3.24.16 - In Which I Talk NO ONE KNOWS with Lots of Fine People

Every author knows that with the birth of a book comes marketing. After all, we have to tell you the book exists so you can read it!

But y'all. I wrote a lot of things for NO ONE KNOWS. Like, a lot

Like 20,000 words worth. Like 1/4 of a novel's worth.

And I wrote about all kinds of things! How I wrote a new kind of book. How happy I am we Nashville writers have a "room of our own," so to speak. What my superpower of choice would be and what my favorite TV shows are. The crazy dream that featured both my husband and Harlan Coben that gave me the idea to write NO ONE KNOWS.

I've included snippets from some of the pieces that have run. You can follow the links to read the pieces in their entirety. I hope you enjoy them!


From SIBA's Lady Banks newsletter: "The Southern Bookstore"

A few nights ago, I attended a signing at the wonderful Parnassus Books in Nashville. The signing author was Ariel Lawhon, who was launching her brilliant story chronicling the doomed flight of the Hindenburg, Flight of Dreams. As Ariel and I hugged and kissed hello, bookseller extraordinaire Bill Long-Innes smiled benevolently and asked, “Do you guys have a writer tribe? It seems like Nashville authors really make an effort to support one another. I wonder if any other cities have such a tight knit group?”
Ariel and I nodded, because we do have a tribe here in Nashville.

From my Reddit AMA:

If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Hardest question ever. You have to decide between wanting ultimate knowledge or ultimate power. I think I'd like to be able to control time. It's the one resource I don't seem to ever have enough of.

From Parnassus Books' Musing blog:

And I’m fascinated by choices. I’d like to think I have a pretty steady moral compass, so when someone does something unethical, or criminal, I’m always aghast. And then I want to sit them down and find out why. What drove you to that decision? Was it easier to cheat? Weren’t you worried about how it would look? You weren’t afraid of going to jail? The idea that our society is split in two — law-abiders and criminals — makes novels like mine come to life. I love Nashville as the palette for this kind of story, too. The juxtapositions in this town are fabulous.

From Criminal Element:

Way back in 2010, I had a dream. My husband and I were attending a wedding weekend at the Opryland Hotel. He was with the guys, I was with the girls, and, as such, hopelessly bored—because when I’m not with him, I’m always unsettled. So, I went to find him.

I texted him and said, “Come meet me for a drink.” He didn’t reply, but a waiter came into the bar with a gin and tonic. Knowing it was from him, I smiled and sent another text. He still didn’t reply. When I finished the drink, I got directions to where the boys were meeting. I was worried.

As I stepped outside, Harlan Coben was there.

From Southern Writers Magazine's Suite T blog:

This week sees the release of my very first standalone novel.
When a writer changes gears and moves into new territory, it’s scary, both for the author and for the readers. Will the story hold up? Will it make sense? Will I, the author, get drummed out on my ear when people start to read it? Will the twists work?
All kinds of terrible scenarios come to mind, made worse by this book’s (very) long journey to publication.

And speaking of Southern Writers...

In honor of NO ONE KNOWS, I'm giving away a signed copy of WHAT LIES BEHIND. (so you'll have something to read after you finish NO ONE KNOWS!)

Click here to enter!


J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

11.19.15 - 7(ish) Minutes With... Dana Chamblee Carpenter

Dana Carpenter is brilliant. There, I said it. Brilliant, and beautiful, and funny and fun. She's the whole package, with a wicked imagination to boot. We met several years ago at a Nashville writers lunch, and our paths continued crossing until they were intertwined into a genuine friendship. And then Dana birthed a beautiful baby book. I was so excited to read it, because—FRIEND—and then . . . It is so rare for a book to surprise me—any book—but BOHEMIAN GOSPEL blew me away.  An assured and exquisite debut, the story, the characters—it's NOT what you think, I will guarantee you that. I can't talk anymore about the book without giving it away. Suffice it to say, I was shocked this was Dana's debut, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dana in person at Parnassus Books last weekend. I'm thrilled to share her in print today. Take it away, Dana!


BOHEMIAN GOSPEL is your debut novel—congratulations, by the way! Publisher’s Weekly called it “a deliciously creepy debut,” which I just loved. Fill in readers on what BOHEMIAN GOSPEL is all about.

Thank you! It all still feels a little unreal. 

