Blog Swap: Ariel and Marybeth of She Reads

We can't think of a better way to celebrate publication day than to host the ladies of one of our favorite book sites--She Reads! And you can find us over at She Reads today chatting with the girls. Yay! We always admired Marybeth and Ariel--like us, they are also authors!  We're so excited that they've agreed to answer all the Qs we've been dying to ask, like how do they do it ALL?!  We must know their secrets!

Marybeth's latest novel is The Bridge Tender.

The Bridge Tender by Marybeth WhalenHere's the scoop: Emily must realize that her dreams didn’t have to die with her first love. When Emily Shaw, a young widow, learns that her late husband's last surprise for her involves returning to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to realize an old dream of theirs, she reluctantly embarks on a summer of discovery in the midst of grief. There, in the oasis of the beach community, she meets a host of townspeople with their own broken dreams and unexpected situations. As the island citizens divide over the fate of a nostalgic bridge, Emily happens upon a man who just may be the one to restore her faith in dreams, hope, and possibly love.

Our thoughts: UH-mazing!

Ariel's latest novel is The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress.

The Wife, The Maid and the MistressHere's the scoop: They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

Our thoughts: Juicy with a capital J!


Q & A with Ariel and Marybeth

Liz & Lisa: She Reads is an amazing website, both for readers and bloggers. Tell us what inspired you to start the site. And what's the biggest thing you've learned from it?

Marybeth: We started the site after we noticed that we were often asked by friends for book recommendations. We decided to take what we were already doing one on one and do it on a larger scale via the world wide web. As for the biggest thing we've learned, I think it's that-- as far as the selections go-- we have to look at what will reach the largest cross-section of readers. A lot of thought and intention has to go into each selection, with an eye towards what we've already chosen in regards to theme, setting, age or profession of characters, etc. In other words, it's much more complicated than I think either of us anticipated! We work hard to put a variety of consistently excellent novels in front of readers month after month. And we love doing it.

Ariel: Ah, thanks! As Marybeth said, we were already recommending books to friends and family in real life. And after a while it just made sense to do that on a larger scale. But, for me personally, the biggest thing I've learned from running She Reads all these years is what kind of stories readers respond to. Every month for five years we've had our finger on the pulse of what the average woman is reading. What books they're buying when they're at Target and Costco and Barnes and Noble. And we've listened as they've explained why they love those books. As a writer, that's amazing information to have and it's impacted my own novels in very positive ways.

Liz & Lisa: Besides running an incredibly popular website, you both have 2014 releases. (Ariel's debut, THE WIFE, THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS came out earlier this year, MaryBeth's latest, THE BRIDGE TENDER, released June 3rd).  Not to mention, Ariel has four children and Marybeth has six! You must know your secrets: When do you find the time? And where is your favorite place to write?

Marybeth: *laughing* Where do we find the time? We have no idea. We scramble around trying not to lose our ever-loving minds most of the time. And somehow it all comes together. We marvel that it does and are very thankful. Somehow the words get written, the posts go up, and our families (mostly) gets to eat and wear clean clothes. As for my favorite place to write, we have a covered, screened-in area on our deck. I love to write outside on pretty days. It's good to get away from the house (and the never-ending demands within it), but not have to go very far at the same time.

Ariel: Gosh, you make it sound like we actually know what we're doing. Thank you for that! The truth is that both of us are very good at accomplishing a lot in a very short amount of time. We're good at making the most of white space when it appears on the calendar. And we're good at meeting deadlines, whether self-imposed or external. And honestly, I think those are things motherhood has taught us: show up every day and do the work. Over time that adds up. But when it comes to the actual writing, I usually have to leave the house. I write a lot at night and on the weekends. And I often camp out in local coffee shops for marathon writing sessions.

Liz & Lisa: If y'all could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Marybeth: Hang on. You're about to go on a wild ride. It's not going to be like anything you've ever done. In some ways it'll be better than you expect and in some ways, it'll be worse. That's part of the deal. Most importantly, find a good friend to hang on with, one who understands the writing life, and the ride will be ever so much more enjoyable. You can white knuckle it together and laugh like crazy people. That's what Ariel and I do.

Ariel: Write the book that scares you, the one that you are halfway convinced you can't pull off. That's the book that you'll bring your A-game to. And that's the book that readers will respond to.

Liz & Lisa: Tell us what you are both working on right now--we can't wait!

Marybeth: I'm attempting a historical novel. One of those things that used to be on my "I will never" list. You'd think I'd learn to stop saying never.

Ariel: I'm writing another historical novel based on a true event and I can't say much more than that because I've been sworn to secrecy. Also, I'm still at the beginning stages of writing and it feels big and scary and overwhelming and I'm afraid to jinx myself.

Thanks, ladies!