Archive | Miscellaneous

It Comes In Waves: on motherhood, writing, and freedom.

Today’s post by author Erika Marks | @erikamarksauthr

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I set out to write IT COMES IN WAVES, I knew one of the novel’s pivotal relationships was going to be that of forty-two year-old, single mother Claire, and her teenage daughter, Lizzie, who is struggling to assert her independence.

Before I began the novel’s first draft, I worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to Claire’s challenges. Don’t get me wrong: I’m the mother of two daughters—but my daughters are young; young enough that they—and for this I thank my stars DAILY—still want me to, on occasion, hold their hands, sing them to sleep and maybe even, for a few precious minutes, be their whole world.

Now I know one day they will want their own space. There will be no hand-holding, no lullaby-singing, no tolerance of mom’s Mom-ness on any level—but that day is far, far away.

After all, I was a wildly independent kid who grew up to be a wildly independent adult. My leash was long—okay, in truth, there was no leash. There was no fence, no curfews, no limits. At seventeen, I backpacked through Greece and Italy with my best friend for six weeks. After college, I moved to LA, not knowing a soul, and asked a bus driver to drop me off in Venice Beach because I liked the way it felt. If my mother struggled to come to terms with my fierce independence, she cloaked it well. So how could I relate to a mother who saw the early sparks of independence in her daughter and felt such panic she could barely breathe—or let her daughter breathe, for that matter? Surely I couldn’t understand that mother?

Then I started writing Claire.

And suddenly, I could.

Because as mothers, no matter how we tell ourselves we will let go when we must, the instinct to hold on is strong—quite possibly even stronger than our childrens’ desire to pull free.

In my novel, Claire comes out on the other side, a better mother, a better person.

When the day comes for my daughters to show that same desire for personal freedom, that vital craving for independence, I can only hope I will have learned from Claire’s challenge—and emerge as well on the other side.


9780451418869_large_It_Comes_In_WavesFor competitive surfer Claire “Pepper” Patton, the waves of South Carolina’s Folly Beach once held the promise of a loving future and a bright career—until her fiance, Foster, broke the news that he and Claire’s best friend, Jill, were in love.

Eighteen years later, now forty-two and a single parent to a rebellious teenage daughter, Claire has put miles between that betrayal and that coast. But when ESPN invites her back to Folly Beach for a documentary on women in surfing, Claire decides it might be the chance she needs to regain control of her life and reacquaint herself with the unsinkable young woman she once was.

But not everything in Folly Beach is as Claire remembers it, most especially her ex-best friend, Jill, who is now widowed and raising her and Foster’s teenage son. An unexpected reunion with Claire will uncover a guilt that Jill has worked hard to bury—and bring to the surface years of unspoken blame.

When Claire crosses paths with a sexy pro-surfer who is as determined to get Claire back on a board as he is to get her in his bed, a chance for healing might not be far behind—or is it too late for two estranged friends to find forgiveness in the place that was once their coastal paradise, where life was spent barefoot and love was as dizzying as the perfect wave…


Erika Marks is a native New Englander who now lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their two little mermaids who will one day in the far, far future, forbid her from referring to them as such.

Question for you: what was your relationship with your mother like during your teen years? Good? Bad? Ugly? Or somewhere in between? 


About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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What If: The Question Every Author (And Mother) Asks

Today’s post by Ann Lewis Hamilton

Ann Lewis HamiltonSometimes when I look at my daughter, I marvel at the journey that brought us together – a woman from a small southern town who ended up living in Los Angeles and an orphaned infant from the streets of Calcutta.

The “what ifs” start before that.  My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.  Suppose I had carried that baby to term?  Would it have been a girl?  A boy?  If I’d had that child, does that mean I wouldn’t have given birth to my wonderful son?  (I missed biology in high school, so I don’t know how things like that work.)

What if.   When my husband and I tried to have another child after Max, what if we had been been successful?  Successful at least twice so we’d be a family with three biological children.  My husband and I had always talked of adoption, but with three biological children, would we have stopped?

What if.  We didn’t go very far down the infertility road, only to IUI (intrauterine insemination).  The first time was successful, but I had another miscarriage.  Suppose I hadn’t?  By then we were looking into international adoption.  There was a point where I was pregnant and expecting in the spring and we’d been told our adoptive daughter would arrive around the same time.  So in addition to our son, would we suddenly have two infants?  Would we have stopped the adoption process?

