JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX

Let your adventure begin...

Burt Weissbourd


Sean Penn


D.J. MacHale


Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Leah Vernon

THE UNION Official Blog Tour

William L. Myers Jr.


Kayleigh Nicol and Andrew Rowe


E.E. KNight


Robert McCaw


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


Mary Ting


Evie Green


Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha


Barbara Dee


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Patricia Leavy Interviews - The Location Shoot

Photo Content from Patricia Leavy

Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an award-winning, best-selling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chairperson of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College. She has published more than forty books; her work has been translated into many languages, and she has received more than forty book honors. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” Leavy currently resides in Kennebunk, Maine.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve known this since I was a little girl. My mother recently found some of my earliest “books.” Not only did I write and illustrate my stories, I also bound them with old wallpaper to make them look like proper books. The oldest one my mother found is from when I was six years old. Creativity, and writing specifically, have always been my passion and I believe my calling. But I wasn’t brave when I was young. Being a creative requires exposing yourself to endless rejection and critique. Moreso, the criticism is over the thing you love most, that you’ve poured your soul into. I didn’t think I could handle it, so despite it being my passion, I chose a different career path. Over time, I found myself knocking at the back door of the fiction publishing world. Eventually I realized that life is short, and I needed to follow my dream.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories connect us. We feel less alone. We see ourselves reflected in the pages. We also see the possibilities of who we might become. Storytelling is a way of documenting the real world and our experiences of it. Storytelling is also a way of reimaging how things might be.

Can you tell us when you started THE LOCATION SHOOT, how that came about?
I wrote it during the lockdown. Like many of us, I was feeling isolated, lonely, anxious, depressed. Life felt scary. We couldn’t even hug a loved one without existential fear. I wanted to escape to someplace joyful, romantic, and creative. I was watching a movie and Elton John’s song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” came on and all of a sudden, I was watching a scene play out in my mind—a group of actors and a filmmaker in an inn, having a drink, and a beautiful woman walks in, and dances with the filmmaker to that song. I could see it clear as day. I didn’t see anything in the movie on the screen after that, only the story playing out in my mind. The next morning, I began writing the novel. I started with that scene. I realized that the novel was about a group of actors making a film over a summer and living together in seclusion. Romance is my favorite genre to write, so I knew it would be a love story between one of the actors and the filmmaker’s friend, who he invited to join them for the shoot. Due to the pandemic, I was thinking about the big questions of life, and so my heroine, Ella Sinclair, became a philosopher and the film became about the meaning of life.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
There are two. There’s a scene where Ella and Finn have a romantic night in her room at the inn. He has a special meal sent to her room and they end up taking a candlelit bubble bath and talking about their dreams for the future. I love this scene so much—the sweetness of it—and it turned out, unbeknownst to me at the time, it paved the way for more books about these characters. Another favorite was when the actors, filmmaker, and Ella all talk about her book manuscript, a provocative philosophical treatise on sex. The conversation between Ella and Jean, the filmmaker, is hysterical. It was so much fun to write.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Develop a relationship with your writing that isn’t dependent on anything external, positive or negative. And allow readers to develop their own relationship with your work, which really isn’t any of your business.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting to write every single day. There have been countless other amazing experiences, from profoundly moving emails, letters, and in-person messages from readers that have touched me deeply, to the opportunity to travel the world speaking about my books, writing, and the arts. I’m grateful for all of it, but at the end of the day being published transforms you from a writer to an author. As an author, I have the privilege of doing the thing I love the most in this world every day: writing.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE LOCATION SHOOT
The following is an excerpt from a scene when Finn and Ella are taking a stroll around the inn, after dinner. They are smitten with each other but have yet to act on their feelings. They’re discussing the filmmaker, Jean Mercier, known for his avant-garde, cinematic films, and his many affairs. I like this scene because it reveals a lot about who Ella is—she’s smart and marches to her own beat. I also love discussions about art and how it relates to life.

They walked quietly for a few minutes, their hands so close they were millimeters from touching. Finn finally broke the silence and said, “That was funny how you called Jean out for sleeping with his cleaning woman.”

