Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Conversation with Kristin Hannah and Giveaway

I am always delighted to sit down and discuss what is next for Kristin Hannah.  This week we are discussing the paperback release of Fly Away and a giveaway. 

When it was first published, you described Firefly Lane as the book that hit closest to home for you. What is it about the story of Kate and Tully that continues to be so meaningful to you?

Of all the books I’ve written, Firefly Lane has the most of me on every page. I grew up in the town where the novel is set; I lived in the house that was described. I was very much of that era. I went to the University of Washington, and got the same degree as Kate and Tully did. The world of Firefly Lane is very much my world. Also, I lost my own mom to breast cancer. That’s a very personal story that I wanted to tell. Writing Firefly Lane was my way of looking back on the loss of my mom and understand­ing it as a woman. Additionally, I wanted to give readers some information about what to look for with breast cancer that maybe they didn’t know. So the book has a really important and personal mes­sage for me, too.

You seem unafraid to make your characters suffer. Is that hard for you? Do you suffer along with them?

Actually, I love to put my characters in really difficult positions. In writing about women in the worst years in their lives, I allow my characters to really discover who they are at their core. I guess when it’s all said and done, I believe in the power of transformation. I believe that hard times both shape us and reveal us. It’s a stressful and dangerous world out there, and we women try to do so much. So much of fiction—and the nightly news—focuses on the negative situa­tions that exist around us. I guess it feels important to me to remind people that optimism matters and effort can be rewarded. We can survive really difficult times—and not just survive but ultimately triumph. My books tend to be about women coming into their own and triumphing and living their best lives.
Do you ever miss your characters after you’ve fin­ished writing about them?

It takes me between a year and two years to write a novel, with fourteen months being about average. Over the course of it, I do a lot of prep work—and a lot of drafts. So, by the time I get to the end of a novel, I really feel like I’ve created the best version of the story, and the best characters within that framework. Once I’ve done what I set out to do, I am ready to move on to something else. Firefly Lane is the one exception. That’s why it’s the only follow-up novel I’ve ever done. Because I did keep Tully and Cloud, in particular, in my head. And I really wanted to know what happened to them after the loss of Kate.

Is it hard for you when a character you’ve created dies?

It’s harder for me to write the emotional reaction scenes. In other words, it was harder to write about Kate’s death from Tully’s perspective or Marah’s than from Kate’s. Because, frankly, nobody ever accidental­ly dies in my books; I know from the beginning who’s going to live and who’s going to die. So I am guard­ing against that emotion. But I’m often surprised, after the book is done and I read it, that it can be really emotional for me—although it’s never the death than catches me off guard, it’s the little moments that get me. In Fly Away, it was Kate thinking about her sons—just sentences really, but they hit home.

Is there anything you’ve always wished a reader would ask you? What is that question—and how would you answer it?

Yes! I wish one reader one day would ask me to please write more slowly. Because what I get constantly is:” “Can’t you write any faster?”

Want to win a copy see the rafflecopter below.  US Residents only are eligible. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Celebrating A Hundred Summers at Fox Tale Book Shoppe with Beatriz Williams and Karen White

On a  sunny evening I visited the Fox Tale Book Shoppe to see author Beatriz Williams and Karen White.  Beatriz has been on Writer’s Corner twice before for both novels Overseas and A Hundred Summers.  She is currently on tour for the paperback release for A Hundred Summers.  Stay tuned to Writer’s Corner because you may see a special offer next month.

For those you who need a refresher here is a synopsis of  A Hundred Summers.  Meet Budgie who is known for getting what she wants whenever she wants it. Her gal pal Lily always accompanies but steps aside for her friend. The women travel in the fall of 1931 to see Nick Greenwald and his friend Graham Pendleton at a football game. Lily immediately falls for Nick while Budgie cautions her. On New Years Lily and Nick make a decision that could affect their future. What will happen to the both of them? How will things have changed in 1938?

For the writers out there the one concept that I found most interesting is the story lines.  One storyline takes place in 1938, and the other starts in 1915 and leads up to 1931.  The stories are intersected by a secret that turns into a mystery.  This all leads up to the great hurricane that hit the east coast in 1938.

Beatriz will also have a new hardback releasing in late May.  One of the characters is connected to several of the characters in A Hundred Summers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here is an excerpt from Susie Orman Schnall’s new novel On Grace. She is visiting Writer’s Corner.

On Grace by Susie Orman Schnall

Buy the book
·        Amazon Kindle:
·        Amazon paperback:

