Tag Archives | Jennie Shortridge

Book Club Discussion – Love Water Memory

LoveWaterMemory Collage

Today we kick off our discussion of LOVE WATER MEMORY by Jennie Shortridge. As usual it will be led by Tamara Welch, our online book club leader. If you don’t already, follow Tamara on Twitter (@rockstar1023). Here are a few questions to get us started:

1. What did you think of Lucie as you read LOVE WATER MEMORY? Is she a character you would want to be friends with? (Ariel’s note: given the heated debate in literary circles about “likeable characters” I’m fascinated by this question, and I wonder if characters have to be likeable for someone to enjoy the book?)

2. People who suffer from the type of amnesia Lucie had generally have gaps in their memory. They usually remember sections of their past, though, with time and effort. What is more scary to you– never remembering your past or remembering your past at all or only finding pieces of it?

3. When Lucie comes back to Seattle, she is confronted with the trappings of a “Lucie” she does not know– and does not seem to like. How do you think that would feel?

4. Grady– Lucie’s fiancée, is keeping secrets from her. Should Grady have kept those things from Lucie — or help her find the best way to deal with them?

5. What did you think about the cover? The black cover with the woman half emerged in water– what does that mean to you? Is there a reason we can’t see the woman’s face?

6. Did you feel a connection with the characters in the book?

7. Did you like the ending?

8. Would you have changed anything about the ending?

9. What do you think is the most important aspect of the story- finding yourself or finding that family is there for you?

10. Do you think Lucie and Grady’s story is over? Or do they have more story to tell?

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A Room Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Jennie Shortridge

Today’s photo by this month’s featured author, Jennie Shortridge | @JennieShortidg

Jennie Shortride Writing Space

This is one of my favorite series here on She Reads. There’s just something about getting a glimpse inside the creative space of a writer. It’s almost as though the personality of the room makes its way into the book. Everything begins to make sense. I think Lucie (the new Lucie that is) would approve of the white bookshelves and the cozy yellow walls. I think she would feel safe and at home in this room.

What about you? Having read the book do you see Lucie anywhere in the room? Or does something else draw your eye? If so, do tell!

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Love, Water, Mystery

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Jennie Shortridge | @JennieShortridg

Love Water MemoryThe beaches of the mighty Pacific Northwest evoke mysteries. Fog obscures roaring sea, then reveals it. Retreating waves scatter questions on the hard wet sand: jewels among flotsam and seaweed, tiny creatures to be explored among the shells of the dead. I moved up here from Colorado with my husband twelve years ago, and I’ve found many stories while walking these beaches, or staring out at them through hard rain. Even though I live in the city, I am drawn to the coast to write.

While writing my latest novel, Love Water Memory, I realized I was paying homage to the water and its life force. Lucie, an amnesiac, wakes up knee-deep in the San Francisco Bay, her mind wiped clean of her past. Grady, the fiancé she left behind in Seattle, finds solace in the water, whether it’s the bone-numbing chill of the Puget Sound or the turquoise of a swimming pool. When he’s immersed, he’s free of his own demons.

It’s what happens when they leave the water to reunite that changes everything, forcing them to figure out the big questions from the past and the present. She’s a blank slip of paper; will she choose to love him again? Will she unravel the mystery of what happened to her? He’s hiding secrets; will he reveal himself or stay obscured, his own emotions roiling?

I didn’t know the answers, either, as the novel progressed. The process of writing is always a mystery, and I come to the edge of the metaphorical water every morning to see what my characters will do. Will she? Won’t he? Why? Why not? If I just keep walking with them through the pages, untangling the kelp and sorting through the seashells and stones, bit by bit I uncover the mystery.


Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge has written five acclaimed novels, including Love Water Memory and When She Flew. When she is not writing or volunteering, she stays busy as a co-founder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of authors whose mission is to promote literacy in their community.

