Karen's Korner

Author Q&A with Anne Girard – Plus, a Giveaway!

Platinum Doll Final CoverThis is my first author Q&A after taking a break from blogging for a few months and these are always some of my favorite posts – I love getting to know authors and hearing about the inspiration behind their novels.

To celebrate the release of her new novel Platinum Doll, which just hit stores last week, we sat down with author Anne Girard and asked her questions about her new novel, her writing and even what she has coming up next. We are thrilled to have Anne on the blog today and we hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we did!

Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for Platinum Doll?

It’s my pleasure! I’m always inspired by true stories from history where I see that there is more than meets the eye. If there is an angle I can share that not a lot of people know, I’m really drawn to it. In the case of Jean Harlow, I hoped to make her a fully dimensional character rather than just the iconic doll-like beauty from photographs.

How do you feel your writing has changed since your first novel?

Great question. My writing has had to adapt to a gradually changing market. When I sold my first novel, it was during a period where historicals were allowed to be lush, detailed and long. Now, with paper costs, and the interest of readers in shorter more concise books, I have had to learn to pare down. I prefer my former style of writing, to be honest with you, but things change.

How long did it take you to write Platinum Doll?

From start to finish, including research and editing, I am generally given a year to write a novel, and that is about what it took for Platinum Doll.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received about any of your books?

It’s lovely when someone says they couldn’t put one of my books down. I think the best compliment though would have to be that after 23 years, they still love my first novel, Courtesan, and they’ve never forgotten it.

What is your writing process like? Do you write an outline before every book you write and do you write every day?

I write a very long and detailed outline, yes. When writing about real historical figures, that is essential because there are so many details and years to get right, and get in the proper order. I usually write between a 35-50 page outline. This is after I have read every possible biography I can get my hands on, as well as books on costume of the time, and current events of the time. I write five days a week. I need to catch my breath on the weekends!

I adore all your book covers and the cover of Platinum Doll is absolutely stunning (it may be one of my favorites.) Who designs them and how involved are you in the process?

The art department at my publishing house designs all the covers. Then it is a team decision, involving the editors and sales team. I’m never really involved initially but I have been known to speak up when something was inaccurate, or I absolutely hated it. After all, it’s my name that’s on the cover if it’s dreadful!

Do you have a favorite author, and what authors or books have inspired you to write?

There are too many fabulous authors who have inspired me to have only one (that would almost be like trying to choose a favorite child!), but some of them whose work have forever left their mark on my heart are Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton, Irving Stone, and Karleen Koen.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Do your homework as to what it takes to get published: attend seminars, read books on it, and then… write! You can’t sell something that isn’t on paper. And my favorite quote of all time for writers is: “The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, it’s to get it written!”

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

I will be going back to my Diane Haeger persona for the next book—another historical novel based on a wonderful and complex real character from history. I’m obsessed with the story already and can’t wait to be able to share it with readers. Stay tuned!

Diane Haeger - Anne Girard HeadshotAbout the Author:

Diane Haeger, who currently writes under the pen name Anne Girard (Madame Picasso), holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the place her character lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso’s last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow’s home.

Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status.

Platinum Doll, a novel about Jean Harlow, is her 15th book. She lives in Southern California with her husband and family.

Connect with Anne:

About Platinum Doll:

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Featuring a glittering cast of ingénues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

To celebrate the release of her new novel, Anne and her team have graciously provided one copy of Platinum Doll for a giveaway (US entries only). Enter to win via the Rafflecopter below:

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The Sound of Glass by Karen White – Plus, a Giveaway!

51sUwrukhPL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Synopsis: It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I read this book back in the fall but sadly am only now posting my review. It was a rough end to 2015 for my family so I had to take a short break from blogging. However, I’m pleased to say that I am back and hoping 2016 will be a brighter year! Now, on to my review.

I adore any novel Karen White writes and The Sound of Glass was no exception. Not only was the story fantastic but the cover of this book is stunning and instantly pulls you in. The Sound of Glass is a beautiful piece of southern fiction about family, secrets, forgiveness and redemption.

The story center centers around Merritt, who moves to South Carolina two years after her husband Cal died. When she arrives in Beaufort, she learns a great deal about Cal’s past and the secrets of Cal’s grandmother Edith who used to live in the Heyward home. I loved the complexity of all the characters, including Loralee and Owen, Merritt’s stepmother and half-brother who show up on her doorstep soon after Merritt arrives. I enjoyed the quirks of each character and ultimately watching them blossom and heal in their own way. Karen does such a fantastic job navigating between the past and present and bringing all of the pieces together – I never once felt lost between the various storylines.

