Chick Lit is Not Dead

Meg Waite Clayton's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Wednesday Daughters book coverToday's guest: Meg Waite Clayton Why we love her: Her writing draws us in from page one.

Her latest: The Wednesday Daughters (Out July 16th!)

The scoop: It is early evening when Hope Tantry arrives at the small cottage in England’s pastoral Lake District where her mother, Ally, spent the last years of her life. Ally—one of a close-knit group of women who called themselves the Wednesday Sisters—had used the cottage as a writer’s retreat while she worked on her unpublished biography of Beatrix Potter, yet Hope knows little about her mother’s time there. Traveling with Hope are friends Anna Page and Julie, first introduced as little girls in The Wednesday Sisters, now grown women grappling with issues of a different era. They’ve come to help Hope sort through her mother’s personal effects, yet what they find is a tangled family history—one steeped in Lake District lore.

Hope finds a stack of Ally’s old notebooks tucked away in a hidden drawer, all written in a mysterious code. As she, Julie, and Anna Page try to decipher Ally’s writings—the reason for their encryption, their possible connection to the Potter manuscript—they are forced to confront their own personal struggles: Hope’s doubts about her marriage, Julie’s grief over losing her twin sister, Anna Page’s fear of commitment in relationships. And as the real reason for Ally’s stay in England comes to light, Hope, Julie, and Anna Page reach a new understanding about the enduring bonds of family, the unwavering strength of love, and the inescapable pull of the past.

Our thoughts: A layered and rich novel, we love this follow-up to The Wednesday Sisters!

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, July 14th at 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Check out this special pre-order offer!

Where you can read more about Meg: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Meg Waite Clayton author photo1. Embrace Your Brains.

Smart girls are sexy, at least to the right kind of guy. And who wants the wrong kind? But more importantly, who you are is going to be a lot more important to you than who your date is—or if it isn’t you are in big trouble.

But while you’re at it, check out that guy sitting next to you in honors math. In twenty years, he’s going to look a whole lot better than some of those jocks, and be much better company. Honestly, he’s a better bet for the prom, too.

 2. Success Starts with Being Willing to Fail.

There is some possibility your mom and dad are already telling you this, but all that Catholic girls-are-meant-to-be-perfect stuff is getting in the way. Perfect is boring, and while success is nice, safe success is nothing compared to taking risks. If you want to be every thing you were meant to be, giving up worrying about failing and reach. It might feel sort of like driving too fast, but you know you like that too.

3. Appreciate Your Neck.

There are so many parts of you that are that you’re missing as you’re appling the benzoil peroxide. I’m sorry to report that the acne is not ever going away. Seriously. You have a beautiful neck.

4. Don’t Ever Think You Can’t.

See #2 above. You won't know how much you can do until you try.

 5. Make Sure “The One” Will Do His Share of the Laundry.

You hate doing laundry already. What makes you think you’re going to like doing twice as much? Any guy who respects you is going to want to do his share of the drudge work. Don’t settle for less.

Thanks, Meg!

2013 Club:Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye book coverToday's guest: Jessica Brockmole Why we love her: She has written a captivating debut and we are already anticipating her next!

Her debut: Letters from Skye (Out today!)

The scoop: A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

Our thoughts: As not only authors but best friends who live two thousand miles apart, we appreciate the power of the written word. Letters from Skye, told entirely through letters, is a powerful story of love and loss.

Giveaway: 3 copies! (One of them is signed!) Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, July 14th after 3pm PST

Fun fact: Lisa met Jessica last night at a book signing and it made her love the novel even more.

Where you can read more about Jessica: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Jessica Brockmole author photo1. DO'S: 3 things every aspiring novelist should do

Trust, innovate, and listen. Trust in your own passion, then use that passion to fuel writing that makes your heart sing. Listen to those writers who went before you, as their encouragement and advice are invaluable.

2. DON'TS: 3 things every aspiring novelist shouldn't do

Doubt, imitate, give up. Don’t stop believing in yourself or thinking that you have to write to a certain formula. Persevere!

3. MUST HAVES: On your desk?

Stacks of all the research books for my current project. Even if I’m not reading them, I like to surround myself with the history.

On your Facebook feed?

All of my writing friends. To see their news, from publishing deals to the excitement of finishing a draft, inspires me!

App on your phone?

Twitter. Some of the best history stuff is posted before I wake up, and I catch up while doing my morning elliptical.

4. LASTS: Song you listened to on repeat?

Damien Rice’s The Blower’s Daughter. Never fails to pull emotion from me while writing.

Book you read?

The crisply excellent The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell.

Time you laughed?

My kids make me laugh all the time. Do I have to pick just one?

5. HOW MANY: Agents did you query before you found "the one?"

I sent 180 queries out over the course of three books, before I signed with the fabulous Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

Hours do you write per day? Hours do you waste online when you should be writing?

When I find myself doing more of the latter than the former, I give my social media passwords to my critique partner for safekeeping. I do my writing while the kids are off at school, and at night after everyone is in bed.

6. BESTS: Way to celebrate a book deal?

Sleeping in and then going out for the most heavenly lemon ricotta pancakes at a local restaurant. Oh, and bouncing a lot!

Trick to overcome writer's block?

I don’t believe in writer’s block (I don’t want to give myself an out), but when I’m frustrating myself through an idea, I change location and I keep moving. Running, driving, pacing a circle through my kitchen.

Way to think of a book idea?

I am always thinking of book ideas, unfortunately. A footnote in a history book, a dropped storyline on a TV show, a mused “what-if,” all get jotted on index cards and tucked into a drawer. When I’m ready to start a new project, I take all of the cards out and see which ideas fall together to make a book.

7. NEXTS: Show you'll DVR?

I love shows with smart writing and, at times, a healthy dose of irreverence. The next thing I’ll DVR will be one of the shows on USA.

Book you'll read?

I have Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home up next on my Nook. Excited to read it!

Book you'll write?

I’m currently working on a book coming out with Ballantine next summer. Set before and during WWI, it centers around a pair of artists and how the war changes their budding relationship and the world of beauty they once knew.

Thanks, Jessica!


Shelley Noble's 5 Firsts & Lasts

Stargazey Point book coverToday's guest: Shelley Noble Why we love her: She writes the perfect beach reads!

Her latest: Stargazey Point (Out July 9th!)

The scoop on it: Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair seeks refuge with three octogenarian siblings, who live in a looming plantation house at the edge of the world.

South Carolina’s Stargazey Point used to be a popular family beach resort, but the beaches have eroded, most of the businesses have closed, and the crowds have gone. It's the perfect place to hide from the rest of world.

But hiding is harder than she thought it would be. There's a wise Gullah woman who seems to see into Abbie's soul, and an intriguing man on a quest to bring Stargazey Point back to life.

Our thoughts: Loved this story about friendship and starting over.

You should also read Stargazey Nights, the prequel e-novela to Stargazey Point.

Fun fact: Shelley also writes mysteries under the name Shelley Freydont.

Giveaway: Two copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, July 14th after 3pm PST.

Where you can read more about Shelley: Her website and Facebook.


Shelley_Noble_author photoKiss

First: My first kiss was in the cloak room of first grade.  We had just finished Rhythm Band.  I remember because he got to play the triangle and I only had to be happy with the wooden sticks. We’d put our instruments away and had been sent row by row to the get our sweaters and jackets for the playground.  It was fairly dark in the clock room. And I’ll never know whether he actually meant to kiss my cheek, tell me a secret, or what, because as he leaned forward, I turned my head. And our faces bashed together. Luckily it didn’t break someone’s nose.  I should have guessed then that the road to love doesn’t always go as expected.

Last: My last kiss was a twofer. Both my children live across two rivers in Queens and Brooklyn.  They came out to Jersey this past week, both in the same week! And they both kissed me when I dropped them off at the train station to return home.  A perfect culmination of the week.

Book I read

First: My grandmother was pen pals with a lady in England, who always sent me a book for special occasions.  Once when she came for a visit, she also introduced me to toasted pound cake and jam sandwiches.  Yum.  One of the books was a small, beautifully illustrated Sleeping Beauty, the other favorite was the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. They’re both still on my bookshelf!

Last: I just finished The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley. I usually order her books from Canada the minute they’re available, but this year I was so busy with deadlines (yay!) that I didn’t get it until it was available here.  I drove to the bookstore to buy the trade paperback because she always writes the kind of book I want to hold in my hand, read and reread and look at on my bookshelf.

