Women’s Fiction

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

HANNAH’S LIST, Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber’s Latest…

HANNAH’S LIST

HannahCoverSmall

Enter to Win:

  • One (1) Grand Prize winner will win $50 VISA gift card to enjoy additional titles by Debbie Macomber and a copy of HANNAH’S LIST
  • Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of HANNAH’S LIST!
  • Just Leave a Comment Below by midnight May 11th; US & Canada Residents Only (Sorry, no PO Boxes)

A grieving widower receives an unexpected gift of love from his late wife on the anniversary of her death in HANNAH’S LIST, the emotionally powerful new novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.  Connected to her bestselling Blossom Street books (SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET, TWENTY WISHES, BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET, SUSANNAH’S GARDEN, A GOOD YARN and THE SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET) this story continues her moving exploration of the complex relationships among family and friends.

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?

The Little Death, P.J. Parrish

Little Death

P.J. Parrish, New York Times bestselling author of South of Hell and A Thousand Bones, has returned to heat up February with a sizzling page-turner, THE LITTLE DEATH (Pocket Books; February 16th, 2010; $7.99), starring detective Louise Kincaid.

Most people would kill to live in glamorous Palm Beach, with its beautiful women, five-star resorts, and dazzling coast.  But most people don’t know what really goes on in the bedrooms of the rich and famous…Mark Durand did—and now the handsome high-class “walker,” who escorted the wealthiest women to posh affairs, is dead, his beheaded corpse found in an abandoned cattle pen.

South Florida detective Louis Kincaid feels out of his element in Palm Beach, especially after receiving a ticket for driving an ugly car.  But plunged into the gruesome homicide case, he’s agreed to help prime suspect Reggie Kent, an aging male walker who may or may not have been the victim’s lover.  And as his investigation snakes through the privileged class, Kincaid uncovers shocking truths about a powerful lady senator whose husband collects dangerous weaponry…

The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, Kris Radish

Radish book

Just after midnight in a small town in Wisconsin, eight women begin walking together down a rural highway. Career women, housewives, mothers, divorcées, and one ex-prom queen, they are close friends who have been meeting every Thursday night for years, sharing food, wine, and their deepest secrets. But on this particular Thursday, Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne, and Janice decide to disappear from their own lives.

Their spontaneous pilgrimage attracts national attention and inspires other women from all across the country. As the miles fall away and the women forge ahead on their backroads odyssey — leaving small miracles in their wake–each of their histories unfolds, tales of shattered dreams and unexpected renewal, of thwarted love affairs and precious second chances. In luminous, heartwarming prose, Kris Radish deftly interweaves the women’s intimate confessions into the story of their brave, history-making walk.

Carrie’s Conversation with Kris Radish

Carrie:  What inspired you to write THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS?
Kris:  I was a full-time journalist and had written two non-fiction books.
It was time.  I had worlds of experience inside of me from my life’s work and wanted a story that was passionate, inspiring, and very real. So I asked the universe to bring me a story.  And BAM! I was reading the newspaper and there was a story about a group of women who were inspired one night to go on a walking pilgrimage.  The story I wrote absolutely flew into my heart.

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?
Kris:
It depends.  Usually the idea drops inside of me like a hot brick and I run screaming into my office.  I’m serious! (Well, not always!)  Then it fans out from there and once the main character has a face and voice….there is no stopping me.  Really good red wine helps also!!

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot without giving too much away?
Kris:
A group of women, all friends, all different, meet weekly to talk and share lives—each one harboring a secret, loss, love, desire, ache. When one woman shares a very serious secret the women spontaneously decide to walk out of their lives and when they do that – walking, sharing, touching other lives – miracles abound.  It is a story of friendship, love, loss, and finally liberation.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS?

The Piano Teacher, Janice Y. K. Lee

The Piano Teacher

by Janice Y. K. Lee

Piano

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair, only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanor hides a devastating past. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges—between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and, above all, the past.

Carrie’s Conversation with Janice:

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?

Janice: Percolation is definitely my process.  Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting for the story to rise up from the depths of my subconscious.  It can be very frustrating because I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can do to hurry the process along, that I’m not the driver of the process—that it is my subconscious.  I hear of writers who have their books mapped out before they start writing, and I cannot imagine being able to do that.  I wish I could.  It would make my life a lot easier. So I wait, and when something comes along, a sentence, an image, a particular word, and it resonates with me, I know that it has come to drive the story forward.  In this way, I accumulate the story.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.

Janice: The Piano Teacher is a historical novel set in WWII Hong Kong about an Englishman and the affairs he has with two very different women before and after the war.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?

Janice: I don’t write with a message in mind, when I’m in process but, upon reflection (and having been asked this question many times), I think that the book might make you think about the decisions one makes in excruciating times and how those decisions may come to define you in a way that is not at all characteristic with who one is in more normal times.

Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Nanny Returns
Just as fresh, biting, and funny as The Nanny Diaries, but with the extra heart and wisdom of a few years’ experience, NANNY RETURNS brings both heroine and readers back to the exotic world of the Upper East Side—a community where appearances are everything, friendships can dissolve with the disappearance of a bank account, and children are often the casualties in the war between wealth and family.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write this book?
Emma & Nicola:
For years readers would ask us what happened to the characters from our first novel, but we had kind of drawn a hazy veil over them in our minds. We pictured a vague happy sunset for Nan, but didn’t let ourselves think about the little boy, Grayer, too much because we weren’t optimistic about his chances.  Then last Spring we had a series of A-ha moments back-to-back and before we knew it a story had unspooled before us.  We were inspired by articles we read about New York City private schools being taken over by parents who wanted to buy their children a world without consequences.  Then we read about the Astor trial and something about a son turning his father in for embezzling from his mother really struck us.  Of course the Madoff story was rife with gripping family dynamics, from the sons turning in their father to the father/son accounting firm that had enabled the fraud in the first place.  It all got our minds churning about pulling back to look at the larger societal impact of the Upper East Side community we satirized in the first book.

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?
Emma & Nicola:
We have lunch together every day before we start working and we chew over the topics of the day, paying special attention to angles of stories that aren’t being addressed. For example in 2000 we were obsessed that endless stories were running in New York City media about how hard it was for the newly rich to find decent household help, but the help was never interviewed.  So if there’s a side of the story that is being underserved we’ll puzzle over that.  Then we have a-ha moments when one of us will crystallize one of these topics we’ve been mulling over into a fictional story.  Then Nicki gets teary and the hair on Emma’s neck stands on end and we know we’ve found our next book.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Emma & Nicola:
In Nanny Returns we are revisiting ALL the characters from the Diaries twelve years later and re-embroiling Nan back in the lives of the Xes.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Emma & Nicola:
Money can’t buy it.

Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Win a Words To Mouth QUICKIE!!

Lovelybonescastingwahlberg

Enter to Win a FREE Copy of Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES (Soon to be a major motion picture)

  • Before Halloween Eve (10/31st) at MIDNIGHT (EDT)
  • Leave a thoughtful comment below
  • No P.O. Boxes Please & U.S. and Canadian residents only

From Hachette’s Website:
Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book — a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.

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)

  • Subscribe

    Subscribe in iTunes

    Podacast RSS Feed

  • About WordstoMouth

    Carrie created Words-to-Mouth—a blog & companion Internet talk show introducing new book releases and their authors to a community interested in excellent writing that may not  necessarily top the New York Times Bestseller List—Yet! To learn more about Carrie, click here