Ok, so about BOHEMIAN GOSPEL—We have a girl, Mouse, who has grown up in an abbey in 13th century Bohemia. Mouse has no idea who her family was/is, and she has a slew of unusual abilities that scare most people, even her. She thinks she’s been given these abilities for a reason—she just doesn’t know what that reason is. Then Ottakar, the young king of Bohemia, shows up at the abbey wounded, dying, and it’s up to Mouse to save him. 

And to figure out who’s trying to kill him. 

She heads off to the royal court at Prague, and the deeper she gets sucked into the deadly intrigue there, the darker things get, and the closer she gets to discovering her destiny. Which is anything BUT what she’d expected. 

How did you come up with this story? Was there anything in particular that inspired you?

Mouse came to me. I saw her so clearly it felt like my own memory. She was looking out over a battlefield, toward one soldier in particular, and her face was this vivid mix of anger and sadness and determination. I felt all that with her. And I had to know why she was angry and sad and what she was dead-set on doing. I had to know who she was and where and when she was. 

From beautiful landscapes and natural healing practices to religion and rich historical details, you make 13th century Bohemia come alive for 21st century readers—that’s no small task. What kinds of research did you do for this book? You must have done tons.

Oh yeah, I spent the better part of a year learning everything I could about the 13th century and Bohemia and medieval medicine. I might be able to save your life if we’re ever stuck out in the woods and you’re wounded—a few herbs and some spit and you’re good to go. And I’ve taken the virtual tour of Prague castle so many times I’m pretty sure I could navigate the place blindfolded. At first I felt a little weird when people would ask me if I’d ever been to Prague and I had to say no (though I sure do mean to get there some day!), but then I realized that I can never go to Mouse’s Prague castle anyway. It doesn’t exist anymore. And that sums up the difficulty (and FUN!) of researching this time and period—you have to sift through so much to find what you need and then you get to imagine the rest. 

At times, I felt like I did when I was a kid and we went to pan for diamonds in the mines in Murfreesboro, Arkansas—impatient, hot and sweaty, frustrated. I never found a diamond in all that dirt, but I can imagine what it must feel like because I had that sudden rush of success, of good fortune when I would discover just the bit of history I needed—a sketch of the layout of the castle as it would’ve been in the 13th century buried in a tome about medieval battlements, a book of 12th and 13th century minnesinger songs (they’re kinda like troubadours) with translated lyrics (Hallelujah!), the archeological report of a recent dig at the castle that unearthed a glass goblet decorated with dolphins that would’ve actually been on Ottakar’s table in the great hall. That’s better than diamonds for a writer. 

There is a creep factor to this book that freaked me out enough I couldn’t read it at night. Talk to me about your demons.

Okay, so I’m maybe smiling a little too much right now. I LOVE hearing that it scared you! (and it’s a little payback for the nights I’ve lost sleep because I had to make sure Sam was okay and for the worry over her since I finished What Lies Behind). Honestly though, I freaked myself out writing the scary parts in Bohemian Gospel. Can’t tell you how many times I ran from the bathroom and jumped into the bed because I was pretty sure there was something lurking in the dark, waiting for me. 

My own “big bad,” the one I can’t seem to slay, is perfectionism. We’ve almost decided this is a good thing in our culture—you know, people will “confess” that they’re perfectionists with a wink and a gleam in their eye, when what they’re really trying to say is that they work really hard to do their best. But that’s not really perfectionism. Perfectionism is this insidious goblin that convinces you that nothing you do is good enough, that never lets you be content with what you’ve done, and that relentlessly shreds you with criticism and self-doubt.  I swear I’m going to exorcise this bloody little devil one day though and then stake him in the heart.

Which of Mouse’s special gifts would you most like to have?

I’d like to . . . oh, wait. Well maybe I want to be able to . . . dang, not that either. As soon as you start “trying on” Mouse’s gifts, you realize why she thinks of them as curses. They’re cool but they come with a bite. 

You’ve created quite a sympathetic heroine. Why do you think readers relate to Mouse so much?

I think so many of us are looking for where we belong in the world just like Mouse is. We believe we’re meant to do something with our lives, but we’re surrounded by a culture that tells us to buy stuff and sell stuff, that tells us what we’re “supposed” to look like and act like, and when we don’t fit in those boxes, we’re ostracized, labeled and shunned, just like Mouse is. Her battles are our battles. I hope that her victories also inspire victories in my readers. 