Not in a million years.  My husband and I joked about how crazy our lives would have been if it had worked out that way.  Things happen for a reason.  But do they?  The miscarriages and fertility treatments – I have a hard time wrapping my head around how pain and heartbreak make you a stronger person.  Really?  I think I’d be just as strong without having gone through that.  (On the other hand, I never would have been about to write a book about infertility.)

We never found out why I had a hard time getting pregnant or had miscarriages.  But what if we had?  How far would we have gone to have another child?  In my novel, Alan talks about never feeling the need to replicate himself.  My husband and I felt the same way.  We didn’t need a replica of ourselves or a blend of our genetic material.  Color, nationality, sex of the child, none of that made a difference to us.

I’d like to think we have the best of both worlds.  A birth child and an adopted child.  But when I look at my son and daughter, that’s not what I see.  I see my children.

* * *

ExpectingA mom, a dad, a baby…and another dad.

Laurie and Alan are expecting, again. After two miscarriages, Laurie was afraid they’d never be able to have a child. Now she’s cautiously optimistic — the fertility treatment worked, and things seem to be different this time around. But she doesn’t yet know how different.

Jack can’t seem to catch a break — his parents are on his case about graduating from college, he’s somehow dating two girls at once, and he has to find a way to pay back the money he borrowed from his fraternity’s party fund. The only jobs he is qualified for barely pay enough to keep him in beer money, but an ad for the local sperm bank gives Jack an idea.

Laurie and Alan’s joy is shattered when their doctor reveals that Laurie was accidentally impregnated by sperm from a donor rather than her husband. Who is Donor 296. And how will their family change now that Donor 296 is inarguably part of it?

* * *

Ann Lewis Hamilton has written for film and television. EXPECTING is her first novel.

Ann Lewis Hamilton’s television credits include, among others, Grey’s Anatomy, Stephen King’s Dead Zone, and thirtysomething. She co-edits a small online literary magazine, Hot Valley Writers, and writes a blog, Book Club for One. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia in a house full of typewriters – her grandfather was the editor of the local newspaper where her father worked as a reporter and her mother wrote for the society page. Ann’s goal was to write and draw for MAD magazine, but instead she graduated with a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from UCLA. However, she still has a subscription to MAD.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time as a amateur astronaut. (Not really, but she has seen Gravity three times and would consider being an astronaut if she got to meet George Clooney.)

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Working And Mothering From Home: A Horror Story

Today’s post by author Sonya Cobb | @CobbSonya

Sonya Cobb

Sonya Cobb

I was hiding behind the shower curtain, hand clamped over my mouth, phone jammed against my ear, sweat pouring into my eyes.  In the next room, my daughter’s screams were ratcheting from anxiety to desperation to mindless panic.

There was no man with a knife silhouetted against the shower curtain.  There was, however, an important client on the phone, and he wanted to know what I thought about the change in strategy we were considering.  I didn’t know we were considering a change of strategy.  I didn’t even know what the original strategy was, because the document was sitting on my desk in the room where my baby was screaming her head off.  Cue Psycho music.

I learned an important lesson that day:  if you try to work and parent at the same time, you will end up doing a half-assed job of both.

Later on I would ask myself why I didn’t politely excuse myself from that phone call and arrange to have the conversation another time.  I wondered why I hadn’t trained my daughter to soothe herself back to sleep after her usual ten-minute micronap.  But in both roles – freelancer and mother – I was tentative, inexperienced, and desperate to succeed.

We needed two incomes, but I avoided getting a full-time job because I wasn’t ready to put my daughter into full-time daycare.  I figured I’d stuff some freelance work into the cracks and crevices of my day, scheduling conference calls during my daughter’s naps, working on assignments after my husband got home.  The rest of the time, I’d nurse my baby, provide lots of meaningful eye contact, and watch her personality unfold.

But the work was slow to come, leaving me in no position to dictate my clients’ conference call schedules.  I became well acquainted with my phone’s mute button as I perfected the art of multitasking:  working while nursing.  Working while changing diapers.  Working while frantically dabbing spit-up off my keyboard.

