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,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day Sunday! Who’s ready for March Madness? Who’s happy Daylight Savings time is over? I am, on both accounts. I understand there are several bills in both my state legislature and Congress to abolish the time shift, for which I would be grateful. It takes me weeks to adjust. Throws me for a major loop.

It was a very good week. I turned in GOOD GIRLS LIE then promptly collapsed for two days. When I crawled off the couch, after watching 6 movies and reading two books, I tackled my closet, which has been a wreck for months.

I’ve been struggling with my style for a few years now, so, on the advice of a friend, I brought in help from Effortless Style in Nashville, and we did an official closet audit. Katey was ruthless. She was honest. She helped me find the uniform/style I was looking for. And my closet is 150 items, 10 purses, and 20 pairs of shoes lighter. One large bag is heading ThredUp, but the rest was dropped at Goodwill yesterday. There will be more to go—I still have a try on pile, and I need to tackle my drawers—but it’s so much better.

It is always hard for me to let go of things. This experience taught me a valuable lesson: I hold on too tightly in many areas of my life, not just my closet. I’m hoping that by allowing some of my most loved items bless others, this is a symbolic step forward, as well as OMG my closet is sooooo clean and easy!!!!!

Only 9 days to go before THE LAST SECOND is here! There are two giveaways you’ll want to enter: Goodreads is giving away 50 copies (US only) and Gallery has a sweepstakes too (US and Canada only.) And pre-orders are always appreciated…. 👽

Now, onward to the (oddly enough) library and space themed links...

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

A Shot-By-Shot Breakdown Of The Ridiculously Packed ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Trailer. It’ll be here April 14! And let me tell you, if you can get through this without massive goosebumps, I fear the White Walkers have already gotten to your house.

How the NY Public Library Fills Its Shelves (and Why Some Books Don’t Make the Cut.) “The New York Public Library has one of the largest public collections in the world. But, unlike Amazon, it does not have seemingly infinite storage. Every book must earn its place on crowded shelves. Nothing gets there by accident.”

And in that same vein…Did you know the Bodleian in Oxford has a copy of every book ever printed in England? Plus a few others, 13 million of them. Incredible!

The True Crime That Inspired 'A Double Life' Is More Shocking Than Any Thriller Novel. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And all the thriller authors in the land say hallelujah.

NASA Announces World’s First All-Female Spacewalk. It’s about time! Cathrine and I jumped on this ages ago when plotting THE LAST SECOND.

Brontë shrine for sale with a home and a thriving business. It has a B&B! I suddenly feel a deep need to visit. Why do you think we’re all so obsessed with the Brontës?

How did reading and writing evolve? Neuroscience gives a clue.  This is utterly fascinating. Also, for another view, check out Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers.

Inside the Belgian Library That Tore Itself Apart. Such a sad history.

NASA ISS SHOCK: How strange ‘illuminating' object left Mission Control BAFFLED. Is Dr. Nevaeh Patel right? Are they out there, trying to talk to us? Of course they are! #thelastsecond

Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism. Featuring two of my biggest influencers in one interview, Cal Newport sits down with Ryder Carrol of Bullet Journal method fame.

What I’m Reading:

LAST SUMMER by Kerry Lonsdale

You guys… you NEED this book. LAST SUMMER is utterly captivating and impossible to put down, so strap yourself in for a ride. In addition to being a superb writer, Kerry Lonsdale has a talent for creating complex characters who wrestle with very real situations. This is her best yet, a sly suspense coupled with sizzling romance and unending twists. Lonsdale should be on every reader’s radar so get your preorder in! What are you reading?

That’s it for now. Donate a few items from your closet, meditate on our many blessings, watch a super movie, and I’ll see you next Sunday!

peace and hugs,

PS: Stop by tomorrow, we have a nice little surprise!

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! I’m home from frigid New York, where my sojourn in the hotel room yielded a great amount of work and a plot twist, and I’m now cruising toward the finish line of my first big revision. The book has to be sent to my editor and agents tomorrow (😳) but that’s cool. It’s time for the experts to get their claws in this one.

How does this stage of the process work, you ask? Traditionally, my editor will read and give me notes, usually in the form of an editorial letter. Sometimes, this letter is a quick thing, a few changes here and there. Sometimes, it’s quite intense, a multi-page document with structural and storyline changes. I’ve had both, and everything in between. Once I’ve had the chance to absorb her ideas, we get on the phone and hash them out.

The books ALWAYS gets stronger at this point. Always. My editor is incredible; she sees the forest for the trees. I’ve been so bogged down creating the story that I have no altitude on it. I was asked recently if my editor can overrule me — the answer technically is no. This is my book, she’s enhancing it, not rewriting it. That said, we’ve worked together for so long that even if I don’t agree with a suggestion, I know to find a different path. I trust her instincts.

Once we’ve hashed it all out, I hunker down and make the changes. She’ll read it again—with luck, I’ve nailed it and it goes to copyedit. If not, we go through the same process again (and again) until it’s right.

My editor reads the book at least 4-5 times before it actually goes to print and heads into your hands. She’s an invaluable resource. So yay, editor!

