After Everything

This book is the book I’ve always wanted to write. It has so much of me in it. Well, me and someone who once meant a lot to me; someone I don’t see or speak to much anymore—someone I miss dearly. In a way, After Everything brought this friend back to me in the form of Abby.

After Everything (October 20, 2020)
All Abby Rhodes wants is a chance to pursue her songwriting dreams. When she leaves her husband on Christmas Eve and puts their Missouri hometown in her rearview mirror, she heads straight to Nashville and onto the doorstep of her estranged father.

But in typical Abby fashion, nothing goes as planned.

Unemployed and alone, Abby lands a job waiting tables at her neighborhood dive bar. There she meets a local singer-songwriter with steel-grey eyes and a reputation that threatens to unlock Abby’s small-town innocence.

Just as Nashville starts to feel like home, her past comes crashing back in the form of her soon-to-be ex-husband, forcing her to confront the truth behind her midnight escape.

If Abby can’t reconcile her history with her future, she might lose out on her dreams and her second chance at finding love.

Available for Preorder!

Paris Never Leaves You, Ellen Feldmen

Paris Never Leaves You is up next on my TBR! Have you read it yet? Keep reading for a sneak peek into the first chapter!

“Masterful. Magnificent. A passionate story of survival and a real page turner. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey

Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past.

About the Author:
ELLEN FELDMAN, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible VirtueThe UnwittingNext to LoveScottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her novel Terrible Virtue was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

Exclusive Excerpt!!

One

New York, 1954

Charlotte spotted the letter as soon as she stepped into her office. There was no reason it should have caught her eye. The desk was littered with papers and envelopes. Stacks of manuscripts and books filled the shelves of the small cubicle and spilled over onto the two chairs. Certainly the airmail envelope didn’t make it stand out. Most of the books she published were American editions of European works, and a good deal of her mail arrived in those tissue-thin blue envelopes. The only explanation for its attracting her attention was that she’d already gone through her morning mail and the afternoon delivery hadn’t yet arrived. Perhaps the letter had gone to another editor by mistake, and he or she had left it on Charlotte’s

desk while she was upstairs in the art department. Or perhaps the mailroom had overlooked it in the morning sorting.

Gibbon & Field was a prestigious publishing house, but a certain loucheness lurked behind the scenes. That was the fault of Horace Field, the publisher. He was too forgiving, or perhaps only cannily manipulative. She’d had her earliest inkling of the trait the first Christmas after she’d come to work at the house. Leaving the office one evening at the same time, she and Horace had entered the elevator together to find a young man from the production depart- ment struggling to balance two or three oversize art books and several of a more conventional trim size. When he saw Horace, he colored an unhappy Christmas red.

“I see you’ve taken our ads to heart, Seth,” Horace said. “‘There’s a book for everyone on your Christmas list.’”

The young man turned a deeper red and shot out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened. That was un- usual. The staff usually deferred to Horace getting on and off elevators, and everywhere else.

“Are you going to take the books out of his salary?” she’d asked as they’d followed him across the lobby.

“Not on your life.”

“It would teach him a lesson.”

“The only lesson I want to teach him, Charlie, is to work his tail off for the greater glory of G&F.”

Paris Never Leaves You 

“And you think encouraging him to walk out the door with an armful of purloined books will do that?”

“I think the next time he asks for a raise and doesn’t get it, he’ll remember all the books he’s filched and feel guilty, or at least compensated. Same with the expense accounts the editors and travelers turn in. They think they’re stealing me blind, but a guilty conscience breeds contrition. Maybe even loyalty. They feel they owe the house something in return. That’s why I worry about you. Those expense accounts you file are a travesty. If the other editors get wind of them, they’ll never forgive you for spoiling the game.”

Horace’s philosophy permeated the entire publishing house from the grand larceny of the production depart- ment, run by a man rumored to have ties to the Mafia, to the petty pilfering and general slacking off of the mail- room. That must be why the letter had been delivered late. And the timing was the only reason she noticed it. It had nothing to do with a sixth sense, in which she defi- nitely did not believe.

