Author Archive | Ariel

What Makes A Book Southern?

Today’s post by Kim Wright | @Kim_Wright_W

Kim WrightI get asked this all the time at conferences and readings. If you’re described as a southern writer, like I so often am, people immediately come back with “But what does that really mean?” They expect a better answer than merely telling them you happened to be born south of the Mason-Dixon line.

And then there’s the question of “Why does it even matter anymore?” At one time this country may have had distinct regional sections but now, thanks to the Starbucksination of America, every town looks alike. We all have the same stores and restaurants. Not to mention, this is a society on the move with most people living lots of places in the course of their lifetimes. Is regional identity even a real thing anymore?

I’d have to say yeah, it still matters. Here’s why.

What makes a book southern has nothing to do with what it’s about. People say southerners write about family and faith and place and race, but all writers write about those things. The same themes have been pretty much circulating since novels came into being, no matter where or when they were written. But I think a book is “southern” not because of what it’s about, but more because of how it’s written.

True southerners have a rambling, conversational style that’s born out of an oral storytelling tradition. There’s a feeling of “Pull up your rocker and have some sweet tea, cause honey, I’ve got a whale of a story to tell you.” (Or, if it’s the new south, “Let’s sit down at the cafe table and order some wine. Maybe a bottle. This is good.”) There’s the sense that the author is right there with you, leaning over and practically whispering in your ear, that something is being confessed.

I love these kinds of stories. I grew up on them. My grandfather could take twenty minutes and rope in a cast of fifteen characters just to tell you about going to the grocery store. Southerners don’t mind gossip and they thrive on exaggeration. They use Biblical language, even if they’re not particularly religious. They understand the fine art of the spin.

So when people call me a southern writer, I wear the badge proudly. I take it to mean that my books sound like they’re being spoken more than they sound like they were written, and that’s a good thing. So let’s have one more glass of wine and you can tell me all about your day.

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Las Ride to GracelandLauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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On Motherhood and Writing, Because Both Are Tricky (And Wonderful)

Today’s post by debut novelist Joy Calloway | @JoyWCal

Today we’re visiting with Joy Calloway, author of THE FIFTH AVENUE ARTIST’S SOCIETY, and one of our featured authors this summer. She’s sharing a bit about her writing routine and this is something we’re always fascinated by, no matter the circumstances. Let us know if you can relate to her story!

Joy Calloway

Joy Calloway

I started writing novels before I had kids—about two years before—and was honestly terrified about how my daughter, now two and a half, and then my son, eleven months, would change my routine and my writing. It’s a common fear, I think, to wonder how a child will turn your life, because inevitably becoming a mother does change you.

Over the past years, I’ve had quite a few expectant authors ask me how motherhood changed my work, and I could feel the hope and fear in the question. I remember wondering the same, fretting about the time I knew I’d lose. I thought I needed hours each day to work out scenes in my head, hours to dream up my characters’ every quirk, hours to rework one sentence over and over until it was perfect. How could I possibly be a writer if I didn’t have time to let inspiration spark and flame? How would I be able to work when I didn’t have the luxury of spending a full day lost in my novel?

I had a good routine pre-children. I would sit down after working my day job as a marketer and write until my brain turned to mush. I would take snack breaks and make tea (The Fifth Avenue Artists Society was written in a haze of too much late night Lady Grey tea, tubs of peanut butter filled pretzels, and Sour Patch Kids); I’d walk my block and think things through. When I got pregnant, I worried that having my baby girl would mark the end of my writing, or at least a years-long break, because I knew that I’d put my dreams on hold for my kids if it came to it. Without a doubt, I knew they’d be the most important treasures of my life, and I wasn’t wrong about that, but I was most certainly mistaken about motherhood pausing my dreams.

Motherhood didn’t stifle me. It didn’t snuff out my writing like I’d predicted. In fact, becoming a parent made me more efficient. I’ve always been between a plotter and pantster, and that hasn’t changed, though I do appreciate my rough outline. The moment I put my kids down for a nap, I grab a cup of coffee and it’s go time. I know I have between an hour and a half and two hours to write, so I try to skim over my outline in the morning if I’ve been able to finish a scene the day before or at least read the last paragraph I wrote to jog my memory about what I’ll be writing that day. That way, the instant I sit down at the computer, I’m ready to start typing.

