Home Stretch


The Happy Ever After series #8

We’re halfway through this wonderful month and it isn’t slowing down one bit. Look! I have a cover for my new novel! And here’s the series, all three books.

Now, if you’ve been following along, you will remember that when I wrote A Jingle Valley Wedding back in 2015, I hadn’t thought a lot about a sequel. But a number of people did remark that when the book ended, they were not ready for the story to be finished. I kept that in the back of my mind, even as I wrote Villa del Sol and even as I wrote April in Galway. At the end of April, our character April Tweed has an idea – to be married at the wedding venue her old friend Julie Tate had created on a farm in western Massachusetts. By this time last year, I knew I’d be combining both A Jingle Valley Wedding and April in Galway into a new novel. And, in a first for this author, there’s a happy ever after. Imagine that!

Cover All's Well in Jingle Valley SERIES Book 3

All’s Well in Jingle Valley won’t be released until December 2, and print copies will be available at the 7th Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo, on Saturday, December 7. But you can pre-order it now! Just click HERE and the ebook will magically drop into your Kindle on December 2. I’ve never done a pre-order before, so I don’t know whether it’s a brilliant marketing tool or not.

Meanwhile, my novel Bits of Broken Glass is just 99 cents to download through the end of this month. In November, I’ll discount the first two books in The Happy Ever After series, so you can catch up before reading All’s Well. 

And if you’re on Facebook, please join me in the Wicked Good Hop starting this Monday, October 21, where you can win books and prizes. And again next month, join in at the Rhode Island Authors Showcase November 18-24, where the Grand Prize is a $250 Amazon gift card! Yes, both of these events are Facebook-only events.

Following this blog is not only smart, it can save you money!

 

A Winding Stream


a-winding-stream-cover

I’m in the habit of doing ‘soft’ releases – minimal fanfare and proclamations. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly proud to announce the publication of this new book, and the first in my portfolio that’s non-fiction.

A Winding Stream chronicles the two-week canoe and camping trip that my maternal grandfather, Earl R. Handy, made with his friend, John B. Hudson, in 1924. 1924!  Five years before the Great Depression, seventeen years before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1924, the Snyder Act granted US citizenship to all American Indians. George Mallory and A.C. Irvine died attempting to climb Mount Everest. And on the last day of June in 1924, the Democratic National Convention adjourned at midnight with William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith deadlocked in balloting.

This little book (54 pages) may be of interest (outside my family!) to those interested in the region, canoeing and camping, the environment, local history, or to anyone wanting to take a quiet journey back ninety-two years. Paddle down the rivers with Earl and John for fourteen days. And if you think you might like to re-create this adventure, please let me know!

Pick up your copy at Amazon and come see me in December at one of my book events!

Thursday, December 1 (6:00pm) – Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

Saturday, December 3 (11:00-5:00) – RI Authors Expo at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI

Three Great Reads


There are plenty more, but the last three books I read really resonated, so I’m sharing them with you. Be forewarned, though – no light reading here.

Girl

First up – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This book was published in January, and I’d been hearing and reading about it for months. Many comparisons to Gone Girl, although I read GG and liked TGOTT much better. Finally I downloaded the digital version to my Kindle app and once I started reading, it was hard to stop. Two sleep-deprived nights later and wow. Great use of the unreliable narrator to create a suspenseful mystery/thriller. Here’s the link to the Amazon page – or pick up the print version from your local bookseller!

still-alice-book-cover

Next – Still Alice. The movie came out, and I so wanted to see it. Didn’t get around to it in time. I knew this would be a difficult read (my mom had progressive dementia). If you can handle the topic of early-onset Alzheimer’s, this book is so, so good. Written from the point of view of the title character (Alice Howland, an esteemed Harvard psychology professor), this novel is brilliant as Alice journeys through her disease. Read all about it here.

hausfrau

Finally, I read Hausfrau. My friend Samantha Stroh Bailey said it ‘chilled her to the bone.’ Yep. This story, set in my beloved Switzerland (Dietlikon, a little town just outside Zurich), is about Swiss perfection and the main character’s falling apart. It’s been called ‘a modern-day Anna Karenina tale,’ and now, of course, I must read Anna Karenina. You won’t soon forget this story. Here’s the link.

So – there are my suggestions for your summer reading list. What have you got to recommend to me?

Twin Piques is Here!


SmTwinPiquesCoverArt

Tracie Banister is one of my favorite independent authors, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of her third novel, Twin Piques. Love the title! Here’s what the book is about:

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (a teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?