Risk I took

First: I’m not sure whether I actually remember this, or whether it was a bit of exaggeration or a cautionary tale.  But when I was three I would pull a chair over to the refrigerator, climb up so I could open the door, climb down, move the chair closer, then climb up again and steal the butter, which I ate by the stick while still standing on the chair.  Did I think I wouldn’t be caught?

Last: As it turns out, I’m in the middle of a risk taking opportunity.  I’ve been living in the perfect apartment for the last five years.  Now the landlord is selling the house and I’m not loving the new owner.  So I thought, hmm.  Empty nest, work at home,  I could go just about anywhere that I can afford. Uh.  Now what? I’ve been waffling between the town next door, going “down the shore” as we say in Jersey for going to the beach, or even  putting my furniture in storage and taking a year to try different places.  While also keeping a pretty hefty writing schedule?  Maybe the last choice might be more of a pipe dream than an acceptable risk.  I let you know how it turns out.

Aha! Moment

First: My first serious aha moment was the night I arrived at college.  I’m from the south, had always been extremely shy, was seen and not heard, sometimes not seen.  I was very comfortable making up stories in my head.  I also had a very soft southern accent.  I was sitting next to a man (who was not from the south) on the plane and I realized as I talked to him, that I was beginning to sound like him.  By the end of the flight I had changed my accent.  And as I stepped off that plane I realized that if I could change the way I talked, I probably could convince people I wasn’t shy. I could make myself whatever I wanted to be. I’m happy to say I didn’t turn into a con artist but have been a college teacher, a professional dancer and a published author. Every day is a reinvention.

Last: A successful day for me is a lot of a little aha moments. It means I’m paying attention not just going through the day. The kernel of an idea, a blue sky overhead, when I decide not to yell a gypsy curse at the guy who cut me off in the intersection. A few of those each day are enough to make me stop and realize, Wow, how cool is this?

Hell Ya! Moment

First: Before I became an author  I was a professional dancer and toured with several dance companies.  I remember one performance with Twyla Tharp, I think it was Buenos Aires, we were on stage taking our final curtain call.  Bows are taken in full stage light. The “house” lights are dark, so you can only see a few rows of audience.  You listen and feel the response for how much they liked the performance—or not.  But that night, to thunderous applause, the theatre turned on the house lights.  A thousand people, dressed to the nines, were on their feet clapping. They glittered more than we did.  There we were face to face with our own success. There’s nothing like that kind of rush.  Of course we still had to come back and perform again the next day and the next.  But it was definitely a hell ya moment I’ll never forget.

Last: My Hell Ya moment was when my agent and editor both emailed me to say that Beach Colors, my last summer’s women’s fiction, had made the New York Times ebook best seller list. Picture Whoopi Goldberg when she learns she’s the real Santa in the movie Call Me Claus.  It was a hell ya, cool dude, yo mamma moment all rolled into one.

Thanks, Shelley!


2013 Club: Mary Simses' The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe book coverToday's guest: Mary Simses Why we love her: This debut is sweet and charming!

Her debut: The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe' (Out July 9th!)

The scoop: A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown.

Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough. THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE is a warm and delicious debut about the power of a simpler life.

Our thoughts: A delicious debut you'll devour! (Say that three times fast!)

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winners on Sunday, July 7th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: You can read the first chapter of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe here!

Where you can read more about Mary: Her website, Facebook and Goodreads


Lucien Capehart Photography

DO'S: 3 things every aspiring novelist should do

Start small. I think writing short stories is the best way to get started. Most novelists have done this, including me. Writing a good short story forces you to create and develop a character and take a plot from the beginning to the end in a few pages. It’s also a lot less daunting than writing an entire novel.

Find a fiction writing class and/or writer’s group in your area. What you can learn from others about voice, plot structure, character development, and general story-telling mechanics is invaluable. And other writers can provide so much inspiration. I got back into fiction writing, after a long hiatus, by taking an evening class at a university. That was what really got me going and was probably the most important thing I did.

Write things down – ideas for stories, bits of conversation you overhear, interesting situations you learn of, character names you come up with. Keep a little booklet where you can jot down notes and put it on your bedside table at night. It’s too easy to forget things if they’re not written down.

DON'TS: 3 things every aspiring novelist shouldn't do

Don’t think the fact that you have a regular job means you can’t be a writer. And don’t use that as an excuse not to write. Write whenever you can – at night, on weekends, early in the morning, on busses, on airplanes, on jet skis (well, maybe not on jet skis . . .).

Don’t fall so in love with your words that you can’t be a ruthless editor. It’s important to be able to let go and cut excess verbiage, knowing it’s for the good of the story. Whether it’s legal writing or fiction writing, I’ve found that if I can put the work away for a little while, I can come back to it later with fresh eyes and the will to get rid of what’s not necessary.

Don’t keep your work in a drawer. If you want to get it published, you’ve got to get it out there, whether it’s a short story you’d like to place with a literary magazine or a novel you hope to have accepted by a major book publisher. Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market is a good source of information on fiction markets, agents, and contests. I found it very helpful when I was trying to get short stories published.

MUST HAVES: On your desk? On your Facebook feed? App on your phone?

My writing desk is very small because it’s just a laptop table for my tiny Sony laptop. Although I have a home office, I never write there – that’s where I pay bills and do other more mundane things. I prefer to write in the bedroom, in a nook that has two big windows and a lot of light. I typically have a cup of tea or a cold drink handy, and one of our cats is usually lying near my feet – or in my lap with his paws dangerously close to the keyboard, which sometimes makes for very interesting prose.

Facebook feed. I like to get information on what authors and musicians I admire are doing. Other than that, I’m just happy looking at the photos of graduations, birthday parties, vacations, and dogs-and-cats-doing-cute-things that come in.

Phone apps. Scrabble –I love to play the computer; Shazam – for those emergencies when I can’t identify a piece of music I like; and Pandora – for music in general. I also like to open my Little Piano every now and then and attempt to belt out a tune on its miniscule keys, although it’s tough without sharps and flats. (I used to play the real thing, full-sized and with all eighty-eight keys.)

LASTS: Song you listened to on repeat? Book you read? Time you laughed?

“It Could Happen to You,” performed by Diana Krall. I could put just about anything of hers on repeat – forever. Sultry voice, amazing pianist, and she does all of the old jazz standards I love.

Last Book I read: Hemingway’s Girl. A sweet novel, historical fiction.

Last time I laughed: In the car with my fifteen-year-old daughter and her friends. I began imitating the music they like (which I don’t like), they thought it was funny (you never know, with teenagers), and we all started cracking up.

HOW MANY: Agents did you query before you found "the one?" Hours do you write per day? Hours do you waste online when you should be writing?

Agents: I was very lucky, and mean very lucky here. The author, James Patterson, who is a friend of mine, read my manuscript. He liked it, gave me some wonderful suggestions, and then took the final manuscript to his publisher, Little, Brown, with the caveat that although there was, of course, no guarantee they would publish it, at least they would read it. They did end up deciding to publish it, which was wonderful news. Although I don’t currently have an agent, I may look for one for my next book.

Hours I write: My days aren’t consistent so it’s hard to say. I try to write every day, at least for a little while, but on some days I don’t write at all and on others I write for hours. When I’m not writing, I feel as though I should be writing – not because I feel guilty but because I enjoy doing it so much.

Hours wasted online: I don’t waste too much time on line. Once or twice a week I post things on my author Facebook page, including photographs I’ve taken. (Like my character, Ellen, I’m a inveterate shutterbug.) I keep up with email and I do sometimes surf the net but it’s usually for research on something I’m writing about. Usually.

BESTS: Way to celebrate a book deal? Trick to overcome writer's block? Way to think of a book idea?

Celebrate a book deal: My husband and I celebrated my book deal by having dinner and a great bottle of wine at a restaurant we love. A good friend and author advised me to celebrate all of the little milestones along the way – from getting the book accepted to finishing the edits to receiving the galleys to returning the galleys to receiving the final copies. She said that because the process is so long, by the time the carton of books finally arrives at your front door it’s almost anti-climactic, and that celebrating along the way is really important. Did I do that? Well, a little bit. Probably not enough. It’s good advice though.

Trick to overcome writer’s block: Brainstorm with someone who can give you fresh ideas. Do something other than write – let your mind go on holiday for a while. That’s usually when I’m able to resolve a problem I’m having or when something that’s been muddled begins to gel.

Way to think of a book idea: Eavesdrop on peoples’ conversations, read the newspaper, listen to the radio, look through magazines. Write historical fiction about someone whose life you think was interesting. There are a zillion stories out there.