“I doubt it’s much of a secret. Everyone knows what he’s like.”

“He has a bit of a reputation for how he treats women. You’re such a strong person and you two are friends. I was wondering what you thought as a woman.”

“People want simple answers, but life is complex. He’s created some of the greatest, most interesting, sensitive, and provocative roles for women in the history of cinema. There’s a reason so many actresses are dying to work with him. And yet, he can be quite a piece of shit to women in his own life. Tell me, which is better: the male director who never casts women or does so only in clichéd, trivial ways but may be a hell of a good guy in private, or the man who creates professional opportunities for women that wouldn’t otherwise exist and gives the collective imaginary new, powerful representations of women, but uses up women in his personal life as if they were pieces of gum he was chewing until the flavor runs out?”

“Wow,” Finn muttered. “I don’t know how to respond.”

“That’s my point. When these are the choices, what’s the answer? How do we define morality? Who’s a good guy? Who’s a bad guy? What matters, life or art? How are they related? What’s public and what’s private? Despite what many claim, it’s rarely as simple as we might wish. Life is textured.” She paused and said, “As for me, I adore Jean as a friend and as an artist, but you’d never catch me in bed with him.”

Here's another excerpt. The group has dinner at the inn each night. I loved writing the conversations thar ensued. You get a glimpse into each character, and you see how their friendships develop. They also talk about ideas—big topics—and it was through these scenes that many “big” ideas were woven into the novel. The following short excerpt is from right after Albie, British veteran of stage and screen in his 70s, tells the group about meeting his wife of forty years, the love of his life. These are his words about love. I’ve chosen this excerpt because the novel is very much about love, and I think this captures it.

“True love is the greatest gift in the world; one mustn’t squander it or be foolish enough to think it will simply wait until it obliges our schedules.”

“So, it really was love at first sight,” Charlotte said wistfully.

“Indeed. Anyone who tells you that love at first sight isn’t real, well, those unlucky bastards have just never experienced it. Take it from an old fucker like me: when you get hit by lightning, you surrender to it. All the details, the little things you don’t know about each other, you’ll learn those over time, and if you really love each other, most of it won’t matter. There’s no replacing that inexplicable, inconvenient, all-encompassing feeling of love. Standing there in that moment, holding that slice of pie, I knew I couldn’t live without her. These days, people court each other like they’re applying for a job or running through a checklist. But this is where the artists—the poets, the novelists, the filmmakers—have always known better: true love has no reason.”

What is the first job you have had?

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
English because I loved creative writing. When I was in the 5th grade, my teacher exempt me from some assignments to allow me to write fiction. I tried to write a novel, but since I was only 10 years old, it didn’t pan out.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
I am an artist. It’s a part of my daily gratitude practice.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. Always choose love. Disappointment is better than regret.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would have been braver when I was younger and pursued being a novelist earlier in my career.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Boredom. Luckily, I’m a novelist. When the real world isn’t doing it for me, I create my own story worlds to crawl into.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
Framed poster size photographs of themselves. In leu of art, this woman lined her living room with massive photos of herself. For real.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Writing a scene in one of my novels. Honestly, most days you can find me at my computer either laughing hysterically or bawling my eyes out, muttering to myself, “That’s so good.”

Controversial filmmaker Jean Mercier is shooting a film on location in Sweden. While spending the summer creating his latest work of cinematic art, he lives in a nearby inn with his lead Albie Hughes, British veteran of stage and screen; Charlotte Reed, British indie film queen; Michael Hennesey, American TV heartthrob; Willow Barnes, fallen former teen star looking to make a comeback; and Finn Forrester, legendary Hollywood movie star. Mercier invites his friend Ella Sinclair—a beautiful, bohemian-spirited American philosopher known for her provocative writing—to stay with them for the summer. When Ella arrives, Finn is instantly enchanted by her, and soon they fall madly in love. Finn wants to plan a life together, but Ella harbors fears and convinces him to wait until the film wraps to decide their future. In a case of life imitating art, the film they are creating explores “the big questions” and prompts the stars to reflect on the crossroads they face in their own lives. How will their experiences on location affect them when they return home? The answers won’t come until months later, when the cast and crew reconvene on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival—but their revelation will make for one unforgettable night.

