Tag: fiction

It’s Book Pub Day! New Releases: September 29, 2020

Hi! It’s Pub Day, here again! There are some INTRIGUING new books being released into the world today, everybody. Shall we take a look?   Fiction The Bell in the Lake: A Novel, by Lars Mytting   Just Like You: A Novel, by Nick Hornby 

It’s Pub Day! New Books to Read! September 22, 2020 Releases

Hi! Tuesday is Publication Day in Book World. It’s the most exciting day for an author: new books are released by their publishers, we get to read them, and all are happy. Because I know many of you like to read as much as I 

Leah Reads: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Leah Reads: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age centers its story on a late evening in Philadelphia, when a young Black woman’s boss calls her in a last-minute emergency to babysit her young daughter. Emira, the babysitter, is asked to take the toddler to the neighborhood’s upscale grocery market, where she is accused of kidnapping the white child. The story spirals from there: Emira’s acceptance of, then resistance against, the societal expectations that had immediately deemed her guilty, her boss’s over-the-top obsession with proving herself a nonracist, all set against the backdrop of Instagram culture and coming-of-age adulthood.

This novel is different than anything I’ve read–that’s a good thing–in that it’s very rare one reads a book where she’s not quite sure how to feel about the villain character: Do I like her? the reader thinks. Is it okay if I like herSuch a Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel, and she writes her characters with such a gentle pen that it’s not until I was halfway through the book that I figured out who the antagonist really was–and it’s only then, once you’ve softened yourself to the character, that you realize how insidious and manipulative our societal structures have shaped our viewpoints.

Such a Fun Age is a novel about race, and class, and privilege. It tells a story of the place of entitlement, ambition, and capitalism in modern American culture. The reader will like Alix well enough until she really, really doesn’t. She will develop very certain opinions of Alix’s group of friends. The reader will also fall in love hard with Emira, the main character, and her young charge, Blair, and see the child–as well as our methods modern parenting–through her kindhearted babysitter’s clear eyes.

Reid sends her reader a multi-layered message with both craft and heart. If this is what she can do with a first book, I look forward to seeing what she gives us next.

Just Five Questions with Leah DeCesare

I’m delighted to introduce you to Leah DeCesare. She’s the award-winning author of Forks, Knives, and Spoons and the nonfiction parenting series Naked Parenting, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three. Her articles on parenting have been featured in The Huffington Post, 

Leah Reads Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

Leah Reads Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon

This wacky, charming novel. . . draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance. . . Hilarious and moving.People

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

Just Five Questions with Kathleen Barber

Let’s meet Kathleen Barber, author of the psychological thriller Are You Sleeping: she was raised in Galesburg, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law, and previously practiced bankruptcy law at large firms in Chicago and New York. When she’s not writing, Kathleen enjoys traveling the world with her husband.

A bit about her debut novel, Are You Sleeping:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

Doesn’t that sound good? But wait! There’s more!

Are You Sleeping is being developed as a series for Apple. Created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Chernin Entertainment/Endeavor Content. Octavia Spencer is set to star, and Sarah Koenig, the creator and producer behind true crime podcast “Serial,” will consult on the series.

I am honored to have Kathleen Barber here today for Just Five Questions. She’s a fellow member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and though we met briefly at a recent retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I’m delighted to get to know her better here. If you haven’t yet read Are You Sleeping, I wholeheartedly recommend doing so soon. It’s a page-turning thriller, and I have a feeling that once the Apple television series is released, it’s going to be something everyone‘s talking about.  

Now, on to Just Five Questions:

When faced with setbacks or rejection with your writing, what was something that made you push through?

No matter how many rejections I’ve accumulated (and it’s been a lot), I’ve never had a problem continuing to write. Writing is so inherent to who I am that I can’t not write, and so, while rejections have dented my self-confidence at times, they’ve never stopped me from writing.

Continuing to submit work to agents and for publication, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult. Ultimately, I kept doing it because I felt like I had nothing to lose. Sending email queries cost me nothing but time, and the potential for reward was so great. After the first dozen rejections or so, I realized that no agent was going to send me a personalized note telling me I was the worst writer she had ever seen or otherwise mock me, and that realization helped melt any remaining reluctance I had to continue querying.