Author Tracie Banister
Author Tracie Banister

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)
Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the back burner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a “real” job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Twin Piques is her third Chick Lit release. The pet psychic character in this novel was inspired by Tracie’s rascally rescue dogs. She’d love to know what goes on in their heads!

You can grab a copy of Twin Piques here:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Twin-Piques-Tracie-Banister-ebook/dp/B00RSEP056

Amazon Global: myBook.to/TwinPiques

Twin Piques on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24302229-twin-piques

I Wrote (a) Best Seller (haha)


Yes, I was deliberate in choosing my new book’s title. Call it incredible cheek or just wishful thinking, but the title does work. Although this novel is about much more than a best-selling novel. You’ll see when you read the blurb.

kindle cover

I suppose this is what’s termed a “soft” release. Actually, I’d planned on a July 1st launch, but since I’ve gone back to work part-time, I’ve made some adjustments to my life schedule. While I’m working, I can’t access the internet, which means I can’t respond to readers’ comments, etc. And I want to be engaged. So I hit the “Save and Publish” button last night (very late), and when I arose this morning, Best Seller was live in the Kindle store (the print version will be available within a week).

This is novel #5. My first book was published on August 8, 2012, so five books in two years is pretty good, I think. Working a couple of days a week out of the house will likely change my writing time, but I’m hoping it will keep me more mindful of the value of those hours when I can write.

It’s always my hope that my writing improves with each book. Certainly, with the Chocolate Series, I can see a maturation from the first to the third book. This one challenged me when I decided to write in the first person, present tense. I’ve read similar books – some that work well, some that miss. I’m hoping that it puts you, the reader, right in the middle of Robin’s life. And whatever you think of it, please feel free to let me know by posting a review. I can accept criticism, especially when it’s thoughtful and kind 🙂

So, we march to the Fourth and what I consider the peak of summer (even though it’s really just the beginning). Enjoy this time – and happy reading!

2013 and The Books I’ve Read


BLOGDaydreamer

I may not have had a stellar month of reading in November (or December), but then again, I published my fourth novel, so cut me some slack! Here are the books I actually finished in 2013 (I started plenty more – some I couldn’t finish and some I’m still reading):

BLOGAmy

  1. Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb. 1/3/2013.
  2. I Heart Ed Small by Shirley Johnson. 1/4/2013.
  3. Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt. 1/19/2013.
  4. The Fall of the Misanthrope by Louise Wise. 2/3/2013.
  5. The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything by Francine LaSala. 2/13/2013.
  6. Christmas in Wine Country by Addison Westlake. 2/16/2013.
  7. Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown. 2/23/2013.
  8. Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. 2/23/2013.
  9. The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood. 2/27/2013.
  10. A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr. 3/3/2013.
  11. Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer. 3/18/2013.
  12. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. 3/18/2013.
  13. In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister. 3/27/2013.
  14. Social Insecurity by Kate Eileen Shannon. 4/6/2013.
  15. Way Out West by Blanche Marriott. 4/13/2013.
  16. Viewer Discretion Advised by Cindy Roesel. 4/14/2013.
  17. Maid for Love by Marie Force. 4/19/2013.
  18. Daydreamer by Brea Brown. 4/23/2013.
  19. Is This All There Is? by Patricia Mann. 4/27/2013.
  20. Wild for You by Sophia Knightly. 4/28/2013.
  21. Eyes of the Many by Kelly Graham. 5/3/2013.
  22. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. 5/7/2013.
  23. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin. 5/11/2013.
  24. Rita Hayworth’s Shoes by Francine LaSala. 5/20/2013.
  25. Fatty Patty by Kathleen Irene Paterka. 5/27/2013.
  26. The Secret Keeper (#1) by Brea Brown. 5/27/2013.
  27. The Karmic Connection by Libby Mercer. 5/31/2013.
  28. When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 6/2/2013.
  29. Midnight Train to Paris by Juliette Sobanet. 6/18/2013.
  30. The Gatsby Game by Anne R. Allen. 6/22/2013.
  31. Saving Saffron Sweeting by Pauline Wiles. 7/6/2013.
  32. The Sunset Witness by Gayle Hayes. 7/16/2013.
  33. The Secret Keeper Confined (#2) by Brea Brown. 7/20/2013.
  34. Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. 7/30/2013.
  35. The Secret Keeper Up All Night (#3) by Brea Brown. 8/9/2013.
  36. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. 8/15/2013.
  37. Where We Belong by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 9/8/2013.
  38. The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi. 9/12/2013.
  39. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 9/13/2013.
  40. Thin Rich Bitches by Janet Eve Josselyn. 9/14/2013.
  41. Men in my Town by Keith Smith. 9/16/2013.
  42. Chasing Memories by Tia Silverthorne Bach. 9/27/2013.
  43. Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 10/3/2013.
  44. For I Have Sinned by Kathleen Irene Paterka. 10/8/2013.
  45. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband by KC Wilder. 10/20/2013.
  46. Oxygen by Carol Cassella. 10/25/2013.
  47. Merry Chick Lit by various authors. 11/24/2013.
  48. Merry & Bright by various authors. 11/24/2013.