I did indulge in a few things in NYC — lunch with my film agent, dinner with my literary agent, Hamilton (yes, again — even better on the second viewing), and a quiet evening with a friend. And it snowed! But I was very focused on the book, and made a lot of progress.

Also, Lent started Wednesday. I have given up my usual—social media, desserts, and alcohol—and am endeavoring to focus on a secret project, a palate cleanser, and deciding what’s next. I’ve already written 87k words this year. While technically my goal is only 200k, I am hoping to refill my well and get some more work in the pipeline, which could bump that number up significantly. And I’m adding in some downtime these six weeks. I think I’m addicted to being busy. I need to learn how to take a breath. 🙏🏻

Catherine has been getting up to some funny antics with our 6th Brit in the FBI novel, THE LAST SECOND. Have you seen all the places our book has popped up with her? From the beach to her birthday, her car to the hot tub, and there’s no telling where it’ll be next. Lucky for you, it releases everywhere on March 26. Have you preordered your copy yet?

There’s a contest, too…

Now, let’s take a look at the latest and greatest links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

A Patron Returned a Book to a Maryland Library Nearly 75 Years After It Was Due. It’s never too late to return a book!

'Daisy Jones & The Six' Is A Female-Fronted Portrait Of The Rock Star Lifestyle Of The '70s. I loved this book! Loved it, loved it. It’s going to be a wonderful movie, too.

You Can Sleep Behind the Shelves of This Tokyo Library. This place looks incredible! Who wouldn’t love to sleep among the books? Much better than the fishes, yes?

Everything Could Change Tomorrow. If life is good, count your blessings, be thankful, enjoy the moment.... Slow down, take a deep breath, savor this season as best you can. If your life is not in a good place, take heart, because change is coming... change is always coming.

French Designer Uses The Spines Of Books To Create Extraordinary Dresses. Absolutely incredible! 

Take That, AP Style! Court of Law Rules The Oxford Comma Necessary. “For anyone who’s ever wondered what all the fuss is about over Oxford commas, the circuit judge’s opinion says it all: ‘For want of a comma, we have this case.’” Can I get a hallelujah?

The Link Between Menopause and Alzheimer’s. Fascinating—hope these great studies find something to protect us!

Do We Write Differently on a Screen? And does our audience consume our work differently? I posit that yes, it’s very different — mainly because of the delete key. How many words do I delete in a day? Hundreds. What work is lost in the process?

Tips for Getting the Best Book Recommendations from Your Librarian. Has a librarian affected your life?

What I’m Reading:

Since I’m dealing with the book deadline and the last week of a contest I’m judging, I sadly haven’t had a chance to finish any books I can talk about this week. So now it’s your turn.

What’s been your favorite book of the year so far?

Also, let’s all raise a congratulatory glass to my dear friend Ariel Lawhon, who hit both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller list for the first time this week with her wonderful book I WAS ANASTASIA! Way to go, Ari!

That’s it for now. Take a long walk (but don’t forget to take your allergy medicine first), do a crossword puzzle, send a note to a friend, and I’ll see you next Sunday. Blessings on you.

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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It is a VERY Happy Sunday, because at long last, I’ve finally put together a full draft of my new book, GOOD GIRLS LIE. The relief is overwhelming. This is the fastest concept to finished book I’ve done in years. I had a yearning last June to write a boarding school mystery, but that’s all it was, a yearning. I was busy trying to put together THE LAST SECOND, I had no room for more.

And yet… in August, on a flight to London, reading an article in Yoga Journal about one of my faves Kathryn Budig, she mentions jewelry designer Asha Patel. I misread the name as Ash. Ash. Ash… and on the next page was a story about former GoGos singer Belinda Carlisle.



Ash Carlisle.

Ash Carlisle is the most revered girl in an elite all-girls boarding school. Until students begin to die, and her past comes back to haunt her, and she goes from revered to reviled.

That was the end of August. I mentioned this little logline to my editor two weeks later and she loved it, but I was burnt out after the Brit deadline and TEAR ME APART’s release days earlier. Burnt out entirely. There was no way I could make a whole book out of that little logline by February.

And yet… somehow, I did. I started in October, in the midst of the launch of A THOUSAND DOORS. I set stringent goals, where I’d have to be at the end of November, December, January. I had to ask for a two-week extension to make a major POV shift. But yesterday, I typed THE END.

There is a LOT of work to be done to get this in shape. But you can’t edit a blank page.

As of this writing, GOOD GIRLS LIE is scheduled to release December 31. (I know some sites say September 3, but that’s incorrect.) I’ll let you know if that changes!

And hey, it’s March! Which means the 6th Brit in the FBI novel, THE LAST SECOND, is coming your way March 26. The Real Book Spy included THE LAST SECOND in his March 2019 Reading Guide. What an honor to be included! And the reviews are coming in, including a lovely star from Booklist. Hurrah!

Pre-ordering this title is a really big deal. Pre-orders are a big indicator of the book’s eventual success, and I would be so grateful if you could. To convince you, check out the very cool book trailer!

