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!

Connect with Kaira:

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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The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

41WB9BbfkIL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her–the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I love signing up for BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge every year because they introduce me to so many different books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. The Year My Mother Came Back is a beautiful and exquisite memoir about motherhood that had me completely engrossed throughout and I’m very glad it was on the lineup this year.

The book highlights mother-daughter relationships focusing mainly on Alice’s relationships with her own mother and daughters during one of the most difficult years in her life. Alice just found out she has breast cancer, her oldest (and adopted) daughter is going to college and begins to reconnect with her birth mother, and her youngest daughter is about to undergo a procedure to cure a birth defect which will result in an extremely long and painful recovery period.

One of my favorite things about this book was how the author jumped from the past to the present. I loved reading through Alice’s journey as she learns the truth behind her mother’s childhood, gains perspective on her current situation, and gets a second chance at mending their broken relationship.

The Year My Mother Came Back is a heart-warming, touching and relatable memoir that uncovers the truths about being a mother, both joyful and painful at times. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book especially if you are a mother or a daughter – it is a short read but will have you flying through the pages from beginning to end.

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Author Q&A with Karen White – Plus, a Giveaway!

Karen White is one of my favorite authors and I can never get enough of her books. I think at least one or twice a year, I gift one of her books to my friends or family because I want everyone else to experience her stories.

We loved having her on our blog last year (to see the full interview, click here) and to celebrate the release of her new novel The Sound of Glass, we asked Karen to come and visit us again! We are thrilled to have her on the blog today and we hope you enjoy the Q&A as much as we did.

51sUwrukhPL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for The Sound of Glass?

All of my books have multiple inspirations from all sources—I’m always studying the world around me. Two of the main plots of THE SOUND OF GLASS came from true crime mystery stories that I watched on TV. I was haunted by the stories, and knew that to exorcise them from my mind I needed to write about them.

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

I’ve received several letters from readers who have told me that one of my books changed their lives—helped them reconnect with family members, to forgive themselves or others, to move on from a difficult situation. To hear that my words have affected people I’ve never met and in such a positive way in so incredibly humbling and so very special.

I absolutely love the cover of The Sound of Glass! Who designed it and how many different ones did you go through until you found the right one?

I love this cover, too! Pictures of it don’t do it justice—the colors are so vibrant and the lettering all has a foil effect. This was the third cover they sent. The first was beautiful (woman in white flowing dress on beach) but looked too much like a feminine hygiene ad and was also pretty generic. The second one they sent was pretty much like the final cover—but with pink lettering. Third try was a home run!

With numerous books published, how do you feel your writing style has changed or developed since your first book?

Because I’ve had the opportunity to rewrite my first four books before they were re-released, I was able to really examine my first efforts at novel writing and see that there was lots of room for improvement! Happily, I realized that my books are also better now—the writing is tighter (no more kicking the proverbial dead horse!) and I think the plots and characters are now more real-to-life. I don’t pull any punches anymore because I feel as if my audience searches for a certain honesty in my novels.

Karen WHiteIf you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

What my daughter is doing—studying Historic Preservation and living in Charleston, South Carolina.

What are you currently reading?

All the Light we Can Not See by Anthony Doerr Just wonderful!

Do you have any fun plans for the summer (besides your book tour)?

Yes. Write the next book! And spend time with my new puppy.

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

I’m always working on something new! Next book is set in the Florida panhandle and the main character is a beekeeper. That’s all I can say now because that’s pretty much all I’ve written so far. :)

Connect with Karen:

To celebrate the release of her new novel, Karen and her team have graciously provided us with a copy of The Sound of Glass for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Plus, a Giveaway!

S91lUeBR2G1Lummary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since it was released but unfortunately with my huge TBR pile, I just never got to it. Then, the perfect opportunity arose when my girlfriends and I were talking about what to read for book club – we unanimously agreed on The Girl on the Train. This book is a powerful and complex thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the very end.

I was a little torn when reading this book. Yes, it definitely held my attention and I sped through it in a day or two because I was dying to find out how it ended. However, I’m not sure if blew me away – my expectations were probably too high because of all the incredible hype and reviews I read ever since the book came out.