NEXTS: Show you'll DVR? Book you'll read? Book you'll write?

The HBO show, “Family Tree,” which I think is hysterical. I’m a big fan of Christopher Guest. I love his humor. And I’ve been working with a genealogist on a family tree project myself so I can relate to it. I’ll also DVR Downton Abbey when it comes back on just because it’s such great eye candy.

Book I’ll read –  Atonement by Ian McEwan. Although I’ve read a few of his other books I’ve not yet read that one. I’d also like to reread The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies, one of my favorite authors.

Book I’ll write – I’m working on a book about a woman who goes to visit her parents at their family home on the Connecticut  coast and must come to terms with some unfinished business in her past.

Thanks, Mary!

Flash Giveaway! Wendy Francis' Three Good Things

Three Good Things book coverGiveaway: Three SIGNED copies of Three Good Things The scoop: ELLEN McCLARETY, a recent divorcée, has opened a new bake shop in her small Midwestern town, hoping to turn her life around by dedicating herself to the traditional Danish pastry called kringle. She is no longer saddled by her ne’er-do-well husband, but the past still haunts her—sometimes by showing up on her doorstep. Her younger sister, Lanie, is a successful divorce attorney with a baby at home. But Lanie is beginning to feel that her perfect life is not as perfect as it seems. Both women long for the guidance of their mother, who died years ago but left them with lasting memories of her love and a wonderful piece of advice: “At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.”

Ellen and Lanie are as close as two sisters can be, until one begins keeping a secret that could forever change both their lives. Wearing her big Midwestern heart proudly on her sleeve, Wendy Francis skillfully illuminates the emotional lives of two women with humor and compassion, weaving a story destined to be shared with a friend, a mother, or a sister.

Our thoughts: Loved this funny and heartfelt novel about sisters!

Where you can read more about Wendy: Her website.

Leave a comment to be entered. The winners will be chosen on Sunday, June 30th after 8am PST.

Jenny Colgan's 5 Firsts & Lasts

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe CoverToday's guest: Jenny Colgan Why we love her: She's a new find for us but we're big fans already. We're only sad we didn't discover her sooner. Next up, we read her other 11+ novels!

Her latest: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe (Out July 2nd!)

The scoop on it: A sweet and satisfying novel of how delicious it is to discover your dreams

Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is a filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.

Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!

Our thoughts: We devoured this delicious novel. It's the perfect book to read over your July 4th holiday!

Giveaway: TWO copies! (Us/Canada) Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, June 30th after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: You'll discover a yummy recipe at the beginning of every chapter in Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe! Read chapter one here!

Where you can read more about Jenny: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Jenny ColganKISS

First Kiss: In a monastery, believe it or not. I went to a catholic school, which had the dreadful idea of taking us teenagers away with catholic boys from other schools for 'religious retreats' in the summertime. Obviously, the inevitable happened.

Last Kiss: Last night my husband took me out to dinner then we went down to the beach to have ice cream as the sun was setting. That was pretty nice.


First Book: My first memories of reading are Frances the Badger. I've read her books to my own children, she's wonderful and can certainly turn a song. The first book I ever read by myself obsessively over and over was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Again, with my own children the effect is extraordinary, they wrest it out of your hands. It also has that wonderful poem about throwing out your tv and filling your house with books- 'and after, each and every kid/ will love you more for what you did'.

Last Book: I am reading and thoroughly enjoying Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann and am just about to start Sisterhood. I think Curtis Sittenfeld is marvelous!


First Risk I Took: I went to Edinburgh University, instead of the local college my parents preferred where I could live with my grandmother. Edinburgh was far off, exotic, and I met people from all over the world instead of just people from my old school. I went a year early, completely on my own, at 16, and it was a real eye-opener.

Last Risk I Took: Ignoring the weather forecast this morning for a run along the beach. I would have achieved roughly the same effect from just jumping into the sea. I kept saying to the children, oh, it's going to clear up, but my four year old insisted on wearing her mackintosh and wellingtons, the full caboodle. She was right and I was wrong. Mind you, in my experience four year olds will wear wellies at any opportunity.


First “Aha!” Moment: When I was 15 or 16 my parents, for whatever reason, let me go to a touring production of The Rocky Horror Show with a friend. I grew up in a very small, insular town where I never felt like I fitted in (I realize now of course that this is not in the least unusual).

Anyway, we got to the little local theatre where I'd seen Christmas shows and summer variety and nothing else, and there were all these people dressed up as freaks in fishnets. They had the umbrellas and the rice and they knew all the funny responses. And I was like, oh my God, all these people are different! And funny! And they live in my town! It gave me just so much hope, that there were people out there who weren't purely concerned with makeup and fighting (the two main pursuits at my horrible high school).

Last “Aha!” Moment: For my New Year's resolution I started accompanying on the piano my friend who took up the clarinet after a twelve year break from it. It's such a pleasure to play with him when we're getting it right. This is, I should add, not terribly often.


First “Hell yeah!” Moment: A relationship ended in my early twenties so I did what you're supposed to, and took an evening class. I chose stand-up comedy. The first time I made everyone laugh changed my entire life in an instant. I was rubbish on stage, but unbeknownst to me apparently I could write funny, and that changed everything.

Last “Hell yeah!” Moment: Ha, this is an American website, so excellent, I can say it. My last novel, Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams (to be released in the US in 2014!), won two prizes this year: Best Romantic Comedy and overall Romantic Novel of the Year. I'm British so if we win an award we have to kind of mumble and say oh, no, well, they probably made a mistake, and I’m going to hide it in the toilet. But this is an American site so I can say HELL YEAH! It was brilliant, I was totally thrilled, and here it was!

Thanks, Jenny!


Kitty Pilgrim's 5 Firsts & Lasts

The Stolen Chalice by Kitty PilgrimToday's guest: Kitty Pilgrim Why we love her: We love the way she writes. Her novels are exciting, engaging and memorable!

Her latest: The Stolen Chalice (Out in paperback now!)

The scoop on it:  What links an antique treasure to a sinister group of terrorists? CNN veteran Kitty Pilgrim sweeps us into the glamorous international art world, as lovely oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton and urbane archaeologist John Sinclair return in a perilous new quest.

When Cordelia and Sinclair attend a star-studded gala at the New York Metropolitan Museum, they anticipate merely a pleasurable evening. But as the elite dine and dance in the centuries-old Temple of Dendur, terrorists are planning a deadly assault. The attack is foiled, but it distracts from a massive heist of Egyptian art treasures around the city—among them the fabulous Sardonyx Cup.

The millionaire owner asks Sinclair for help retrieving it, and to Cordelia’s distress, her lover also recruits his old flame, Egyptologist Holly Graham. From a sprawling Wyoming ranch to a Scottish castle, the mysterious canals of Venice, and to Egypt itself, the search leads them to plans for a deadly bio-weapon attack. But could the chalice itself have special powers? Science and the supernatural collide as romantic tension sizzles. And now the three are moving into mortal danger. . . .

Our thoughts: We loved it just as much in paperback as we did the first time around.

Giveaway: Two SIGNED copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, June 30th after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Check out the trailer for The Stolen Chalice here!

Where you can read more about Kitty:  Her website, Twitter and Facebook.


Kitty PilgrimKISS

First: He was a beast.  And I mean it, bad breath, messy hair, unruly manner, horrible manners at the table.  George would take food off your plate without asking.  His mouth was just awful, spitty, revolting.  He’d been eyeing me all through the meal with a sort of hungry neediness I found pathetic.  His affection was unrequited.  I never really liked him very much at all.  It was just the two of us, alone in the kitchen.  I had just finished a piece of pizza and was enjoying the last delicious bite when it came, an unexpected, unsolicited smack on the mouth, the pink tongue lapping up all the sauce on my lips.  I howled at the invasion.  The sheer effrontery of it all. ( I was two years old.  He was a yellow Labrador retriever.  You didn’t think I would tell you about my first real kiss, did you? That is entirely too sacred.)

Last: My son Beau.  All through childhood he was the baby that clung the longest, kissed with the fierce intensity.  Now, an elegant young man, six foot five, 100 percent rock and roll musician, with a cool swagger, he usually pops a quick one on the side of my head as he leaves.  It’s almost as if he were ashamed to be caught in anything so sentimental.  Last Sunday night, we had dinner and were talking about this and that.  He checked his cell phone for texts and then told me he had to go.  An hour or so is all I get these days and I’m grateful for it.  At the door he suddenly reached down and hugged me so hard my feet left the ground, then he planted a kiss on top of my head, the pressure of it was unexpectedly tender.  “By mom,” he said and left me with tears in my eyes.  They grow up so fast.