You can purchase The Location Shoot at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PATRICIA LEAVY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Location Shoot by Patricia Leavy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Matt Mendez Interview - The Broke Hearts

Photo Credit: Chris Summitt

Matt Mendez is the author of Barely Missing Everything, his debut novel, and the short story collection Twitching Heart. Barely Missing Everything has been called a “searing portrait of two Mexican-American families” by Publishers Weekly and “accessible and artful” in a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

Barely Missing Everything was named a 2019 Best YA Book by Kirkus, Seventeen Magazine, NBC Latino, and Texas Monthly. It was a Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers Nominee, awarded second place in the International Latino Book Awards, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Land of Enchantment Black Bear Book Award winner.

Like many of his characters Matt grew up in El Paso, Texas and continues to love and live in the Southwest, now in Tucson, Arizona. He is a military veteran and earned his MFA from the University of Arizona where has taught creative writing. Matt is the father of two daughters that he loves fiercely.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
I wasn’t the greatest student. I didn’t focus on lessons or teachers or anything like that. Instead I spent my time watching what else was happening inside the classroom, in the cafeteria and on the playground. How people acted depending on where they were and who they were around.

I observed that everyone had multiple versions of themselves, and these different versions moved through school, a place that from the outside could seem like one singular place but could actually be many wildly different places all at once. I remember having this thought while in middle school.

This could be why I end up writing books with multiple points-of-view, to show the different sides of a character, of a place. To write as wild a story as I can.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Too often it was writing that felt like the distraction. I wrote a majority of The Broke Hearts in my car, while my daughters were in folklórico practice. I am in the military, and have been for 27 years, so writing pulls me away from work and family, which often leaves me feeling guilty. Am I being a good enough dad? I am putting in enough effort at work? But writing stories is such an important part of who I am that I feel (hope) that readers find the same kind of magic in them that I do.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
The most memorable to write was the final chapter. I certainly don’t want to give away the ending (s0 I won’t), but after writing it the first time I felt the urge to immediately go back and start revising, feeling like the story wasn’t big enough for it yet.

But as I continued revise The Broke Hearts, the ending kept getting stronger, even though I didn’t change it much. And that felt like a sort of magic. The entire story eventually grew into, and became as forceful, as the original ending, which has never happened to me before.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is how we let each other know what matters to us. What we’re thinking about. What scares us. What thrills us. What and who we love. It’s central to how we connect.

Can you tell us when you started THE BROKE HEARTS, how that came about?
The Broke Hearts is a companion book to my first novel, Barely Missing Everything. There were multiple false starts with this one. I started a draft before BME came out in 2019, but it wasn’t working until and fell apart. Then 2020 happened.

That year, during the panic and turmoil of the pandemic—as well as upheaval in my own life—a new story began to take shape. The Broke Hearts became a book about the different ways we all live with broken hearts. How we love imperfectly. Heal imperfectly. Living through 2020 and the years that followed allowed me the grace to write an inventive, funny book about grief and heartbreak.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE BROKE HEARTS
The following scene is a lot of fun for a few reasons. There is chemistry between the characters—who’ve only recently met, a funny exchange, and we get to see a different version of JD, a side none of the other characters get to.

JD is meeting Isabel (Isa) at a bookstore, and the two are flirting their hearts out.

“Well, look who’s a smitten kitten,” Isa said without taking her eyes off her book.

“Meow?” JD immediately regretted playing along.

“You are so weird!” Isa exclaimed correctly. She slipped a bookmark into her paperback and shut the cover. JD studied her expression, wanting to figure out if she thought he was the good or bad kind of weird. She had a sly smile going, a mix of amused and flirtatious. The truth was, JD was a smitten kitten. Sure, Isa was fine as hell, with long, impossibly black hair and perfect teeth, her bottom row crooked in the cutest way. Her nose was thin and her cheeks sharp, her eyes a honey brown. But it was her bold and sure-of-herself way that had JD right where she wanted him—at least he was hoping that she wanted him.