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Book Club Recipe – Love Water Memory

Today’s post by our resident chef and book-lover, Ingrid of Edible Tapestry | @EdibleTapetry

When Lucie is reluctantly befriended by her neighbor in Love Water Memory, the reclusive woman determines to teach the absent-minded girl how to cook. First Susan shows her how to make the perfect omelet, then promises that a lesson in pie making would be in their future. As a former resident of the Puget Sound area, I was looking forward to learning pie making methods from the Pacific Northwest native. I have fond memories from the years I lived there with my Navy enlisted husband of stopping at Kitsap Peninsula roadside fruit stands to buy fresh Washington cherries by the gallon. When the story veered in a more urgent direction so that the reader could learn how Lucie and Grady’s story concluded, I decided to fill in for Susan and make my January book review post all about pie making. I hope that fictitious Susan would approve of my methods.

Pie making is pretty simple. Ever hear the phrase easy as pie? It exists for a reason. As long as you begin with a tried and true recipe, such as the one I spent those years and bags of Washington cherries working hard to develop, Ultimate Flaky Pie Crust, you should end up with a light and tender homemade crust to enfold any filling you choose.

The most fun for me is in the decorative portion of pie making. A basket weave lattice is my favorite, but vent-slit, sugared tops and plain fluted edges are just as pretty. 3simplecrusts2For more ideas on making decorative pies, check out Rachel Sanders’ BuzzFeed article 23 Ways to Make Your Pies More Beautiful.

Here are a few pie making facts to make the process more easily understood:

  • Filling recipes are easy to come by. Poured fillings for pumpkin, custard, or cream pies have no pastry topping.
  • Pie pastry itself is primarily made from flour, fat — butter, lard, or oil–, and water. The addition of eggs and acid can make it more tender but are not necessary elements.
  • The key to a flaky crust is to avoid overworking the dough. Gluten in wheat flour is activated when dough is manipulated. That is why bread dough is kneaded to make it elastic, but pie pastry dough is only mixed until combined. To make a light crust you do not want to work the gluten until it gets rubbery.
  • Chilling the dough before rolling, or simply allowing it to rest at room temperature, allows gluten to settle down before the pastry is shaped.
  • A refrigerator pie, such as chocolate cream, is poured into a baked pie shell. To keep the shell from rising and bubbling up while it bakes, a layer of aluminum foil can be placed over the rolled crust in the bottom of a pie pan and covered with raw beans. The weight of the beans will hold the shell in place as it cooks.

Easy as Pie Mini Cherry Turnovers


4 c. pitted fresh cherries

1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

3 T butter cut into small pieces

1/8 tsp. salt


2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1 beaten egg

1 T apple cider vinegar

Approximately 1/4 c. ice cold water (amount may vary)

Extra water for sealing the edges of the turnover dough.


To make the pastry, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, your fingers, or even a couple of forks. And once you have the method down, you can take a shortcut and use a food processor.


Stir in the vinegar and egg, then drizzle in a little water at a time while mixing, just until the dough holds together.

Chill until ready to use, half an hour or so, to allow the gluten to rest for easy rolling and the butter to firm up to prevent sticking.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make your filling by combining all the ingredients.



Roll the pastry dough onto a generously floured surface to around an 1/8″ in thickness.


Cut out circles any size you like. I used a plastic food storage container approximately 3″ in diameter.


Place a heaping tablespoon of the cherry filling onto the center of each dough round.


Lightly brush the edge of half the circle of filled dough with water. You can use a pastry brush or just your fingertip.

Fold the opposite edge of dough over the filling to meet the moistened edge. With dry hands, pinch the edges together to seal.

Use fork tines to make a decorative edge over the pinched dough, if you like.


Place on a sheet pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.



Note: Any flavor of commercially prepared pie filling can be substituted for the cherry filling. To make the pastry with a food processor, whir together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and cut in by pulsing the processor until it is all combined. Blend in the egg and vinegar. Drizzle in the water slowly while the machine is running. Turn it off the second the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl, forming a ball.

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Jennie Shortridge on Memory and the Mechanics of Love

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Jennie Shortridge | @JennieShortridg

Note: We will be hosting a live Twitter chat with Jennie this evening at 8:00 EST. We would love for you to join us! Use hashtag #srbkchat to chime in.

Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge

When something in the world fascinates me—and I mean to the point of distraction—my reaction is often, “Oooh, I want to write about that.” Such was the case when I first read the Seattle Times article about an Olympia, WA man who went missing. He’d packed his car to visit a terminally ill friend in British Columbia, but instead, he disappeared for six weeks, never arriving in Canada. His fiancée received a phone call one night from her brother in Denver saying, “Jeff’s on the TV news here. They’re asking if anyone can identify this John Doe; he has amnesia.”