Karen’s novels are the ultimate indulgence and there is just something perfect about the way she tells a story. I have yet to read a story of hers I haven’t fallen in love with or been completed hooked from the beginning to end. It’s hard to pick a favorite but I have to say that The Sound of Glass may be either my favorite or a close second.

I cannot wait for Karen to release her new novel Flight Patterns this summer (it hits stores in May!) Plus, Karen co-authored The Forgotten Room which just came out this week so go pick up your copy today!

Connect with Karen:

I am giving away a copy of The Sound of Glass because I loved this novel so much. Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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Cover Reveal – Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Dear Carolina, the debut from Kristy Woodson Harvey was one of my favorite books of the summer so I was thrilled when asked to be a part of the cover reveal for her second novel Lies and Other Acts of Love (which hits stores in April!) To see my full review of Dear Carolina, click here – I promise you will love it as much as I did.

I am extremely excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Kristy’s newest novel along with a number of other bloggers (who I happen to love!) And no surprise…the cover is absolutely stunning! So here it is – the cover of Lies and Other Acts of Love…

LiesAndOtherActsofLove_HiRes

Summary:

Dear Carolina was praised as “Southern fiction at its best.”* Now author Kristy Woodson Harvey presents a new novel about what it really means to tell the truth . . .

After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE releases April 5th, 2016 from Berkley/Penguin Random House and is currently available for pre-order at your local bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Participating Bloggers:

Be sure to check out the list of amazing bloggers who are participating in this cover reveal!

Connect with Kristy:

Giveaway:

To celebrate the cover reveal, Kristy and her team are giving away three wonderful bundles of books penned by Tall Poppy writers!

  • Book Bundle 1: MY VERY BEST FRIEND, Cathy Lamb; THE DOG YEAR, Ann Wertz Garvin; CONFESSIONS OF A PARIS PARTY GIRL, Vicki Lesage; VINTAGE, Susan Gloss; DEAR CAROLINA, Kristy Woodson Harvey; FUGITIVE COLORS, Lisa Barr
  • Book Bundle 2: THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, Amy Guertin Reichert;  CLOSE TO DESTINY, Adria Cimino; LEMONGRASS HOPE, Amy Impellizzeri; KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE, Molly Duncan Campbell; ROME IN LOVE, Anita Hughes; LITTLE BLACK LIES, Sandra Block
  • Book Bundle 3: THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE, Sonja Yoerg; WAKING UP JOY, Tina Ann Forkner; WHILE YOU WERE GONE, Kate Moretti; THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, Nicole Baart; ENTANGLEMENT, Katie Rose; DEAR CAROLINA, Kristy Woodson Harvey

Enter to win via the Rafflecopter below:

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Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – Plus, a Giveaway!

71VAAthQU-LSummary: An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: Sophie Kinsella is one of the main reasons why I love chick lit and I absolutely adore all of her novels. When I first heard about Finding Audrey, I didn’t even realize it was a Young Adult novel – all I knew was that Sophie wrote a new book and I had to get my hands on a copy. I started this book on my flight home from Disney and finished it the next day…I made a good dent in it during the plane ride but I just couldn’t put it down!

Finding Audrey is a heart-warming and charming story about a teenage girl who struggles with social anxiety disorder. Audrey rarely leaves her house (except to attend therapy sessions), barely talks to anyone outside of her immediate family, and hides behind a pair of sunglasses so she never makes eye contact with anyone. I loved reading about Audrey’s journey and the different characters in this novel – they were unique and fascinating in their own ways.

This book is perfect for audiences of all ages and will have you laughing throughout. Finding Audrey is much more than just a mental health book; Sophie took a very heavy and important issue and put her own lighthearted twist on it (brilliantly I might add.) I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about this book for two reasons: the topic and the fact that it’s a young adult book. In my opinion, Finding Audrey is a winner!

Finding Audrey was an excellent transition into the Young Adult world for Sophie and I would love to see her write more of these types of novels in the future (although, I still love her adult work.) I highly recommend picking up a copy of this one – you won’t be disappointed!

Connect with Sophie:

I am giving away one copy of Finding Audrey because well, why not?! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki – Plus, a Giveaway!