BLOGCatherine

My favorites from this list? In no particular order, the books that affected me most this year were:

BLOGLamb

BLOGSaffron

I don’t usually jump on the NYT best-seller bandwagon. In fact, I’d rather support indie authors, being one myself. Many of the books listed above are indie-published, and well worth your time. Read the blurb, check out some of the reviews, and find yourself some good books!

BLOGLight

Selling Your Books (Indie)


Are you an author/publisher? I am. I’ve written and published four novels, three of them in a trilogy. And while online sales have been steady, I’ve wanted to get my printed books into bookstores, especially indie bookstores. After all, we’re both independent, shouldn’t we work together?

Ah, but it’s not that easy. Bookstores are wary (perhaps rightfully so) to take on self-published books, for different reasons. Perhaps they once featured a local author prominently, whose books turned out to be poorly written and unedited. Not good. Perhaps they dislike Amazon so much that they’re unwilling to take on any writer who sells exclusively through Amazon. I think that was the case for me with one indie bookseller. But it’s too bad, because I love indie bookstores! And I write good books. And I have a pretty good network of readers, contacts, friends, and colleagues who could help draw business to that bookstore. But it does no good to whine about it.

Instead, I’m….(hold on, I hate this expression but I’m going to use it anyway)….thinking outside the box. If the bookstores don’t want you, where else would your books be noticed? For me right now, it’s at Jennifer’s Chocolates, a fabulous shop in the Wakefield Mall in beautiful Wakefield, Rhode Island. Making artisanal chocolates for over 15 years, Jennifer’s Chocolates infuses both flavor and technique into every bite. All of their chocolates are handcrafted in small batches using blends of the highest quality imported and domestic chocolate.

at Jennifer's Chocolates
at Jennifer’s Chocolates

How great is this?! They also sell single copies of each of my three books in the series (Bits of Broken Glass didn’t seem like such a good fit). Even if you’ve already devoured the books, stop in for a sweet or two (recommending the dark chocolate peppermint bark!).

On Thursday, December 19th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, I’ll be participating in “Discover a Local Author” night at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in the lovely town of Harrisville, RI. It’s an opportunity to meet other authors and readers, and I’ll have my books available for purchase. If you’re in the area, please stop by!

Jesse M. Smith Library www.jmslibrary.org
Jesse M. Smith Library
http://www.jmslibrary.org

So, what creative ways can you think of to sell your books? How will you stand out?

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me


purple

Yesterday I was asked, by a friend on Facebook, to list 10 books that really moved me. My first thought was, ‘Only 10?’ But the idea was not to overthink it, just to come up with a list of books that really made an impact. Don’t think too long about it. So I did. Here is my list:

  • The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Jody and Flag – do you remember? It was the first book that made me sob uncontrollably.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’ve read it at least a dozen times. Each time it’s better. Harper Lee only wrote this one book, but wow. Just wow.
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I saw the movie before I read the book. The movie, starring Whoopi Goldberg, was mesmerizing. The book, inspirational.
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. Published in 2009, this is the most recent book of the ten. I read it just last year, and was moved beyond words. Lamb taught me, as a writer, about the delicate balance between hope and despair.
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Published in 1977, I read this book in 1978, while a student abroad in Switzerland. It’s possible that every one of my classmates read the book as well, since none of us had much money, so books were passed around and shared.
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. A young writer in Paris? Well, of course it resounded with me! Paris in the 20s, beauty and innocence, and Hemingway’s style.
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. If I needed a dose of reality after the previous book, Orwell provided it. I read this one while in Europe, too, and even though I was there decades later, in totally different circumstances, Orwell’s novel of poverty and society stayed with me.
  • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Another instance where I saw the movie before reading the book. The movie remains one of my favorites, and the book, in Forster’s gentle writing, is lovely. I wanted to be Lucy Honeychurch!
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Required reading in high school and again in college. Decadence, excess, hypocrisy, all wrapped together in Fitzgerald’s beautiful writing.
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I don’t think I read this book until I was in my 20s. A gripping narrative about a quadruple murder in Kansas in 1959 still sends shivers down my spine.

