My Next Book!

I’m so excited to share the cover for my next book, SWIMMING FOR SUNLIGHT, out in April from Touchstone Books! These characters are so near and dear to my heart and I can’t wait for you to meet them.

Here’s a description: 

Aspiring costume designer Katie gave up everything in her divorce to gain custody of her fearful, faithful rescue dog, Barkimedes. While she figures out what to do next, she heads back to Florida to live with her grandmother, Nan.

But Katie quickly learns there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Nan—like the fact that in her youth Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside attraction show, swimming and dancing underwater with a close-knit cast of talented women. Although most of the mermaids have since lost touch, Katie helps Nan search for her old friends on Facebook, sparking hopes for a reunion show. Katie is up for making some fabulous costumes, but first, she has to contend with her crippling fear of water.

As Katie’s college love Luca, a documentary filmmaker, enters the fray, Katie struggles to balance her hopes with her anxiety and begins to realize just how much Bark’s fears are connected to her own, in this thoughtful, charming novel about hope after loss and friendships that span generations.

Add on Goodreads!

Instantly French!

Are you an Instant Pot devotee too? I had the pleasure of testing the vegetable recipes* from Ann Mah’s new cookbook, INSTANTLY FRENCH. Not only did I fall in love with the elegant simplicity of recipes for poached pears, braised peppers, and Moroccan chickpea stew, but I learned how to better use my Instant Pot in the process.

With Instant Pot cooking, sometimes it’s easy for spices to get drowned out, but Ann always gets the seasoning exactly right, and it makes cooking from (and eating) these recipes a joyful experience.

The other thing I love about this book is that the recipes I tried didn’t add pain to my grocery bill. One of my favorite soups, (called “Ribs, stems, roots, leaves”) used parts of veggies I might have tossed, to make something delicious!

Our favorite in this house is Ann’s poached leeks with vinaigrette recipe (pictured). I did not know leeks could be a main ingredient before this! It’s amazing.

So, if you’re headed into winter and craving some hearty, homecooked food, I highly, highly recommend this book!

“Ann Mah takes a very classic – and extremely personal – look at the popular electric pressure cooker. Here is how I describe her studied approach: inquisitive, detailed, precise, adventuresome, accurate. Bravo!” –Patricia Wells, journalist, author, and multiple James Beard Award winner, living in Paris and Provence

*While this cookbook isn’t vegan (and I am), I believe this book is worth it for the veggies recipes alone. I made all of the veggie recipes without oil, left out non-vegan ingredients, and was still completely thrilled with the results. I can imagine if you’re an eat-everything person, you’ll also be in heaven with this book.

 

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, but I only post about products I love. 

THE MOON SISTERS Audiobook Giveaway!

 

 

Two of my favorite people made an audiobook together! THE MOON SISTERS by Therese Walsh is out in paperback and audio this week and Julia Whelan (who’s the narrator for STAY and WHY CAN’T I BE YOU) is the narrator!

I’m so excited about this beautiful combination! And I have an audiobook code for a one-time listen from Downpour to give away to one lucky person!

CONTEST CLOSED

“Walsh has written a beautiful, lush novel fueled by a fairy-tale journey of grief, love, and will-o’-the-wisps. Fans of coming-of-age novels will be drawn in and may never want to leave.” —Library Journal (*starred review*)

“Both heartbreaking and hopeful, the Moon sisters’ journey is no quixotic quest, and readers will find themselves completely immersed in their transformative search. This magical, moving tale is not to be missed.” —Booklist (*starred review*)

“Luminous…Walsh explores how the sisters’ experience of the outside world transforms their views of each other and themselves, in a book packed with invention and rich characterizations.”

—Publishers Weekly

3Ws – Carolyn Downie

 

 

What do you create?

I create music in assorted flavors, textures, shapes and sizes. Pieces sold separately. May cause side effects such as relaxation or enjoyment. Involuntary mental or physical movements may occur such as thinking, feeling, humming, foot tapping and dancing. Consult with your healthcare provider before consuming in large doses… :-)

Ok joking aside for a bit, I write digital music books, make recordings and also music videos. Right now I have three solo piano albums and a music book & video series for kids, “Piano Traveler”. I’m also working on a project called “Time Signatures” where I create music to reflect on our current times. (Musicians will get the double entendre here). For example, I have done a music video for the 9/11 Memorial in NYC and also about the year 2012 which was fun.

