CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Susan Mallery is BACK!!!

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women and the relationships that move them. Susan is honored by enthusiastic readers who say that her books make them laugh, make them cry, and make the world a happier place to live. Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. She’s there for the coffee, not the weather.

Susan’s latest book is BAREFOOT SEASON, the heart-wrenching story of two wounded women who heal their friendship – and find love with two fabulous men – over one long, lovely summer on Blackberry Island, Washington. BAREFOOT SEASON is the first book of Susan’s new Blackberry Island series of women’s fiction novels.

Susan, what made BAREFOOT SEASON a story you had to tell?

I find female friendship endlessly fascinating. I feel very blessed to have several strong, supportive friendships that have endured for years. We celebrate each other’s successes, grieve for each other’s losses, nurture and praise and lecture – whatever is called for at that moment. I know how strong friendship between women can be.

But friendship can also be fragile.

One day, I asked myself, What if you and your best friend fell in love with the same man… and then he chose her? Could you be truly happy for her when your heart is breaking? What would you do if he then came to you – this man you both love – and told you that he made a mistake, that he should have chosen you? Could you turn him away? From this spark came BAREFOOT SEASON.
 
As children, Michelle and Carly were as close as sisters, running free on Blackberry Island. Now, ten years after their friendship was destroyed by love, they’re forced together again by circumstances to save the Blackberry Island Inn.  Along the way, they’ll each find love with two great men and the sense of family they’d been missing for so many years. I do love a happy ending!

BAREFOOT SEASON is the first book of your new Blackberry Island series. What can you tell us about Blackberry Island, both the books and the place?

On Blackberry Island, life is sweet and the happy ending is guaranteed! I’m a firm believer that life is better with romance, so you can rest assured that the women on Blackberry Island will find love with men who will make your toes curl. The Blackberry Island books will also allow me to explore other relationships. We women often define ourselves by the relationships in our lives. Not just by our romantic relationships, but by our friendships, our relationships with our mothers, our children, our bosses, our neighbors… For us, it’s not so much “what do you do?” as “whom do you love and who loves you back?” that determines how we feel about ourselves. It’s nice to stretch my wings a little to write about some of these other defining relationships, as well.

Blackberry Island is a quaint island off the coast of Seattle, a popular weekend escape for Seattlites who want to get out of the city. You can get to the island either across Getaway Bridge or by ferry. Locals are friendly hosts, happy to direct you to one of several wineries on the island, the daisy fields that have made it the Daisy Capital of the West Coast, and the Puget Sound Crane habitats. You can learn more about Blackberry Island at www.blackberryisland.com. And yes, it’s fictional, but it’s real in my heart, as I hope it will become real in yours!

BAREFOOT SEASON is more of a women’s fiction, then, rather than a straight romance. Are you moving away from writing romance?

Absolutely not! I love romance. There is still nothing more exciting to me than watching two people fall in love. I adore the first kiss, my heart always sinks when things are at their darkest and it looks hopeless, and I am as thrilled as ever when love triumphs in the end. My next romance will be SUMMER DAYS, book 7 of the Fool’s Gold series, which will land in stores on May 29. Well, that’s the next full-length romance. On May 1, I’ll release ALMOST SUMMER, a Fool’s Gold ebook novella. Then there will be two more Fool’s Gold romances in July and August, plus a Christmas gift-sized hardcover in October called A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS. If you’ll sign up for my mailing list at www.susanmallery.com/members/, I’ll send you an email on release day.

Do you think book clubs will enjoy BAREFOOT SEASON? Why or why not?

I do! I belong to a book club, and the books we most enjoy discussing are the books that feel like a slice of life. In BAREFOOT SEASON, the two women at the center of the story are both decent people who have legitimate reasons for feeling the way they do, which means that book club members can legitimately fall on either side of the issue that’s causing the conflict in the book.

I’m always very proud when readers and reviewers say that they really identified with the characters in my books. Those characters feel as real to me as people in real life – a fact which is endlessly confusing for my poor husband, who has to ask for clarification when I tell him about something that someone did that day. “Is she a real person?” he’s forced to ask.

I think readers will really connect with the characters in BAREFOOT SEASON. Carly is a hard-working, loving single mom. She would do anything for her daughter, including put up with the woman who betrayed her. If the inn goes under, Carly doesn’t just lose her job – she loses her home, the only home her daughter has ever known.