Penny received him back with open arms. It turned out he had a rare disorder caused by emotional trauma. He said he didn’t remember her face, but he remembered her heart. She patiently started the relationship over, and they were married not long after.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this story, about the strange mechanics of love, and about the mysteries of life that go into who we are and who we become through circumstance. I had to write my own fictional version of the story.

My husband’s grandmother’s name was Lucie, and my half-Cherokee grandfather’s name was Grady. These names inspired me so much that, as I wrote, each time I needed a name for a character, I’d ask a friend or loved one for the name of their favorite grandparent. Every character in Love Water Memory is named for someone’s beloved elder, an homage to all that has come before us that forms and informs who we are now.


Jennie Shortridge has written five acclaimed novels, including Love Water Memory and When She Flew. When she is not writing or volunteering, she stays busy as a co-founder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of authors whose mission is to promote literacy in their community.

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Jennie Shortridge, In Her Own Words

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Jennie Shortridge | @JennieShortridg

Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge

If I could tell my 12-year-old self that it all worked out just fine, that the books I read voraciously and the stories and poems I wrote with such a broken heart would lead to a later-life career of actually having my own novels published? Well, I don’t know if I would, even though it would have eased my young anxious mind. Over the decades I’ve learned that it’s the journey through that is most important, even though the outcome can be so sweet.

My journey, like most journeys, includes hardship (a mom with mental illness, an adult life that began at 17, and tons of early writing rejection) and indelible moments of joy, success, and love. All of it contributes to the stories I write about people who face difficult things and find a way through, not around. Such is the case with my latest novel, Love Water Memory, in which Lucie awakens, knee-deep in the San Francisco Bay, having no knowledge of who she is or where she is, or how she got there. Inspired by true events, this story examines how and why we become who we are, how we identify with the world, who we choose to love, sometimes again and again.

Love Water MemoryThe true events in Love Water Memory started with the story of Jeff and Penny Ingram, who dealt with Jeff’s amnesia in their own relationship. Their story and their love for each other are inspirational. As I was writing my fictional story, I wrote a very difficult scene, one that would take me a couple of weeks to realize came from my own life. Writing it helped me talk about my own issues with anxiety disorder more publicly, and to advocate for destigmatizing mental illness in order to make much-needed advancements in how we treat it, talk about it, and accept it as part of life just as we do physical illness. To read more about my story, read this Psychology Today piece.

What I’m most thankful for as a writer is readers, who, like me, pick up a book ready for adventure and perhaps a different perspective on something we all ponder, whether it’s identity or family or relationships. I love those “aha” moments when reading a novel, when the characters do or feel something achingly true, yet I’d never put my finger on it before. That’s why I love, have always loved, fiction so much: it tells the emotional truth even while spinning a not-quite-true story. And that I get to write it now? Well, my inner 12-year-old is very happy about that.


Jennie Shortridge has written five acclaimed novels, including Love Water Memory and When She Flew. When she is not writing or volunteering, she stays busy as a co-founder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of authors whose mission is to promote literacy in their community.


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January Book Club Selection

LoveWaterMemory Collage

We’re back! And we hope the last few weeks have been as restful and restorative for you as they have been for us. We read. We napped. We baked lots of ridiculously fattening goodies with sticky-fingered little people. And as glorious as our time off has been, the entire She Reads team is ready to get back to business. We’re craving structure. We’re eager to introduce you to some amazing novels this year. And with all the coming book-love we have a few surprises as well. We’re redesigning our website from the ground up. A bit of the design is on display today but there’s much more on the way. All of these changes will help us better serve YOU.