What about you? What book or books have really stayed with you? Inspired you? Given you nightmares? 😉

Orwell

The Prolific Writer


MRBC.Amazon

pro·lif·ic

adjective \prə-ˈli-fik\

: producing a large amount of something

Apparently that defines me as an author. Since August 2012, I have published four books. Four! In sixteen months. Recently, I watched this interview Charlie Rose did with author Donna Tartt. She just released The Goldfinch, about 10 years after her last book. One book in 10 years! She says she’s tried to write faster, but doesn’t enjoy it.

I can’t even imagine taking 10 years to write a book. Then again, I wasn’t writing when I was in my 20s (or 30s, or…). When I started writing two years ago, I was already past the midpoint of my existence, and still had a lot of stories to tell. So, yes, I write fast. I slow down to edit. But this is what I do (I’m sure Ms. Tartt isn’t waiting tables on the side, but she must subsist on something other than what I imagine is a pretty good advance). This is my full-time job. So I think I’m producing what I should be producing.

Chocolate Fondue was written in November 2012 during NaNoWriMo, and edited in the months after that. Bits of Broken Glass was written from March through June of this year, and edited for three months before its publication in September. Bittersweet Chocolate, the new book, was written during Camp Nano (which is National Novel Writing Month in July) and edited this fall.

I do understand authors who take more time to write. Mostly, they have a lot of other balls to juggle: parenting, working, traveling. Life is complicated! Author Adriana Trigiani (can’t wait to meet her tomorrow!) has written 13 books, and I think her first one came out in 2001.  Author Ann Hood had her first book published 25 years ago, and has about 20 books in print. She has stated that it takes a year or two for her to complete a book, and I understand, because she travels and teaches and parents. Author James Patterson has written a ton of books (click on his name to see). He’s written 95 novels since 1976 – that’s prolific!

Self(less) Publishing


www.pw.org
http://www.pw.org

Today is a better day than yesterday. Yesterday, I read a post from a writer who claimed, “I can’t believe it. TWO DAYS and I can finally say I’m a real published author!” She said this because, after self-publishing her début novel, she had connected with a self-described “team publishing platform and a social marketing engine for books.” She’s ecstatically happy about it, and good for her. Each author should publish her books the way she wants.

The problem I had with that statement, though, and previous statements made by the writer, is the implication that a self-published author is less than one who is traditionally published. I commented on that post, and the writer attempted to backpedal, posting “I think you’re a real writer if you write and you’re a real author if you finish a book, but a published author is someone who’s been published by someone else. So, I was a real author before, but not a published author because I didn’t have a publisher. It doesn’t mean my work is any better or worse.”

wool

Ha! Okay, whatever. Hugh Howey, Jasinda Wilder, and Catherine Ryan Hyde might disagree. I disagree. I am both an author and a publisher, and very real at that. I publish my own books, so how can I not be a published author? I’ve established tremendous relationships and friendships with self-published authors online – I wouldn’t think of even one of them as anything other than a (real) published author.

So this morning I headed over to my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. It’s minutes away from home and a nice place to visit before the frenzy of Christmas shopping turns it into a circus. I bought a small non-fat salted caramel mocha (no whip) and a copy of the current issue of Poets & Writers magazine. What a great issue! There’s a big section about self-publishing in the current issue – well worth a read. Here’s some of what I took away:

“Both traditionally published and self-published books can be amazing, good, or just plain bad. So it’s an author’s job to do his best to be in the amazing category and blow readers away.” (Jennifer Ciotta, author of I, Putin)

“The bitter reality is that this is a ludicrous way to make money. No creative endeavor – actor, rock star, dancing, etc. – is a plausible way to make money…So if you’re doing it for the money, you’re on a pathway to bitterness. Do it because you love it, you love the process, you love the engagement, you love getting better at what you do.” (Richard Nash, founder of Cursor and publisher of Red Lemonade)

And relating to the term “self-publishing,” as if it existed in contradistinction to “selfless-publishing,” Nash says, “I do hope we abandon the term quickly, so we can proceed to helping individual writers realize their goals, matching their skills with peers and intermediaries without regard for how closely they mimic what was once called traditional publishing. We’re all publishers now. That’s both a desire and a prediction.” [my bold]

Bravo!