Michelle is sarcastic and funny and kind of crabby. I do love a crabby woman! Michelle is prickly, but beneath that prickliness, she’s loyal and has a heart that won’t quit. Wait until you meet the dog she rescues – and who rescues her.

I’ve included a readers’ discussion guide in BAREFOOT SEASON to help get the conversation started. There are even a couple of recipes! I’d be happy to chat about the book live via phone or Skype with any book club that selects BAREFOOT SEASON. Just email my assistant at jenel (at) susanmallery (dot) com to set it up.

What kind of research did you do?

In BAREFOOT SEASON, Michelle is struggling with post-traumatic stress after being wounded in Afghanistan. Since I’ve never served in the military, I wanted to be sure I got those details right, to honor the women who serve our country. I did a lot of research online, then I spoke personally with Sergeant Betty Thurman. What struck me time and again was how proud our soldiers are of what they do. Rightfully so. These are strong, resilient women. Although they are barred from certain duties, they can and do serve in war zones. They can and do put their lives on the line, and they do it because they love our country.

After I finished the book, I asked a fan of mine who has been deployed twice to read it for a “gut check.”  Did I get the emotions right, I wanted to know. She told me that she felt as if I was in her head. On top of being a soldier, she is a wife and mother to four children. She loved the book so much that she has preordered ten copies to send to her “battle buddies.”

What do you hope your readers take away from reading BAREFOOT SEASON?

Friends can become family. We’re not all lucky enough to be born with the family we deserve, but we can build a family by surrounding ourselves with loving, supportive friends.

How did you come up with the title BAREFOOT SEASON?

In the book, Michelle spots Carly’s young daughter in the back yard, barefoot and spinning in circles with her face raised toward the sun and her arms outstretched. It makes her long for the long summer days of her own childhood, when she and Carly ran barefoot around Blackberry Island. In her mind, being barefoot is closely connected with innocence, with the time in her life before she had been hurt, before she knew there was darkness in the world.

What’s next for you, after BAREFOOT SEASON?

This summer, I’m heading back to Fool’s Gold, California – the Land of Happy Endings – with four brand new full-length novels, plus an ebook novella. The titles and release dates are:
ALMOST SUMMER – May 1 (ebook novella)
SUMMER DAYS – May 29
SUMMER NIGHTS – June 26
ALL SUMMER LONG – July 31
A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS – September 25


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let the Reading Season Begin!

You all know how much I love to write...but I am also an avid reader.  After getting over my initial dislike of the Kindle, I find that am enjoying it more than I thought possible and I am discovering some new authors while I'm at it.  But as much as I like to support the new and lesser known authors, I just get positively giddy when my favorite ladies have some new releases.

My honorary BFF buddy and head cheerleader, Susan Mallery is getting ready to release her newest novel "Barefoot Season" and if you come back tomorrow, you'll read all about it!  But beside "Barefoot Season" she also just had a wonderful re-release of one of her earlier books, "One in a Million".   Then, coming up this summer are Susan's newest additions to her Fool's Gold series, "Almost Summer", "Summer Days", Summer Nights", "All Summer Long" and "A Fool's Gold Christmas".  I do so enjoy spending a season with Susan! 

Then, of course, there is the FABULOUS Nora Roberts.  Here next release "The Last Boyfriend:  Book Two in the BoonsBoro Trilogy" is due out on May 1st.  Don't ask me why, but I have to have this one in paperback.  I have book one in paperback and I want this one that way, too.  

Robyn Carr is someone who I only recently discovered in the last year and her Virgin River series has been quite enjoyable.  Each book can easily stand alone but it's fun once you read more than one and start to recognize the secondary characters.  Her latest, "Sunrise Point" comes out April 24th. 

And the final book on my must-read list for this reading season is Laura Moore's "Trouble Me".  This is book three in the Rosewood trilogy and the first two were so wonderful that I read them both twice!  

I am sure that there are TONS of titles that I am missing but these books are my must-haves for now.  It would be totally cool if someday someone was blogging about one of my books being their must-read! 

Someday... 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Too Much Editing!!!

So I had entered this writing contest sort of thing about 6 weeks ago and had the opportunity to pitch one of my books to an editor at an e-publisher.  I'm not a huge fan of doing strictly e-books but for the chance to get published with someone other than me, I thought it was worth a shot.

Well, the editor loved my pitch, requested a query, synopsis and first three chapters.  It was all VERY exciting.  I sent in the requested materials and sat back and waited.  And waited.  She told me it would be 2-3 weeks but it was closer to the 6 so I was getting a little twitchy.  