First Risk I took: It was a really big risk. Monumental. After I graduated from college I suddenly got a contract to work in Japan.  Back then, living overseas was pre-cell phone, pre-internet.  Moving to Asia on the other side of the world.  The only real way to communicate was by letter.  Even making a phone call required making an appointment with an international operator.  But despite not knowing the language, having nowhere to live, no friends, family, and a host of other uncertainties I hopped on a plane and headed off to Tokyo.  I was so nervous, I don’t think I slept a wink in the plane.  Landing in Tokyo was like going to another planet.  I’d never seen anything like it. But I’ve never regretted taking the leap.

Last Risk: I wrote my first novel The Explorer’s Code as a lark when I was an anchor at CNN.  It was just for my own amusement, to keep me entertained on the train commute home.  I spun a fantasy that started at a gala in Monaco and romped through all the elegant watering holes of Europe. Then I added a dollop of good old-fashioned Victoria polar exploration, and a Russian bad guy or two.   It amused me a lot, and I passed it along to an agent.  He told me that it would be a best seller, (he was right) to quit my anchor job at the news network and become a novelist.  And that is exactly what I did.  Never a regret.  I am having the time of my life.


First: When I was a baby, my parents used to put books at the bottom of my crib so when I woke up, I would crawl down there and read for a while until everyone else in the house woke up.  I clearly remember doing that.   But my first heart pounding, oh-my- goodness-book obsession was reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the third grade.  I was absolutely enthralled, and immediately started writing my own series in a marble copybook, with myself as Sherlock’s helper.

Last: I am reading a series of books for the Nantucket Book Festival, all of them incredible.  I will moderate a panel with these incredible authors, all of whom have written about far away places.  So I am deep in the middle of a series of four books: Alex Gilvarry, From the Memoirs of a Non Enemy Combatant. Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles No Violet Bulawayo, We Need New Names Vaddey Rather, In the Shadow of the Bayan.


First: I remember in school being distressed over why I didn’t fit in. I was tall (5 11” ) in the 8th grade, skinny, not terribly popular, bookish and shy.  I was not allowed to watch television, so conversations about TV shows and pop culture went entirely over my head.  I didn’t know anything about popular music, movie stars, or much of anything that was relevant in my pre-teen world.  Everyone else seemed so cool, and I was not.   One day, decades later, when I was anchoring the news I realized that the dynamic had reversed.   I was sitting there at the anchor desk, on television, the first to know all about world events, telling everyone else.  I think being so out of the loop in my childhood drove me to find out more about the world.   (And my children were certainly allowed to watch television. )

Last Ah ha moment: I was having dinner with my sons in Williamsburg Brooklyn and feeling very cool.  Here we were at the epicenter of hipness, and I was dining with two fabulously handsome young men: one who is a photographer, the other who is a rock musician.  I was feeling quite smug about my middle-aged coolness, reading over the menu.  My son Beau said  “Mom you should have anything you want.  Don’t worry about your diet.”  I thanked him, thinking he was referring to my still slender figure and the effortless way I have been able to maintain my weight.  My smugness was short lived.  He added in a clueless fashion, “At your age, you don’t have to worry about what you look like.”   You are never really cool to your children.


First: I was always very adventurous and athletic.  Most of my activities were individual sports, skating, riding, skiing, swimming.  By the time I was fifteen I was quite an athlete.   One winter my friends and I were going skiing, and I was nervous about whether I would be able to keep up.  There were a lot of boys along on the trip and I was anxious lest I be left behind on the slope.  We all started off, and I pushed myself to ski well that day, taking each mogul well, and pushing on, not noticing how the others were doing on the slope.  It was a difficult vertical drop and required my entire concentration.  When I got to the bottom, I looked around.  I was the first to arrive at the lodge.  A guy I had a crush on skied up a few minutes later, winded and chagrined.  “You are a fantastic skier,” he said, impressed.  At that moment I knew I would never let gender prevent me from excelling in any endeavor.

Last: Last week I got my diving certification.  It had been a long process of over a year because of bad luck, bad timing and a host of other problems.   I wanted to learn how to dive to better write my character, Cordelia Stapleton, an oceanographer.  If I couldn’t dive, how would I describe her adventures to my readers?  Last year, my scuba pool course had gone well, but when I went out to the open water dive, the conditions were awful.  I had to abandon the effort.   I tried several times and each effort had to be abandoned because of difficult conditions or equipment problems.  I was getting terribly frustrated about the whole thing, but kept trying.  Finally last week I went down and fulfilled all the requirements to become a certified diver.  Now let the adventures begin!

Thanks, Kitty!

Jessica Anya Blau's 5 Firsts & Lasts

WonderBreadSummerToday's guest: Jessica Anya Blau Why we love her: We literally bumped into her at the Harper Collins party when we were in NYC for BEA. And when she told us about her latest novel, we were immediately intrigued and started reading it on the plane ride home!

Her latest: The Wonder Bread Summer

The scoop on it: In The Wonder Bread Summer, loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, 20-year-old Allie Dodgson has adventures that rival those Alice had down the rabbit hole. Or those of Weeds’ Nancy Botwin.

Allison is working at a dress shop to help pay for college. The dress shop turns out to be a front for drug dealers. And Allison ends up on the run—with a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine.

With a hit man after her, Allison wants the help of her parents. But there’s a problem: Her mom took off when Allison was eight; her dad moves so often Allison that doesn’t even have his phone number….

Set in 1980s California, The Wonder Bread Summer is a wickedly funny and fresh caper that’s sure to please fans of Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen, and Marcy Dermansky.

Our thoughts:  We could not put this book down. A hilarious summer read! (Plus: Doesn't it have like the best cover ever?)

Giveaway: Two SIGNED copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, June 16th after 12PM PST.

Where you can read more about Jessica: Her website ,Facebook and Twitter.



First: I come from a kissy family so certainly I was kissed a lot as a kid. My great-grandmother didn’t speak English (that I had ever heard) and she laid some pretty terrifying kisses on me as she spit out a guttural Yiddish. But my first romantic kiss was when Scott Carpenter said, “Jessica, come here, I want to tell you something.” We were standing at the top of a hill on the cul de sac where I lived. It was a bright sunny day and the sidewalk was chalky clean. Scott leaned in and kissed me quickly on the tip of my nose. I think he was aiming for my lips but missed. Then he turned and ran as fast as he could down the hill and away from me. Matt B. was the first boy who French kissed me and it was a messy affair. There was drool sliding down my neck.

Last: My husband thirty seconds ago just before he walked out of the room.  He’s a kiss-when-you-enter, kiss-when-you-exit kind of guy.

Book I read

The first book I read to myself was a French counting book. On each page was a number with a play on the pronunciation of the word. On the page for the number four it said QUATRE and there was a picture of a cat (the reader was supposed to pronounce quatre as CAT). And on the page for the number five it said CINQ and there was a picture of the cat sinking in a tank of water (cinq was to be pronounced SANK). I loved that book. The next book I remember reading is Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans.

The last book I read was Cheryl Strayed’s WILD.  I’m probably the last person on the planet to read it. I can’t wait to see the movie.  Nick Hornby wrote the script and I’m a huge Hornby fan (as well as a Strayed fan, too, now!).

Risk I Took

First: I was a pretty fearful and quiet kid and until around age seven, I preferred to hang out with my mother and read books (she read for hours each day—not to me, beside me) than hang out with kids. So my first real risk was probably when I agreed to sleep over at the neighbor girl’s house when I was five. It was a long, miserable night. We shared a bed and she tortured me by making horse whiney noises with her face an inch from mine. I couldn’t wait to go home.

Last: Every day that I sit down to write, I feel like I’m taking a risk. I’m risking failure, humiliation, rejection, time-wasting, revealing how stupidy-dumb-dumb I am, etc.  I write in spite of these risks. Yet, still, all the perils of this occupation occur to me each time I open my computer.

Aha! Moment

First: When I was a little kid I didn’t understand children. I thought the things they wanted to do weren’t interesting. I liked reading, I liked quietly mothering my dolls, and I liked having tea with the old lady who lived across the street.  Then my family moved to California and I discovered friends who were fun, exciting and imaginative. I suddenly realized that it could be great to hang out with people my age.

