Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday, and a blessed Easter to those who celebrate. I wish you peace and joy, today and all days!

It was a rather crazed week here. We have a vacation coming up, and the preparations coupled with the fact that I haven’t been able to do much outside of write, edit, promote for the past several months means I’ve let too much go around the house, too. Friday I did one more massive Goodwill run, and I can breathe easier. Re-homing my former treasures is one of my favorite things to do.

All of these “things” I’m juggling pale in comparison to an experience I had last week. As you may have heard, A THOUSAND DOORS was chosen for a very special bookclub in Iowa, Changing Lives Through Literature. The program has been geared toward men in the Iowa corrections system; this particular group was for women only, the first of its kind. Its members are women on parole, their parole officers and residential advisors, and the wonderful librarians who scouted this book for their book group. Over the course of the reading, many of our authors Skyped in with the group to discuss their individual stories. I participated as well, on the final day. The ladies brought me to tears a couple of times with their frankness, openness, and humility. An experience I will never forget.

Susan Henricks, director of the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Iowa, put this together, and Heather Gudenkauf, one of the authors in ATD, cat-wrangled us all together. You Iowans know how to get things done!

Susan sent me a wrap up, and I asked for permission to share here.

The group has finished now.  During our first session I asked the women to write down what they expected to get out of the group, and on the last day (10 sessions later) I asked them to write down what they got out of the group.  Here are a few of the responses at the end:

  • What did I learn? No matter what choices I make, I can start new every day 

  • Keep pushing, don’t give up

  • I wanted to learn some things I can use in everyday life and I did

  • I got a new perspective on life and that I can change my story at any time

  • Being involved with a program outside of the DRF makes our time together more open to discussion and [helps form] better relationships with the Parole or Residential Officers involved

Thank you for being a part of positive change!

Books change lives. I think we sometimes forget the effect our words have on people. That Mia’s many lives and choices helped real women facing real problems, hard choices that affect their very freedom, their safety, their lives, makes every ounce of labor that went into the project worth its weight in gold. I hope the program will grow to the entire state of Iowa and even farther, because giving women a voice, showing them how their lives can be changed, that they have control and agency, is incredibly powerful.

So you librarians and corrections officers out there — give Susan Henricks a shout and see how she did this. It’s a brilliant program, one that would benefit your patrons.

Let’s take a look at the latest links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

It was an absolute delight to interview the mega-bestseller Delia Owens in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. She was such a good sport, shooting outside on a very chilly day. #KeepReading

Dutch Artists Transform a Utrecht Apartment Building into a Tri-Level Trompe L'Oeil Bookcase. This is absolutely incredible!

A Bookstore Of One's Own. When you read an article and think to yourself, yes, I would like to own a niche bookstore focused on brilliant writings of lesser-known female authors...

The 12 Best Books of Spring. So excited to see the amazing Helen Ellis’s new collection of essays SOUTHERN LADY CODE on this list. You NEEDS, precious.

‘Game of Thrones' composer looks back on that iconic theme song. Composing fascinates me. I write to scores from both movies and television, and this breakdown makes me love the music for AGOT even more.

OK, this is the coolest - two poems by the great Daphne Du Maurier found hidden in picture frames? Makes me want to slip a little something into one of mine for fun. 

I was on Public Display Of Imagination Podcast last week! Listen in. Mark and I covered a range of topics from TEAR ME APART to the vagaries of social media to the importance of Project Semicolon in our lives.

A Bucks County bookstore is looking to sell its ‘wall of fame’ to keep the lights on. Think J.K. Rowling. What a treasure! But how sad. I hope they get the money they need.

Six Steps for Decluttering Your Kitchen . . . and Reclaiming the Heart of Your Home. Excellent advice. I’m looking at my counters right now thinking they could use a few less items…

13 Game of Thrones-Themed Tours You Can Take Around the World. Because Game of Thrones, y’all! Let’s go!

What I’m Reading:

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

Speaking of the lovely, talented Heather, her new book just came out! Heather writes intricate, emotional suspense, and her latest, BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, is hands down her best yet. Told through journals, police interviews, and a stellar narrative, this perfectly terrifying story is ripped from the headlines (there are parallels with the Slenderman case) and layered with Gudenkauf’s flair for small towns and intimate family portrayals. Heartbreaking. Devious. Intelligent. Misleading. Too familiar for comfort. I couldn’t put it down. Have you read Heather before? If not, add her to your list immediately!

What are you reading this weekend?