I FINALLY heard from her and I was all giddy and excited because MOST of her response was "Love it!" "Great job" and "Well written".  What's not to like about that?  I'll tell you what, for someone who says they "Love" the story, she wants me to MAJORLY change it.  Not the plot; she likes that.  No, she wants me to go from a multiple person point of view to a single person point of view.  I'm sorry, I have over 60,000 words in this manuscript and all of the scenes are written from MULTIPLE points of view.  How could I possible change that without changing the story or making me want to kill myself???

The life of an author really sucks sometimes.

I'm contemplating whether or not I'm going to do it but my initial reaction is that it's just too much to take on when I don't have a lot of spare time on my hands.  If she liked it and my query/synopsis package didn't raise any red flags (they are my weakness!) then maybe I should be bold and present it to another publisher who actually publishes BOOKS - paperback books.  

Am I being too lazy or stubborn?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

House Hunting...

It's not nearly as fun and exciting as HGTV makes it seem!

We have looked on line, in the paper, talked to realtor's and gone by word of mouth and let me tell you, house hunting SUCKS!  It doesn't matter if you are comfortable with the money you have to spend, finding something that fits everyone's needs is just plain exhausting.

I want at least two bathrooms.  Frank needs a two car garage and enough property for the shed he built that is almost as big as the house we are living in now - don't even ASK how we're supposed to move that thing!  And Michael doesn't want to change schools.  Alone, none of these are huge requests, but once you put them all together, it makes for a nearly impossible situation.

I have a friend who is a realtor and she sent me a listing of a dozen places for rent in our price range.  Ninety percent of them were lovely (the other ten I would never live in even on a dare).  We discovered that Frank doesn't want to live in a townhome.  That eliminated half of them.  And out of the remainder of the list, none of them were in Michael's school zone.

Sigh.


It's not like we're in a rush or have a date that we HAVE to move but honestly, I am so ready for a change.  This house, while always affordable and enabled me to be a stay at home mom for ten years and kept us from living on the streets when times were bad, at this point, it just seems to be a constant reminder of a hard life.  I want a fresh start.  We are starting new in 2012 and I want to see that all around me.

Am I crazy???

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In Praise of the Room Store...

For the first time since 1995, we are getting BRAND NEW furniture.  Not a whole lot of it, but we are getting a new living room set.  We went out and shopped and checked out a bunch of different stores to see what kind of deals were out there but at the end of the day we ended up (twice) at the Room Store.

We found a GREAT living room set that was actually a seven piece grouping but we broke that up because we don't have that much space.  We got a sofa, an over-sized chair (MINE!) with a double ottoman that is also a storage space.  LOVING it!  We are picking up the sofa this weekend and the chair and ottoman are on back order (dang it!) but I am so excited about having them in my home that I am willing to wait.

One of the perks to the Room Store was that they offered a service plan that pretty much guarantees that if anything happens to the furniture (except animals chewing it) they will repair or replace it for free.  Now I am sure that there is fine print issues in all of that but being that we have no animals and no more small children in the home, I am fairly confident that we are not going to really need this plan.  

So why get it? You ask.  Well, it is a five year plan and if we do NOT use it and never require them to repair or replace anything, we get our money back.  There's a chance I'm going to lose that contract but as of right now, I'm hopeful.  The best part, on a personal level?  We were able to pay for it outright.  That was huge for us.

So although Frank will be fully benefiting from the fabulous new sofa that will be in our living room Saturday afternoon, I have to wait a little bit longer for what I have dubbed "The Princess Chair" - and it's mine, all MINE!!!

YEAH!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flight Of The Conchords

This is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen and yet it cracks me up every time.  Thank you to my son Nick for making me giggle as usual!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At the end of the day it's still called gossiping...

As some of you may remember, I had left my church a couple of months ago and started looking for another one for me and my family.  While it has not been all that I hoped it would be and I've gotten more than a little discouraged, I still have faith that we will find the right one.

One of the deciding factors that led me to search elsewhere was that I was not on board with the leadership at my church on many, many levels.  I did not rant and rave like a deranged lunatic throughout the church and I feel like my departure was done quietly; only my inner-circle of friends knew of my issue with the leaders.  