The characters in this novel were intriguing yet disturbing in their own ways. I found myself wondering what the outcome would be the entire time with all of these different scenarios swirling around in my head. Also, the book is told from different points of view (which I think added a lot to the story) and through Rachel’s voice, the reader gets a glimpse into the mind of an alcoholic.

Overall, I definitely recommend reading this book – it will completely consume you from the beginning until the end. Is it one of the top books I’ve read this year? No. However, I did enjoy the story and following along as the reader finds out who is behind one of the main character’s disappearance. Plus, considering this was a debut novel from Paula Hawkins, I think she did a wonderful job.

Connect with Paula:

To celebrate her debut, we are giving away one copy of The Girl on the Train for one of you lucky readers! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US entries only):

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Author Q&A with Kristy Woodson Harvey – Plus, a Giveaway!

I finished Dear Carolina over the weekend and I loved it – it had everything I could ever want in a book. Plus, I still can’t believe this was Kristy’s debut novel; it seemed like she has been writing for years. My full review will be posted in the next week or so but until then, we hope you enjoy getting to know the author behind this fantastic novel!

I have enjoyed getting to know Kristy through social media and to celebrate the release of her debut novel, we sat down with her for an author Q&A session and asked her questions about her new novel, writing and much more. We are thrilled to have Kristy on the blog today and hope you enjoy getting to know more about this sweet and spectacular author!

DearCarolinaCoverHighResThank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for Dear Carolina?

Thank you so much for having me, Karen! I love your blog and have been so excited to share with your readers!

A few days after my son was born, my parents were staying with my husband and me, and our son was crying for no particular reason. I walked down the hall and, when my dad handed him to me, he quit. I’ll never forget him opening those huge blue eyes and looking up at me, totally content. He didn’t need to be fed or changed or put to bed. He only needed me. His mother.

And, in that moment, I realized something: I had expected to love him in a way that I’d never experienced before. But what I hadn’t counted on was how much he would love me back.

I remember asking myself that night, while I was holding him, what would have to happen in your life for you to be able to give up this person? And, on the flip side of that, what would it be like, as an adoptive mother, to know that your child would always have a deep, biological connection with another woman.

I realized two things right then. One, that giving up your child is the most selfless decision and the biggest gift that one woman could ever give another. And, two, that this feeling of deep connection to a baby didn’t come from giving birth; it came from knowing that you would do anything in your power to protect your child.

In that moment, as strange as it sounds, the characters of Khaki and Jodi came to me, and I just knew this whole story. I could hear Jodi’s Southern dialect and feel Khaki’s angst as she grappled with her career choices and her deep need to become a mother again. These characters took hold of me and lived in my mind until they came to life on the page. Line by line, sentence by sentence, I came to know them in a way that was as real as if they were sitting beside me.

How long did it take you to write Dear Carolina?

It took me probably two months to write the first draft, but probably six or seven months to edit it. And I worked on another draft in between, so, total, probably about a year!

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

I have had reviewers compare me to Emily Giffin, Patti Callahan Henry, Dorothea Benton Frank, Beth Hoffman… That is so amazing to me because these are authors that I admire so incredibly much. But I have also had readers tell me that the book helped them reveal a secret they had carried in silence for far too long, or come to terms with the fact that, just because a family member isn’t a blood relation doesn’t mean they have to feel differently about them. That floored me. It was totally unexpected and means so much to me.

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

Diana Kolsky at Penguin Random House designed the cover. And it was the very first one! I had originally pictured a farm scene, so we went through a few of those too, but this one just ended up feeling right. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, which makes me feel like we made the right choice! Plus, it’s a summer beach read! What could be better than the beach on the cover?

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

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is my favorite book, and I think I always go back to it for inspiration, even though I don’t think my writing is similar to hers. I love reading and have been introduced to so many great authors through becoming one myself. I just finished Natasha Boyd’s romance novels, which are fabulous, Cathy Lamb’s What I Remember Most, Ann Garvin’s The Dog Year, Kim Boykin’s A Peach of a Pair, which is coming soon. Getting to read things before they come out is such a cool perk! (Which you can relate, I know!)