“You don’t speak cat?” JD said. “Speaking multiple languages is a sign of badassness.”

“I took a year of it in high school,” Isa deadpanned. “But my teacher was a dog. I think he was the football coach, and they just made him do it. He also seemed kinda racist.”

“Was he always telling you how cats were lazy?”

Isa shifted in her seat. She was reading Dominicana by Angie Cruz. JD didn’t read, not that he was against it. He quickly scanned the stacks and stacks of books, realizing that if he wanted to start, he would have no idea where to begin. “It was more subtle. Like he once told us he only bit Mexicans.”

I really enjoy writing these types of scenes. Where characters are being mostly earnest with only a thin layer of humor to protect them.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Riding bikes! I used to love jumping on my bike and pedaling around the neighborhood with nowhere to go—for hours. If I ride a bike now, it’s for exercise or to get somewhere. I don’t have a group of friends to ride back and forth on the street doing wheelies with me either.

There is never undoing the past. But I do think we should try our best to repair the damage we have caused. To apologize. To make amends.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?

What is your greatest adventure?
Being a dad! Watching my daughters grow and learn, watching them write their own stories and having them reading them to me—they are both going to be much better writers than me one day. Watching them dance folklórico and learn to bake. Seeing their paintings and sketches. Listening to their jokes.

It’s amazing.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Like JD in The Broke Hearts, I deployed when I was still a teenager. I was sent to the Middle East when I was nineteen years old. Flying on a military transport jet, sleeping on a cot, living in tent city with my unit was surreal. At the time I remembered thinking how only a few months ago I was in high school and that many of my friends still were. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
Every single kind of relationship ends, so why not choose love? I would choose to love and then get crushed by heartbreak every single time.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I have plenty of regrets! And most of those come from times when I failed to be brave, when I didn’t have the courage to either stand up for myself or someone else. When I didn’t do the right thing. But I WOULDN’T go back and change any of those times because that isn’t the brave thing to do.

In this piercing follow up to Barely Missing Everything , JD and Danny, still reeling from the gutting death of their best friend by police gunfire, grapple with life-changing decisions and the kind of people they want to be, for Juan.

A year after losing their best friend, JD and Danny are still brokenhearted. JD’s impetuous decision to join the Air Force only makes him yearn for “before” more than ever. Danny, who’d rather paint murals than open a book and certainly never thought of himself as college material, makes the equally impulsive choice to do what Juan will never be able to and enrolls in a community college.

Danny’s father, The Sarge, is proud of him for the first time ever for living out Sarge’s own dream of being a first-generation college student, but Danny can’t shake the thought that it should be Juan, not him. And studying hasn’t gotten any easier for him despite his new academic goals. When Danny is on the verge of flunking out and JD gets notified of imminent deployment, the two are forced to confront their shared grief that led them to these paths. Can they learn to live lives that are their own in honor of Juan, rather than for him?

You can purchase The Broke Hearts at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MATT MENDEZ for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Broke Hearts by Matt Mendez.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Kim DeRose Interview - For Girls Who Walk Through Fire

Photo Credit: Sylvie Rosokoff

Kim DeRose grew up in Santa B arbara, California, where she spent childhood summers holed up in her bedroom, reading and writing stories (which she was convinced her local bookstore would publish). She now lives in New York City, where she still holes up in her bedroom reading, and writing stories. DeRose earned her MFA in film directing from UCLA, and she currently works in digital media. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found geeking out over her favorite obsessions (Twin Peaks, Harry Potter, and anything Halloween-related, to name a few), drinking way too much coffee, listening to way too many podcasts, and spending time with her family. For Girls Who Walk Through Fire is her debut novel.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a writer. I started dictating stories to my mom when I was three and started writing my own stories as soon as I was able. And by writing my own stories what I really mean is retelling famous fairytales—though, honestly, I still love a good fairytale retell. My best friend and I would spend summer afternoons holed up in my bedroom, writing and illustrating stories, which I was convinced we could just march over to our local bookstore to have published.