Last: Wow, I feel like I have Aha! moments every day. Today I had one when I was wearing a white shirt with a blue and white polka dot bra. (I was rushing this morning when I got dressed and didn’t realize the bra showed through until I was out of the house.) It was a hot day so I thought I could pretend it was a bathing suit and that I was coming from the pool (this pretending was going on in my head since the general public wasn’t discussing the polka dot bra with me!). Then, around six, I met a couple friends at the neighborhood pool.  My one friend said, “Why are you wearing a polka dot bra under that white shirt?” I asked her if it didn’t just look like I was wearing a bathing suit. She said it looked like I was wearing a polka dot bra. And I thought, “Aha! I’ve fooled no one and I just look like an idiot!”

Hell ya! Moment

My first Hell ya! moment was probably when I fell in love repeatedly in sixth grade. The entire class was falling in love and switching up boyfriends weekly.  The whole love stuff was pretty fun and exciting and I remember thinking a version of Hell Ya! when the class went to sleep away camp and my friends and I spent all our energy maneuvering for hand holding or kissing.

My last Hell ya! moment was about thirty minutes ago when my daughter handed me an award she got for a short film she made. She worked really hard on that film (writing it, storyboarding, casting it, shooting it, editing it) and Hell Ya! she deserved that award!

Thanks, Jessica!

Flash Giveaway! Jen Lancaster's The Tao of Martha

tao_of_martha.inddGiveaway: TWO copies of The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All of That Glitter off of the Dog The scoop: One would think that with Jen Lancaster’s impressive list of bestselling self-improvement memoirs—Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such a Pretty Fat; Pretty in Plaid; My Fair Lazy; and Jeneration X—that she would have it all together by now.

One would be wrong.Jen’s still a little rough around the edges. Suffice it to say, she’s no Martha Stewart. And that is exactly why Jen is going to Martha up and live her life according to the advice of America’s overachieving older sister—the woman who turns lemons into lavender-infused lemonade.By immersing herself in Martha’s media empire, Jen will embark on a yearlong quest to take herself, her house, her husband (and maybe even her pets) to the next level—from closet organization to craft making, from party planning to kitchen prep.

Maybe Jen can go four days without giving herself food poisoning if she follows Martha’s dictates on proper storage....Maybe she can grow closer to her girlfriends by taking up their boring-ass hobbies like knitting and sewing.…Maybe she can finally rid her workout clothes of meatball stains by using Martha’s laundry tips.… Maybe she can create a more meaningful anniversary celebration than just getting drunk in the pool with her husband....again. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll discover that the key to happiness does, in fact, lie in Martha’s perfectly arranged cupboards and artfully displayed charcuterie platters.

Or maybe not.

Our thoughts: HILARIOUS. Absolutely loved, loved, loved! And are now inspired to do something domestic (SANS glitter!).

Where you can read more about Jen: Her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Leave a comment to be entered. The winners will be chosen on Wednesday, June 12th after 8am PST.

7 Questions for the author of No Bake Makery + Giveaway!

NBM-Cover-1Today's guest: Cristina Suarez Krumsick Why we love her: She shows us how to make delicious desserts without turning on the oven--doesn't get much better than that!

Her book: No Bake Makery: More than 80 Two-Bite Treats Made with Lovin', not an Oven

The scoop on it: What's the easiest way to make delicious and adorable desserts? Without an oven!

That's NO BAKE MAKERY-all of the fun, but none of the fuss. These creative, two-bite treats of all kinds are impossible for anyone to resist-on any occasion. In addition to tips for perfecting your technique, ideas for decorating, and sidebar recipes, Cristina Suarez Krumsick serves up simple step-by-step instructions for her favorite no-bakems, from Cinnamon & Spice Bark, Bite o' Joe Truffles, and Key Lime Pie to Mintamelon Pops, Applesauce Cake, Fluffy Cracker Cookies, and beyond!

They're all cute. They're all bursting with flavor. And you don't need an oven to make any of them.

Our thoughts: Two words: De. Licious. Or maybe that's just one. :)

Fun fact: She launched the No Bake Makery from her apartment in Brooklyn.

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winners on Sunday, June 9th after 12 pm PST.

Where you can read more about the No Bake Makery: Facebook, Twitter and Cristina's website.


Author Photo_credit Jeremy Krumsick(1)L&L: We love the cover of your book, what's the story behind it?

CSK: I really wanted to cover to have a retro feel because the book has a lot of recipes that are twists on throwback goodies. On the other hand, I wanted it to have a cute edge too because all the treats are just that (I think so anyway!). I think the black and white and pops of color, chocolate hearts and props really do the trick. In terms of selecting the treats for the cover shot, we did a bunch of brainstorming on what would best represent the book. We wanted people to say “Those are so cute and look yummy! Wait, I can no-bake that?”

L&L: Out of all of your no bake yummy treats, do you have a favorite?

CSK: Mmmm hard question! I really love the icebox cakes. They are so easy make your own and practically impossible to mess up! I also love the no-bake brownies. These are basically fudge with cookie crumbs. They set into this fudge brownie consistency. I have literally had to make them in front of people to prove that they aren’t baked! It’s awesome.

L&L: You say you choose not to bake because it's more fun and gives more flexibility, but do you ever, gulp, bake? Or would that be like cheating on your no bake treats?

CSK: I use the oven for savory food all time. I love slow cooking pork, roasting chicken, veggies, you name it. The oven is great for savory food because you don’t need to be so precise. Baking on the other hand…totally opposite scenario. So, I really barely bake sweets.

And when I do it’s usually out of a box and I kinda do feel like it’s cheating! I am pretty transparent about it though! On instagram I usually hashtag #yesbake.

L&L: What's it like to be a publicist for a major publishing house and to now be on the other side of the publicity with your cook book?

CSK: It’s awesome and challenging at the same time! You would think after sitting in so many greenrooms and talking to so many editors and producers about book coverage for my authors, I would be totally collected about my own publicity. But nope, I get super nervous about all of it! Being behind the scenes is fun and challenging. Being in front is scary and exciting!

I think walking both lines has made my work stronger and better for sure.

L&L: What no bake treats are you recommending for summer?

I have a whole chapter on cold treats that are just perfect for hot weather. I have this recipe for banana ice cream that is SO yummy, refreshing and easy. It’s one of my faves.

L&L: When you're not wearing your publicity hat or no baking, what do you like to do?

CSK: Reading! I am big fiction reader and I am so lucky to work with some of the best.  I also love yoga, running, and just hanging with people I love.

L&L: What books will be in your beach bag this summer?

CSK: So many! To start…Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin, Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Well rounded, huh?

Thanks, Cristina!

Photo credit: Jeremy Krumsick

Claire Cook's 5 Firsts & Lasts

Time Flies cover Touchstoneweb(1)Today's guest: Claire Cook Why we love her: Not only is she one of our favorite authors, but we just love her--she's incredibly kind & supportive!

Her latest: Time Flies (Out June 11th!)

The scoop on it: Years ago, Melanie followed her husband, Kurt, from the New England beach town where their two young sons were thriving to the suburbs of Atlanta. She’s carved out a life as a successful metal sculptor, but when Kurt leaves her for another woman, having the tools to cut up their marriage bed is small consolation. She’s old enough to know that high school reunions are often a big disappointment, but when her best friend makes her buy a ticket and an old flame gets in touch to see whether she’ll be going, she fantasizes that returning to her past might help her find her future…until her driving phobia resurfaces and threatens to hold her back from the adventure of a lifetime. Time Flies is an epic road trip filled with fun, heartbreak, and friendship, and explores what it takes to conquer your worst fears…so you can start living your future.

Our thoughts: A summer must-read, you will love this escape!

Giveaway: 1 signed copy! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, June 9th after 3 pm PST.

Fun fact: You have until midnight on June 10th to enter the TIME FLIES Sweepstakes! You and one of your oldest and dearest friends could win an all-expense-paid weekend including airfare at the amazing Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas July 26-28 - worth over $4,500! You'll get a chance to reunite with your friend, relax, and attend a party with Claire! Enter on Facebook or at

Where you can read more about Claire: Her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. And catch one of her Time Flies book tour events.


CookClaire1. Kiss

First: We were six. I was a good girl, all about impressing the nuns, which in parochial school basically meant posture, penmanship, and memorization. And then I discovered the lure of the bad boy. We kissed and I think he knocked out one of my front teeth, though I'm pretty sure these were two separate incidents.

Last: My husband and I just received a notice from the IRS saying we'd underpaid our taxes by an amount of money so big that I can’t even type it. I mean, we were seriously going to lose everything we owned. Major, major panic. I scanned and emailed all ten pages of the notice to our accountant at 8:30 at night, and he emailed back about five minutes later saying that it was a mistake. "We don't have to move in with our kids!" my husband and I yelled. And then we kissed.