Let’s talk process. As a professor and a homeschooling mom of two, you’ve essentially got two full-time jobs (!). How do you find time to write, where do you do it, and what are your favorite tools?

You know, every time I start to whine about not having enough time to do what I need to do, I think about how much you do. Good grief! I’d ask you the same thing (as I have many times)—how do you do it all? For me, the answer is I can’t help myself. Regardless of what else is going on, I have to write. When I don’t, I don’t feel alive, you know? 

Oh, trust me—I know. I took three months off writing this summer, and I will never do that again. So I completely get that. But when do you make time to write?

The when is tricky because it changes all the time. What works for me is to look at each week and find those chunks of time not claimed by class time or kids. Then I protect those chunks of writing time like they’re my seat in a lifeboat. Because they are.

I can’t write at my office—too many students in and out and a glass wall where I can see the feet coming and going to the water cooler. Drives me nuts! And I don’t tend to do the coffee shop thing because I want all the minutes for writing—not navigating Nashville traffic. So I mostly write at home. Sometimes I’ll take the laptop outside, but when the writing gets intense, I need to be alone and I head to my bedroom. 

I’m pretty simple in terms of what I need when I write—my laptop (I’m a Mac girl), wi-fi (for the necessary research), and something hot to drink. 

Amen, sister. I’m a slave to a nice, steaming pot tea! 

So music plays a big role in my writing—I’ve always got a “book soundtrack” of sorts by the time I’ve finished my manuscript. What did you listen to while you wrote this book?

Ooooh, I want that “book soundtrack”! 

Well, since you ask, I put them all up on my website—half to share with readers, half as a audio scrapbook of sorts. I can’t hear a song and not think about what my characters were wrestling with or how a lyric inspired a scene.

I do the same thing. With BOHEMIAN GOSPEL, I listened to lots of Gregorian chants to help with the medieval mood. Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim and I Speak Because I Can were my anchor albums, played on repeat so much that the soul in those songs must have soaked into Mouse’s bones. And I played a fair share of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Sting’s If On a Winter’s Night was great for the Christmas scenes.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Walking. Driving/riding in the car. Playing with the kids. It has to be something in motion though—like actually getting my body moving gets the ideas moving again, too. 

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

I have a couple and they don’t really go together at all. Eudora Welty and Neil Gaiman. Yeah, weird, I know. I never met Welty, but when I was working on my Ph.D. in Oxford, MS, I could’ve arranged an interview with her (my dissertation focused on her and Maya Angelou), but I was too chicken. Sometimes I’ll have a dream where I’m walking down her sidewalk and up her front porch. She opens the door before I get there and invites me in. The house smells like lemons because she’s made a lemon pound cake and tea.

What a peculiar, but telling dream! 

I did “meet” Neil Gaiman once, if standing in line to get a book signed counts as meeting someone. My kiddos were with me, too, so I was on “mom-duty” and was helping my little guy (he was six at the time) give Neil a picture he’d made, inspired by The Wolves in the Walls. Neil was so kind and patient. And then, as we were about to walk away, he looked up at me and said, “Cool shirt.” (I was wearing a Doctor Who Weeping Angels shirt.) I said, “Thanks, you too.” Not too stupid, right? 

No, not at all! I’d say that’s a pretty Fan Girl-Light moment.

Yeah, except he was wearing a very generic, very plain, totally nondescript black shirt. I think he smirked and shook his head before turning to the next person.

But later that night, on Twitter, I posted a picture of what Neil had signed in my book. I couldn’t make it out, so I tagged Neil’s assistant, Cat, and asked for some deciphering help. She couldn’t figure it out either, but she tagged Neil. AND HE RESPONDED! I totally squealed like my fifth-grade girl-self. 

“Love from.” That’s what it said. I had “Love from” Neil Gaiman. <cue the angels singing Hallelujah>

Ok, your boldness completely paid off there! That’s awesome. What a fabulous memory.

So what’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Don’t quit. There’s so much out there to tell you how to write better, how to write for the market, how to get published, how to market your book. And, yes, you need to learn your craft and educate yourself about the industry, but the most important thing is to stay with it. You get better by keeping writing. You learn about the market by keeping writing (and reading, which is integral to writing). And you give yourself time for luck to strike because regardless of how great a writer you are or how savvy you are, you will need a little luck at some point. 

Word. Luck is paramount in this industry. Then again, I believe you make your own luck . . . 

