Literature/Novel

THE OTHER LIFE, Ellen Meister

Other Life

A Conversation With
ELLEN MEISTER
Author of
THE OTHER LIFE

Carrie:  After The Smart One and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, THE OTHER LIFE is a real departure for you.  What inspired it?

Ellen: I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of escape. I guess that’s part of the job description for a fiction writer. I was thinking about that one day after my husband left for work and the children left for school. There I was, all by myself, waiting impatiently for my computer to boot up so I could lose myself in the world I had created, when I began to wonder what might happen if a wife and mother could use those magical hours alone to escape in a more literal sense. At once, I had the image of a portal right smack in the middle of the most domestic setting…an opening that would let the woman cross over to the life she would have had if she had chosen a very different path. The more I thought about this idea, the more excited I got. As details about my main character and her two lives emerged, a story began to form. But it wasn’t until it occurred to me that my protagonist’s mother was dead in one life and alive in the other that I knew I had a book.

Carrie:  THE OTHER LIFE is about returning to the road not taken and exploring the life unlived.  Have you ever longed to see what happened on the other road?

Ellen: Haven’t we all? I think that’s human nature, especially in times of extreme stress. We play the “if only” game, imagining what might have been. What if I hadn’t gotten married? What if we hadn’t bought this house? What if we never had a child? What if I had been there to prevent that accident/suicide/awful mistake? Of course, it’s easy to condemn this line of thinking as counterproductive, but I believe it’s a coping mechanism. There’s only so much grief and anxiety our minds can hold before we need a mental vacation.

Carrie:  In this story Nan makes the ultimate sacrifice for a child, in this case her daughter, Quinn, and her grandchildren.  Do you think that kind of love is instinctual or learned?

Ellen: I think we’re hardwired to make sacrifices for our children. It’s the basest human instinct, and it gets switched on like a spotlight when we have our first child. I guess scientists can explain the chemistry of it, but from a personal perspective, falling in love with my first child was the most dramatically transformative moment of my life. I was flooded with something that seemed to alter my DNA, restructuring every cell. I was no longer just Ellen, I was Max’s mom, and I knew from that moment on every decision I made in life would be informed by that simple fact.

Carrie:  With Nan and Quinn, you brilliantly capture the mother-daughter relationship and the bond that hovers between boundless love and bruising tension.  Did you draw from personal experience?

Ellen: Thanks for that compliment! I can honestly say that my own even-tempered mother is nothing like Nan, but I’ve always been fascinated by the wrenching emotional turmoil of family relationships. I’m not sure there’s anything more interesting—or more human—than the ways in which we are tested by love.

Carrie:  As her daughter straddles parallel universes, Nan wonders whether having an escape route will help Quinn manage life’s difficulties with more grace, or instead taunt her with a decision no one should ever have to make.  Is it a blessing or a curse…or something else? Ellen Meister

Ellen: I love this question, because I think it gets to the heart of the book, and I hope readers will explore this issue themselves. What if their life included a portal to what might have been? Would they welcome the possibility to cross from one life to another? Or do they think they would be tortured by the endlessness of the choices they could make?Ellen Meister

Carrie:  In musing about her mother, Quinn observes: “Sometimes we don’t just simply grow and change.  Sometimes life is so harsh and so dark, a part of us gets excised completely, leaving us permanently altered.” It happened to Nan, but what is it about Quinn that keeps her from the same fate?

Ellen: Quinn lives very much outside of herself. She’s introspective, sure, but she’s a giver and feels like her place in the world (or, in her case, worlds) is to take care of others. She’s so acutely aware of being needed that it’s very nearly impossible for her to make the kind of choice her mother did in her darkest hour. To Quinn, suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Carrie:  THE OTHER LIFE probes the choices we make in life.  Do you think there’s a way to avoid the second-guessing that often accompanies them?

Ellen: No, and I don’t think we should. That constant reexamination of our motives and choices is how we learn and grow. It’s like what Socrates said about the unexamined life.

Carrie:  Grief comes in many forms in this novel.  Are there lessons here for those stuck in grief?

Ellen: Grief is such a bear and so very personal. So I don’t know if there are any lessons here, but perhaps some comfort in taking the journey with someone finding her way through it.

Carrie:  THE OTHER LIFE has been called “the thinking woman’s beach read” (NY Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson), making it perfect for a book club selection.  What feedback do you get from book clubs?

