores buried truths that are startlingly unveiled. What’s left in their wake has the power not only to shatter lives…but to redeem them.

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it. It is heartbreaking and tragic and steamy and sweet. The author spun an incredible web for these characters. Every time I thought I knew what would happen, she took them (and us) down yet another dark and twisting path. Other reviewers have said this a great beach read, and I suppose to the extent that much of it occurs over one summer at the beach (Kiawah Island, SC, in 1978), that’s true. But this wasn’t a light and easy-breezy read for me. With a dysfunctional marriage, addiction, secrets, and abuse plus a tender and sweet romance, friendship, longing, and hope, the author made me care about the main characters, as flawed and damaged and unreliable as they were, and hope for good endings for them, though for much of the book, that seemed a total pipe dream. It was so unpredictable! Right up until the very last pages, I had no idea how things would turn out for them, which to me, is a hallmark of great suspense. 

I also really enjoyed her style of writing. It was whip-smart, at times funny, and for a book with so much romance, it never veered into cheesy or saccharine for me. And bonus if you are a tennis fan, as I am. I loved hearing about the Connors/Borg/McEnroe rivalries, and she used tennis analogies that made my jaw drop. I will be looking with great anticipation for her next book. 

**This is not a knock on the book, but for more sensitive readers, I feel like I need to say this—if you’re looking for clean, PG-rated fun, this may not be the book for you. It has a great deal of "adult situations" and coarse language. If you'd rather not have that in your books, I'd suggest trying something else. 

I have one copy of BREAKING AND HOLDING to give away! Just leave a comment here and tell me your favorite tennis rivalry...or if you know nothing about tennis, tell me your favorite book. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday!

Find Judy on her website, Facebook, or Twitter. Purchase the book here.

Bookish People: Joy Callaway

I'm so excited to be back with my next installment of the Bookish People interviews! This month, it's Joy Callaway, author of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society (available here!). The story follows a family of sisters during the Gilded Age of New York City. It's a love story combined with tragedy and heartbreak, and the period details (clothes, street scenes, etc) are enthralling. (Bonus--on Instagram, she often posts photos of period dress and homes from that period of time.)



1.     Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society
This is a story of secrets and family and history, but principally it’s about love, based on my great-great grandmother and her artistic siblings on the outskirts of Gilded Age New York high society. Pitched by its publisher as Edith Wharton-meets-Little Women, my main character, Ginny Loftin, is an aspiring novelist caught between the boy next door and a mysterious author who inducts her into Manhattan’s most elite artistic salon. Glitter and glamour aside, the story is really about what it means to be both a woman and an artist, and sounds the emotional depths Ginny is willing explore to protect her art, her family, and her chance at love.

FifthAvenueArtistsSociety-quote2a.jpg

 

Secret Sisters (Harper, 7.11.17)
This story is based on the founding of the country’s first sororities! 

Illinois, 1881: Whitsitt College sophomore Beth Carrington has two goals to fulfill by the time she graduates: obtain a medical degree, and establish a women’s fraternity, Beta Xi Beta, that will help young women like herself to connect with and support one another while attending the male-dominated Whitsitt.

Neither is an easy task. The sole female student in the physicians’ program, Beth is constantly called out by her professors and peers for having the audacity not to concentrate on a more “fitting” subject like secretarial studies. Meanwhile, secret organizations are off-limits, and simply by crowding together in a dank basement room and creating a sense of camaraderie, she and her small group of fraternity sisters risk expulsion.

In order to have the fraternity recognized, she knows she needs help. She turns to the most powerful student on campus: senior Grant Richardson, Iota Gamma fraternity president and the scion of a Whitsitt family—a man she’s only acquainted with because of her longstanding friendship with his fraternity brother Will Buchannan. Staunchly traditional, Grant doesn’t see the purpose of this women’s organization, but captivated by Beth, he agrees to give her a helping hand. What she doesn’t know is how many will stop at nothing to keep her burgeoning organization out of the record books—and who she can actually trust along the way.

As Beth fights for her beloved Beta Xi Beta to be recognized, she will uncover deep secrets about the college and those who surround her, and will have to put both love and friendship on the line so that history can be made.

Secret Sisters.jpg

 

2.     What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback.

I’ll lead off here by saying that I actually love criticism so long as it’s productive. I have a great group of critique partners who have read my work since my attempts at books that will never ever become real books and their advice is invaluable. I remember sending Fifth Avenue to my friend Renee and she immediately told me that this was “the one”. I trust them immensely and they never hold back if things need to be reworked or changed. I also have a ridiculously smart agent, Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, whose eye is always spot-on, and an editor, Emily Griffin, whose comments always challenge me.

Worst criticism=Goodreads. If you’re an author, resist the urge to look!

3.     Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?

My Costco signings were always so fun and often hilarious. I think it’s just a consequence of the variety of shoppers, but I had people stopping by my signing table telling me that they can vouch for the fact that UFOs and mermaids exist, that I should write about their grandma’s great-uncle’s cousin who was in the CIA, etc.

4.     Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?

It used to be orderly…sort of. I would put my two kids down for an afternoon nap, rush downstairs and write for an hour in the midst of Minnie Mouse stuffed animals, race cars, and puzzles, but now my three-year-old has quit napping, so I’m still trying to figure out a new routine. Right now it’s pretty erratic.

5.     Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?

I’m interested in everything. Honestly. It’s sort of a downfall. I spend hours looking up historical tidbits that I never actually write about. But, generally speaking, I’m always most interested in American history from the Revolution through World War II. And, I don’t really get very excited about writing well-known historical events. I like taking little-known but remarkable occurrences and giving them a stage. 

6.     What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)

I’ve brought books about everywhere you can imagine, but maybe my most frequent inappropriate place is the bathroom when I’m trying to sneak in one more chapter and hiding from my kids. 

7.     Tell me a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright—Even if you’re not an Elvis fan, this book is amazing. Kim always writes such compelling stories and Last Ride to Graceland is Southern voice at its finest. I also just had a dream that I was Honey (one of the characters in this book) and I rarely dream. It’s that good.

Fates and Traitors by Jennifer Chiaverini—I love the depth of Jennifer’s research and this book is just phenomenal. It follows the women involved in John Wilkes Booth’s life and it’s harrowing and gripping and fascinating.

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson—This book isn’t out until May, but everyone should pre-order it immediately. Jennifer’s books are always so rich and this one is no different. It’s based in World War II London, and the main character, Ruby Sutton, is an inspiring, strong reporter whose unrelenting passion for her work and those she loves is a wonderful tribute to the real heroines of the press during the war.

8.     Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.

To be honest, I’m sort of a reading wimp. I generally stick to women’s fiction or historical fiction, but, interestingly enough, some of my critique partners write thrillers and fantasy and I LOVE reading what they write.

9.     What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?

I REALLY dislike accents that aren’t done realistically. It just zaps you out of the narrative.

10.  Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?

Paper all the way! I actually don’t have an e-reader or an electronic calendar.

11.  Chocolate or vanilla?

Both!

12.  Coffee or tea? Or something else?

Coffee with coconut cream.

13.  Tell us what you’re working on now.

I’ve just started working on a really really fun project—my first attempt at dual POV. It’s set in West Virginia in the 1830s.

You can find Joy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and

Thanks Joy, and thank you for reading!