 

Why do you create?

Great question. When I got out of college, I remember thinking, “Wow. I just spent the first two decades of my life figuring out how to make music; now I have to figure out why.” I think about this a lot – It’s the existential crux of everything!

For me, I consider music a language, so my core ‘why’ or intent is similar to a that of a writer or even computer programmer versus that of other performing artists (such as musicians, singers or likewise, actors or actresses). It’s a different impetus.

I like using music to convey a message, to tell a story, to learn, to teach, to ‘paint a picture’ or just express this in stream-of-consciousness as part of the process (which is essentially what music improvisation is). Helping people via music with therapeutic applications of sound is a motivator of mine for the future.

Also, not to get too conceptual here, but I love that music & pictures work with the subconscious, intuitive level of perception while words & lyrics work more with the conscious, intellectual level. Connecting the two is part of my work.

I also like working with the math, form and symmetry in music and writing. I see these as tools for the architecture of a piece so it’s more of a ‘how’ but since math is also a language, it’s also part of my ‘why’. Math. Because it’s fun!

Ultimately I do think creating music and art professionally is a privilege in society that not everyone has (including myself a lot of times). Appreciating this helps me keep going with things. So that’s probably my biggest “why” now too.

 

What do you consume?

If it’s true that “you are what you eat”, I’d be a mess if not mindful of what I consume! As an introvert and especially with some health challenges in the mix, I’m very careful about what I consume whether it’s food/drink, TV/media, computers/electronics, etc. I definitely need large doses of silence to ‘clean the palate’. I do think life gets too overwhelming and distracting for me with too much input. I like to keep it simple and low tech for that reason. I don’t have a cell phone. (I know – shocking!) This really helps me though.

Also, this is random but I tend to crave and consume a lot of salt. Yes – salt! Whether it’s going to the ocean or through food, maybe because salt is an excellent conductor of energy, for some reason extra consumption helps me a lot-although the American Dietetic Association would tell me otherwise! I guess I’m kind of a food rebel like that. Anyway, pass the salt!

In terms of music consumption, I’m discerning with it also and really like finding new stuff – not necessarily as in popular, commercially viable or even with the latest technology or in the “now” new, but new as in innovative. It’s rare. I remember a mentor of mine saying that there’s a lot of creativity but few innovators. I like to be on the lookout for new things from this vantage point. At the same time, I know there’s a time and place for everything so I keep an open mind and ear to it all.

 

Links

 

3Ws – Kaira Rouda

 

 

What do you create?

I create piles.

Creative piles, mostly. My husband and I have been married for 27 years. My warning to him when we married: Love me love my piles. For me the creative process is messy, but fun.
That sort of describes me, too.

 

Why do you create?

Because I must create. Here’s the thing. If you know you want to write, have dreamed of doing so, and you’re not: it’s time. I waited a long time to actually pursue my writing career. It’s ok, because it happened. I would be inconsolable if it never happened. Please, if you’re reading this and it’s your dream, find a way to make it happen. Your dreams are worth it.

 

What do you consume?

Until I watched the documentary, What the Health, I consumed cheese. If you love cheese, don’t watch that movie. If you love the planet, you probably should. As for other things I consume. Novels, of almost any kind. Time spent with friends and family. And life. We’re so blessed to be here.

 

Links

 

3Ws – Linda Stasi

 

What do you create?

Every day as a newspaper columnist, I get to create an alternate spin on a news story that’s real and often unbelievable—the who, the what, the-what-the-hell of it. Some true stories though, are so inexplicable that if I wrote them as fiction, I’d be drummed out of the business.

Ah, but then in my other life, the novelist one, I get to create stories about a newspaper columnist based on the mystical research I’ve done. Hopefully, I create compelling and believable stories—not ones that will make readers ask, “What the hell?”

When I’m not typing, I’m taking pictures. My photos are reflective of what I do in life…except my photos ask a question without answering it.

 

Why do you create?

Because I have no choice. If I couldn’t write, I couldn’t breathe. I began tooling around with writing fiction when I was going through a very bad period and was out of work. I’ve always worked as a writer, and when I didn’t have a job I literally felt that I couldn’t catch my breath. So I started writing fiction to try to find myself again. I was shocked to discover that writing fiction is the opposite of reporting. Tabloid journalism means you have to compact the most information into the fewest words. Writing novels meant I had to learn to luxuriate in taking two whole sentences instead of two measly words to describe something. Without noticing it, I started to breathe again. Then I got a job.