Ellen: From my experience, book clubs enjoy novels with fresh writing, complex characters and enough emotional resonance to leave readers with questions that feel very personal. Naturally, I hope THE OTHER LIFE is all those things … and I’m thrilled that the early feedback I’m getting from beta readers suggests that it is!

Carrie:  What genres (or authors) do you like to read?  Why?

Ellen: I don’t limit myself to any particular genre, but I’m definitely drawn to character-driven stories that take a hard look at human relationships. So a survey of my book shelf would probably reveal more literary and women’s fiction than anything else.

Carrie:  Modern women yearn for balance between work and family.  As a writer and mother of three, do you have any advice for them?

Ellen: For me, it’s a matter of priorities that boils down to a simple equation:  Family = first; Work = second; Housework = dead last.

Click HERE to listen to Ellen’s NPR interview

  • To enter to win a free copy of THE OTHER LIFE:
    Leave a Comment below about the “other life” you’ve always wondered about
    U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
    Deadline: May 15th, 2011 ~ Midnight, EST

SEA ESCAPE, Lynne Griffin

SEA ESCAPE

Carrie’s Conversation with Lynne Griffin, Author of SEA ESCAPE

Carrie:  Without giving too much away, give us an idea about what SEA ESCAPE is about.

Lynne: SEA ESCAPE is a story inspired by my parents love letters; it’s about the ties that bind mothers and daughters. Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to Henry and Claire, when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in when her carefully crafted life unraveled years ago, after the death of her beloved husband. Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother–a woman who once spoke the language of fabric; of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage–but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, each letter revealing patchwork details of her parents’ marriage, she finds a common thread. A secret, mother and daughter unknowingly share.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write SEA ESCAPE?

Lynne: After my own mother passed away in 2000, I found love letters written to her by my father.  As I read,  I went so far as to imagine excerpts of my father’s beautiful writing shining within a novel I might someday write.  In those musings, SEA ESCAPE was born. The letters were then and are now a treasure. The love captured within, pure and sincere.  Yet to my storyteller’s heart, reading them then, I couldn’t help but think–not enough conflict, no secrets, no dramatic reveal. Certainly I didn’t want those things to come by way of my parents, but  right then I started imagining a different story belong to a different daughter. That story is SEA ESCAPE.

Carrie:  Is there an underlying theme of SEA ESCAPE?

Lynne: I’ve been a family life expert for more than twenty years, and there’s so much about my work counseling parents, observing children, and teaching educators about families that I use in writing fiction.  My desire to capture family life in authentic ways feeds the themes of all my novels.  There’s no shortage of seeds from my work that I use to inform my writing. Anton Chekhov called them little particulars. Right there in my everyday life are organic details that give genuineness to the stories I create. I’ve had my own grief work to do over the years; I lost my father when I was fifteen and my mother when I was forty.  As a professional who’s taught classes and counseled parents and children about healthy grieving, I’ve always been struck by the choices people make related to the loss of a loved one—the healthy and unhealthy ways grief work gets done.  So I write about the choices people make when faced with unbelievable pain. What really holds a marriage together when it’s tested. I examine the impact of loss on all kinds of relationships—mother, brother, sister, daughter, friend.  If they start off strong—or don’t—what happens? Why do some people thrive after a loss, finding true purpose, while others don’t come out of it stronger?

Carrie:  Which character do you identify with the most in SEA ESCAPE? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in SEA ESCAPE? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?

Lynne: I truly care about all my characters—in all their shades of humanity—yet the one I love the most is Helen.  Like my own mother did, Helen struggles with what’s called prolonged grief disorder, a specific kind of depression brought on by loss.  For some, grief refuses to follow the typical trajectory toward healing.  In my years as a grief counselor, I’ve met countless people who simply can not move through the grieving process.   I empathize with Helen, stuck in the past, gripped by the pain of loss.  I have enormous compassion for her because of what my mother experienced after the death of my father.  For this reason, SEA ESCAPE is a deeply personal and emotional novel for me.  Helen is a character I will be forever connected to.

Carrie:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about writing fiction?

Lynne: Close the door on the marketplace while you write. Writing to trends–trying to guess what readers want–isn’t for me. I feel an obligation to write for the story, to let the characters tell me about their lives. I believe if my story and characters are authentic, the novel will find its audience.