Phew. That’s a lot, but wait, there’s more… Time for the latest and greatest links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

How To Be Fully Alive, According To A Zen Monk. The key to happiness? Love well, my friends. Love well. Put aside your judgment, your dissatisfaction, and look for the good in people instead. It is there, I promise.

A Love Letter to Lovers of Outlander.  “Outlander speaks to deep, subterranean hopes, and because it’s about filling a lack. Desire is its lifeblood—its storytelling crests with want and reconciles upon satisfaction.” Last week I showed a stack of my favorite books, which include many classics and philosophical texts, from Hemingway to Woolf, but for the most enjoyable ride of a read, Outlander is just the ticket.

Betty Ballantine, one of the inventors of the modern paperback, dead at 99. It’s amazing to see how a part of our industry began. With all the forward-thinking we’re dealing with because of the digital disruption, sometimes it’s cool to look back to how it all started.

Standing at Ground Zero for UFO Believers. Calling THE LAST SECOND fans... the truth will set you free….

Romance, crime, comedy among genres explored at 2019 Southern Voices Festival. Lovely write up on the conference. It was a special weekend, and I hope to be invited back in the future. Such a great event!

Your Blue Is Not My Blue. This is my favorite story this week. It’s fascinating, and logical, considering.

Notes on My Literary Minimalism. Some great techniques here, though I suffer from literary maximalism.

Mattel Is Launching Astrophysicist Barbie This Year (an Astronaut, Too!) Finally, acknowledging women in the sciences. A great way to celebrate Barbie’s 60th birthday!

The Books That Mattered Most to David Bowie, Bibliophile. Couple of my faves on here...and oh, Bowie, you are so missed.

The Greatest Love Stories of All Time, According to Readers. What’s yours? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading:


There’s a reason this book has been burning up the bestseller lists. It’s lovely. So atmospheric, so gorgeously written. An environmental mysterious love story that will break your heart and keep you guessing, it has all the lushness of the marsh at its center. Go forth and read it now, because the movie is sure to be a massive hit.

That’s it for now. Send me good editing juju, take a picture of your forsythia, if you have them, or make a snowman, if that’s your lot in weather life today, and I’ll see you next Sunday.

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings


Happy Sunday!

Oh, my. Welcome to deadline brain. And travel brain. And houseguest brain. And terrible weather forecast brain. It’s just that time of year and there’s so much going on that the blog doesn’t get written brain. 

But here I am, at last... coming to you from a lovely hotel room overlooking the rolling hills of Alabama. Yesterday was Southern Voices, and I had such a wonderful time! It was great to see my dear friend Patti Callahan Henry, and finally catch up with some more folks I’ve been passing in the night, Melanie Benjamin, Gin Phillips, Lori Roy among them. I did two hour-long sessions with a wonderful writer by the name of Roger Johns. We decided it would be fun to interview each other, and both sessions were a blast. Roger’s wit and generosity made for a very fun day. I highly encourage you to check out all of these authors, if you don’t read them already.

There’s just something special about spending a weekend with writers. We’re all unique and special, we all have some sort of passion, and we’re very opinionated. It was a blast.

Writers, if you ever get the invite from the indomitable Carrie Steinmehl and the team here, say yes immediately and unequivocally. And readers, if you’re near, come. This is an elegant, well-run program that should be held up as an example of a perfect reader event.  

Which leads me to now. I have a room with a view and a laptop. On the drive down, I did a lot of thinking about where to go with the book to reach the end, and I think I know the path forward. So if I’m quiet this week, it’s because I’m deep in the trenches getting the draft in place. 

With that, I leave you to it. Time for the latest and greatest links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Mary Laura interviewed Alexander Chee in A Series Of Misidentifications for A WORD ON WORDS.

This Secret London Alley Is Full Of Curious Old Bookshops. Let’s go!

Dan Mallory, 2 Starkly Similar Novels and the Puzzle of Plagiarism.

All the sad young literary fakes. “Fakes often tell us what we already assume about marginalized populations: that communities of color are rife with violence, that gay lives are tragic, that drugs make you cool, and so on. People living in their little demographic bubble without actually knowing anyone in these communities expect these stories, and they crave them.”

Teaching My High School Students to Love Reading. "For now, I’m teaching them to fall in love with characters and stories. To imagine worlds way different from their own. To be villains and heroes, friends and foes."

Want Advice on How to Run a Book Club? This Actual Book Club Has it Down. This sounds like a great group! 

Conference season is fast approaching... Networking Tips for Introverts.

Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are More Valuable to Our Lives than Read Ones. "Read books are far less valuable than unread ones."

We Finally Know When Our Milky Way Will Crash Into the Andromeda Galaxy. Life as we know it is doomed... but not yet.

What I’m Reading:



A friend asked me what my favorite classics are. Here are my faves in all their paperback school glory: Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, To The Lighthouse, Lolita, Anthem, A Farewell To Arms, and A Room Of One’s Own. (Note: Rebecca is MIA in the rainbow bookshelves downstairs.) What are your favorite classics?

That’s it for now. I’ll see you next Sunday.

peace and hugs,