Some days are better than others, some days I’m inspired and some days I’m not, but that’s just life. The biggest thing is that I’m writing. Since my kids were born, I’ve finished three manuscripts. They’re not remotely perfect. They need editing and polishing and maybe major rewriting, but that’s okay because they’re a testament to the fact that I’m still doing what I love—and I challenge you all to do the same. Maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe you’re a crafter or a baker or an accountant or a teacher. Regardless, you’re telling stories to your kids by your passion, letting them know that it’s important to let your dreams live with you your whole life long—just like the women who inspired my characters in The Fifth Avenue Artists Society.

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The Fifth Avenue Artists SocietyThe Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Orlando, We Are Sorry For Your Loss

Orlando

Dear Orlando, Marybeth and I met in your city eight years ago. It was a fluke thing that has turned into an epic friendship and we think of you with great fondness. She Reads exists, in no small part, because of you. What happened on your streets this weekend was a horrible act of evil and we are praying for you and for all of those who wake today with broken hearts. We don’t use that word–prayer–lightly. And we are not ashamed of it. We pray because it matters, because it is powerful, and because it can change this broken world. We are truly sorry for your loss.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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The Danger In Writing About Real People

Today’s post by Kim Wright | @Kim_Wright_W

Kim WrightThe weird thing is I never set out to write a book about Elvis Presley. LAST RIDE TO GRACELAND was just one of those stories that came to me fast and fully formed and when a writer is lucky enough to get that kind of inspiration, believe me, she doesn’t fight it.

It all started when I was lying in bed one Sunday morning looking at newspaper headlines and one just leapt out at me: LAST RIDE TO GRACELAND.

The article was about how the car that Elvis Presley drove on the last day of his life — a big shiny muscle car called a Stutz Blackhawk — was finally being taken out of mothballs and put on display in Graceland. But first it was being taken to my hometown of Charlotte NC, where it was going to be restored to top circa-1977 condition by one of the NASCAR museum specialists. The guy said that when he unwrapped the car and opened the door that it was “like opening a time capsule.”

That was all it took to get my imagination going.   I sat there in bed and wildly scribbled out a premise: I imagined that the car was found not at Graceland, but rather in an abandoned fishing shed in South Carolina and that the discoverer was a down-on-her-luck blues singer named Cory Beth Ainsworth. Cory Beth’s recently deceased mother, Honey, had briefly been a back-up singer for Elvis in her youth but had always refused to talk about her single year at Graceland — including why she had abruptly fled Memphis in the summer of 1977 and returned home to marry her high school sweetheart. Cory Beth was born seven months later and because of the timing, coupled with the gospel grit of her voice, she has always fantasized that she’s the illegitimate daughter of the King himself. So Cory Beth decides to dig out the car and return it to Graceland, hoping to gather some long-awaited answers along the way.

But of course an idea only takes you so far. I needed research, so six weeks later I was on the road, actually driving the route I’d imagined Cory Beth would take, this meandering trip through the deep south, from Beaufort, SC to Memphis, with lots of stops along the way.

It’s a bit dangerous to write fiction about a real person, especially one as beloved as Elvis Presley and especially one who died fairly recently. After all, if you write about Julius Caesar it’s not like his relatives are going to come crawling out of the woodwork saying “That’s not what really happened.” A lot of people, including me, remember where they were on the day that Elvis died and are protective of their memories. I just have to trust that they accept that this is a work of fiction, one woman’s imaginings about how the last days of Graceland went down, and that the book was written in total respect for Elvis and his talent.

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Las Ride to GracelandLauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Summer Book Club Selections

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon and Marybeth Whalen | @ArielLawhon and @MarybethWhalen

Summer Collage 2

Summer has always been synonymous with reading. Those long, lazy days with book in hand feel so decadent. There is a certain giddy delight that comes with reading outside, a sense that time has been suspended, that everything is on hold, breath held in honor of the stories unfolding before us. We try to capture that joy every time we choose our book club selections but we reach a little harder at this time of year because we want you to be carried away, transported, even if you can’t go away for vacation. We want you to feel as though you’ve been somewhere else. That is what summer is about, after all. So, for our summer book club selections, we’ve chosen three very different, captivating novels. Over the next few months you will survive a plane crash, take an epic Southern road trip all the way to Graceland, and fall in love in old New York. That, my friends, is a summer worth talking about!