 

What do you consume?

At the risk of sounding like a fool, I consume adventures like other people consume coffee. For my first novel, I drove through five countries by myself, (consuming too much gas), took a road trip with an exorcist priest of the Vatican, (again more gas), hiked a mountain twice (no gas) and consumed too much of food and wine along the way. For my new novel, I traveled to the Middle East, went into a 3,000 year old burial tomb discovered under a distant relative’s home in the desert of Israel, consumed everything in sight, and consumed way too much wine. My husband and I just got back from climbing Machu Pichu and seeing all the stuff in Bolivia that couldn’t have been created by humans. There isn’t much air to breathe at 14,500 feet above sea level so I consumed coca leaves like a native, and consumed oxygen from a can like a sissy tourist.

 

Links

 

3Ws – Christina Julian

 

What do you create?

Chaos! At least that’s what my family likes to tell me. But seriously, I create stories. Some are real and others are versions of lives I wished I lived filled with people I hope to one day meet, going to places I’ve only dreamt about. The kind of stuff that wakes me up in the middle of the night and forces me to tap out notes into my phone so I remember what to write about the next day. As a wine and food columnist I like to say that I recreate slices of wine country life. People enjoy sipping and swirling and learning about this grape varietal and that. And some even care about what score something received and if the sip smells like chicory or offers a black cherry bomb finish. But what I find people are most fascinated with, is the lifestyle, what I like to call country-cosmo. On the one hand Napa and its outskirts are farm towns, filled with men and women who work the land. On the other hand, Napa Valley is considered to be one of culinary capitals of the world with its fabulous and infamous food and wine tasting scenes. When I write, I try to create a picture for people who have never been here but hope to one day visit, or for those that have come before and yearn to return.

 

Why do you create?

I will return to my earlier statement about all that chaos I supposedly create/attract. As is often the case, my parents are right. My brain is a very chaotic place to live. It refuses to settle down, ever, which can be intoxicating at times and downright excruciating at others, especially when it’s time to sleep. So, I create as a way to silence the inner chatter and to free my mind so that I can get some rest. I also create as a way to work through the challenges that life presents. When in doubt I turn to humor, living out the cliché, that you can either laugh or cry at the curveballs. I’m all about the former. I’ve found that people enjoy hearing about all the mishaps and how I lived to triumph and talk about it all. So, I think, what the hell, if I can laugh at my own mistakes and then write about it and make other people laugh, cringe or relate, it’s all been worth it.

 

What do you consume?

The list is endless. I am a sugar fiend. Screw an apple a day (though I like those too), I’m all about a piece of candy (or 10) a day, keeps the doctor way. I love sweet and sour, which some would say matches my personality and ever-changing moods. Then I have my obsessions, which are sprinkled all over the country. One such example is the peanut butter cookie at City Bakery in NYC. When I lived there this was a go-to treat for me. When I moved I went searching for a replacement that I would never find. I love this thing so much, I tripped and sprained my ankle running down the street trying to get one of these cookies before screeching out of town to catch a flight. And for those that want to know, the cookie was and is still that good. Then there’s the butterscotch panna cotta at Brasswood Kitchen in Napa, drenched in caramel and sea salt. Equally dizzying is the butterscotch pot at GJelina in Venice, CA. I could go on and on, but I am making myself hungry just writing about this stuff. OK, one more thing. When I write I’ve been known to binge eat Fritos Scoops with hummus and peanut butter pretzel bites. With coffee, lots and lots of coffee. But always decaf. I’m way too crazy on caffeine.

 

Links

3Ws – Laurel Saville

 

What do you create?

1. Stories that explore some of the ways we get thing wrong in relationships by allowing the limits of our own perception to circumscribe our full awareness of of other people. Hopefully, these stories also offer some observations on how to get things a little more right, as well.

2. Better behaved dogs and better informed dog guardians who are able to have a more fun and fulfilling relationship together. Yup, I’m a dog trainer as well as a writer.

3. Well-worn hiking boots, a dusty, dirty truck, a worn out dog, and lots of visual memories of beautiful places and stunning scenery.