I did spend a couple of years querying a coming-of-age story before I wrote Are You Sleeping, and I eventually pulled that one from queries once I was ready to query AYS. I still really like that first story, and I still work on it sometimes, but now I write it just for myself. 

What methods do you use to balance the quiet life a writer needs to work with the necessary business of being a person with friends, family, and social responsibilities?

I’m extremely lucky in that I’m able to write full-time right now, so I treat writing as though it’s a more traditional job: writing during the customary workday, logging the time I spend writing and doing other writing-related tasks like book promotion, and limiting the amount of non-writing things I do during “work hours.” It’s an ideal set-up and I feel really fortunate to have it—when I was working full-time as a lawyer, the balancing act was much different and much more complicated. 

Back then, the only way I was able to get any writing done was by carving out a weekend day to spend on writing and ignoring everything else. I once read this profile of Wendy Williams, and it included a mention of how she takes (or did, at the time this article was written) Sundays for herself. She spends so much of the rest of the week working and being “on,” but on Sundays, she doesn’t leave the house and instead spends the day in her private room doing only what she wants. I’m paraphrasing here because it’s been years since I read this, but the general idea stuck with me and was the model for how I would fit in my writing when I was working full-time: On (many) Sundays, I didn’t leave the apartment, and I just worked on my writing. 

I think a lot of busy creative people reading this will appreciate the permission to take that time for themselves. Speaking of time, what is your morning routine? 

I don’t keep a set routine—I let how I’m feeling that morning dictate how my day begins. Some mornings I wake up with an idea in my head and ready to jump directly into work, and some mornings I need a bit more time to get going. The one constant, however, is that I always start with breakfast! I have never understood people who don’t eat breakfast; I always wake up starving. I usually have an English muffin with peanut butter, an apple, and some coffee, and that keeps me fueled for a morning of writing.

What’s your favorite form of exercise? (And on the flip side, what’s your favorite way to be lazy?)

I’m a fan of the elliptical machine—I’m usually in desperate need of cardio in the late afternoon, but I hate running so the elliptical is a good compromise. I also really like yoga, which makes me feel strong both physically and mentally. (Random fact: I studied yoga in India and am certified as a teacher at the 200-hour level, but I don’t currently teach.)

My favorite way to be lazy is definitely to lay on the couch (or the floor if I’m feeling really lazy) and watch old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve watched some of my favorite episodes so many times that I can practically recite all the lines from memory; hence, re-watching them requires extremely minimal mental effort. (And sometimes after a long day of writing, that’s about all I’m feeling up to!)

Do you have any go-to methods for eating well? (And on the flip side: what are your food vices?)

When I’m really deep in writing a story, I tend to get annoyed at having to pause to eat and am tempted to just nibble on animal crackers all day. I try to combat that with smoothies—I like to make a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, banana, and frozen berries, and that’s convenient because I can just sip on it while I work. Depending on how hungry I am and what else I’ve eaten that day, I might add some peanut butter for protein.

The aforementioned animal crackers are definitely a food vice—I buy them in those big tubs from Trader Joe’s, and it’s so easy to nibble on them all day. Also, those chocolate-covered acai-blueberry things are a huge downfall of mine. When I buy them, I hide the bag so my husband doesn’t see how fast I go through them—it’s embarrassing! 

Thank you to Kathleen Barber for bringing such honesty and writing encouragement to leahferguson.net (not to mention that gorgeous cover of the Are You Sleeping paperback). If Trader Joe’s suddenly wonders why its sales of chocolate acai-blueberries have gone up, at least we’ll know why! Are You Sleeping can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Indiebound (and as always, if you can take a moment to leave a review on a book you’ve read and enjoyed, it is very much appreciated!). Learn more about Kathleen at her website, or through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Just Five Questions with Barbara Claypole White

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White creates hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her beloved OCD family. Her novels include The Unfinished Garden, The In-Between Hour, 

Get Set, Go

I’ve gone and signed up for National Novel Writing Month again. My goal: to write 1,700 new words of Book #2 a day for the next 31 days. If I keep up this pace, the end of November will find me a happy, over-tired writer of a completed, overwritten