22609307Summary: New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.” (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: Over the past year, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with historical fiction and I find myself picking up more and more of these types of books. A big shout out goes to Erika Robuck – I think my addiction started after reading her novels Call Me Zelda and Fallen Beauty (if you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend picking them up.) When I heard about The Accidental Empress, I knew I had to go out and buy a copy…this was a piece of history I only knew a little about but the cover and synopsis had me hooked.

The story centers on Sisi, a 15-year old who leaves her home to accompany her older sister who is betrothed (unwillingly) to the young emperor Franz. However, things don’t go as planned when the sisters and their mother arrive at court – Franz and Sisi grow a fondness for one another and ultimately fall in love and get married, making Sisi the young Empress. I love Sisi’s spirited character and throughout the book, truly felt the excitement, love, pain and frustration she experienced from the time she arrived at court until the very end of the book.

I fell in love with this part of Europe instantly and have since added these destinations to my bucket list of places to travel to. The detail Allison puts into her stories are remarkable especially with the beautiful settings and details of the palace; I felt like I was living in the book with these characters. Also, the wide variety of characters in this novel are phenomenal – there were so many who I loved and of course, some I couldn’t stand but that just made me like the book even more.

The Accidental Empress was such a beautiful story that while mid-book, I was already recommending to my friends and family; I knew they would love it just as much as I did and no surprise, they did! I heard a rumor Allison is writing a sequel to this story and if it’s true, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I highly recommend reading this book – it’s still one of my favorites from this year.

Connect with Allison:

Since I loved this book so much, I am giving away one copy! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry – Plus, a Giveaway!

2015-06-23-1435021425-4230796-IdeaOfLovecover-thumbSummary: As we like to say in the south: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Ella’s life has been completely upended. She’s young, beautiful, and deeply in love—until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she’ll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers’ block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He’s on the look-out for a love story. It doesn’t matter who it belongs to.

When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It’s the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It’s an opportunity to live out a fantasy – the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what’s a little white lie between strangers?

But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right? (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I don’t think there is a book Patti has written that I haven’t fell in love with. Every time she comes out with a new novel, I cannot get my hands on it fast enough and I usually spend an entire weekend curled up on my couch until I’ve finished reading it. Her novels completely engross me from the first page until the very end and The Idea of Love was no exception. Plus, I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful cover – it is absolutely stunning.

PCH-PattiThe story centers on Ella and Hunter, two people who meet and get to know each other under false pretenses. They both become so consumed in their own lies that it seems impossible to come forward with the truth. I loved reading about Ella and seeing how truly vulnerable she was – her husband leaves her for her best friend’s sister and she’s forced to live in a dump of an apartment…I mean, how much worse could it get? I also enjoyed Hunter’s character; even though he’s made some mistakes in the past, he still deserves a second chance at love.

Patti does such a wonderful job developing her characters and the towns they live in. I couldn’t get enough of Watersend with its small town charm and spunky residents – this book took me on a mini vacation down to South Carolina. The Idea of Love is another perfect summer read and should be on everyone’s list. It is the perfect story about love, life, and second chances – this book will have you laughing and crying all at once. I can’t wait to see what Patti comes out with next!

Connect with Patti:

Since I loved this book so much, I am giving away a copy plus a paperback copy of The Stories We Tell (another favorite of mine – to see my full review, click here.) Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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Cover Reveal – Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War

This is my first time participating in a cover reveal and I wish that I did this more often! I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I can’t help it – the covers are what sometimes draw me in especially as I leisurely walk through the aisles of the bookstore.

I am thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for Fall of Poppies, a book of short stories written by so many of my favorite authors. And I have to say, that the cover is absolutely stunning. So here it is…

Image Map

Summary:

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Excerpt from “Hour of the Bells:” A short story included in Fall of Poppies

Beatrix whisked around the showroom, feather duster in hand. Not a speck of dirt could remain or Joseph would be disappointed. The hour struck noon. A chorus of clocks whirred, their birds popping out from hiding to announce midday. Maidens twirled in their frocks with braids down their backs, woodcutters clacked their axes against pine, and the odd sawmill wheel spun in tune to the melody of a nursery rhyme. Two dozen cuckoos warbled and dinged, each crafted with loving detail by the same pair of hands—those with thick fingers and a steady grip.

Beatrix paused in her cleaning. One clock chimed to its own rhythm, apart from the others.

She could turn them off—the tinkling melodies, the incessant clatter of pendulums, wheels, and cogs, with the levers located near the weights—just as their creator had done before bed each evening, but she could not bring herself to do the same. To silence their music was to silence him, her husband, Joseph. The Great War had already done that; ravaged his gentle nature, stolen his final breath, and silenced him forever.