 

Why do you create?

1. I grew up surrounded by people who were artists, designers, gardeners, and makers-of-things. These people were always sketching, painting, sewing, renovating, and spontaneously re-arranging the world around them to express their intensely personal vision. My childhood was highly unconventional and also full of neglect and unkindness, but expressing oneself creatively was held in highest regard, and I’ve carried that value into my day-to-day life.

2. I’ve always had a deep interest in animal cognition and behavior, have studied these topics formally and informally, and am an active volunteer with two rescue groups. I had no intention of becoming a trainer of people and their dogs, but I kept getting requests to help. When the local veterinary’s office asked me to print up cards so they didn’t have to keep scribbling my phone number on sticky notes, well, I gave in and began offering lessons and classes. It’s been some of the most gratifying work I have ever done, as there are few things more happy-making than being around well-adjusted dogs and guardians who are learning how to help their pups be their very best.

3. Solvitur ambulando. I do my best writing when I’m walking.

 

What do you consume?

Lindsey Davis novels.
Books on animal behavior and cognition.
Rainier cherries, blueberries, and avocados.
Cider and ginger beer.
Human habits that get in the way of their canine relationships.
Trails. Lots and lots of trails.

 

Links

 

3Ws – David Bell

 

What do you create?

I write suspense novels about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. My goal is to write one of those books that the reader devours late into the night saying, “Even though I have to get up early and go to work, I’m going to read one more chapter.” I’d take it as a huge compliment if my books contributed to reduced productivity in the American workforce.

 

Why do you create?

A lot of reasons. Because I like to do it mainly. I have a low tolerance for doing things I don’t like, so if I didn’t really like to write I wouldn’t. I enjoy the whole process of creating a book from start to finish. And I really, really enjoy hearing from readers. I believe the book isn’t complete until it enters the reader’s mind, so I really need those readers to “finish” the book for me. I also do it because I’m really not good at anything else. I don’t have any other marketable skills, so I better make this work.

 

What do you consume?

On the plus side: almonds, apples, books. And beer. (That’s good in moderation, right? I think my doctor told me that once.) On the negative side: Too much sugar in my tea. Too much news. (Lord, aren’t we all consuming too much news?) Too many stories about my favorite baseball team, The Cincinnati Reds. (They’re bad, so it hurts to read about them, but I keep doing it.) Too many YouTube clips of comedians and 80s New Wave music. (I came of age in the 80s, so my musical tastes stopped progressing there.) Too much social media. (I wish I could moderate my consumption of the internet as well as I moderate my consumption of beer.)

 

Links

 

3Ws – Camille Di Maio

 

What do you create?

I create stories that are tinged with heartache but end with joy. I grew up devouring the British classics. Jane Eyre is a favorite, and a good example of what I model my writing on. I like a character who is upright, but whose resolve is tested through difficult circumstances. On the crafty end of things, I love embroidering tapestry pillows. I work from a pattern – I’m not enough of a visual artist to create the image, but it does take a lot of focus and dedication to complete a project. Most will be about 33,000 stitches and take me about a year.

 

Why do you create?

I write because I love beautiful words. One of my favorite authors is Kate Morton. Her stories are enthralling, but even more poignant to me are her word choices. They are exactly right. My mother drilled me in vocabulary growing up and I get a charge finding the precise word needed in a given moment. I also thoroughly enjoy the research that goes into historical fiction. I have learned about a Welsh patron saint of lovers, how to change a diaper on a train in the early 20th century, and how to best cultivate broccoli. Just to name a few of the strange places that writing can take an author! For the tapestries, I make them because there is something so satisfying about working with your hands and seeing instant results of your labors. I am struck by how tapestries are analogous to life. We often see the messy side not knowing how beautiful the other side will be if we only press on.

 

What do you consume?

Dr Pepper! As any good Texan girl will know, there is no period after Dr in that brand. I love it chilled, I love it with crushed ice, I love the ones bottled in Dublin, TX, and I love drinking it through a frozen Twizzlers straw. (Try it!) I also go to a farmers’ market nearly every weekend. It is such a treat to try locally made and sourced products and to talk to the farmers/artists/crafters themselves. Finally, I consume travel. I’ve been to most of the states and four continents and have a bucket list that is ever-growing. The world is a beautiful place, and I love meeting its people.

 

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