Enjoy! And let us know if you plan to read any (or, hopefully, all!) of these novels between now and August!

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Before the FallBEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley

From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo comes the thriller of the year.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

Read an excerpt of BEFORE THE FALL here.

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Las Ride to GracelandLAST RIDE TO GRACELAND by Kim Wright

Lauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

Read an excerpt of LAST RIDE TO GRACELAND here.

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The Fifth Avenue Artists SocietyTHE FIFTH AVENUE ARTIST’S SOCIETY by Joy Calloway

The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.

Read an excerpt of THE FIFTH AVENUE ARTISTS SOCIETY here.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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#READ Savannah, Featuring Liane Moriarty

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

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For the last few months we have been quietly working on the second annual #READ event held in partnership with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. And while many of the details are still in flux, we are beyond delighted to announce that #1 New York Times bestselling author, Liane Moriarty, will be our keynote author this year!

Liane is on a limited US tour this fall for her new novel TRULY MADLY GUILTY and will only be visiting ten cities, with Savannah being her only stop in the South. So if you’ve ever wanted to shake her hand and tell her how late you stayed up reading BIG LITTLE LIES or THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, now is your chance! You likely won’t have another opportunity to meet her this year.

Here are a few things important details:

#READSavannah will be at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto on Sunday, September 18th. Because the event is held in partnership with the annual SIBA trade show, the hotel fills up quickly. We will be posting information about overflow hotels, book club activities, and dining options soon.

There are only 200 tickets available, and we expect them to sell out quickly. So grab your book club and register soon. Today if possible.

Ticket prices are $45 for the panels and keynote only OR $55 for panels, keynote, and lunch with all the featured authors, including Liane.

You can register here.

There’s much more to come but we hope to see you in Savannah! In the meantime, here’s a bit about Liane’s new novel:

Liane Moriaty Collage

The new novel from Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot, about how sometimes we don’t appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it’s too late.

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

 

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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But When, The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, Michelle Gable | @MGableWriter

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Michelle Gable to share a bit about her new novel, I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!

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Michelle GableA college student named Pru Valentine is reeling from the death of her fiancé in the Vietnam War. She stumbles upon an advertisement seeking a helpmeet for a cultured, older woman in the U.K., the only requirement “a love of literature and the English countryside.” The girl decides it’s the perfect salve for her splintered heart.

But when Pru shows up in Oxfordshire she is greeted by a maniacal, half-nude, gun-toting harpy. Pru’s new home, a so-called estate, is a sprawling, dilapidated, Grey Gardens-style manse replete with chickens, dead cats in the icebox, and gaping holes in the floor. Townsfolk say the battle-ax is the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough. Pru has a hard time believing it, at least until a handsome, rakish biographer bumbles into town looking for a story.

Thirty years later, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess will take her from Virginia to the decrepit English home and eventually to Paris, where answers will be found at last.

As with my first novel, I’ll See You in Paris is based on a true story. The Duchess of Marlborough was born Gladys Deacon and lived a glittering, glorious life in the ballrooms of London and salons of Paris. She was considered the most beautiful–and tempestuous–woman to exist. She once wore the Hope Diamond and, they say, could’ve prevented WWI.

The Dazzling Miss Deacon wed for the first (and only) time at age forty, joining her life with that of the Duke of Marlborough, her best friend’s former husband. When the Duke died in the late 1930s, the Duchess disappeared from her palace and turned up in a broken-down home at almost a century old. The woman’s “missing years” intrigued me more than her gilded lifestyle and it was in trying to imagine how she must’ve appeared, and what strangers might’ve thought, that inspired my “but when.”

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I'll See You In ParisThree women, born generations apart.
One mysterious book that threads their lives together.
A journey of love, discovery, and truth…

I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. Nearly a century after Gladys’s heyday, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a dilapidated manse kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately, to Paris, where answers will be found at last. In the end, she not only solves the riddle of the Duchess but also uncovers the missing pieces in her own life.

At once a great love story and literary mystery, I’ll See You in Paris will entertain and delight, with an unexpected ending that will leave readers satisfied and eager for Gable’s next novel.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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“But When” The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Yona Zeldis McDonough to share a bit about her new novel, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!