Then, when I was in third grade, my mom signed me up for an after-school writer’s workshop, and that’s when I really started thinking about my own stories and how to shape a reader’s experience. The class was taught by our teacher’s husband, who was a writer, and he introduced a lot of great concepts, including how to hook a reader early, and how to build cliffhangers into chapter endings. I still have the story I wrote, which involves death, grief, and ghosts (and, thematically, is actually pretty similar to the kind of thing I’d write today).

But all that said, as I got older, I let go of my writing and publishing dreams because I was convinced they weren’t practical. It took me a long time to circle back around and remember what I’d always known as a kid: that I am a writer.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
I would say if you want a life in writing (which isn’t the same thing as having a life in publishing, totally different) the key is to write. Yes, that’s obnoxious, but it’s also 100% true. Finding the time to sit down and write is often the hardest part. Before having kids, it was easier to spend my evenings and weekends writing. Now, as a parent, I’ve learned to take my writing time where I can get it. It might be an hour before the kids get up, or 30 minutes after they’re in bed, or 20 minutes on my lunch break. I’m not precious about how and when I write—in coffee shops is lovely, but I’ve also written in doctor’s offices, corporate lobbies, the backseat of the car during road trips. I do make a big effort to write every day, though. Sarah Ruhl’s book “100 essays I don’t have time to write” really captured the idea of stealing writing time whenever and wherever you can, which deeply resonated.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
Oh, hands down “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. But, alas, the universe is not a wish granting factory.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
Yes, there are a lot of books that have really changed me, but I’ll mention three that are specifically writing related.
  • The first is Anne Lamott’s brilliant “Bird by Bird.” I highly recommend this for all writers. I love all of her writing, but I return to this one again and again. I particularly love her suggestion to write “shitty first drafts,” which is great advice for anyone who is a recovering perfectionist.

  • The second is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic.” I especially loved her discussion of not relying on your art for your income. Yes, your art might make you money, but that’s not the reason to create it. And having a day job/alternate source of income can be quite freeing in that it puts less pressure on your art. I’d never thought about it that way. But I found that idea liberating, and I found her examples of all the writers who had day jobs to be quite validating.

  • The last one is Beth Pickens’ “Make Your Art No Matter What.” Like the above books, this is one I revisit. This book explained me to myself. Artists are people who have to create in order to feel connected to themselves and the world around them. They are happier when they are creating. Understanding this helped me further value the writing process and how it feeds me—and it helped me separate the value of that from the end result.
What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
When I first saw the email from my agent with the subject line “OFFER” it was absolutely the moment I’d always dreamed of. I was elated. And then when I called my agent and she read me the offering letter from my editor I cried. My editor was so enthusiastic and made clear from the start how deeply she understood this book. My path to publication was long and winding, so finally learning that one of my books would be out in the world was profoundly emotional.

Seeing the cover for the first time was also amazing. I had the chance to first see it when my editor and I met for coffee. I knew how talented the artist, Katt Phatt, was, and was thrilled that they and the design team really captured a vibe that matched the book.

  • 1. This is my first published YA novel but the 3rd YA novel I’ve written. I started brainstorming the book on and off in 2016, started outlining it in 2019 in between other projects, but didn’t sit down to write it until the spring of 2021. Once I did, the first draft came pouring out in 7 weeks.
  • 2. Like Elliott, I grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Santa Barbara High.
  • 3. Adams Elementary, where Elliott attends her weekly support group, is where I almost went to school (we lived nearby), but I ended up attending Roosevelt Elementary instead.
  • 4. The coffee shop Elliott and Madeline go to in chapter 2 doesn’t exist in real life, but it was loosely modeled after one that I used to go to in LA, which was, in fact, called Anastasia’s Asylum.
  • 5. The names Elliott and Madeline were both on my short list when we were naming our daughter.
  • 6. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time at Franceschi Park, where the coven gathers. We had family picnics there when I was a kid, and as a teenager people from my high school used to go there to drink. I can neither confirm nor deny if I was one of those people!
  • 7. There is now a park ranger on-site at Franceschi Park who actively kicks you out at sunset, so sadly, it’s not actually an ideal place for coven gatherings in real life. But a girl can dream.
  • 8. I was part of a Girl Scout troupe from private school Laguna Blanca (Chloe’s school) because my cousin, who is my age and whom I was close with, went there. I was the only public-school kid in the troupe and I always felt like a complete outsider—especially when we met at troupe members’ fancy Montecito or Hope Ranch homes.
  • 9. I based Mary’s house on my childhood home (though her décor is quite different).
  • 10. The final moment in the book always makes me teary.
What is the first job you have had?
I started babysitting for families when I was in 7th grade.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
English; unsurprisingly, I loved reading and talking about books.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Trick or treating. I still dress up for Halloween every year (always and forever!) but the thrill of Halloween and trick or treating as a kid just can’t be beat.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