Ok, let’s talk a little bit about Dana the Book Nerd (don’t worry, you’re among friends!). What was your favorite book as a child?

Oh, my goodness, there were SO many! Books were my best friends. I loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, but I guess it was Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series that I’d go back to again and again. I remember counting the days until my little brother was old enough for me to read it to him—I just HAD to share it with someone. (Ok, that’s adorable!) And I read my Little House on the Prairie books until they literally fell apart. 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I was in the third grade. I’d started telling scary stories to my classmates when we were waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the day. At first, I told stories I’d heard before, but when I ran out of those, I started making up my own. I’d write them down at night (and scare myself in the process—my mom got so fed up with coming into my room to check under the bed and behind the curtains) and then read them to my “audience” the next day. I was hooked. 

And then I totally chickened out when I got to college and went the “safe” route instead—you know, the one that was supposed to lead to gainful employment. No one bothered to tell me that professors in the Humanities are hardly full of gain.

What’s your secret talent?

Well it was a secret, even to me, but apparently I’m a closet costume designer and hair and make-up artist. My family likes to dress up for Halloween in themed costumes (this year we’re going as characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas), and rarely do we choose costumes we can go buy. I once spent four months building a brachiosaurus head, body, and tail (on wheels) out of wire and papier-mâché. It was six-feet long and wiggled behind my little guy as we trick-or-treated in the mall. 

Um, hats off to you, cool mom! 

What have you recently read that you can’t stop recommending?

It’s your fault really because you introduced us, but Laura Benedict’s BLISS HOUSE and now CHARLOTTE'S STORY. They are SO good!

Right?! I’ll second that recommendation. Laura is the queen of the modern Gothic.

Are you creatively satisfied?

This is kinda like the true/false questions I flunked in school. I always ended up writing short essays explaining how the answer could be either true or false or both. I am beyond happy right now, loving the buzz of getting my first book out there and working hard on the next and I have so many ideas for more. But I don’t know that I’d say I’m satisfied—I’m always pushing myself to learn more and do better. And I’d like to get to a position where I can help other writers who are little farther back on the path. 

What’s next for you?

I am working on the sequel to BOHEMIAN GOSPEL. I left Mouse in a not great place and I’ve got to help her out. And I’m also working on a new book that focuses on a family of witches in 1927 at the time of the great Mississippi flood. I’m getting to weave in bits of my family history so that’s fun! Not that we were witches or anything.

Mmmhmm, okay. I’m watching you . . . 

What would you like to be remembered for?

Of course I’d love to leave a string of books for folks to read, but—cheesy alert—I’d most want to be remembered for being kind.  <Cue violins and pictures of baby animals>

Alright, now for the really important questions:

    Beach or mountains? Mountains all the way. Like Anakin Skywalker, I hate the sand.

•    Coffee or tea? I do both, but coffee is my go-to.

•    Skydive or bungee jump? Skydive, for sure. I’d love the feeling of flying. The whole jumping thing is okay, but the idea of being jerked back up on a big rubber band makes my neck hurt.

•    Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Yum, chocolate. Going to get some now.

•    Winter or summer? Can I say Fall? 

•    Cake or pie? Cake.

•    Cats or dogs? Truly and honestly both. 

•    Pens or pencils? Depends. For writing in journals, a pen. For to-do lists and schedules, a pencil. But it has to be sharp. 

•    Truth or dare? Hmmm, who’s asking? 

•    Print or ebook? Print. I’m addicted to the smell of books. 


Dana Chamblee Carpenter's award-winning short fiction has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Jersey Devil Press, and Maypop. Her debut novel, BOHEMIAN GOSPEL, won Killer Nashville's 2014 Claymore Award and has been published Pegasus Books.

She teaches creative writing and American Literature at a private university in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her husband and two children.

11.5.15 - 7 Minutes With... Kim Alexander

Kim Alexander once called my work morbidly elegant, which strikes me as possibly the highest praise one can give a thriller novelist. Kim and I go back to MY debut novel, to her days as the hostess with the mostest of Fiction Nation on Sirius XM radio. She very kindly had me on the show, we realized we were both in love with Baldwin, and a friendship was born. Kim and I got to talk twice a year for several years, and those chats were ones I always looked forward to. Now, Kim has hung up her microphone and is writing some seriously cool fantasy, major world-building stuff. I loved her THE SAND PRINCE (I mean, really, just LOOK at that cover!) and I'm so happy she's here today to talk about it. 