It wasn’t working.  After the bathtub debacle I finally hired a babysitter, even though the math was all wrong.  My hourly rate was higher than the sitter’s, but I had to pay her whether I was working or not.  That led to some strange afternoons spent shopping for clothes I couldn’t afford, just because I felt weird sitting at home reading magazines while the sitter played with my baby.

Eventually the work began to flow more regularly, and I got better at budgeting the needs of my baby, clients and childcare provider.  But it took a long time, and when I look back, I consider it one of the most exhausting and conflicted periods of my life.  When I think about women whose hourly wage is lower than the cost of childcare, who struggle every day just to provide food for their kids (never mind meaningful eye contact), I know I’m one of the lucky ones.  But I never look at a new mom juggling the demands of work and motherhood – no matter her socioeconomic circumstances – without sympathy, respect, and the sound of Psycho music echoing in my head.

* * *

The Objects of Her Affection - coverHer Heists Paid the Bills.
Her Family Paid the Price.

Sophie Porter is the last person in the world you’d expect to be stealing Renaissance masterpieces—and that’s exactly why she’s so good at it. Slipping objects out of her husband’s office at the Philadelphia Museum of Art satisfies something deep inside, during a time in her life when satisfactions are few and far between.

Selling the treasures also happens to keep their house out of foreclosure — a house that means everything to Sophie. But the FBI is sniffing around, and Sophie is close to destroying the very life she’s working so hard to build. She knows she should give up her thieving ways. But she may no longer be in control. The Objects of Her Affection is a riveting story about the realities of motherhood, the perils of secrecy, and the art of appraising the real treasures in our lives.

“This thrilling, emotional, and tautly paced novel will appeal to fans of The Book Thief…[Cobb's] brilliant first novel is the story of a woman with nothing and everything to lose.”—Booklist, starred review

Question: have you ever worked from home while caring for young children? How’d it go?

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Love. Story. (A Call For Submissions)

Love. Story

This month marks our fifth anniversary. In blog years (not to mention dog years) that basically means we’ve been around forever. And even though this reading community looks much different than it did when we started, She Reads still exists because we believe in the power of Story. We still want to share stories and encourage the women to read them. Year after year we’ve been profiling the books we think will move our readers. But as time has gone on, we’ve realized there’s been something missing: You.

Given the changes we’re making this fall, and our renewed focus on Community, Conversation, and Connection we’ve decided to open the doors of this organization a bit wider. And we’d like to hear how Story has changed your life. What novel comes to mind when you hear those words? Perhaps it’s a memoir or biography? Maybe a story led you to forgive someone, to make that hard phone call, to notice someone you might have otherwise overlooked, to speak up, to share something painful, to act, or to love. Whatever your story about Story is, we want to hear it. And we’d like to share it with this community.

We invite you to submit your “Love. Story.” posts to us here and we will begin what we hope to be a long conversation about the power of Story in our lives.

A few specifics on what we’re looking for: 

  • The post needs to be about a novel, memoir, or biography that changed your life. Tell us why. If you can make us laugh or cry, even better.
  • Your post should be no longer than 500 words.
  • It can NOT be about a book you have written.

We look forward to hearing from you!


About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Big Changes Coming Soon


This is usually the point where we announce our new book club selection. But that won’t be happening this month because we have some very BIG and very EXCITING news to share with you soon. Our next book club announcement won’t come until September 8th. (And really, let’s be honest: August is crazy. Everyone is getting kids back to school. We’re adjusting to the end of the summer and the new normal for fall.) Until then we’ll be here as usual. Reviewing books. Interviewing authors. Sharing stories. But we have changed the way we look at reading over the last few months. We’ve changed the way we select books and how we share them with you. And most importantly we have changed the way we operate so that we can better serve you, our lovely readers, through conversation, community, and connection.

Change can be hard. But in this case, we promise it will be wonderful. Stick with us. Keep reading. And prepare yourself for September.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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YA Novels: Your “Must Read” Summer List

Today’s post by our YA book reviewer, Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

As an English teacher, I get to assign summer reading every year… so why not here, on She Reads, too? Summer is the perfect time to kick back with a book and do some reading you might not get to do throughout the rest of the year. If you happen to have teenage daughters, these would be great read and discuss titles, too.  Because I absolutely could not pick just one summer reading title, here are three YA titles perfect for warm weather. Hope you enjoy!