Carrie:  Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—Outside of writing, what’s important to you?Lynne griffin

Lynne: I live in a seaside town much like Anaskaket depicted in SEA ESCAPE.  I’m married to the most supportive husband a woman could have, and we have two college age children; a daughter studying vocal performance and music education, and a son studying jazz piano and music sound recording.  My family provides me  my greatest joy in life—and there’s a lot of music in my life too.  My husband and children support, encourage, and ground me in unbelievable ways. I am very blessed.  If I’m not spending time with them, or writing, I’m reading. The to-be-read piles of books in my home are an embarrassment of riches.

Carrie:  What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?

Lynne: Everything I read influences my work.  If a novel isn’t working for me, I try to analyze from a craft perspective, why that’s the case. And if I love it, the same applies.  I want to know how and why it sings. There are so many novels on my keeper shelf, books I dip in to, to be inspired. Wally Lamb’s, The Hour I First Believed; Margot Livesey’s, Eva Moves the Furniture; Nicole Krauss’s, The History of Love.  I love everything by Ann Patchett, Sue Miller, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Novels I’ve recently read and adored include Day for Night by Frederick Reiken, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Just a Bit More About Lynne Griffin:

Lynne Griffin writes about family life. She is the author of, Sea Escape-A novel (Simon & Schuster, July 2010) Life Without Summer-A novel (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction parenting title, Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level and writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston.  She appears regularly on Boston’s Fox Morning News talking about family life issues.  Lynne writes for the blog, Family Life Stories.

**Click HERE to visit Lynne’s website

SEA ESCAPE Excerpt ~ Chapter 1

Letters are windows casting light, illuminating the ties between two people. I could’ve sneaked a peek inside my parents’ romance by reading his letters to her, but I respected my mother’s love of curtains. At forty-five, the details of their marriage remained a mystery to me; I had no desire to confirm what I already knew. Even dead, she loved him more than me. My mother spent her days drenched in memories of safe arms and sweet music, reading his precious words, faded ink on yellowed stationery. I looked for ghosts around corners, certain I was running out of time to find a way to be enough for her. An inability to live in the present was one thing we had in common.

“Are you okay in there, Mother?” Well aware she startled at loud noises, I knocked lightly on the door nearest the driveway. No answer. By the fourth rap, I couldn’t stop myself, I was pounding.

The first pinprick of worry jabbed me as I wondered if this was the day I’d find my mother dead in her double bed, cold, even though she was covered by her wedding quilt of interlocking green and pink floral circles. Juggling two grocery bags and reminding the kids to stop at the end of the boardwalk leading to Anaskaket Beach, I jiggled the lock, but she’d bolted and double-bolted the place as if Sea Escape sat on a main street in the city instead of on waterfront acreage south of Boston.

To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of SEA ESCAPE:

  • Leave a Comment Below ~ We’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories about your parents/family
  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
  • Deadline: August 1st, 2010 ~ Midnight, EST

SOMETIMES MINE, Martha Moody

Sometimes mineCarrie’s Conversation with Martha Moody

Carrie:  What inspired you to write SOMETIMES MINE?
Martha:
The germ of the story came from a book group discussion about my first novel, BEST FRIENDS.  Some women in the group were very distressed that the narrator, Clare, has an affair with her ex-husband.  There are a lot of bad things done by characters in that novel, and I was impressed at the particular anger Clare’s actions evoked.  I’m a physician, and I knew that two of my female patients were involved for years with married men.  I didn’t see these patients as evil, but as sad and isolated.  I thought, “Hmm, it would be a challenge to write about a mistress from her point of view.”

I also wanted to write about work.  Genie, the narrator of Sometimes Mine, is a cardiologist and her lover, Mick, is a college basketball coach.  Each of them is excellent at what they do, and each is defined and to some extent hidden by their role.  Their mutual appreciation of their distinctive work and talents helps bond them.  I’ve always liked this quote from the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer:  “With his work, as with a glove, a man feels the universe.”

The third impetus for the novel was a story my social work mother told me when I was a teenager, in the early 70’s.  One of her clients was a “maiden lady” who had lived all her life with another woman.  When the client’s friend got ill and then died, the client was treated by her friend’s family not as a spouse or grieving widow, but as a simple housemate.  This really magnified her loss.  That story haunted me for years as an example of the power of society’s norms.  In the book, when Mick moves into the realm of the sick, Genie has no defined role.