I work with someone who is going to the Seminary here in town to become a youth pastor.  Great guy, very likable and we've had some wonderful conversations about my church hunt, what led to the church hunt and, as a parishioner, what qualities I find are important in a pastor of any kind.  These topics were last discussed two months ago.  

Last week I got a Facebook message from one of the pastor's at my former church.  Nothing major, just a "Hey, haven't seen you around" kind of thing.  I didn't respond right away because I felt I might come off as being a little snarky - it can't be helped sometimes.  Well, three days later he followed up with a personal email to me.  Okay, fine, I get the hint.  I replied and told him of all of our struggles these last months with unemployment, finances and my working three jobs to keep us alive and followed it all with the praise of both of us having full time jobs and hope for our future.  I did not delve in to my issues with him or the leaders because it wasn't necessary.  I don't hate this guy (much) and really, I am moving on.

Yesterday I am sitting at my desk at work and check my emails and there is one from ANOTHER pastor at the church.  The first sentence (and I've yet to read further) said how this PERSON that I work with told HIM how I left the church because HE did not follow up with my husband when he was depressed! 

I quite literally threw myself over my desk in an attempt to get at this office guy and tell him off.


I confronted him head on with HOW DARE YOU interfere in my family's privacy like this and TATTLE to the pastor's and elders about an issue that had nothing to do with him!  I was like "DUDE, what on earth were you thinking???"  I almost made him cry.  What killed me is that he really saw NOTHING wrong with betraying my confidence and breaching my privacy with him.  He could have given the pastor an "anonymous" sort of scenario but no, he thought it best FOR MY FAMILY (his words) to be honest.  He is CALLED to be honest.

I know I come for a Catholic background and maybe things are different in the Christian/Baptist realm but all I got out of this is a big fat wad of finger pointing amongst the leaders (this office guy is currently an intern at said former church) and yet ANOTHER reason for me to have an issue with them.  This guy rats me out, the pastor rats him out...I mean, where does it end???  And really, by talking about me to people that I have an issue with, when he was not asked to nor did he confer with me about before doing it, in my opinion is gossiping.

I cannot even begin to tell you how mortified I am by this whole situation.  I still cannot even bring myself to read the rest of the pastor's email because just seeing his name in my inbox, makes my stomach clench.  

So, note to self, be careful what you say to your pastor, any pastor, or pastor in training because clearly nothing is sacred anymore.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Road Trip

I'm going to be honest, the one with the bad behavior...was me.  Yes, yes, it's true.  I got a little "mouthy" more than once and to be honest, I'm okay with it.  

I went to work that Wednesday morning, worked until noon, had lunch with a friend and then went home to finish packing and load up the car.  Michael and I left the house at 2:00 and went to fuel up and get the car washed.  We needed to be to the airport by 3:30 and so we were right on track.  At about 2:20 my dad calls up SCREAMING.  "STACE!  I missed the plane!!" and then went on to scream at me for booking him on this flight.  

What he forgets is that we CHOSE this flight because it fit his budget.

So he screams, yells and screams some more and then tells me to hold on only to come back on the line and say "Okay, I didn't miss the flight".  Insert nervous laughter and we're good.  I tell him to call me when he's on the ground and we're off.  Mom texts that her flight is going to be ten minutes late.  No big deal and we're heading to the airport.

At 2:45 dad calls again.  "We are de-planing!" he yells.  Why?  Because there is a "smell" on the plane.  Now I'm a little tense.  He has no idea when they will re-board or when he will be landing.  I'm already on my way to the airport and mom still has to be met so onward we go.  I call my sister and leave her a SCATHING voice mail because, after all, she was the one who told me it would be no big deal to pick up BOTH of our parents.  We park, tour the terminal and meet mom as she comes down to baggage claim.  We walk around some more, go for coffee and head over to dad's terminal and try to get an update.  Long story short, he's going to be a total of 90 minutes late.

I am SO NOT AMUSED.  I am a stickler for planning and staying on task and leaving 90 minutes later means hitting rush our traffic on the interstate, longer hours of driving in the dark and getting to the hotel later and I've been up since 3:30 in the morning.  Why?  No one knows!

We finally get dad and head off.  The drive was fine.  Long, but fine.  Our hotel was BEAUTIFUL.  Thank you Holiday Inn Express.  I slept like a baby.  We left early the next morning to get on to the Parris Island base and got pulled for a car inspection.  I "thought" that I had all of my paperwork on mom's side of the car and when she said it wasn't there...well, I sort of lost my mind a little.  Then had to eat crow when I realized it was on MY side of the car.  It happens.  We got through inspection, got to where we needed to go, had GREAT seats and when we were finally permitted to get our Marine, we got to him first.  