Harvey-Port-02-e1429142736291What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

You have to be p-a-t-i-e-n-t. I feel like so much of this is a huge waiting game. And keep writing while you’re waiting. Perseverance pays off in the long run!

What are you currently reading?

The Last Child by John Hart.

Do you read to your son a lot and what are some of his favorite books?

I love reading to him! It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. We just started reading Charlotte’s Web, and it makes me so, so happy! He’s three so, right now, he’s most into this huge National Geographic dinosaur book that one grandmother got him and a book about Robots at Work that his other grandmother got him. I think he’s going to be a non-fiction lover! Mom is not quite as interested in those reads, but, of course, whatever he wants is okay with me!

Do you have any fun plans for the summer (besides the book tour)?

The book tour is definitely the main priority, and I can’t wait to get on the road and meet readers! So fun! We try to pack it up and stay at the beach all summer, so that will give me something great to look forward to as the tour winds down. I have friends coming plenty of weekends, a week with my extended family – and my 30th birthday is in July, so there will be some major celebrating!

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

My next novel, LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE will be out April 2016. The tentative date is April 5, but that could change. It’s all about family secrets and things we do to protect the people we love. I adore this book and can’t wait for it to be in readers’ hands. It has some similar themes to DEAR CAROLINA, but is very different in a lot of ways too. I’m about halfway through my third novel, but haven’t worked on it much during the promotion of DEAR CAROLINA, so I’ll be happy to dive back into. I’ve been working on it a lot in my head, so that usually means it will come flying out when I get back to it!

Connect with Kristy:

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

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The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall – Plus, a Giveaway!

516F5+G14JL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: Katherine Whitney has it all. She’s married, has two daughters, is the COO of Green Goddess & Co., a multi-billion dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, and with the release of her book on work-life balance, she is not only a media darling but she is a hero to working moms everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and her loyal assistant Lucy Cooper is the one holding most things together. But when Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy is faced with a difficult decision. Will she choose to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion? Her decision could change the trajectory of both of their lives. The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and most of all balance as it explores the hot-button issue that all women struggle with. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: ‘Having it all’…what does truly mean? To most women it means having a great career, a happy marriage, loving family and friends, and even squeezing in a little time for yourself – achieving the perfect balance. However, there aren’t enough hours of the day to do all of these things and it’s overwhelming to even think about juggling all of this in 24 hours; you have to sleep sometime! I know I’m not alone in this and I’m so happy Susie decided to write a story around it. The Balance Project is a fictional story about two women struggling to have it all – this book had me hooked from the very beginning.

The story centers on two women who are at different stages in their career and personal life but yet, they both seem to be struggling with balance. The main characters Katherine and Lucy were very relatable and the story even had a Devil Wears Prada feel. Susie’s writing flowed so easily and I couldn’t put this book down; I literally finished in 2 days.

ZP0PO6mzIn addition to the book, the author stood up a real life ‘Balance Project.’ Susie has interviewed around 100 successful women and asked them about balance and this concept of having it all. What is so great about this book and what Susie has accomplished with her real life Balance Project is that I don’t feel alone – there are so many women out there who struggle with achieving balance and all have a different definition of what that is. If you haven’t read any of the real life interviews Susie has done, I highly recommend swinging by her website and taking a peek! (http://www.susieschnall.com/the-balance-project/)

The Balance Project is a book I feel every woman should read, whether you struggle with maintaining the perfect balance or not (but hey guys, you should probably be reading this too!) I’m not saying trying to achieve balance is impossible; but this idea of balance – it is what you make it. It isn’t physically possibly to get all of these things done in one day…there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If you want to focus on certain areas in life, then you have to give a little in others. Thank you Susie for opening the doors for such an important topic!

Connect with Susie:

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Guest Post: Running Away From Home To Write by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is one of my favorite authors…if you haven’t read anything by her before, I highly suggest picking up a few copies – they make for the perfect summer reads. We are thrilled to have MKA on the blog today and I hope you enjoy her guest post as much as we did!

RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME TO WRITE by Mary Kay Andrews

There’s no place like home . . . unless you’re knee-deep in a stalled manuscript.