Chapter One

               I am not planning on waking up tomorrow and feeling completely different. But I’m certainly not planning to feel the same as I do today and every other day. Tomorrow when I wake up, brilliant sunlight streaming through my windows, I’ll feel as if nothing can go wrong. It will be a momentous day. Sure, momentous is a big word, usually saved for things like fiftieth wedding anniversaries and retirements that come with gold watches, but I’ve decided that I’m going to use that word and own it. Momentous. I like the way it sounds.
               Today is the last day before I start the rest of my life, because tomorrow is the first day that both of my boys will be in school all day, every day. It’s been eight years since I’ve had my days to myself all day, every day. Eight years since I’ve taken my own wants and needs and put them first. I’m not one of those coddling, helicopter moms, but even us good-enough moms can’t really put our own wants and needs first. At least not all day, every day.
               So as I prepare for momentous, I’m getting all the last-day-of-summer stuff out of the way. Today is haircuts, prepping backpacks, and the last day of collecting colorful summer bugs in glass jars. We’ll take one last carefree bike ride in flip-flops and celebrate with a final late-afternoon trip to Longford’s for ice cream where we’ll probably see lots of other moms who can’t wait for tomorrow and lots of other kids who can.
               But for now, the boys are out back playing baseball with some neighborhood friends, and I’m standing in front of the open fridge, trying to figure out what the hell to make for dinner. When my phone rings, I check the caller ID and answer excitedly.
“Hey, Cam!” I practically sing into the phone.
“Hey, Grace! How’s it going?”
“Going great. I really can’t wait for tomorrow. I know I’m going to feel so free, and joyful, and in control of my own life,” I say.
“Wow, that sounds promising! Good girl,” Cameron says enthusiastically.
“One more day and then I can start getting my life back in gear.”
“What exactly is out of gear?” Cameron asks.
“Well, my marriage, my stalled career, my lack of any sort of fitness, and other miscellaneous things,” I tell her. “Not necessarily, but possibly, in order of importance. I kind of have a little plan formulating in the back of my mind.”
“How much of this is because you’re freaked out about turning forty in a few months?” Cameron asks.
“I’ve told you, I’m not that freaked out about forty.”
“You know, Grace, you’re allowed to not be excited about it.”
“But I am excited. I see forty as more of an opportunity to regain control of my life. Sort of like New Year’s Eve. But with much less champagne.”
“Well, I’ll toast to that,” Cameron says. “And while we’re toasting . . . ,” she adds with an unmistakable lilt.
“What? No! What?”
“Seven and a half weeks officially today.”
“Oh, Cameron. Congratulations! And here I was rambling on and on about me, and you had such good news.”
“Grace, it’s fine. Really. I called as much to tell you about me as I did to find out how your day before the big day is going.”
“Well, I’m so happy for you.”
“I know. Sorry I didn’t tell you right away. But you know with my history and all, I just really wanted to make sure. And today is a day longer than I’ve ever been pregnant before. Not that I wouldn’t have told you if I had miscarried again. I just had some sort of weird superstition thing going on.”
“No need to apologize. I completely understand. But to make amends, will you meet me for dinner tonight for a proper celebration? Tengda at 7:30?” I ask.
“Don’t you have to be home with the boys tonight? Last day of summer and all?”
“I’m taking them on a long bike ride this afternoon so they’ll be tired. And they’ll think it’s more special anyway if Darren is in charge of bedtime. So Tengda?”
“Raw fish.”
“Right, raw fish. Méli-Mélo then?”
“It’s a date. And you can tell me more about your so-called plan,” Cameron says.
“I will. See you later. And Cam, I’m really so happy for you. Give my love to Jack.”
               And with that, I do a little jig for my best friend who has been trying to get pregnant for five years. I boot up my laptop to email Darren the good news and the heads-up that I’ll be going out tonight.
               As I wash the lunch dishes, I think about the part-time job I’m starting on Monday. I’m going to be the new “Family Life” columnist for the Westchester Weekly, our county’s glossy and hip-enough attempt at New York magazine. Each week, I’ll file a 500-word article on something new and noteworthy in the county that’s perfect for families, and I can’t wait to start. It’s nowhere near my old salary, but it’s something. Plus, this job is more about the opportunity to rediscover the woman who’s been deeply buried under the labels of “wife” and “mother” for the past eight years.
               I met the Weekly’s owner/publisher, Matthew O’Donnell, in June at a friend’s beach club. He and his wife, Monique, had just moved to our neighborhood in Rye (a leafy suburb of New York City where you would be confident no one would steal your car while you leave it running to dart into the post office, but you never would leave it running because people would be all over you about the toxic fumes released from idling). When I told him I had been an editor at two different fitness magazines before I had my kids (when I was still, well, fit), he asked about my writing and why I wasn’t still working.
               I wasn’t sure what was the more pleasant surprise: the fact that I was actually having a meaningful conversation with a man other than my husband (something that doesn’t usually happen at these beach club gatherings where the men all gather around the bar to discuss the double S’s—sports and stocks—and the women hover nearby in their strappy summer wedges to discuss the double N’s—nannies and nips and tucks) or that I might have a connection at a publication I’d love to write for. And he was right, why wasn’t I still working? Well, I had two really adorable answers, but they were starting school in a couple months.
               So, I told him, “I put my career on hold, because I wanted to be home with my kids. But they’ll both be in school full time this fall, and I’ll be ready to focus on my work again.”
               “Grace has done an amazing job with the boys,” Darren said to Matthew. “They’re lucky she chose them over her career, but she’s not one of those women who is going to be happy playing tennis every day while they’re in school. She needs more than that.”
               I looked at Darren and smiled, feeling so fortunate that he was so supportive. We had talked that afternoon about how I was feeling apprehensive about getting a job. How I worried I would feel overwhelmed managing both a job and my family. I knew I would be no good at all that Superwoman stuff. But I also knew that I ached to be creative again. To use my brain for more than just organizing soccer practice carpool schedules and finding innovative ways to sneak green leafy vegetables into mini meat loaves.
               Matthew and I talked for a while, and I told him I thought the magazine could use a section dedicated to things families could do together, besides just the events listings in the back. When he agreed with me and said that was something his editorial department had been considering, I boldly—with a little help from my Riesling—suggested that maybe I could be the one to write it. A few phone calls, emailed clips, meetings with the editor, and trial columns later, and I was hired as the “Family Life” columnist for the Westchester Weekly.
               I hear my cell phone ring so I wipe my hands on a dish towel and rush to find my phone in my disorganized purse. I find it just as the call is about to go to voicemail, notice it’s an unknown caller, and quickly touch the screen to answer.
               “Hello?” I say, completely unprepared for what’s about to come