And with that, I’m off to find some jellybeans. Be kind to one another, take a 24-hour internet sabbatical, bake some cookies, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Glorious, beautiful, happy Sunday to you! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend. I finished some huge projects this week and am feeling light and free. First was the round one copyedit of GOOD GIRLS LIE, which went very well. It’s off to galley now, record speed. I also had to sign a WAD of books for Brenda Novak’s incredible book group, which you can join here. I can’t wait to talk with them this fall - it is a superbly organized group. And just now finished the trade paperback read of THE LAST SECOND (yes, it’s already time for that.) And I’ve been playing with my secret project, too. All in all, a productive week.

And of course, the incredibly read A THOUSAND DOORS audiobook released. It’s absolutely wonderful. I am so impressed with Cassandra Campbell’s rendition of all the Mias.

Playoff hockey has started, too, which is a blast. Of course, pretty much every Predators game in Nashville feels like a playoff game. I won third place in my basketball bracket — I had Virginia winning it all. Well done, Cavaliers. I have been enjoying my evenings with the Dodgers in the background. And it’s Masters weekend. Will Tiger pull it off? [[OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!]]

Yes, my parents raised me on sports and books. This makes my husband very happy. I’ll be even happier when I get back on the links. I’ve been nursing a funky knee but I’m sure it’s improving. I need to chase the little white ball.

Enough about my athletic endeavors. Let’s take a look at the latest links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Mary Laura talked with memoirist Dani Shapiro in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. #KeepReading I was crushed that I had to skip out on both lurking at the taping and the event at Parnassus due to a cold. Boo hiss. I love Dani!

The Ultimate List of Local Bookstores: 51 Must-See Bookstores Across the US. How many have you been to? Who’s up for a road trip?

A Brief History of "Unlikeable" Protagonists. Brilliance from Laura Benedict, who is neither unlikeable nor unreliable.

A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks. Less is more in the kitchen, too! (She says, working at her kitchen island, looking at all the things on the counters…)

Why is reading in the pub so enjoyable? In praise of a very British pastime. “Reading this scene in your own crowded pub, you feel elusively connected to it. Life feeding fiction feeding life.” Bring on the fish and chips!

We Don’t Buy Things with Money, We Buy Them with Hours from our Life. Love this perspective! It really made me look at how and why I was spending.

Sometimes We Haunt Our Own Houses. A wonderful piece by Vanessa Savage.

Master Penman Jake Weidmann | HUMAN. Fantastic short video on the lost art of penmanship and art.

Do it yourshelf: the Jakarta libraries with book nooks on tuk-tuks. “Estimates suggest there are thousands of such libraries in Indonesia, started by ordinary people with great initiative to address the lack of books in their area and funded by occasional donations.” Super cool.

Healthiest Community in America: Douglas County, Colorado. Thanks to my parents for bringing me up in Douglas County. An absolutely magical place to call home.

What I’m Reading:

I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK: ESSAYS by Mary Laura Philpott

You may recognize Mary Laura’s name from our show A WORD ON WORDS but she’s also an extraordinary author whose new book is one of those incredible, touching memoirs that just might change your life. I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK was one of my favorite books of 2018 and it just came out. You need this book! What are you reading?

That’s more than enough from me. Buy a fun new umbrella, don't forget to dust your bookshelves, dispense of one kitchen tool you never use, I’ll see you next week. Go Preds! 🏒

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! I hope your first week of April was wonderful! It was a fun one here—one of my besties had a baby girl Tuesday, and she is the cutest thing ever. Auntie J is over the moon. Cohost with the most Mary Laura Philpott had a book launch Monday, and Thursday I got to interview the one and only Harlan Coben. Wednesday was a small celebration to honor THE LAST SECOND hitting the NYT, and the fun TV deal announcement (see below). Plus, there was a styling session, an office move, secret project progress, taxes, office inbox zero, email inbox zero, and a deep dive into the copyedit of GGL. Phew! Talk about jam-packed. Thank heavens I have a vacation coming up.

The week ahead is a special one, too, because A THOUSAND DOORS releases in audiobook Tuesday. It’s read by the brilliant Cassandra Campbell, and I know you’re going to love it!

And in case you’ve been under a rock…THE LAST SECOND is out there just waiting for you to grab it! Nicholas and Mike’s latest adventure is fun and frantic and unique.

An exciting development… 📺

As announced in Publisher’s Marketplace this week, LIE TO ME is (fingers crossed) making its way to La-La-Land! I’m excited to partner with Dynamic to bring Ethan and Sutton to life in the screen. More news as I have it….

We’re not done yet… On to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Thrilled to be joined by the lovely Lisa Patton and her dynamic novel RUSH in the loveliest kitchen in Nashville in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. #KeepReading

The 25 Most Beautiful Libraries in America. Have you visited any of these? 

2019 Spring Okra Picks. So many congrats to the brilliant Helen Ellis and Mary Laura Philpott on their Okra Picks. I am so excited for you to read their books - both brilliant, funny, honest, and raw.

The house in England that inspired Wuthering Heights is for sale. Dibs.