NEWmarykayandrewsThat’s why, years ago, I started running away from home to work on a book.

You’d think I could write anywhere. I cut my writing teeth working in daily newspaper journalism, crafting stories under the gun of a looming daily deadline—in a newsroom full of clattering typewriters and chattering reporters. When I was a reporter, I prided myself on the fact that I could and did write anywhere—in the backseat of a cab, on the side of a country road, even in an abandoned pasture during one memorable assignment covering a hostile prison take-over in a rural Georgia county.

Ironically, when I first left journalism a couple decades ago, my children were school-aged, so I could and did write whenever I had free moments. I would arrive at their school an hour before pick-up time, roll down my car windows and scribble away on a yellow legal pad.

But somewhere along the way, I began to crave solitude and quiet once I was deep into the writing process of a manuscript in progress.

I began to understand the need for isolation, so that I could immerse myself in the world of the book.

Every work of fiction has its own world. Mine is inhabited by imaginary people—but if my storytelling is to succeed, I have to be able to utterly believe in their existence—and understand the world around them. Turns out that’s not easy to do if you’re worrying about afternoon carpool or that night’s dinner menu.

I was still writing an Atlanta-set mystery series when I startled my husband by announcing that I planned to run away from home to work on the new book. At first I think he thought I planned a permanent furlough. But after I explained what I wanted, he graciously acquiesced.

A newspaper colleague had written a story about a cozy mom-and-pop motel in Destin, Florida, which seemed like just what the doctor ordered. It was within a day’s drive, dirt cheap, and situated right on the Gulf of Mexico.

I ran away to The Murmuring Surf motel, and it was pure magic. I bought a week’s worth of groceries and a tiny disposable charcoal grill—and a big bottle of cheap chardonnay, and the words seemed to flow non-stop. My story pulled together, and I’d discovered a cure for an ailing manuscript.

In subsequent years I sometimes took myself off to the physical location of the book. One memorable time I was working on a mystery whose denouement would occur at the sprawling Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. To my husband’s concern, I checked myself into a cheesy budget motel for a long weekend. He was worried about my safety, but the only danger I encountered was the fact that my room’s amenities didn’t include a corkscrew for that all-important cheap chardonnay.

Later on, I borrowed friend’s mountain cabins and beachside bungalows. My family grew grateful for my pilgrimages. Nobody wants to be around a writer who is freaking out about an impending deadline.

The turning point of my travels occurred the summer I began writing my first novel under the Mary Kay Andrews pseudonym. SAVANNAH BLUES was set in Savannah, not Atlanta, and besides, our vintage 1926 Craftsman bungalow was literally under siege of a horde of construction workers who were remodeling and building a new kitchen addition.

I removed myself to Savannah for the summer, renting a basement apartment in a historic downtown townhouse, not just because it was quiet and sane—unlike my own home, but to insert myself into the fictional world of my protagonist, Weezie Foley.

BeachTownGradually, I began to walk in Weezie’s footsteps, to attend dinner parties she would attend, ride my bike around the route she would drive. The getaway informed my plotting—and saved my sanity.

Since then, I’ve run away from home with every new book. Last year, when I was writing BEACH TOWN, I went on a crusade to find the perfect, old school Florida beach town, in the same way Greer Hennessy, the protagonist of the book does. Eventually, Greer and I found ourselves in the real Gulf coast town of Cedar Key. I settled into a cheap motel room—which later inspired the Silver Sands Motel of the book, and later into a rented cottage.

Riding a golf cart around Cedar Key, strolling to a late night dinner at the town’s best restaurant, and taking a boat tour of the surrounding waters, I began to feel the tension of deadline ebbing. I found myself in the world of the book. My mind got quiet, and my fingers found themselves tapping a happy tattoo on my laptop keyboard.

Ahhh. I’m already planning my next runaway adventure.

Connect with Mary Kay Andrews:

To celebrate the release of her new novel, the wonderful team at Tandem Literary have provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of Beach Town for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below (US Entries Only):

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Author Q&A with Emily Liebert – Plus, a Giveaway!