Welcome to MY little slice of the internet, Miss Kim! And congratulations on your big debut!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

Tom Petty – “Here Comes My Girl.” But I don’t usually listen to music while I’m working, I find it too distracting. I prefer the gentle rhythms of the never-ending construction project going on in the apartment unit above my head. Today is “throw 2X4’s at the floor as hard as you can” day!

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

I’m editing and revising the second book in my fantasy series. Its working title is THE UNHAUNTED WORLD.

What’s your latest book about?

THE SAND PRINCE is my debut novel. It’s the story of two worlds, magic, war, betrayal, sex, bad parenting, bad decisions, and a mysterious romance novel within the book.  The hero is a half-human demon with social anxiety and a drinking problem. (I should probably mention that it’s not a comedy.) It’s also about finding your place in the world, and since this is a fantasy, my hero has multiple worlds to choose from.

TL:DR- It’s like DUNE with more sex.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I just got a chair! I no longer hunch like a fell beast on the couch, I sit upright like a fully-formed human and look out the window at the National Zoo. I take copious notes (this is really just an excuse to feed my handmade notebook and pretty pen addiction) but I do most of my work on my laptop.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The oldest book I own, and still one of my favorites, is THE LAST UNICORN by Peter Beagle. I’ve had my copy since 1968. It’s falling apart but I couldn’t part with it.

What’s your secret talent?

I have an actual license to sail anything under 23 feet (if it’s a boat and it’s on water, I should add.)

What book are you reading now?

THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO THE APOCALYPSE by my friend and fellow Booktrope author Daphne Lamb, and my new Peterman catalogue.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was really young, like just old enough to read myself. Although it took me many years to try it for real—I didn’t trust that I could do it. I also have to thank my husband for having the faith I lacked and supporting my new job—honey, it only LOOKS like I’m staring out the window all day.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?


[editor's note: see why I love her?]

Also, the first time I interviewed Neil Gaiman, it was over the phone. For the first five minutes I mainly tried not to have a heart attack. I kept saying to myself, “Just be cool! Everything’s fine!” But he’s so lovely that I calmed down and we had a great chat about THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. When I finally met Stephen King, it was my very last interview for Sirius XM, so it was exciting but also quite bittersweet.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

I have to mention XM Radio again. When I started there, on everyone’s badge was the phrase “AFDI” which stood for “Actually F-ing Do It.” That resonated with me, and I try to AFDI every day. I didn’t know how to write a book when I started—just over two years ago, wow! But I took the coagulated (that may not be the right word) advice of the literally hundreds of authors, artists and actors (including JT) I’d interviewed, and I sat down and began.

 What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Go back and edit something I did the day or week before. There’s always something to fix, and if not, there’s Pinterest.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Well, I would be more satisfied if I looked out the window and saw Tahiti, but for the moment, I’m thrilled to be writing my own work about characters I adore.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I raise cats with impeccable manners, and I can fold a fitted sheet.

,Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach!

Coffee or tea? Coffee. Espresso with a splash of half and half, if you have it.

Skydive or bungee jump? Why would I jump out of a perfectly good plane? I don’t even like getting off my couch.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.

Winter or summer? Summer—I am an obsessed rooftop gardener.

Cake or pie? Pie, I think. I make a mean Key Lime pie.

Cats or dogs? Leeloo and Onion are looking over my shoulder, reminding me of the inherent superiority of cats.

Pens or pencils? Pens, I collect them.

Truth or dare? Truth. How bad can it be?

Print or ebook?  I moved 13 times after I got out of college, that’s a strong argument for ebooks.


Kim Alexander grew up in the wilds of Long Island, NY and slowly drifted south until she reached Key West. After spending ten years working as a disc jockey in the Keys, she moved to Washington, DC, where she reported the traffic and spun the Oldies. After a career upgrade, she became the co-programmer of Sirius XM Book Radio, which gave her the opportunity to interview some of her writing heroes, including Anne Rice, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, among many hundreds of others.  She began writing when she ran out of authors to interview (and they pulled the plug on her channel.)

She currently lives with two cats, an angry fish, and her extremely patient husband close enough to the National Zoo to hear the lions and the monkeys, at least she hopes that’s what those noises are.