2. Risk I took

First: My father had taken the training wheels off my bike. My sole training wheel-less experience at that point had been going back and forth across the driveway with him casually resting one hand on the back wheel. But we’d just moved and I wanted to impress my new friend who lived at the very top of the street. So I walked my two-wheeler up the steep hill to her house. When it was time to leave, I thought I’d just ride until I was out of sight, and then jump off and walk my bike the rest of the way home. I could picture it so clearly in my mind, which to this day I still find is the curse of having the brain of a novelist. Things got out of control pretty quickly, further complicated by the fact that I couldn’t find the brakes. Wipeout!

Last: After two decades living in a little beach town between Boston and Cape Cod, my husband and I sold our 1890 Victorian, got rid of almost everything we owned, and moved to the suburbs of Atlanta. Every day is a new adventure, and it’s been great to shake things up.

3. Book I read

First: The Nancy Drew Mysteries were the first books that I fell completely in love with. I can remember telling myself I’d go to sleep after I finished this chapter, but I just couldn’t do it, and would have to keep reading into the night.

Last: The last book I read was my eleventh novel, right before I sent it off to my literary agent. It’s such an odd thing to read your own manuscript at this stage, because you’re so close that you just can’t tell what works and what doesn’t. And you’re on pins and needles waiting for the verdict, doing productive things like trying to come up with Plan B for your life if you find out that between novel #10 and #11 you’ve somehow forgotten how to write.

4. Hell ya! moment

First: Maybe not the first, but the one I’ll never forget is walking the red carpet at the Must Love Dogs premiere and doing thirty-five interviews with everyone from Access Hollywood to Extra. It was the year I turned fifty, and in that moment I knew that midlife could totally rock.

Last: When our 1890 Victorian sold in two weeks. (I give full credit to the home stager heroine of my novel, Best Staged Plans, for the quick sale in a down market!)

5. Aha! Moment

First: I had my first story published in the Sunday newspaper when I was six. It was about Hot Dog, our family dachshund, even though we really had a beagle at the time. I loved the attention. I loved that I’d discovered a way to make things up and not get in trouble.

Last: I should probably pretend this one came from a loftier place, but the truth is it came from American Idol. Keith Urban quoted some music producer as saying, “When you have a hit, you have a hit. But when you have an audience, you have a career.” I think it’s so, so true for authors, and I’m incredibly grateful to my readers, my audience, for giving me the gift of my career.

Thanks, Claire!

Flash Giveaway! J. Courtney Sullivan's The Engagements

engagements_coverGiveaway: ONE signed copy of The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan The scoop: From the New York Times bestselling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own.

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.

Release date: June 11th

Our thoughts: Her best novel yet!

Where you can read more about J. Courtney Sullivan: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Leave a comment to be entered.  We’ll choose the winners on Wednesday, June 5th after 8 am PST.


Lindy DeKoven's 5 Firsts & Lasts

PrimetimePrincess jacketToday's guest: Lindy DeKoven Why we love her: We loved this juicy debut! Can't wait for her next.

Her novel: Primetime Princess

The scoop on it: Alexa Ross is Vice President of Comedy Development at Hawkeye Broadcasting System. Years ago she worked as an assistant to the sex crazed and obnoxious Jerry Kellner. Jerry fired Alexa for not submitting to his graceless sexual advances. They’ve not spoken since. That is until Alexa is forced to hire Kellner as a member of her staff. Alexa is now her old boss’ boss.

The highest-ranking female executive at the network, Alexa struggles to survive in an old fashioned boys’ club where thoughtless sexual harassment is part of the daily working environment. It’s a culture that Jerry, who has never met a bodacious ta-ta he didn’t want, navigates with ease.

Jerry refuses to acknowledge Alexa’s authority, undermining her at every turn while cozying up to the corporate brass clearly angling to jump over her and get appointed network president, putting him in direct competition with Alexa for the top spot.

Meanwhile Alexa tries to maintain a promising relationship with Gordon Harrison, a sixth grade teacher at the school where Alexa volunteers as a tutor. Gordon supports her dream to shatter the glass ceiling but he, along with her two best girlfriends, are concerned about the sacrifices she’s making and the person she’s becoming.

The drama occurs over the course of one TV development season. The competition to get better shows than Jerry and win the brass ring on the new schedule forces Alexa to a breaking point.

Ultimately, she’s faced with a decision that will not only impact her own future, but that of generations of women to come.

Our thoughts: Her debut novel has been called "deliciously scandalous" and we couldn't agree more! Perfect poolside reading!

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, June 2nd after 3PM PST.

Fun fact: She was Executive Vice President of Movies and Miniseries for NBC Entertainment and NBC Productions so she might just know a thing or two about what her character goes through. *wink wink*

Where you can read more about Lindy: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Lindy DeKoven smallKISS

First: My husband believes my first kiss was with him under the lemon tree in the backyard of his home. So in order to preserve that memory (or fantasy) I’m going to stick with that.

Last: This occurred two seconds ago from my dog, Eddie, who can’t seem to give me enough kisses. Although it’s almost dinner time. So I’m not sure if this is about his undying love for me, or his desire to just eat.


First: Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Does anyone remember this book? It continues to resonate with me because I’ve worn so many hats and peddled so many ideas. I often feel like the main character with a bunch of hats stacked on top of his head.

Last: I just finished Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Frankly, any woman who wants to help other women is a great woman in my book. (Literally and figuratively!) So I applaud her efforts.


First: Like Alexa Ross, the character in my book Primetime Princess, who takes a chance on Gordon Harrison, I took a risk and married my husband. I’m happy to say its turned out pretty well. However, because there’s so much curiosity about who Jerry Kellner is based on, my husband would like the world to know that Gordon isn’t based on him.

Last: Bought an orange dress, not the usual black, and despite a healthy layer of Spanx, pray that Sunkist doesn’t slap a sticker on me. Frankly, I think this is a bigger risk than the one mentioned above.


First: That I had the discipline to not read emails, waste time on Facebook and Twitter, or distract myself with the latest car chase. Instead I focused on writing a book and finished it. Latest Aha Moment: That there comes a time in one’s life where one cannot eat like she once did when she was a teenager. Waaa!!


First: I set my sights on one publishing agent and when she agreed to represent me, I felt like I had won the lottery. And I did because she always has my back.

Last: When Chick Lit Is Not Dead asked me to write this post. I managed to write the whole thing without eating one single M&M. (A shout-out to Alexa’s stress meds.) A hellava hell ya moment.

Thanks, Lindy!



Flash Giveaway: Beth Hoffman's Looking for Me

looking-for-meGiveaway: TWO copies of Beth Hoffman's Looking for Me (Out today!) The scoop: A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of the beloved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel, Looking for Me.

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Looking for Me brilliantly melds together themes of family, hope, loss, and a mature once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. The result is a tremendously moving story that is destined to make bestselling author Beth Hoffman a novelist to whom readers will return again and again as they have with Adriana Trigiani, Fannie Flagg, and Joshilyn Jackson.

Our thoughts: A brilliantly written novel about family secrets.

Where you can read more about Beth: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Leave a comment to be entered.  We’ll choose the winners on Thursday, May 30th after 12 PM PST.

Flash Giveaway: Erika Robuck's Call Me Zelda

Call_Me_ZeldaGiveaway: TWO copies (US only) of Erika Robuck's Call Me Zelda

The scoop:  Everything in the ward seemed different now, and I no longer felt its calming presence. The Fitzgeralds stirred something in me that had been dormant for a long time, and I was not prepared to face it....   From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.

When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended....

Our thoughts: We don't know about you, but we've been in "Gatsby mode" lately and this book couldn't have come at a more perfect time! You will love it!

Where you can read more about Erika: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.

We'll choose the winners this Saturday, May 25th after 3pm PST. Good luck!

Meg Donohue's 5 Firsts & Lasts

All_the_summer_girlsToday's guest: Meg Donohue Why we love her: We crowned her a Lit IT Girl after reading her sparkling debut, How to Eat a Cupcake.

Her latest: All the Summer Girls

The scoop on it: In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiancé the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa finds herself obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, the wild child and aspiring writer who can’t seem to put down a book—or a cocktail—long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired… again.

In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women begin to realize just how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier—and the secrets that only now threaten to surface.

Our thoughts: You know we're suckers for any novel that tackles the complicated bonds between female friends. Meg handles this flawlessly in this book. We highly recommend you add this book to your beach bag this summer!