We Were LiarsWE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

1. I have not been as surprised by a book – ever, probably – as I was by E. Lockhart’s newest release, We Were Liars. It was so shocking, actually, that I can’t tell you much about it other than to say the writing is great, the setting makes it perfect for summer, and you’re in for a real treat. Do yourself a favor and avoid reading reviews for it until after you’ve finished the book. Liars will be all over bestseller lists, guaranteed!





GoldenGOLDEN by Jessi Kirby

2. I’m a sucker for a good YA novel with a pretty cover, but a book with a pretty cover (even gold foil on the paperback! too gorgeous) AND Robert Frost poetry woven in? I’m so there. Golden by Jessi Kirby is a really beautifully written story full of romance, mystery, and adventure. The story is compelling and the characters are realistically flawed with plenty of redeeming value. Parker, the main character, is a protagonist that I rooted for all the way through, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way her story turned out. You’ll love this one!




Anna And the French KissANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

3. If there was one book I could live inside – and maybe even BE one of the characters – it’s totally Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. In it, Anna’s dad sends her off to boarding school in Paris just when everything seems to be looking up for her. Anna doesn’t want to go and doesn’t know any French… but then Anna meets Etienne St. Clair and suddenly Paris doesn’t seem so bad. Perkins’ writing is fantastic, and this story is every bit as magical as you might think a Parisian romance might be. You’ll fall in love with Paris and Etienne and maybe even wish you could go back to high school at a French boarding school! Another great thing about this is that the characters in this book reappear in Perkins’ second book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and in her third (due out in August), Isla and the Happily Ever After.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Books And Music: The Playlist For THAT NIGHT by Chevy Stevens

Today’s Post by this month’s featured author, Chevy Stevens | @ChevyStevens

Books and Music

Playlist for Toni’s Prom – songs that may have been played at Toni’s prom (1996) — (Click the link to see Toni’s YouTube prom channel. All the songs below and their videos in one place. SO fun!)

  1. Everything But The girl – Missing
  2. Los del Rio – Macarena
  3. Tracy Chapman – Give Me One Reason
  4. Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me
  5. Mariah Carey feat. Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day
  6. The Tony Rich Project – Nobody Knows
  7. Blackstreet – No Diggity ft. Dr. Dre, Queen Pen
  8. Alanis Morissette – Ironic
  9. Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever
  10. Hootie and the Blowfish – Time
  11. Whitney Houston: Exhale (Shoop Shoop)
  12. Melissa Ehtridge – I want To Come Over
  13. Gin Blossoms – Follow You Down
  14. Toni Braxton – You’re Makin’ Me high
  15. Mariah Carey – Always Be My Baby
  16. Eric Clapton – Change the World
  17. No Mercy – Where Do You Go
  18. Goo Goo Dolls – Name

That NightThat Night playlist – songs Chevy listened to while writing That Night that make her think of Ryan and Toni and how much they love each other

  1. Eric Church – Springsteen
  2. Radical Face – Welcome Home
  3. U2 – All I Want is You
  4. P!nk – Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess
  5. A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera – Say Something
  6. Phillip Phillips – Home
  7. Mumford & Sons – The Cave

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Amanda Kyle Williams, Interviewed

Today’s interview is with Amanda Kyle Williams | @AKyleWilliams

Amanda Kyle Williams burst onto the thriller scene in 2010 with her first crime novel, The Stranger You Seek, which Publishers Weekly called an “explosive, unpredictable and psychologically complex thriller that turns crime fiction cliches inside out.”  Stranger in the Room, the second book in the Keye Street series, arrived in 2012. Book 3 came out earlier this month and it’s already being called the strongest, most exciting book in a series that keeps getting better. Alison Law, a member of the She Reads blog network, interviewed Amanda about Don’t Talk to Strangers.

Amanda’s latest book, Don’t Talk to Strangers, is the third novel in her Keye Street series. If you are new to Amanda’s work, you should scoop up all of her books at your local indie bookstore, then cancel your plans because you are in for one long thrill ride. We’re giving away one copy of all three books in the Keye Street series–The Stranger You Seek, Stranger in the Room and Don’t Talk to Strangers. See the link below for contest entry details. Sorry this contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Amanda Kyle Williams, author of Don't Talk to Strangers

Photo credit: Kaylinn Gilstrap

1. For those members of our She Reads community who are new to your writing, will you introduce us to your protagonist Keye Street?