So without further ado, let us step into a new year of books…

Our first book club pick of 2014 became known around our (virtual) office as “the book that got away.” We first read LOVE WATER MEMORY by Jennie Shortridge in April of last year. And we loved it. But our selections had already been chosen for the next six months. So we invited Jennie to write a guest post and we set the novel aside with deep regret. That happens sometimes, I’m afraid. So many beautiful novels, so little time. Yet it was one of those novels that we kept thinking about. A traumatized woman. A secret buried within the folds of her unreliable memory. A man desperate to hold onto her, even as she slips away. And above all, the tender hope of second chances and genuine healing. There was nothing neat and tidy about this novel. It was real and gritty and beautiful. We walked with Lucie and Grady through every aching, authentic step of their journey. So we are jumping at the opportunity to choose it as our January book club selection. Newly released in paperback, we are confident that you will find LOVE WATER MEMORY not only as delightful and compelling as we did, but also the perfect book to begin 2014–the year of epic reading.

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* * * Love Water Memory

If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him?

At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her.

Add LOVE WATER MEMORY to your Goodreads to-read list.

* * *

Jennie Shortridge

Jennie Shortridge

Seattle author Jennie Shortridge’s latest novel, LOVE WATER MEMORY, released in April 2013. She has published four other acclaimed novels: WHEN SHE FLEWLOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSEEATING HEAVEN, and RIDING WITH THE QUEEN. Her nonfiction work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, and her one-and-only published short story, “Simpatico,” launched her novel writing career in 1997. When not writing, teaching writers workshops, or volunteering, Jennie stays busy as a founding member of Seattle7Writers.org, a collective of authors devoted both to raising funds for community literacy projects and to raising awareness of Northwest literature. In her previous lives she has been a plumber, a cook, and a working musician. No, she cannot fix your toilet, but she is hard at work on her next novel. 

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Tell Me Something True: A Visit With Jennie Shortridge

Today’s post by author Jennie Shortridge | @JennieShortridg

Jennie Shortridge

Love Water Memory was inspired by a very big truth: a newspaper clipping. The Seattle Times headline read (in print edition): “His memory fails him, but his heart won’t forget. ” An Olympia man who went missing was found by his fiancée six weeks later in Denver, where he’d traveled after experiencing a rare form of amnesia called dissociative fugue. She went to get him and they began life together again, even getting married, though he didn’t remember who she was.

The questions this story evoked were too big not to write about. I wanted to get inside of that situation and figure it out: how do two people find their way back to their relationship after such a thing? Who are we, really, without our memories? And ultimately, what makes us, well, us?

I changed the genders and locations. I researched many cases of dissociative fugue and the medical information available about it. I created Lucie, a woman who “comes to ” standing knee-deep in the San Francisco Bay and Grady, her fiancé who comes to take her back home to Seattle, carrying a few burdens of his own.

And because dissociative fugue is caused by emotional trauma rather than physical, I imagined and wrote Lucie’s inducing trauma. It would take some time for me to realize that what I’d written was not completely fictional, even though I’d thought it was at the time of writing it. My own childhood trauma had surfaced. The fictional scene was far more dramatic, as fiction needs to be, but its roots were my own.

My first instinct was to erase it. How could I let this very private thing out into the world? But it was only from this place that I could be sure to write with some measure of verisimilitude, because that’s what it takes to write good fiction: a big dose of true emotion. And my own story needed a little sunlight, anyway, to take the toxic murkiness out of it. As clichéd as it sounds, the truth can set you free.

Perhaps this is what writing and reading fiction is all about: infusing difficult or scary situations with the emotional truth. That way, we arrive somewhere new and more fully realized than the real world can sometimes be.

A bittersweet masterpiece filled with longing and hope, Jennie Shortridge’s emotional novel explores the raw, tender complexities of relationships and personal identity.

Who is Lucie Walker? Even Lucie herself can’t answer that question after she comes to, confused and up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay. Back home in Seattle, she adjusts to life with amnesia, growing unsettled by the clues she finds to the selfish, carefully guarded person she used to be. Will she ever fall in love with her handsome, kindhearted fiancé, Grady? Can he devote himself to the vulnerable, easygoing Lucie 2.0, who is so unlike her controlling former self? When Lucie learns that Grady has been hiding some very painful secrets that could change the course of their relationship, she musters the courage to search for the shocking, long-repressed childhood memories that will finally set her free.


Jennie Shortridge has written five acclaimed novels, including Love Water Memory and When She Flew. When she is not writing or volunteering, she stays busy as a co-founder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of authors whose mission is to promote literacy in their community.

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