Giveaway: TWO copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win and we'll choose the winners on Sunday, May 26th after 12 PM PST.

Fun fact: You can read the first two chapters here!

Where you can read more about Meg: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.



First:  Surely my first kiss was from my mother or father in the moments after my birth. Did you expect something steamy? A good Philly girl never kisses and tells!

Last: Well, okay, maybe just this once: After a week of not kissing for fear of passing the flu to my husband, I am finally healthy and we shared a sweet kiss without the specter of plague attached. I hope.


First: It’s not the first book I read, but I remember being particularly enthralled by Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I don’t recall the story, but I know I thought it was beautiful and very sad. I wonder if that was one of the first times I enjoyed the experience of reading something that made me sad? It seems like a monumental, and mature, moment in one’s life as a reader. (I just went online to read the summary of Bridge to Terabithia, and got something—ahem—stuck in my eye. So turns out I’m still carrying around a little seed of sadness planted by this book twenty-five years ago.)

Last: Speaking of beautiful and sad, the last book I read was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This book haunted my dreams over the course of time that I read it. I found it to be quite devastating, in part because Atkinson’s characters are so vivid and whole.


First: I think some of the earliest risks I took were with humor. Being funny takes guts—you put yourself out there, and hope your sense of humor will resonate with others too. Sometimes there’s nothing scarier for a kid than just opening her mouth and speaking; fear of rejection can be a muzzle. Looking back, I realize that the jokes that fell flat (and there have been many over the years) were actually confidence builders. The world didn’t end when I swung and missed. I learned to laugh at myself and the cricket-filled dead air that follows an unsuccessful stab at humor, and that ability to laugh, shrug, and move on has served me well.

Last: My last big risk was when All the Summer Girls was published. I spend a long span of time working on a book in private; releasing it into the public sphere is both scary and exciting.


First: When I was in graduate school for creative writing, the Gettysburg Review published one of my short stories. It was the first time I was paid for my fiction, and the story attracted the attention of a couple of agents. I remember feeling very much like it was the start of my dream coming true. I was right, if only in that the experience gave me the confidence to continue believing in myself. Last: In April, my husband and I left our kids with his parents and went to Palm Springs for my birthday. We read for hours in the sun, swam, hiked, ate delicious food, and had Bellinis every morning. It was glorious. Hell ya!


First: During a back-to-school shopping trip with my mom when I was in middle school, she asked if I cared what brand my clothes were. The truth was that I did care about the brand of my clothes—I wanted to be cool, sue me!—but just my mom asking the question was enough to remind me that the coolest kids are the ones that march to the beat of their own drum, the ones that do things their own way, in pursuit of their own brand of happiness. Her question has served as a bit of a touchstone over the years.

Last: I’m in the early stages of working on my third book, and while I have had the general story arc in mind for a while, it has taken some time to feel like I have a handle on the important details that take a story from an idea to a novel. Lately, I’ve had a few breakthroughs, my protagonist is revealing herself, and many of the more intricate plot points are finally coming together and taking shape. I’m excited!

Thanks, Meg!



Jamie Brenner's 5 Firsts and Lasts

GIN LOVERSbindupOur guest: Jamie Brenner Why we love her: Her novel immediately sucked us in.

Her latest: The Gin Lovers

The scoop on it: What price would you pay for happiness? For Charlotte, freedom from her marriage might be the one thing she can’t afford.

It’s 1925, and the Victorian era with its confining morals is all but dead. Unfortunately, for New York socialite Charlotte Delacorte, the scandalous flapper revolution is little more than a headline in the tabloids. Living with her rigid and controlling husband William, her Fifth Avenue townhouse is a gilded cage. But when William’s rebellious younger sister, the beautiful and brash Mae, comes to live with them after the death of their mother, Charlotte finds entrée to a world beyond her wildest dreams – and a handsome and mysterious stranger whom she imagines is as confident in the bedroom as he is behind the bar of his forbidden speakeasy.

Soon, Charlotte realizes that nothing is as it seems. Secrets are kept and discovered, loves are lost and found, and Charlotte is finds herself on the brink of losing everything — or having it all.

Our thoughts: Love that it has that "Downton Abbey" feel to it! With a whole lotta sexy mixed in!

Giveaway: Two copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win and we'll select the winners after 12pm PST on Sunday, May 19th.

Fun fact: Jamie Also writes under the pen name Logan Belle!

Where you can read more about Jamie: Her website, Twitter and Facebook!


Jamie Brenner RGB small crop 72dpiKISS

First: It was September 13, 1985. Yes, I know the exact date because the MTV Video awards were on. It happened at my house. I was standing with my “boyfriend” in the kitchen next to the dishwashing machine. I could hear Dire Straits on the tv in the other room. I couldn’t even enjoy the moment because I kept wondering if my braces were bothering him.

Last: This morning, with my fiancé. My last, my best, my always.


First: Amazing question. I don’t know the exact first book I ever read. I remember reading books in first grade and my teacher telling me they were books for fourth graders. It was the first thing I ever took pride in. The first specific books I remember reading were the Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz books and the Nancy Drew series.

Last: The Island by Elin Hilderbrand. I devoured it. My next will be one by her, too. I just have to decide between her slew of bestsellers!


First: I wanted bangs but my mother said no. So I cut them myself. I got punished and the bangs looked terrible. I’m just thankful that even though the end results were bad, it didn’t stop me from taking more risks!

Last: Quitting my job to write novels full time. Only slightly more terrifying than the  moment when the scissors cut into my six year old hair.


First: April 6, 1986. The boy I’d liked since 7th grade asked me out.

Last: The day I saw a copy of my first novel, Blue Angel.  My publisher sent me a box of advance copies. I showed it off like a newborn baby. And then I put it on my bookshelf next to Judith Krantz.


First: The boy who asked me out told me he loved me. I was fifteen, and I realized that I was going to have a “life” after all. Things didn’t only happen in books and movies.

Last: When my fiancé kissed me for the first time. I realized that I could still feel fifteen again.

Thanks, Jamie!


The 2013 Club: Amy Sue Nathan and The Glass Wives

The_glass_wivesOur guest today: Amy Sue Nathan

Why she rocks: We can't believe this is her debut novel! Can't wait for her next book! (Which sounds juicy, btw. Details below!)

Her debut: The Glass Wives (Out May 14th!)

The scoop on it: Evie and Nicole Glass share a last name. They also shared a husband.

When a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass, it also upends the lives of Evie and Nicole, and their children. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. In fact, Evie sees a silver lining in all this heartache—the chance to rid herself of Nicole once and for all.  But Evie wasn’t counting on her children’s bond with their baby half-brother, and she wasn’t counting on Nicole’s desperate need to hang on to the threads of family, no matter how frayed. Strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and the baby. But when Evie suspects that Nicole is determined to rearrange more than her kitchen, Evie must decide who she can trust. More than that, she must ask: what makes a family?

Our thoughts: We loved this book about the complexities of friendship! A must-read!

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, May 12 after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: She hosts the popular Women's Fiction Writers blog! (In all her spare time!)

Where you can read more about Amy Sue: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and her website.


AmyNathanSmallFileDO'S: 3 things every aspiring novelist should do

1. First, believe in yourself and your story. If you don’t, chances are you won’t be able to convince anyone else to believe in it either.

2. Second, remember that kind criticism is your friend. It’s not easy (nor is the first “should”) but it’s essential.

3. Third, take a break when you need a break. I’m a big believer in letting things simmer and stew. When I’m stuck I don’t sit in front of the computer, I walk away from it. That seems to always allow me to find the answers to my plot or character issues or to get reinspired.

DON'TS: 3 things every aspiring novelist shouldn't do

1. First and foremost, ignore the naysayers. That means if someone rolls his or her eyes when you say you’re writing a book, or seems disinterested in your ambition, cross ‘em off your list. At least for a while.

2. Next, do not compare yourself or your book to others. I’m still working on that one.

3. Last but not least, don’t forget that what works for one writer doesn’t always work for another. Do what works for you.


1. On your desk? I have learned to always have a drink on my desk, otherwise I tend to forget to get up and drink. That means coffee, water, sugar-free lemonade, or if I’m working at night, it could be wine!

2. On your Facebook feed?   On my Facebook feed I always follow my writer friends. They inspire me.

3. App on your phone? The app on my phone I can’t do without is weather. It’s very important for me to know the temperature in many different cities. Tell me where you live and I’ll add it to my list.


1. Song you listened to on repeat? Confession time: I rarely listen to music.

2. Book you read? But the last book I read was THE LIFE LIST by Lori Nelson Spielman, which comes out July 9th. It was fabulous and I read it in less than two days!