AKW: Of course. What writer says no to that? I should mention this right off because it’s one of those foundation-building things. My Chinese American detective was raised by white southern parents, and she has the accent to prove it. “I have the distinction of looking like what they still call a damn foreigner in most parts of Georgia, and sounding like a hick everywhere else in the world.” That’s Keye’s voice—irreverent, slightly damaged. She’s searching, balancing love, life and work, trying to keep her head above water, rebuilding her life. I think we root for her because she’s trying to find her footing like we all are. In Don’t Talk to Strangers, Keye introduces herself this way. “My name is Keye Street. I am a detective, private, a bail recovery agent, a process server and a former criminal investigative analyst for the FBI. And when I say former, I mean fired. Capital F. The Bureau likes their profilers sober.”

2. In the first two books, Keye Street operates out of her home based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is surrounded by her normal support system, including her adoptive family, her business partner Neil and her close friend, Atlanta Police Lt. Aaron Rauser. In the third book, you move Keye to the small town of Whisper, Georgia, where she finds out she is less than welcome. She’s working around the clock to help the sheriff’s department solve two murders, so other than some scattered phone calls and emails, she’s on her own and without good coffee. Why was it important to shift the setting and introduce a new set of characters in the third book?

AKW: It felt like the natural progression of the series. I think something we’ve come to understand about Keye is that she desperately misses the work she was doing with the FBI, the work she was educated and trained for. More and more, we see her dipping a toe in the water as a police consultant on repeat violent offender cases. It’s as close as she’ll ever get to what she did with the Bureau. It nourishes her, and feels more meaningful. So, when a county sheriff in central Georgia calls to say he has two dead girls and a tiny, clueless criminal investigations unit, there’s no question she’s going to take the job. Keye’s supporting cast is hugely popular with readers. I love that. And as a writer, I’d much rather you miss them now and then, and the city that has become a kind of character than get sick of the formula. Sometimes we need to pull the safety net out from under our characters. That’s what I did with Keye in this book. It was great fun. And challenging. She had to carry the book. That interaction with her pot-smoking business partner, her crazy family, and her boyfriend—all the things that have really informed us about who she is—were absent. On the other hand, I think we gained confidence in the character by watching her work outside her element, interact with strangers, and hunt a killer, fearlessly and obsessively. When the series comes back home to Atlanta, we’ll all be glad to see the gang again. I predict the next book will take place inside the Perimeter.

3. Readers of your books experience some pretty creepy things, as told to them by Keye, but also as narrated by the criminals. Why do you include scenes and chapters from the killer’s point of view?

AKW: It’s the only time I step out of Keye’s POV. I do it selectively. It’s something you have to be careful not to overuse. But I believe brief glimpses into the mind of a killer—how they justify it and reconcile it with the person they’re presenting to the world—is very effective. The psychopaths scare me, the ones who watch and don’t feel. So that’s why I do it. I want to scare the hell out of you, too.

4. Like Keye Street, you spent some time as a process server and developed a fascination with criminals and how they think. How did you learn to think and write like a profiler?

AKW: When I decided I wanted to write crime fiction, I immersed myself in that world. I took a couple of courses in the fundamentals of criminal profiling. Since my background is not in law enforcement or behavioral analysis, I needed to learn something about how a criminal analyst might approach a crime scene, how they infer personality characteristics on the offender based on the physical elements of the crime, and how they might work with local law enforcement on a consulting basis. I also took a course in homicide investigation from a seasoned old New York detective. So all that was a big help with language. I’m not writing technical manuals; I just want my investigator to have internal and external dialogue that feels real—especially when she’s at a scene or on a case.

5. Although your novels are thrillers and deal with some grim subject matter, you also make your characters say and do some outrageously funny things. How do you balance the scary stuff with the funny stuff?