In a rush, Beatrix scurried from one clock to the next, assessing which needed oiling. With the final stroke of twelve, she found the offending clock. Its walnut face, less ornate than the others, had been her favorite, always. A winter scene displayed a cluster of snow-topped evergreens; rabbits and fawns danced in the drifts when the music began, and a scarlet cardinal dipped its head and opened its beak to the beauty of the music. The animals’ simplicity appealed to her now more than ever. With care, she removed the weights and pendulum, and unscrewed the back of the clock. She was grateful she had watched her husband tend to them so often. She could still see Joseph, blue eyes peering over his spectacles, focused on a figurine as he painted detailing on the linden wood. His patient hands had caressed the figures lovingly, as he had caressed her.

The memory of him sliced her open. She laid her head on the table as black pain stole over her body, pooling in every hidden pocket and filling her up until she could scarcely breathe.

“Give it time,” her friend Adelaide had said, as she set a basket of jam and dried sausages on the table; treasures in these times of rations, yet meager condolence for what Beatrix had lost.

“Time?” Beatrix had laughed, a hollow sound, and moved to the window overlooking the grassy patch of yard. The Vosges mountains rose in the distance, lording over the line between France and Germany along the battle front. Time’s passage never escaped her—not for a moment. The clocks made sure of it. There weren’t enough minutes, enough hours, to erase her loss.

As quickly as the grief came, it fled. Though always powerful, its timing perplexed her. Pain stole through the night, or erupted at unlikely moments, until she feared its onslaught the way others feared death. Death felt easier, somehow.

Beatrix raised her head and pushed herself up from the table to finish her task. Joseph would not want her to mourn, after two long years. He would want to see her strength, her resilience, especially for their son. She pretended Adrien was away at school, though he had enlisted, too. His enlistment had been her fault. A vision of her son cutting barbed wire, sleeping in trenches, and pointing a gun at another man reignited the pain and it began to pool again. She suppressed the horrid thoughts quickly, and locked them away in a corner of her mind.

With a light touch she cleaned the clock’s bellows and dials, and anointed its oil bath with a few glistening drops. Once satisfied with her work, she hung the clock in its rightful place above the phonograph, where a disk waited patiently on the spool. She spun the disk once and watched the printed words on its center blur. Adrien had played Quand Madelon over and over, belting out the patriotic lyrics in time with the music. To him, it was a show of his support for his country. To Beatrix it had been a siren, a warning her only son would soon join the fight. His father’s death was the final push he had needed. The lure of patrimoine, of country, throbbed inside of him as it did in other men. They talked of war as women spoke of tea sets and linens, yearned for it as women yearned for children. Now, the war had seduced her Adrien. She stopped the spinning disk and plucked it from its wheel, the urge to destroy it pulsing in her hands.

She must try to be more optimistic. Surely God would not take all she had left. (Reprinted Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers)

To celebrate the cover reveal of Fall of Poppies, the team is doing a giveaway! Enter the Rafflecopter below to win print copies of After The War is Over, A Memory of Violets, and Land of Dreams!

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Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey – Plus, a Giveaway!

DearCarolinaCoverHighResSummary: One baby girl. Two strong Southern women. And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made… (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I was looking forward to reading Dear Carolina ever since I got an email about it; after reading the synopsis, I knew this would be a book that I would love. I learned a lot about this book through my author Q&A session with author Kristy Woodson Harvey (click here to see the full interview) and I couldn’t wait to dive in myself. Dear Carolina is a heartwarming and dazzling story about love, friendship and family – this is definitely one of my favorite books from 2015.

The story centers on two women who are completely different but share an unconditional love for baby Carolina. Khaki, Carolina’s adoptive mother is a woman who on the outside seems to have it all – a wonderful family, thriving career and homes in both the city and country. And then there is Jodi, a recovering alcoholic who jumps from job to job and ends up stranded (alone and broke) after she tells her boyfriend she’s pregnant. Each chapter in the story is a letter written to Carolina switching between the voices of Khaki and Jodi. I enjoyed reading from the perspectives of both women and the author did a brilliant job weaving the two stories together.

Harvey-Port-02-e1429142736291One of my favorite parts of the book was how much detail Kristy put into describing the southern town, lifestyle and characters. I instantly fell in love with Kinston and felt like I was experiencing the story along with these women. I still cannot believe this is Kristy’s debut novel. The way the story was written, I felt like this author had been writing books for years and years.