THE SAND PRINCE (Booktrope) is Kim’s first novel and begins a fantasy series called THE DEMON DOOR. Her husband tells her she needs to write at least ten more books if she intends to retire in Thailand, so thank you for your patronage.

And here's a little more about Kim's debut novel THE SAND PRINCE:

“When the storm came, it was made of magic, not rain, and when it had passed, the life and the city Hellne knew were changed forever.” 

In Kim Alexander’s debut novel she weaves a witty, epic fantasy brimming with diverse characters and plenty of intrigue.

Two worlds

On the war-ravaged demon world of Eriis, Hellne, the fierce young queen, fights to keep her people alive.

On the green and gentle human world of Mistra, the demons have faded into myth. Only a handful of old men and children still guard The Door between the worlds.

Bound by magic

Rhuun, the Prince of Eriis, uncovers a sultry book written by a human, sparking an obsession with the other world. When he is forced to flee Eriis he must escape through The Door or pay the price in blood.

Divided by a door

The humans of Mistra are not what Rhuun was expecting—and one insufferable young woman in particular is about to find out that the demons of Eriis are not mythological after all . . . 

10.22.15 - On How I Came to be a TV Host

A Word on Words

There are things that happen in your life that are, to say the least, unexpected. Back in June, I received an email from a producer at NPT (Nashville Public Television) letting me know they were considering rebooting the Nashville literary classic, A Word on Words. If you’re not familiar with it, for 40 years, it was was a Sunday morning staple on Channel 8, hosted by the amazing John Seigenthaler. I was really excited to hear this, because I did my first EVER interview with John on the show, and since we lost him, there has been a real void in the literary community, as well as all of our hearts

What I wasn’t expecting was an invitation to be the host. "Caught short" is a good term, actually. I mean, y’all know me. I have a serious public speaking fear. I’ve overcome it for the most part, but I still get a wad of butterflies in my stomach before events, and cameras — yeah, right. The idea of voluntarily sitting down in front of a camera multiple times seemed a little masochistic. So my immediate reaction was . . . no.


John Seigenthaler

What John did for the book in Nashville can’t be discounted for a moment. He was the beating heart of literature in this city for a very, very long time. I always loved being on the show (I think I did it six times over the years.) John made me think about my stories in ways I hadn’t before. He could find that kernel in the book, the why behind the story, and make it come alive for the viewers.

The idea of having even a small part in continuing his legacy drove me to the screen test, then to accepting the offer to shoot a couple of pilots, and through the first shoot. I nearly threw up on Patti Callahan Henry, I was so scared.

But I didn’t. And after a while, in the joy of talking story with a fellow writer, I forgot about the cameras. The end result was awesome, and I can’t wait for y’all to see it.

And I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could do this after all. 

Mary Laura Philpott is my co-host — if you’re not familiar with her hilarious book PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS, you should definitely get it. She’s kind and gracious and gorgeous and one heck of a writer and will be the perfect complement to round out the show. I can't wait to work more with her.

I need to say thanks to a bunch of people who made this happen. Linda Wei, first and foremost, who found a unique way to reboot the series and thought ML and I would be a good fit; our amazing crew, including Matt Emigh and Will Pedigo, for their incredible generosity making me at ease behind the cameras, and making us look so good; Hank Phillippi Ryan, who gave me the bones for how to build a good interview; Andy Levy, who shared all his secrets; Laura Benedict for cheering me on; Ariel Lawhon for helping us get things kickstarted; Patti Henry and David Bell, for agreeing to let me use them as pilot episodes, coming to Nashville and knocking it out of the park; Amy Kerr, who does just about everything; ML, for being the co-hostess with the mostest; NPT, and especially Beth Curley, for having the bravery and vision to let us try this; our lovely sponsors, Judy and Steve Turner, for funding this awesome show; and of course, Randy, who encouraged me when I needed it the most. As he always does.

And John. You are forever in our hearts, kind sir. I hope we do you proud. 

Here’s some shots from the most recent episodes. A Word on Words will begin airing in late October. Specifics to come. Announcement here


10.1.15 - 7 Minutes With... Barbara Freethy + a giveaway!

I had the honor of meeting Barbara Freethy at one of Catherine’s awesome author lunches, and we hit it off. She’s incredibly smart, incredibly dedicated, a take-no-prisoners business woman, and a wildly creative writer—talk about the whole package. When Barbara talks, I listen, and I’m not the only one. From her groundbreaking self-publishing career to discussions of love and life, she always has the right thing to say. And her books are fantastic—for all my romance, romantic-suspense and women’s fiction reader peeps, Barbara’s your writer. With multiple series and titles and sagas, there’s enough of her work to keep you busy for ages! I can’t wait to sit down with her and get all the insider scoop on independent publishing. At least we’ll get a sneak peek today. 