3. Time you laughed? The last time I laughed was a few minutes ago when one of my dogs poked her nose in front of the computer. She wants to know why you don’t want HER to answer questions.


1. Agents did you query before you found "the one?" In total I queried 116 and my agent was somewhere in the middle.

2. Hours do you write per day? I don’t write every day, but when I do, it’s hours and hours and hours. I’m an all or nothing kind of writer.

3. Hours do you waste online when you should be writing?  Online hours are wasted? I don’t think so! Okay, maybe. Sometimes. Okay—way too many.


1. Way to celebrate a book deal? My best friend of thirty-three years is flying out to celebrate with me. My son will be home from college and my daughter is staying home from school.  We are having a small launch party to celebrate that night, but the big event will be at my local library a few weeks later.  I think all of those things make it “the best” for me!

2. Trick to overcome writer's block? My trick for overcoming writers block is to block out writing. I walk away, do something else, forget about the issue or problem.  The muse is displeased when ignored. Ta-dah! Problem solved.

3. Way to think of a book idea? Ideas come to me. I pretty much have nothing to do with them, except I write them down immediately so I don’t forget, which I’m apt to do.


1. Show you'll DVR? I’m embarrassed how many shows I DVR. I love TV and I love documentaries. My DVR runneth over.

2. Book you'll read? Right now I’m re-reading THE THIRD SON by Julie Wu.

3. Book you'll write? The book I’m writing now is about a blogger, but not just any blogger.  This woman misrepresents herself. Okay, she lies. It’s a story about those big life lies, what makes people tell them and what has to happen to compel someone to come clean and deal with the consequences. It’s also about the perils of getting lost in an online life at the expense of a real life.  I also have two more books in the hopper.  I have no idea what a hopper is, by the way, but that is definitely where my books are waiting for me and they’re pounding to get out.

Thanks, Amy!




7 Seconds in Heaven with...Jon Harrison

The_Banks_of_Certain_RiversOur guest today: Jon Harrison

Why we want to spend 7 Seconds in Heaven with him: We love a man who can not only write about love but do it well.

His latest: The Banks of Certain Rivers

The scoop on it: Neil Kazenzakis is barely holding his life together: ever since an accident left his wife profoundly disabled, he's been doing his best as a single dad and popular high school teacher. He's also been dealing with Lauren Downey, his sort-of girlfriend of the past two years who's pushing for a commitment—and for Neil to finally tell his son Christopher about their secret relationship.

Neil's carefully balanced world begins to fall apart when some questionable footage of him is anonymously posted to YouTube...just as Chris learns about Lauren in the worst possible way. Doubting his own recollection of the events in the online video as he's threatened with the loss of his job and the ability to care for his wife, Neil must find a way to prove the truth to his family, his community, and himself as he struggles to regain the splintered trust of his son.

Heartbreaking, poignant, and written with devastating humor and warmth, The Banks of Certain Rivers is a shattering story of memory, loss, and just how far a man will go to show the people closest to him the meaning of love.

Our thoughts: Warning: This book is unputdownable.

Giveaway: One e-copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, May 12th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: The fabulous Catherine McKenzie told us about Jon. Thanks, Catherine!

Where you can read more about Jon: Facebook,Twitter and his website.


JH_Olive_768(1)1. Liz & Lisa: What’s your favorite book and why? Jon Harrison: There are so many. If I had to pick one novel, I'd say The Sun Also Rises. For all the ugly behavior of its characters, it's really the spring from which all modern fiction flows. I can go back to Raymond Carver's collected poems again and again. Ditto for St. Augustine's Confessions.

2. L&L: What’s the best thing about living in the Rockies? JH: We get all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. Also, the views can be pretty great.

3. L&L: What do you love about running? Does it help your writing? JH: It's nice to be reminded that there can be something just as painful as writing, and that's running. The great thing about it, though, is that after a run I actually feel good instead of filled with the usual dread and self-doubt. So it's a nice break from my writing routine.

4. L&L: Where’s your favorite place to write? JH: I have a wobbly table in my loft on which there are marked-up manuscript pages, sticky note pads, a brass barometer, a volcanic rock from Mt. Fuji, a baseball signed by Fritz Peterson, a faded Mystery Science Theater 3000 mug filled with pens and sharpies, and my laptop. That's my favorite place to write.

5. L&L: What are you reading right now? JH: A fantastic book called The Rider by the Dutch novelist Tim Krabbé. On the surface it's a spare, tight story about a bike race, each kilometer in the race taking a page in the novel, but really it's a profound trip inside this guy's head that blows me away each time I read it.

6. L&L: Where did the inspiration for The Banks of Certain Rivers come from? JH: A while back there was a thing in the news where a bicyclist in New York City was charged with assault for aggressively charging toward a cop. As it turned out, some tourists had filmed the whole thing, and the cop had actually run out into the street and knocked the guy off his bike. It got me thinking about how, with cameras everywhere, things are so thoroughly documented now, and how easily that could be manipulated.

7. L&L: What’s your biggest pet peeve? JH: People who make a big show of writing in coffee shops.

Thanks, Jon!

2013 Club: Andrea Lochen and The Repeat Year

Repeat_YearOur guest today: Andrea Lochen

Why she rocks:  You'll be hooked on this debut novel from page one.

Her debut: The Repeat Year (Out today!)

The scoop on it: Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong…

After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011a day she has already livedOlive’s world is turned upside down.
Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?

Our thoughts: We loved this story of what you do when you actually get a second chance.

Giveaway:TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12pm PST on Sunday, May 12th.

Fun fact: Read an excerpt of The Repeat Year here.

Where you can read more about Andrea: Her website and Facebook .



Andrea_Lochen1. DO'S: 3 things every aspiring novelist should do

1) Learn how to take constructive criticism

2) Find a writing community

3) Say yes to new and interesting opportunities—the more you live, the more you’ll have to write about!


2. DON'TS: 3 things every aspiring novelist shouldn't do

1) Fall so in love with your first draft that you’re unwilling to make any changes

2) Take rejection personally (especially from the people who clearly don’t “get” your book)

3) Make all your characters aspiring writers


3. MUST HAVES: On your desk? A yummy scented candle from Anthropologie, several to-do lists, and a drawerful of my favorite candy (Chewy Spree are my guilty pleasure while writing).

On your Facebook feed?  Grammar jokes, pictures of ridiculously cute animals and babies, updates from my favorite authors.

App on your phone?  I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m probably the last person in the country without a smart phone, except perhaps, my grandfather.  We’ll see how much longer I can hold out on this trend!


4. LASTS: Song you listened to on repeat? Taylor Swift’s “Holy Ground”

Book you read? John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which is even better than all its hype!

Time you laughed? I teach creative writing at a university, and my friend recently shared a Tumblr blog with me called “My Life as a College Professor.”  It cracked me up because it’s so true in a totally irreverent way!  It points out professors’ pet peeves, embarrassing moments, little victories, and major failures using hilarious animated GIFs.


5. HOW MANY: Agents did you query before you found "the one?"  More than I care to admit, but Stephany Evans was worth the wait!

Hours do you write per day?  I don’t write every day, but when I do, it’s for a solid chunk of six or seven hours.

Hours do you waste online when you should be writing?  My ratio of hours spent writing versus online dallying is probably 3:1 on a good day and 1:3 on a bad day.


6. BESTS: Way to celebrate a book deal? With my first book deal, I danced around the living room and called everyone I knew.  Then my husband suggested we go out for dinner anywhere I wanted.  I chose Pizza Hut.  True story!  (What can I say?  I love their pizza!)

Trick to overcome writer's block? Taking a long walk, preferably along Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, but anywhere scenic and solitary will do.

Way to think of a book idea?  I tend to come up with the novel premise first and initially have no idea what it means or who the characters will be.  Therefore, I play the “what if?” game a lot.  In the case of The Repeat Year, my question was, what if a person was given a chance to do-over a year of her life?


7. NEXTS: Show you'll DVR? Downton Abbey; I can’t believe I have to wait until January 2014 for Season 4.  Maybe I’ll have to move to England before then, so I can watch it sooner!

Book you'll read? This is Paradise, a collection of short stories about Hawai'i that debuts this July.  It’s written by my dear friend, Kristiana Kahakauwila, who’s extraordinarily talented.

Book you'll write?  My second novel doesn’t have an official title yet, but it’s about a young single mother who discovers one summer that she can see her four-year-old son’s imaginary friends.

Thanks, Andrea!