Dear Carolina is a delightful piece of southern fiction and absolutely perfect for the summer. It is a beautiful story about the power of love and family, regardless of what circumstance you are born into. As Kristy states in the book: ‘you can never have too many people who love you.’ I highly recommend picking up a copy of this one and I can’t wait to see what Kristy comes out with next. I see a bright future ahead for this author!

Connect with Kristy:

Because I loved this book so much, I am giving away a copy to one of you readers! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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Author Q&A with Kaira Rouda – Plus, a Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of her new novel Laguna Nights (which just hit stores last week), we interviewed Kaira Rouda and asked her questions about her new novel, her writing, and even what she has coming up next. I loved getting to know Kaira through her Q&A session and we are thrilled to have her on the blog today!

Laguna Nights CoverThank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for Laguna Nights?

Thank you for having me here, Karen! The inspiration for Laguna Nights is all around me, as I’m so lucky to live in Laguna Beach, California! I knew I wanted to start a series with this gorgeous town as a setting. A friend of mine is married to one of the former stars of the MTV Reality TV Show Laguna Beach: The Real OC. We started talking and the notion of what happens to reality stars after the spotlight of fame has dimmed. The other notion that struck me was what would it be like to be frozen in time in high school, forever, with the episodes available for instant download everywhere.

 How do you come up with your ideas for books?

In general, I’m a writer who is firmly grounded in setting. Settings, to me, provide the anchor to all of my stories. So whether it is the suburbs of Ohio where I spent most of my life, or more recently, a beach community in California or an island off the coast of South Carolina where we vacationed for years, my stories begin with a place.

What is your writing process like? Do you write an outline and do you write every day?

I’m not a plotter but I’m beginning to appreciate the benefits of an outline – as long as I don’t have to stick to it as I write the story.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received about your books so far?

This just happened the other day! A reader wrote to tell me she’d just re-read my first novel, Here, Home, Hope, and loved it as much as the first time. That pretty much made my day! The best part about being an author, and sending your stories into the world, is when something you have written resonates in a positive way with a reader. It’s the best feeling. Of course, there are plenty of other days when those one-star reviewers clobber your heart, so I try to focus on the positive. My hope is that my books, whether contemporary romance or women’s fiction, leave readers feeling entertained and with a happy heart.

I love the cover of Laguna Nights! Who designed it and how many different ones did you go through until you found the right one?

Thank you so much! I’m especially proud of the cover because my oldest son, Trace, who is a fabulous photographer (check out his website www.traceroudaphotography.com) shot the photo. The wonderful cover designer Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations made the cover magic happen. Laguna Heights, the next story in the series, will showcase their talents again!

What are you currently reading?

I just finished At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen, which was amazing, and I’m looking forward to jumping into my TBR pile. It’s huge right now; so many great books, so little time. I’ve been writing a lot lately and when I’m mid-story, I can’t read. But I have a little writing break now and I’m diving in.

kaira-rouda PhotoWhat writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Read. Read everything. All types of genres. And then write, write all the time. And then repeat all of the above. And most important, don’t ever give up.

Do you have any fun plans for the summer besides celebrating your new book?

I’m headed to my first ever RWA (Romance Writers of America) Conference in New York City, so I’m excited about that. My whole family is coming with me, so I know it will be a busy, wonderful time both at the conference and around the city. We’re mostly at home this summer as we prepare to send my youngest away to college at the end of August.

Do your children love to read as much as you do?

Half and half. I have four kids and two of them are big readers, but all four of them are creative. I mentioned my oldest son’s love of photography. He’s brilliant visually/spatially and has just launched his career in commercial real estate after a couple of years at a leading digital ad agency. My daughter, who just graduated college, is a screenwriter paying her dues in LA. My middle son who will be a college junior is a Mandarin major who loves languages, is working on a novel and already has a book published called Teens Happen that he wrote in high school. My youngest is a singer/songwriter who is following his dream and attending Berklee College of Music in the fall. I’m so proud of my creative kids.

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

My next story in the Laguna Beach series, Laguna Heights, will be released on September 15th as part of a boxed set called Love Ever After releasing. And my next women’s fiction novel – title still TBD – is releasing May 2016! I’m so excited for that one even though it seems like a long time from now. If I’ve learned anything it’s that time flies!

Thanks again for having me, Karen!

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To celebrate the release of her new novel, Kaira and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of Laguna Nights for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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