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you–Does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Martha:
I’m a slow perker.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot of SOMETIMES MINE without giving too much away.
Martha:
SOMETIMES MINE is the story of a long-term affair of a divorced female cardiologist, Genie Toledo, and a married college basketball coach, Mick Crabbe. It tells what happens when Mick gets seriously ill and Genie is forced to confront both Mick’s family and her own illusions.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from SOMETIMES MINE?
Martha:
SOMETIMES MINE is a love triangle between three very imperfect people.  You’d expect things to turn out badly, but in an odd way each person becomes heroic.  I’d like to think of the novel as a plea for accepting the complexity of people’s feelings and lives, and the surprising connections through which a person can gain strength.

Carrie:  What is your favorite scene in SOMETIMES MINE? Why?

THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS, Michele Young-Stone

HandbookLitngStkSurv

A Chat with Author, Michele Young-Stone

Carrie:  What inspired you to write THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS?
Michele:
I set out to write a novel about a girl’s affection toward an unresponsive dad—and the consequences of that relationship.  But, a fellow writer reminded me that there were a million books just like that.  He asked, “What will set your book apart from the pack?”  It hit me:  When I was eleven, I was struck by lightning.  I’ve always liked magical realism, especially when it’s grounded more so in the realism—when we’re reminded that not everything can be explained by science, so I thought, “This is my hook.”  The lightning makes the main character think that she has magical powers.  What little girl doesn’t naturally think she possesses some degree of magic—with our without lightning?

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ Does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Michele:
Actually, my novel ideas start with a scene either observed or imagined, like a girl holding onto homemade wings, climbing onto a bus (from my most recent work-in-progress).  From there, the characters take over and I allow the story to unfold. Sometimes it’s a mad rush where I’ve been known to write 1,000 pages to get to 100 pages.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot of THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS without giving too much away.
Michele:
Oh boy!  Two strangers, seemingly with nothing in common, are brought together by the electric force of lightning. Becca, brought up in academic affluence, and Buckley, brought up in poverty, are connected throughout their lives by the folks they meet and by this uncontrollable element—lightning—that causes him to write The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, a handbook Becca purchases.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS?
Michele:
Have hope.  Have faith.  No matter how bleak our circumstances, there is possibility.  There are things in life we can’t control, but we can control our response to those things.  No one has to go with the flow.  We can turn things around.

Carrie:  What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Michele:
There were multiple scenes that were difficult to write, but ultimately, it was the final scene because it was pivotal to the book’s success, and more important than word choice and pacing (elements I struggled with in other difficult chapters), I wanted a “satisfying” ending, the right ending, and for the longest time, I wasn’t sure how the book should end.  I had to wait for the characters to tell me their thoughts.

Carrie:  Which character do you identify with the most in THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book?

How to Rule the World from Your Couch, Laura Day

HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH Laura Day

COUCH

In her new book, HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH, Laura Day teaches you or your company how to create success in any area by using your brain in unique and compel-ling ways so that your innate intuition can propel you ahead to successful solutions. Laura’s work has helped demystify intuition and demonstrate its practical, verifiable uses in the fields of business, science, medicine, and personal growth.  Her list of clients and students includes doctors, financial investors, scientists, engineers, and celebrities.  Day has shown that 98% of success is planning and that you, therefore, have the power to transform your life.

Carrie’s Chat with Laura

Carrie:  What inspired you to write HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH?
Laura: Intuition is non-linear, out-of-the-blue, accurate insight. It has given me the means to have a successful life or save my hide, in my particularly self destructive phases, a thousand times. It is an ability that everyone has and accessing it can be taught easily. My students have been begging me for years to write a linear guide to the various intuitive abilities. I compromised. The beginning of every chapter gives the reader/student the true intuitive experience and then I make the text linear for the rest of the chapter. I also wanted a book that teachers, company’s and institutions could apply to their goals and projects without me. Here it is.

What are you reading right now? Hachette has your next book!

If you’re searching for the next best book, why not enter to win FOUR?!

Our friends at Hachette Book Group are offering the following four books. Enter to win, simply by leaving a comment below sharing your favorite book of all time, why it’s your favorite, and how it touched your life. We want to hear from you!