She sat behind the desk and picked up the envelope. Her name and the G&F address were written, not typed. The handwriting wasn’t familiar. There was no return ad- dress on the upper left-hand corner. She turned it over. As soon as she saw the name, she realized why she hadn’t recognized the handwriting. When had they put anything

in writing? No, that wasn’t true. He’d  written her once,  a year or so after the end of the war. The letter had taken months to wind its way through the Drancy records and the various agencies to reach her in New York. She’d taken solace in that. He didn’t know where she was, and he was still in Germany. She’d never answered that letter. The return address on this one was Bogotá, Colombia. So he’d got out after all. She was glad. She was also relieved. South America was still a long distance away.

What troubled her was not where he was but that now he knew where she was. She’d thought she’d been so careful. Neither her address nor her telephone num- ber was listed in the book. The people who had tried to help her settle into her new life—social workers and do- gooders from various refugee organizations; her colleagues here and at other publishing houses; Horace Field’s wife, Hannah—had found the omission foolish and antisocial. “How do you expect to make a life for yourself in a new country,” Hannah had asked, “if no one can find you?” Charlotte hadn’t argued with her. She’d merely gone on paying the small fee to be unlisted. Gradually Hannah and everyone else had stopped asking and chalked it up to what she’d been through. No one, including Hannah, knew what that was, but that didn’t stop them from spec- ulating.

She wasn’t much easier to find in the office, though

Paris Never Leaves You 

apparently he’d managed. Her name didn’t  appear  in the list of editors that ran down the left-hand side of the company stationery. Most publishing houses didn’t list editors on the stationery but that was another of Horace Field’s peculiar indulgences. A year after she’d come to work at G&F, he’d asked if she wanted to be included.

“Think of it as a sop,” he’d said.

“A sop?” She spoke four languages, could read two others, and had taken her degree at the Sorbonne in English literature, but in those days she was still having trouble with some American slang.

“Compensation for the slave wages we pay you.”

“At least you didn’t suggest I make up the difference by stealing books,” she’d said, and added that she didn’t want her name on the stationery but thanked him all the same. Nonetheless, despite her absence in the phone book and on the company stationery, her name did occasion- ally turn up in acknowledgments in the books she worked on. And my gratitude to Charlotte Foret for steering my ves- sel safely through the turbulent waters of American publish- ing. My thanks to Charlotte Foret, who first saw that a book about the Dutch Golden Age written by a Dutchman would appeal to American audiences. The question was how he’d managed to get his hands on a US edition in Europe, or now South America. The various consulates had libraries to spread the American gospel among the local populations, but the books she published rarely spread the American gospel. Nonetheless, he must have found one. Or else he’d tracked her down through a refugee agency. Once in America, she’d distanced herself from the émigré or immigrant or refugee—choose your term—groups, but she’d had to file the usual papers and obtain the necessary documents to get here. She was traceable.

From Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

He Started It, Samantha Downing

(Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy)

This book sucked me in and pulled me along for the ride, but damn that ending … I don’t know. I just don’t know, guys.

I should have seen the ending coming. It left me feeling the same way My Lovely Wife did. I won’t say anything more than that.

Anyway, this was a solid domestic suspense. It was compelling and unique. But. UGH.

After Everything Cover Reveal

I am so excited to FINALLY reveal my new book, After Everything. This book is my heart and soul on paper. Keep reading to learn more! And, if you’re interested in joining the blog tour and receiving an advance copy, please check out the link below!

After Everything Blog Tour Application

All Abby Rhodes wants is a chance to pursue her songwriting dreams. When she leaves her husband on Christmas Eve and puts their Missouri hometown in her rearview mirror, she heads straight to Nashville and onto the doorstep of her estranged father.

But in typical Abby fashion, nothing goes as planned.

Unemployed and alone, Abby lands a job waiting tables at her neighborhood dive bar. There she meets a local singer-songwriter with steel-grey eyes and a reputation that threatens to unlock Abby’s small-town innocence.