AKW: Well, it helps if you’re basically a silly person. I wanted Keye and her gang to be funny. I like the little break in stress a good laugh gives you in a thriller. And this is a southern series. I mean, come on. We’re funny down here. It’s hard not to be inspired by the South. Humor is like switching POVs in that it can be a little bit of a tight rope. I want to give you a crime thriller that keeps you turning pages. The humor can break the tension for a second, endear the character to the reader, and give the reader a breather, but it should never slow the pace of the novel. I have a brilliant editor who has good instincts for this and stops me when I’ve gone too far. Mostly. Some might argue the missing cow in The Stranger You Seek, the booger bandit in Stranger in the Room, and Hank the poodle’s erection in Don’t Talk To Strangers were going too far.

6. After years of struggling as a student, being told that you were “lazy,” and ultimately dropping out of high school, you learned in your 20s that you were dyslexic. What is it like to look back on that time in your life—when you realized that you had a learning disorder, that you weren’t lazy or dumb, and that you could learn how to read and enjoy reading? Do you think your 20-year-old self would have believed that one day you would be a full-time writer whose words are read and enjoyed by so many people?

AKW: My 20-year-old self didn’t see a future at all. I hadn’t been diagnosed. I was working and struggling to hide the fact that I had trouble reading. I didn’t know there would be an answer for me, that I’d be diagnosed, told I could learn as much as anyone else. I promise you, I never imagined a future where I continued to wrestle with words all day. I mean, go figure. Early diagnosis is so important for kids with learning difficulties. Knowing there’s an answer, a way to learn, that you’re not stupid and slow, it changes your life. It gives you a chance.

7. As a series writer, you purposely leave loose ends in your books—things that keep your readers wanting to know, “How is this situation going to resolve itself and what is going to happen next to Keye?” Have you already mapped out the entire Keye Street series or do you approach each book like its own standalone story?

AKW: Oh lord, to be one of those writers who can map out an entire series and write long, beautiful, intricate outlines for their editors. Not me. Though, I do know generally where the series is headed and where Keye is headed. I have a plan for Book 5 and I’ve begun Book 4, A Complete Stranger. Someone told me a couple of days ago on Facebook that she and her boyfriend had decided Keye will be in a mental institution by Book 5. Not true. But I’m not sure about the author.

* * *

Don't Talk to Strangers by Amanda Kyle WilliamsHailed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “one of the most addictive new series heroines,” Keye Street is the brilliant, brash heart of a sizzling thriller full of fear and temptation, judgments and secrets, infidelity and murder.

In the woods of Whisper, Georgia, two bodies are found: one recently dead, the other decayed from a decade of exposure to the elements. The sheriff is going to need help to track down an experienced predator—one who abducts girls and holds them for months before ending their lives. Enter ex–FBI profiler and private investigator Keye Street.

After a few weeks, Keye is finally used to sharing her downtown Atlanta loft with her boyfriend, A.P.D. Lieutenant Aaron Rauser. Along with their pets (his dog, her cat) they seem almost like a family. But when Rauser plunks a few ice cubes in a tumbler and pours a whiskey, Keye tenses. Her addiction recovery is tenuous at best.

Though reluctant to head out into the country, Keye agrees to assist Sheriff Ken Meltzer. Once in Whisper, where the locals have no love for outsiders, Keye starts to piece together a psychological profile: The killer is someone who stalks and plans and waits. But why does the sociopath hold the victims for so long, and what horrible things must they endure? When a third girl goes missing, Keye races against time to connect the scant bits of evidence. All the while, she cannot shake the chilling feeling: Something dark and disturbing lives in these woods—and it is watching her every move.

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A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Chevy Stevens

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Chevy Stevens | @ChevyStevens

A Room of Her Own 1


This is my office in the house, which has a balcony that overlooks our neighborhood. Oona, our lab corgi cross, loves sitting out there and keeping an eye on things. I don’t have as much room for bookshelves as I’d like, so sadly many of my books are packed away, waiting for the day when I have a library. In one corner I have a vision board—the same one I’ve had for years. I add things as I go along, photos and inspirational statements. I also have a white board where I work on the outline for my books.