Oh, and she’s agreed to give away three copies (print or digital—winners’ choice!) of her latest book, BEAUTIFUL STORM, which comes out today! Contest details are below.

Barbara, take it away! 


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

I'm writing LIGHTNING LINGERS (Book #2) in my Lightning Strikes Trilogy.

What’s your latest book about?

BEAUTIFUL STORM (Book #1 in my Lightning Strikes Trilogy) begins a three-book overarching romantic suspense trilogy. The heroine, Alicia Monroe, is a news photographer by day and photographs lightning storms at night. She's obsessed with lightning after her father's plane went down in an electrical storm ten years earlier. When the book begins, Alicia sees what appears to be a murder in the flashes of lightning. She finds a military ID tag on the ground that belongs to a missing woman, and soon Alicia is on a dangerous search for truth and justice.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I write on a laptop, and I often sit in a big, comfortable chair with an ottoman. I have one in my bedroom and another in my office. I also write some afternoons with two writing friends at Starbucks.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That's a difficult question. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I probably read every single Nancy Drew adventure, so I'd have to put that series high on the list of favorites.

What’s your secret talent?

I'm a really good tennis player.

What book are you reading now?

I'm reading THE HARBOR by Carla Neggers.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Probably in college, but I didn't realize I could actually make that a career until years later. But eventually I sat down and wrote that first book, and that started the fantastic journey I've been on for quite a few years now.  

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool? 

I really love Nora Roberts. I respect her writing philosophies and love her books. I've never met her personally, so that would be fun. I have met Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Coulter, and Debbie Macomber, and each was amazingly wonderful and charming.

 What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Don't worry about writing a bad first draft. I always find that once I start digging into my story, wonderful things come out that I never imagined. For me the experience of writing is about telling myself the story, so I try to give myself permission not to be perfect during the draft stage. There is always time for revision!

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

I look in the refrigerator a lot for inspiration—LOL! But I rarely find it there. I do find that taking a shower sometimes loosens up the jam in my head. But ultimately when there is no time for writer's block, I just push myself to write something—anything—and that usually gets me going.

 Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes, I love being a writer. I can't think of a better job. Even when it's difficult and the words don't come or the story doesn't seem to work, there's nothing more fun that creating a story and a world out of nothing. 

What would you like to be remembered for?

I'd like to be thought of as a good storyteller.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

  • Beach or mountains? Beach! Love the crashing waves.
  • Coffee or tea? Tea, but my real vice is Diet Coke.
  • Skydive or bungee jump? Neither—I am definitely not a thrill seeker when it comes to heights.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!
  • Winter or summer? Summer—I grew up in Southern California. I love the summer heat.
  • Cake or pie? Cake
  • Cats or dogs? Both but currently have two kitties—so I have to say cats!
  • Pens or pencils? Pens, unless it's a cool automatic pencil. But I rarely write with anything these days. It's all about the keyboard.
  • Truth or dare? Truth.
  • Print or ebook? Ebook—except at the beach. Then I still love print. 


About Barbara Freethy

Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of 45 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women's fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened her own publishing company in 2011 and has since sold over 5 million books! Twenty of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, mystery and romance, Barbara enjoys writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures. Barbara is launching a new romantic mystery trilogy in 2015 with BEAUTIFUL STORM, the first book in the Lightning Strikes trilogy.

If you like lighthearted family series and romance, check out Barbara's ongoing Callaway Series. 

For information, visit Barbara's website or follow Barbara on Facebook.

And here's a little more about BEAUTIFUL STORM, which is out TODAY!

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Barbara Freethy comes the first book in a new romantic suspense trilogy, Lightning Strikes. In these connected novels, lightning leads to love, danger, and the unraveling of long-buried secrets that will change not only the past but also the future . . . 

When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for two months. 

While the police use the tag to jump-start their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community, where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish.

Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret . . . 

Like I mentioned earlier, Barbara is giving away three copies of BEAUTIFUL STORM to you, my lucky chickens! To enter, leave a comment below answering this question: 

Have you ever seen anything that gave you the creeps during a storm?