  1. How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace By Jordan Christy
  2. The Love Revolution By Joyce Meyer
  3. Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living By James Brown , Nathan Whitaker , Tony Dungy
  4. Loved: Stories of Forgiveness By Rebecca St. James

Contest Guidelines:

  • Deadline-October15th, 2009, midnight, EDT
  • Canada & US Residents Only: No P.O. Boxes please
  • Make sure you’re subscribed to the Words To Mouth newsletter to receive winner announcement (not posted on website)

EASY ON THE EYES, Jane Porter

Listen NowTo enter to win a FREE copy of EASY ON THE EYES:

EASY

Easy on the Eyes (from Jane’s Website)
At 38, Tiana Tomlinson has made it. America adores her as one of the anchors of America Tonight, a top-rated nightly entertainment and news program. But even with the trappings that come with her elite lifestyle, she feels empty. Tiana desperately misses her late husband Keith, who died several years before. And in a business that thrives on youth, Tiana is getting the message that her age is starting to show and certain measures must be taken if she wants to remain in the spotlight. It doesn’t help that at every turn she has to deal with her adversary—the devilishly handsome, plastic surgeon to the stars, Michael O’Sullivan. But a trip away from the Hollywood madness has consequences that could affect the rest of her life.

About Jane (from Jane’s Website)
Born in Visalia, California, I’m a small town girl at heart. I love central California’s golden foothills, oak trees, and the miles of farmland. In my mind, there’s nothing sweeter in the world than the heady fragrance of orange blossoms on a sultry summer night. As a little girl I spent hours on my bed, staring out the window, dreaming of far off places, fearless knights, and happy-ever-after endings. In my imagination I was never the geeky bookworm with the thick coke-bottle glasses, but a princess, a magical fairy, a Joan-of-Arc crusader. My parents fed my imagination by taking our family to Europe for a year when I was thirteen. The year away changed me (I wasn’t a geek for once!) and overseas I discovered a huge and wonderful world with different cultures and customs. I loved everything about Europe, but felt especially passionate about Italy and those gorgeous Italian men (no wonder my very first Presents hero was Italian). I confess, after that incredible year in Europe, the travel bug bit, and bit hard. I spent much of my high school and college years abroad, studying in South Africa, Japan and Ireland. South Africa remains a country of my heart, the people, the land and politics complex and heart-wrenching. After my years of traveling and studying I had to settle down and earn a living. With my Bachelors degree from UCLA in American Studies, a program that combines American literature and American history, I’ve worked in sales and marketing, as well as a director of a non-profit foundation. Later I earned my Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and taught jr. high and high school English. I now live in rugged Seattle, Washington with my two young sons. I never mind a rainy day, either, because that’s when I sit at my desk and write stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most importantly of all, love. I like a story with a happy ending. We all do.

Book-Giveaway Contest Winners (June 30th Quick Picks)

Postpartum Depression DummiesMacMillan Contest 2AdversityPregnant on prozac

I know I usually list winners in the e-newsletter, but I won’t be putting out another one for a few weeks and I don’t want to make you wait for a good summer read.

  • The Adversity Paradox: Sharon Walling
  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies OR Pregnant on Prozac: Kristin
  • MacMillan Audio Books (Hope in a Jar, Come Sunday, Something Borrowed): Janet Faye, Mary Kay, and Rashmi (A Mommy Reviewer)

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS ~ Email me your mailing address immediately and I’ll make sure you get your books.

Postpartum Depression for Dummies & Pregnant on Prozac, by Dr. Shoshanna Bennett, Ph.D.

Listen NowPostpartum Depression DummiesPregnant on prozac

I interviewed Dr. Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D. longer ago than I’d like to admit. To be honest, I ran into some editing issues with the sound quality and some phone interference, so I put it on the back burner. After revisiting the interview and all the excellent info Dr. Shosh offers, I inquired some moms on their interest in the content. Many moms were interested in hearing about Postpartum Depression and the treatment. Though it’s still not perfect, I re-edited the file and finally posted it. It was a bit of a pain, but I really think the information Dr. Shosh offers is priceless. I realize it won’t be of interest to every Words To Mouth listener, but let’s face it, we’re all either parents at some time in our lives or know someone who is, so if you don’t listen, just be mindful of people around you who may find this interview useful. Be aware the sound levels were  a bit off, so you will hear some white noise and possibly a few phone key blurts–Hey, I tried.

Description on Postpartum for Dummies from Dummies Website:
It’s a great blessing when a new mom with postpartum depression (PPD) is fortunate enough to be diagnosed early by a knowledgeable medical practitioner or therapist. But without guidance, it isn’t always clear where the boundary between normal baby blues and PPD lies. As with any other illness, the quicker that PPD is identified and treated, the faster the woman will recover. Postpartum Depression For Dummies can help you begin the process of determining what’s going on with you and give you a better idea of where you fall so that you can get yourself into proper treatment right away. The book covers all aspects of PPD, from its history and its origins to its effects on women and their families to the wide variety of treatments available—including conventional Western medicine, psychological therapy, alternative medical treatments, and self-care measures.