I’ve been a huge fan of Emily Liebert since I read her first novel You Knew Me When (to see my full review, click here) and loved her second novel When We Fall even more! Plus, not only is her writing spectacular but Emily is so sweet to her readers – I personally have loved getting to know her through social media.

When I heard she was coming out with a new novel, I knew I had to host a Q&A session with her so that everyone could see how wonderful she is and hear a little bit about more about her writing process. We are thrilled to have Emily on the blog today – plus, we are giving away a copy of her new book Those Secrets We Keep, which just hits stores on June 2nd!

23398926Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for Those Secrets We Keep? How do you come up with your ideas for books?

I’ve always been fascinated by secrets. I think everyone has at least one—sometimes a really juicy one! I wanted to explore issues of trust between girlfriends and within romantic relationships—both spousal and otherwise. I also wanted dig deep into the zeitgeist of a culture that’s become so obsessed with sharing everything through social media. What’s real and what’s not? What’s underneath he perfect façade? My ideas typically come from my own life. This is not to say that every book I write is about me! However, a family member or friend might relay a story to me and that will trigger a larger idea.

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

When I’m writing a first draft, I typically write five days a week (sometimes four) for about four hours a day. If I get a half chapter written each day, I’m happy! And, yes, I always outline before I dive in. That said, I typically change 75% of what I outline as the story and characters develop.

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

A woman who was in the hospital dying from terminal cancer reached out to me to say that my books brightened her week. What could be better than that?

I love the covers of all your books! Who designs them and how involved are you in the process?

The fabulous design team at Penguin Random House creates my covers! I’m VERY involved. I always have a clear idea of how the book should look, so I have no problem contributing my two cents!

Do you have a favorite author and what authors or books have inspired you to write? I can never pick one!

So a few favorites: Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Sarah Pekkanen, Sarah Healy, Shari Arnold, Lauren Weisberger, and Meg Mitchell Moore. The author who has most inspired me is Judy Blume. Hands down. Her book Summer Sisters in the reason I’m an author.

2012_02_20_Emily Liebert_ 10704_v2With an author as a mother, do your children love to read? What are some of their favorite books?

My children DO love to read, specifically my older son, Jaxsyn, who’s almost six. Jaxsyn’s favorite book is A House is A House for Me. My almost five year old, Hugo, loves anything Dr. Seuss.

Do you have any fun plans for the summer?

We have no travel plans, but we lives close to the beach. And I plan to log a lot of hours there with my kids this summer!

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

Yes! I just finished writing my fifth book, Some Women, which will publish on April 5, 2016. And I’m currently dreaming up an idea for book number six!

Connect with Emily:

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

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Author Q&A with Anita Hughes – Plus, a Giveaway!

I fell in love with Anita Hughes’ writing when I picked up her novel Lake Como back in 2013 (to see my full review, click here) and I was thrilled when I heard she was coming out with a new book this year. To celebrate the release of her new novel French Coast, which hit stores in April, we sat down with Anita for an author Q&A session and asked her questions about her new novel, her writing, and what she has coming up next.

We are thrilled to have Anita 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 French Coast? How do you come up with your ideas for books?

FrenchCoast_Final Cover 1.28My inspiration for FRENCH COAST was the Carlton-Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes. I’ve always thought it was incredibly glamorous since I watched HOW TO CATCH A THIEF with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly years ago, It is such a gorgeous setting with its pink and white marble lobby and stone turrets. I thought it would be the perfect location to set my new novel.  I usually get my ideas from past experiences or little snippets of conversation I hear.

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

I do outline but I find the story almost always takes on a life of its own with new characters and plot twists. But it is nice to know to have a point of reference. I write every day, usually about 1000 words. Once I have written them, I spend the rest of the day revising until I am completely happy.

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

I love it when people say my books take them away and they feel like they are on Lake Como or the French Riviera and can taste the food and see the beautiful locations.

I love the covers of all your books especially Lake Como and French Coast! Who designs them and how involved are you in the process?

Thank you, I adore my covers! I haven’t too much input because they are all perfect when I see them for the first time. St. Martin’s has gifted cover designers and I feel very fortunate.

All of your books make me instantly want to take a vacation – what has been your favorite location to write about?