The Top 40 Thrillers Hitting Bookstores this Spring. What a list from The Real Book Spy. I’m honored THE LAST SECOND was included.

Here’s How I Work. Nora Roberts gives a breakdown of her writing process, her writing day, her writing life, her writing sleep… you get the idea. You want to be a writer? This is how it’s done. Preach, Nora.

The Best Facts I Learned from Books in 2018. I do love me some learning.

NASA pulls all-female spacewalk due to sizing issues. I've now lost all hope. If NASA can't figure out how to dress their astronauts, how are we mere mortals supposed to ever pick the right outfit?

What Lynne Tillman Thinks About While Making Tea in the Morning. “A cup of tea made me feel better. Tea is the English placebo.”  I am indulged by a wonderful husband who makes tea for me, but there’s nothing so meditative as putting together a proper pot of tea.

Midlife Minimalists. Superb advice on living a little smaller so you can live bigger. I have been taking all this advice to heart lately, and trying to minimize my footprints.

"Go With What's Alive" and Other Writing Advice from Philip Roth. Ignore the last one... it’s a bit bleak. But the rest are pretty good.

What I’m Reading:

SHADOW OF THE LIONS by Christopher Swann

Suspense is the hot genre right now, and this entry more than holds its own. If you like boarding school mysteries, definitely read this awesome debut. What are you reading?

That’s more than enough from me. Declutter a drawer, send a friend a quick, encouraging note, start planning your summer vacay, and I’ll see you next week.

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! Astounding that April starts tomorrow. Everyone remember to say “bunny rabbits” first thing — it brings good luck for the month. I’ve been known to stay up until midnight to get my lucky charm in… I don’t know about you but my allergies are wicked this year. Itchy eyes, vertigo, sneezes…even the cats are sniffly. Granted, Jordan gets allergy shots, but Jameson has seemed immune until now. Though it’s so darn pretty outside!

Here’s some Goode news: GOOD GIRLS LIE is off for its initial copyedit. I plowed through the revision this week, adding a few small threads, cleaning up some more tiny typos from the POV shift, and otherwise tightening and strengthening. As is always the case, it is a better book for the input it’s received. I also tossed in a brief author’s note, detailing some of the similarities and differences in the book to my own tenure at boarding school — mine was college, not high school. But what fun it’s been to resurrect some of my fondest memories and layer them into the story. I can’t wait for y’all to read this one. A true gothic thriller.

And, of course, now that it’s done, I have to start thinking about what’s next. As I shared last week on the Literati, I have the spark of an idea and have opened a new Scrivener file, but I’m not working on it just yet. I have the massive secret project I need to work on first. Trust me when I say y’all are going to be thrilled.

And it was release week for THE LAST SECOND! It’s always so nerve-wracking putting a new book out there, but so far, so good, everyone who’s read and written reviews (THANK YOU!) seem to love it. It’s a fun, crazy journey for Mike and Nicholas, that’s for sure.

I’m really looking forward to a nice, quiet month ahead. I’ve conquered my inbox, my closet is clean, the house doesn’t need repairs or improvements, there’s no sword of Damocles deadline swinging above my neck. I get to settle in, read, write, and chill. Bliss.

In case you missed it… THE LAST SECOND launched this past Tuesday! Thank you to everyone for your excitement over the latest Brit in the FBI book. It means the world to me! And look—even the AP loved it!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

This week Mary Laura interviewed Kate DiCamilo in That Hopeful Broken Part Of Yourself for A WORD ON WORDS. What a great match up. Keep Reading!

People who read live longer than those who don’t, Yale researchers say. Not that I needed an excuse but…duly noted. It has to be a brain thing, right? Constantly exercising our most valuable muscle has its benefits!

This $2.95M Home Used to Be a Library and, Wow, I’ve Never Wanted Anything More. Incredible! When can I move in?

7 Thrillers Set in Psychiatric Hospitals and Asylums. Alex Michaelides’s THE SILENT PATIENT will thrill you, too. More on that below! There is something truly fascinating about this topic. I tackled it in TEAR ME APART, too.

20 Unsolved Television Mysteries That Still Haunt Fans To This Day. Which one haunts you the most?

The Oldest American Picture Book Still in Print is Obviously About Cats. But of course.

Q&A: Emily Carpenter, Author of UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. So looking forward to this book! Emily is a wonderful author, you need to check her out.

The Lesser Known Life Behind ‘The Yellow Wallpaper. Great piece by fellow tall girl Greer Macallister. This is one of my favorite short stories and a true manifesto that should be taught in all literature classes.

Physicists Reverse Time for Tiny Particles Inside a Quantum Computer. If I could turn back time... Actually, if I could, would I do anything different’y? Not if it alters anything about my current life, that’s for sure.