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head shotSusannah Gilmore, the protagonist of my seventh novel, The House on Primrose Pond, is determined to start over. After her husband is tragically killed in a bicycle accident, she packs up her two teen-aged kids and moves to Eastwood, New Hampshire, to take up residence in a house on a pond that her parents left to her.

But when she arrives, Susannah’s forward-thrust is derailed by the love letter that she finds tucked in a volume of poetry up in the attic. The letter is written to her mother—but it’s quite clear that the handwriting is not her father’s. So instead of moving ahead with her life, Susannah finds herself yanked back into the past, searching the house and property for other clues to her mother’s long-held secret. She extends her search by scoping out various men her mother knew, wondering which, if any, could be the man she is looking for, the man who will finally unravel the mystery that was her mother. In the process, she reconnects with Corbin Bailey, sexy guy who was the out-of-reach older brother of the boy she dated the one summer she spent on the pond. Is she ready to fall in love again? And if she is, is Corbin the one?

The next but when moment occurs when she decides to switch gears professionally. Instead of pursuing the minor European aristocrats who generally populate the historical novels she writes, Susannah decides to work on the tragic story of Ruth Blay, who, in 1768, was the last woman hanged in the state of New Hampshire. Blay, who was unmarried, was accused of killing her newborn baby girl. She maintained her innocence throughout her trial but was eventually found guilty of what was then a capital offense: concealing the birth of illegitimate child. She mounted the gallows on December 31, before a restless crowd in what is now Portsmouth’s South Cemetery. Although Susannah is fascinated by what she has learned, her editor is less keen on the idea and so Susannah must convince her that Ruth’s story is one worth telling.   The convergence of past and present, the themes of guilt, innocence and ultimately redemption are what bring this novel together and I hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the writing of it.

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2_HouseonPrimrose_4_withpeople-1A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of You Were Meant For Me.
 
After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Save The Date: September Book Club Adventure

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We have one task for you today: flip your calendar open and draw a big red circle around September 18th. Our second live #READ event will be in Savannah, Georgia in partnership with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Just imagine a long weekend with your book club in one of the loveliest cities in America, capped off by a day spent celebrating books with some of the most critically acclaimed authors in the country. We have so much more to share with you in the coming days–including a keynote speaker so amazing and beloved we’re still pinching ourselves–but we wanted to give you a chance to save the date and start making plans.

Here’s what you need to know for now:

  • The #READSavannah event will be held at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto on Sunday, September 18th.
  • Space is limited. Registration details are coming soon but just know that you’ll need to act quickly when things go live.
  • We would really love to meet you!

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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A Story Built On A Dream: J.T. Ellison on the origins of NO ONE KNOWS

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, J.T. Ellison | @thrillerchick

J.T. Ellison is the author of NO ONE KNOWS, one of our spring book club selections, and an all-around fantastic person. You can read about the dream that inspired her novel here and, if you haven’t already, you can pick up a copy of NO ONE KNOWS anywhere books are sold. Signed copies are available at Parnassus Books in Nashville.

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A story built on a dream, five years in the making, NO ONE KNOWS is my first standalone novel, a psychological thriller set in Nashville, Tennessee. Aubrey Hamilton is the girl next door, a sweet Montessori teacher facing a terrible nightmare—a lifetime ahead without her first love. When her husband Josh disappears, she discovers the fine line between truth and lies. The book opens the day Aubrey’s husband Josh is declared legally dead by the State of Tennessee, a ruling that will trigger the fulfillment of a $5 million life insurance policy.

Aubrey doesn’t want the money. She wants her husband, her old life, back. An orphan twice over, brought up in the foster system, she’s fought hard to find normalcy. Joshua Hamilton was a dream come true for her—her childhood sweetheart, a noble man who was training to be a doctor when he went missing, five years earlier, leaving behind only a pool of blood on their living room floor. She’d never hurt him. Would she?

The death declaration breaks open a rift in Aubrey. She has one last chance to find out what really happened to her husband—and others are interested in the truth as well. Questions arise quickly. Is Aubrey as innocent as she seems? Is Josh Hamilton dead? And who is the mysterious stranger who’s appeared in her life, a man who reminds her of her lost husband?

Madness. Lies. Deceit. Who is telling the truth? No one knows…

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

read more