That’s a difficult question, because I love all my locations too. I really love Cannes – where FRENCH COAST is set. The Boulevard de la Croisette is full of wonderful boutiques and cafes. I love the harbor and the proximity to Monte Carlo and Nice.

20101121_FFF_0023-EditcIf you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

I would work in a bookstore! I have always loved books and I worked in a bookstore when I was right out of college and loved every minute of it.

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

I read nonstop but I actually do have a favorite author – Penny Vincenzi. She is a British author who writes thick books full of wonderful characters. My favorite non-living author is Somerset Maugham. I have read all his books and I think you can learn everything you need to know by reading him.

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

I am very excited because ROME IN LOVE – set in Rome and about an actress who gets the Audrey Hepburn role in the remake of Roman Holiday – comes out on August 4th.

Connect with Anita:

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

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Splinters of Light by Rachael Herron

51fWw3Yq3XL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: From the acclaimed author of Pack Up the Moon comes a poignant and beautiful novel about love, loss, and the unbreakable bonds of family—particularly those between mothers, daughters, and sisters.

Ten years ago, Nora Glass started writing essays about being a single mother of a six-year-old daughter. Her weekly column made her a household name, and over the years, her fans have watched Ellie grow from a toddler to a teenager.

But now Nora is facing a problem that can’t be overcome. Diagnosed with a devastating disease that will eventually take away who she is, she is scared for herself, but even more frightened about what this will mean for her sixteen-year-old daughter.

Now Nora has no choice but to let go of her hard-won image as a competent, self-assured woman, and turn to the one person who has always relied on her: her twin sister, Mariana. Nora and Mariana couldn’t be more different from one another, and they’ve always had a complicated relationship. But now the two sisters will have to summon the strength to help them all get through a future none of them could have ever imagined, while uncovering the joy and beauty that was always underneath. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s not too long ago so I knew this book would be hard for me to read but I figured, it’s written by Rachael Herron so I have to read it because I love all of her novels. I must admit that this book did take me a while to read but that was only because of how close it hit home; there were multiple times I would become extremely emotional reading it and would have to take a step back. The Splinters of Light is a remarkable and heartbreaking story about the bonds of family and the terrible effects of Alzheimer’s disease (in this case, early-onset) – this book will have your reaching for tissues so have some handy.

The story focuses on the three Glass women: Nora (an author who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s), her twin Marianna (the sister who cannot seem to get anything right) and Nora’s daughter Ellie (a high school student struggling with romance, college prep and ‘what to do with her life’). All three women in the novel were intriguing and very relatable – I felt like I was reading about my family or friends. Also, I loved diving into the relationships between all three women and it was incredible to read about the love they have for one another while coping with tragedy.

zdNkp9FbOne of the things I loved most in this book was how Herron didn’t just write from one perspective – as the reader, we were able to see how each of the women were feeling throughout the book. My grandmother and I were extremely close and when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it was very hard for me – I was in college when she first forgot who I was. I could relate to every thought and emotion Marianna and Ellie were feeling and Herron was spot on describing the impact Alzheimer’s has on the family. Also, I don’t think I ever fully understood the frustration and fear my grandmother and anyone diagnosed must have gone through until reading this book. It’s one thing to read about the symptoms but another to hear about it from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s, something that my grandmother was never fully open about.

Reading through some of the similarities between Nora and my grandmother (getting lost while driving and not knowing where you are), my heart was literally aching and I felt like I had to stop every few chapters to recover. What was incredibly shocking to me was to read about early-onset Alzheimer’s, something I’ve never known that much about until hearing about the novel Still Alice (a book I still haven’t read) and reading this book. To think that something this awful could happen to someone so young is terrifying and I’m glad this book opened my eyes to something I didn’t know a lot about.

The Splinters of Light is a beautifully written and extremely emotional read that will stick with me for a long time – I highly recommend picking up a copy of this. Whether you have somehow been personally touched by this awful disease or not, I think it’s important for everyone to read this novel. Bravo Rachael – you’ve done it again!

To read more about Rachael’s inspiration for this book, her writing and what she has coming up next, click here to see the full author Q&A we held with her back in March!