We spent the day touring the ENTIRE campus of Parris Island - apparently my nephew wanted us to feel a little more fit than we actually were - and we must have walked about 3 miles!  In 80 degree weather.  It was amazing to see the transformation in him.  I was so proud of him and most of the time I couldn't help but look at him and grin like an idiot.  

Family dinner that night at some ridiculous restaurant that was not my choice and WAY out of my budget but thankfully my parents helped with the bill.  Friday morning we were up and out of the hotel early and back on base for graduation.  AMAZING ceremony.  No other way to describe it.  We had great seats again and really, well, let's just say I wish that everyone in our 22 person entourage took being on time seriously.  The service was over by 10, we took a TON of pictures, went back to my sister's B&B because I wanted my portrait of Justin that she forgot to bring, we said our goodbye's, stopped at Chick-Fil-A for lunch and were on the road by 12:30 and home by 5:30. 

Quick and painless, friends.  Quick and painless.  All of your prayers certainly worked and I thank you!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hey, Look Who Remembered They Had a Blog!

Yes, yes, I know.  It's been a while.  Sorry, couldn't be helped.  I have been really, really busy and it looks like it's not going to slow down any time soon.

I'll give you the Reader's Digest version of life and perhaps in some future blogs I'll bore you with the details!  LOL.  Okay so let's see, the trip to Parris Island to see my nephew graduate from boot camp was fabulous.  Everyone behaved so all was well.  I will definitely be writing about that soon.

Frank's new job is going really well.  They are training him to be a foreman and that seems to have made him really happy.  It's so great to have a conversation with him at the end of the day and hear the positive attitude and to see him smiling.  Praise GOD!

I just got a promotion and an amazing raise.  I was floored by the whole offer and actually hugged my bosses because I was just overwhelmed with the whole thing.  So as of now I am officially a full-time working woman.  I am a little scared about the transition and finding my way around being a wife and mother and working 40+ hours a week.  I know that millions of women do it but I am certainly not as young as I used to be and so it all seems rather daunting right now.  

But exciting.

We went out and bought a new living room set this weekend.  We haven't bought NEW furniture (not hand-me-down/yard sale/Goodwill furniture) in over 20 years!  We actually have money left over at the end of the month - money that will allow us to move out of this stupid rental house and get away from our crazy landlord.  We can move to a bigger rental house or possibly stick it out for another year and have a sweet down payment to buy a house.  We're still working it out but it's exciting to even have the possibility.

So yes, life is crazy busy.  Challenge accepted.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What Have I Gotten Myself Into???

Next week I am getting in the car for a 5 1/2 hour drive to go and see my nephew graduate from Marine boot camp.  We have been looking forward to this for months.  I took the time off of work and even if we hadn't gotten these new jobs/positions, I had been rolling change to help pay for it.  Well, now Frank can't go because he can't take off and Nick isn't going because he needs to work and so it's going to be just me and Michael...

and my parents.

Remember my parents?  They've been divorced for 33 years...the didn't speak for close to 25 of those years.  They refused to be in the same room with each other for most of that time and so they each missed some pretty key events in my life by their stubbornness and fighting.  Yes, I will be in the car with them both for that drive.

The last time we were in a car together on a trip was 1976.  I still have Vietnam-style flashbacks from that trip.  As much as I feel dread and a sense of unease with the whole thing, there is another part of me, the little girl in me, that wants to have this time with my parents.  No distractions, undivided attention and I can't explain it...I feel like I NEED this time with them to overcome some of my biggest issues and hangups that they are directly responsible for.  

Can it happen in this short trip?  Probably not.  Can I start to get some closure?  Absolutely.  All I can do at this point is pray.  All I can do right now as I pack and prepare for the trip is not let my emotions get out of control and to remember that I am an adult who has the only successful marriage in the family.  I am an adult who has a wonderful relationship with my children.  Sure, I may embarrass them from time to time and annoy them but at this point of their lives (and remember that Nick is 20) there is nothing that I have done that has him requiring therapy.  

I am the successful one in that car.

I am not a child anymore.

I have the love and support of my friends.

My husband loves me and tells me that I am beautiful each and every day no matter what my weight is.  He loves me for ME, unconditionally.

I am blessed.