What I’m Reading:

THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides

THE SILENT PATIENT is absolutely superb. An incredible story, that lives up to all the hype, and that’s saying something. And honestly, to say much more will ruin it completely. I expect great things from Alex going forward...  What are you reading?

That’s it for now. Find a forgotten short story to enjoy, add some pussy willows to your spring decor, meditate for a few minutes today, I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! I hope you have the day off… I’m working today. In very exciting news, my editor LOVED the new book! I’m doing a quick and dirty passthrough addressing a few issues that I’ve come across on my cold read, and a few things she had questions about, and sending it off yesterday.

Remember I explained the process of a developmental edit? This is where the editor helps you strengthen the story by filling in plot holes, fixing issues, etcetera. Happily, she felt the book was solid to start, so we get to skip over that part. Never fear, before you get a chance to read it, it will go through the whole shebang editorial process, the tightening revision I’m doing now, line edit, copy edit, last pass pages. But that she felt the story itself was in good shape is incredibly cool.

Honestly, come to think of it, I did my own developmental edit when I all-stopped a few weeks ago and changed to first person. I had to identify the problems with the story then, and I think that went a long way to making this a smoother editorial run. Note to self: take a few days off right before deadline and give yourself space to think.

Of course, every book is different. Some fairly glide through the process, others require delicate brain surgery, and some need new limbs grafted on. It just depends. The writing of each is different, too. I’ve learned to respect this, if not welcome it. You want all your babies to have the best chance of success in the world, and that means meeting their disparate needs. Right?

And in a fun full-circle moment, I’ll be turning in GOOD GIRLS LIE just as THE LAST SECOND is launching. We’ve all been working feverishly behind the scenes on launch prep. It’s a very fun book, one I know you’ll love. So stay tuned for lots of blog posts this week! And a big, beautiful box of LIE TO ME paperbacks arrived today. SO MANY BOOKS!!!!!!!

Did you get your preorder in yet? Because the time is nigh—THE LAST SECOND comes out this Tuesday! Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Goodreads giveaway (US only) and there’s still time to enter this sweepstakes too (US and Canada only.)

Also: THE SIXTH DAY comes out in mass market paperback Tuesday as well! More on that tomorrow.

Now, onward to the links...

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Very happy I got to sit down with the brilliant Victoria Schwab to talk all things supernatural and insightful about publishing and life in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. Keep Reading!

A bookstore owner was in the hospital. So his competitors came and kept his shop open. “Slavinsky said although the Book Catapult is, strictly speaking, a competitor to her employer, she doesn’t see things that way. ‘The book world is a little bit different,’ she said. ‘I see this as helping somebody in the community. It’s the community coming together.’”

A 30-million page library is heading to the moon to help preserve human civilization. Wow! I wonder what Dr. Nevaeh Patel has to say about this???

15 women to watch in 2019. It’s always exciting to see how much great new talent is coming up through the ranks. Here are some ladies to keep your eyes on!

George R.R. Martin Really Wishes He Finished Those Books First. So do we, GRRM, so do we.

Handcrafting books: Labors of love. Absolutely incredible craftsmanship!

5 Ambient Sound Apps for Focus and Productivity. I love @RainyMood and @BrainfmApp. I do prefer to have a bit of ambient noise in the background when I’m drafting—classical, oftentimes. I used to find working in coffeeshops very difficult, but now, I dig the creative energy and have found great flows.

4 Novel Ways to Find Writing Inspiration. Great ideas! What inspired you?

Vanna White's Evening Gown Routine Involves 10-Pound Dumbbells. I loved this. Shows you that nothing comes easy, especially ridding yourself of batwings.

You're Just My Type: Hikers Compose Love Notes To The Grand Canyon. This is a neat idea! What would you have typed?

What I’m Reading:


If you haven't been reading Deanna Raybourn, dear readers, you are missing out! Her books feature strong, witty, pithy women with unique skill sets, from lepidopterists to amateur sleuths on safari. Her work is impeccably researched, bringing Victorian England, the continent, and Africa to life, with a dash of swoon thrown in for good measure. And when I say swoon…I mean SWOON. Her latest, A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION, is the 4th in her Veronica Speedwell mystery series and it's incredible. With nods to Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier, it is atmospheric, clever, and utterly romantic. Granted, I find good manners, lovely food, castles in Cornwall, and a naked Stoker on the shingle quite romantic… 😍 I also had the sheer joy of spending some time with Deanna this week, and I assure you, you will not be disappointed. Get the series, get this book, make a cuppa, and enjoy! What are you reading?

That’s it for now. I’m off to keep editing. Grab your copy of THE LAST SECOND, put some safflower seeds out for the cardinals, plant some tulips, and I’ll see you soon! (Really soon…)

peace and hugs,