A Room of Her Own 2

I haven’t been working in my inside office as much in the last couple of months, though. It’s too hard on my daughter, Piper. She is only a year and a half and every time she sees me coming downstairs for a cup of tea, or hears me moving around upstairs, she gets upset and doesn’t understand why she can’t be with me. It’s hard to focus when you have a toddler yelling, “Momma! Momma!” from the bottom of the stairs. I do let her play in my office sometimes, but then it usually looks like a hurricane hit—she loves nothing more than to throw all my books on the floor or rummage around under my desk. These days I work out in our travel trailer during the day. Oona likes to sleep on the seat beside me, with her head resting on my leg. It’s nice and quiet, and cozy. I also have a great view of our backyard and trees.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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When Fiction Is Inspired By Real Life

Today’s post by our own Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

We’ve got a copy of Marybeth’s new novel, THE BRIDGE TENDER, up for grabs today, along with a sea shell inspired necklace. See the entry form below for details.

Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen

The Inspiration Behind The Character of Emily Shaw

It might sound strange, but I have what I would consider an abundance of friends who are widows. There’s Amanda, whose soldier husband died following a tour in Afghanistan, leaving her with four young daughters. There’s LeAnn, whose husband died of cancer, leaving her with a young son. There’s Kitty, whose husband died of a massive heart attack on a summer afternoon, while playing in the pool with their four young sons. There’s Robin, the supreme widow, who lost two husbands– one due to a horrible crime, the other due to a freak accident.

These women– and their stories– have changed my life, shaped my worldview, and adjusted my perspective. The simple truth is that they loved their husbands. They lost their husbands. And that fact has shaped the women they have become: Brave, courageous, admirable, determined, gutsy women who didn’t stop living just because the person they loved most in the world did.

It was that transformation– from grief to hope, from “my world has ended” to “I’m learning to live in this new world” that inspired the main character, Emily, of my new book THE BRIDGE TENDER. Watching these women face, and overcome, so many challenges and go on to support their families, mother their children and still eke out some joy each day informed the kind of woman she is on the page. Any part of Emily that seems real is because I had real inspiration. I have watched and learned and recorded their brave journey on the pages of my heart. And I hope, in some small way, I have paid homage to what they’ve faced, and who they’ve become. They are, each of them, my heroes.

The old Sunset Beach bridge. Photo credit:

The old Sunset Beach bridge. Photo credit:

The Real Old Bridge

I’ve written several novels set in Sunset Beach NC: THE MAILBOX, THE GUEST BOOK, THE WISHING TREE and now THE BRIDGE TENDER. Each novel is centered around a real object that draws two people together over time and against the odds. In this new novel, the object is the old pontoon bridge that used to connect Sunset Beach– an island located at the lowest part of North Carolina’s coast, just before you cross the South Carolina state line– to the mainland. The quirky old bridge worked sometimes and then sometimes, it didn’t. Fraught with problems that included broken parts, damage from passing boats, and even the tides, the bridge wasn’t exactly dependable. Stories abound of the bridge breaking and citizens of Sunset either stranded on the island and unable to get off or trapped on the mainland with no way to get back. There were practical issues to consider, to be sure, but there was also some significant safety issues.

So it wasn’t surprising when the state started talking about taking the old bridge out and putting a new, reliable bridge in. And yet the old bridge, in all its quirkiness, was part of the history and culture of Sunset Beach. Would Sunset still be Sunset without the bridge that served as its only access? Would the heart of the place be lost with the bridge? These questions nagged at all of us who love Sunset Beach as the debate over the bridge waged on and plans for its replacement were made. Eventually, as with many things in life, progress reigned and we who loved the old bridge prepared to say goodbye.

But the story doesn’t end there.

I wanted to capture this debate within the community but I also wanted to pay homage to a little band of citizens who found a way to save the old bridge. These folks rallied to find a final resting place for the bridge, to take something that could’ve been a sad ending and make it a new beginning. They arranged to have the old bridge carefully removed and reconstructed on a piece of land not far from its original home, a spot that has become a gathering place for the community complete with festivals and programs and a museum. Without these people the bridge would’ve been destroyed and history would’ve been lost.

In the end, that’s what my novel is all about– taking loss (the main character Emily is a widow who returns to Sunset Beach to fulfill her husband’s last wish for her) and turning it into something hopeful: Not letting the death of something be the final say. The old bridge has turned into something new, thanks to the devotion of a few people who did what they could. And that has made all the difference.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, 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). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

read more