Just as Nashville starts to feel like home, her past comes crashing back in the form of her soon-to-be ex-husband, forcing her to confront the truth behind her midnight escape.

If Abby can’t reconcile her history with her future, she might lose out on her dreams and her second chance at finding love.

STAY TUNED FOR PRE-ORDER INFORMATION!

What’s Left of Me, Kristen Granata

I know I don’t give star ratings anymore but if I did, What’s Left of Me would get all of them. Every last f-ing star.

This book is raw, honest, emotional, and filled with hope. Kristen’s writing is so beautiful and perfect as she guides the reader through the story.

Did I cry? Yup. Did I laugh? Yup … be honest Kristen, you’re totally Josie. Fierce, loyal, protective. A potty mouth that would make a sailor need a dictionary.

If this book isn’t on your TBR, go buy it now. I read it in one night because I could not put it down.

Oh, and look, my nails match Kristen’s cover too!

Releasing Your Words into the Wild

On Sunday, I sent the first ARCs of After Everything out into the world.

I had the emails and attachments ready. Then, I started at the screen with my mouse hovering over the send button. I stayed frozen in that position for a very long time … longer than I’d like to admit.

When I finally hit send, I held my breath and tried to steady my heartbeat. I failed and it felt as though it would race right out of my chest.

It’s scary sending a piece of you out into the world knowing it will be judged and reviewed and not loved by all. Some people will hate it. They won’t like Abby or my writing voice.

It will sting when I see those reviews, but that’s okay. Not every book is for every reader. Writers don’t write to please everyone, at least I don’t. I write because I want at least one person to read the story and see a piece of themselves inside one of the characters.

I see some of me in Abby, but there is also parts of a someone who once meant a lot to me; someone I don’t see or speak to much anymore—someone I miss dearly. In a way, After Everything brought this friend back to me in the form of Abby.

This is what I hope to bring to readers through the characters they meet and the stories I tell. Connection. Belonging. A feeling of being seen.

How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed Jones

Raw. Honest. Real. Those are the words I’d use to describe Saeed’s memoir.

As a gay Black man raised in Texas, Saeed details his self-discovery and the struggles he and his single mother faced. And, he doesn’t hold back.

In addition to being a powerful story, Saeed’s writing had a melodic flow that pulled me in and held me captive.

What You Wish For, Katherine Center

(Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy)

Before I dive into my review, if you haven’t swiped to the second photo, please take a moment to join me obsessing over this week’s mani.

Alright, on to the book, which I loved!

I’ve yet to read a Katherine Center novel that I didn’t fall completely in love with, but What You Wish For just might be my favorite.

I adored Sam and Duncan, Babette, Clay, Alice, and evening Tina (eventually).

The message of joy and love and personal forgiveness was so refreshing and just what I needed. Plus, Katherine Center has such a gift for writing real, relatable characters.

It’s Okay to Let Go

Just write. Pick up the pen and let ‘er rip.

I stare at the blank page and then close my eyes as if I’m willing the words to appear. Of course, they don’t.

While there is a bit of magic in finding the right words, the right story, and the right characters, it also requires work.

I know I’ve discussed this in past posts, but I’m a plotter. I like to sit with my characters and listen for their voice and stories. My outlines are usually rough sketches written with the intent of being changed as I write and discover the quirks of my characters.

Sometimes, though, I write the perfect outline with characters and stories that I fall in love with. But somewhere along the way, I lose inspiration and stop writing.

Those moments hurt. I tell myself that I can come back to them when the time is right, but I rarely do. In some small way, I mourn the loss and move on. Occasionally, the characters come back to me and I find their new/true story. Most of the time, I don’t. I let them go and move on.

I’m slowly learning to be okay with this, and to accept that while it feels like a failure, it’s not. As a writer, it’s important to know when to walk away and when o push through. The hard stories need to be told, too.

Some day, I’ll find the words and inspiration to return to those characters I’ve left behind. If I don’t, though, that’s okay too.