Postpartum Depression For Dummies reveals:

  • Why some doctors may be hush-hush about PPD
  • How to distinguish between pregnancy hormone changes, “baby blues,” and PPD
  • The difficulties of getting a proper diagnosis
  • The role and importance of a therapist
  • The benefits of medication for depression
  • Alternative treatments with  a successful track record
  • How to find the right balance of psychological, medical, and alternative treatment
  • Ways you can help foster recovery
  • The nutrition you need to care for yourself properly
  • How to help your partner help you

Summer on Blossom Street, Under Her Skin, Flowers on Main (Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, Sherryl Woods)

THREE GREAT SPRING PICKS!!

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET (Debbie Macomber) When she opened her knitting store, A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street, cancer survivor Lydia Goetz couldn’t have imagined the ways in which it would alter her life.  A Good Yarn offered the recovered cancer patient her first real chance at life, and ultimately led to love and marriage.  Moreover, the knitting classes held at her shop have always seemed to work restorative magic on others, too.  So, after she notices that her friend Alix Turner is still smoking cigarettes, Lydia decides she’ll organize the “knit to quit” class. The skilled baker at Blossom Street’s popular French Café, Alix has been trying to give up smoking and is angry at herself for starting again.  She’s cut down to five cigarettes a day, but can’t seem to kick the habit altogether.  And she’ll have to if she wants to get pregnant, as she and her husband plan.  Deep inside, she knows her inability to stop smoking is an avoidance mechanism so she won’t have to confront her fears about motherhood.  And who can blame her?  After all, her own mother was a terrible parent with absolutely no maternal instincts.  What if Alix is a chip off the old block? Says Debbie, “Knitting can be a great way to keep yourself honest when giving up a habit you want to kick, cigarettes in particular.  It’s not easy to manipulate two needles and a bunch of yarn while smoking a cigarette.  It’s a real win-win to me.”  For More Click HERE

Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery

UNDER HER SKIN (Susan Mallery) The first novel in the author’s new Lone Star Sisters series, a brand-new family saga featuring three sisters from the wealthy, dysfunctional Titan family who face the challenges of finding their way in their chosen careers, dealing with their distant and powerful father and handling the romantic relationships that may mean future happiness – or disaster.  UNDER HER SKIN is Lexi’s story. Her day-spa business is doing well – until her secret investor decides to call his $2 million loan on three weeks’ notice.  Lexi’s only hope is the bad boy who dumped her years before after a one-night stand.  Now a successful businessman in the perfect position to help her out, his terms for repayment of the debt are not what Lexi expected.  To repay the debt, she’ll have to risk her heart one more time and she’s not sure she will come out unscathed. Phoebe Rylander isn’t trying to give up something, but rather someone—specifically, her ex-fiancé, Clark Snowden.  The first time Clark was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, Phoebe was devastated and brokenhearted but eventually forgave him when he swore it was a one-time mistake.  But now, after being picked up on the same charge again, she’s determined to make a clean break.  The problem is that Clark’s so persistent and she’s afraid her resolve might weaken.  After all, as disillusioned and humiliated as she may be, she still loves him.  She needs a distraction to keep her from taking him back. For More Click HERE

Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods

FLOWERS ON MAIN (Sherryl Woods) The second book in the trilogy that began with THE INN AT EAGLE POINT and continues in June with HARBOR LIGHTS. As a child, growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Sherry developed a strong love for the Chesapeake area.  As an adult, living in Colonial Beach, she continues to revere her home and the feeling comes through in the strong sense of place that imbues the books. The author’s concern for the environment and the protection of the Chesapeake Bay way of life are a continuing theme that underlies the warm and moving story of three women. The three O’Brien sisters have grown up in the beautiful, planned community of Chesapeake Shores, a fictitious town built by their father and uncles. FLOWERS ON MAIN is Bree’s story.  When her last two plays are dismal failures and her relationship with her temperamental mentor falls apart, the fledgling playwright abandons Chicago and the regional theater where she hoped to make a name for herself.  Back home, she opens a flower shop, Flowers on Main.  Engaged in a new occupation that allows her to utilize the skills learned from her grandmother, she is looking a new kind of fulfillment.  But all is not peaceful and serene in Chesapeake Shores, with Bree’s estranged mother on the scene and her ex-lover on the warpath. For More Click HERE

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