What's your most missed memory?
Visiting my grandparents’ home. My grandfather had a huge collection of antique clocks in the basement that he liked to tell me about, and my grandmother, who loved to crack jokes, always made me a rhubarb pie, and after dinner we would sit around their kitchen table and play card games like Spite and Malice.

Which incident in your life totally changed the way you think today?
When I was 15 years old, I witnessed the death of a close family member and it profoundly transformed me. I felt awakened by that experience, with a newfound awareness that we all die, and that we will all lose everyone we love—so we had better use our time well.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Yes, and I would do it again.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or to have never loved before?
True love with a guarantee of heart break. All love eventually ends in heart break because inevitably we all die. But that’s all the more reason to love while we have the privilege of being alive.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
David Bowie! To be a rock star who constantly reinvents themselves and always walks to the beat of their own drum? Yes please.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I’ve had a recurring dream most of my life where I see a mountain and then realize it’s not a mountain, it’s a tsunami headed my way. Terrifying.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I actually think the late 80’s through the 90’s were a pretty great time to be a kid, so I don’t think I’d choose differently than what I experienced.

First Heartbreak?
Oof. It hurt. I also should have seen it coming when my then boyfriend gave me a mixed tape that had a Charlie Brown quote on the front that read, “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like unrequited love.” When I asked him why he included that quote he claimed to not know what unrequited meant, but I mean…

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
This morning.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I went to Kenya to visit my cousin, who was doing research on hyenas in the Masai Mara. I stayed in her research camp for nearly 2 weeks and went on rounds with her every morning and evening. It was amazing and also, at times, terrifying. On my first night, one of the cars in our caravan got stuck and as we tried to get it unstuck a pack of lions showed up and we had to jump back into the car. I’m 100% certain we shouldn’t have even been out of the car! But as the city-dwelling visitor I didn’t want to sit around and not help. I’ll never forget seeing the glint of eyes in the headlights as the lions passed us by.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I don’t know how unique it is, but I can’t handle crawling through tiny spaces. I was once traveling in Vietnam and visited the Cu Chi tunnels—a network of tunnels that were the Viet Cong’s base of operation during the Vietnam War. Tourists were invited to crawl through part of the tunnel, and I decided to participate. I ended up having a full-blown panic attack. I started sweating and shaking, and my heart was racing. There were three exits along the tunnel, and I had to take the first one. I will absolutely never do something like that again.

Those who would suppress and destroy you stand not a chance when confronted with the power that lies within these pages . . .

Elliott D’Angelo-Brandt is sick and tired of putting up with it all. Every week, she attends a support group for teen victims of sexual assault, but all they do is talk. Elliott’s done with talking. What she wants is justice.

And she has a plan for getting it: a spell book that she found in her late mom’s belongings that actually works. Elliott recruits a coven of fellow survivors from the group. She, Madeline, Chloe, and Bea don’t have much in common, but they are united in their rage at a system that heaps judgments on victims and never seems to punish those who deserve it.

As they each take a turn casting a hex against their unrepentant assailants, the girls find themselves leaning on each other in ways they never expected—and realizing that revenge has heavy implications. Each member of the coven will have to make a choice: continue down the path of magical vigilantism or discover what it truly means to claim their power.

For Girls Who Walk Through Fire is a fierce, deeply moving novel about perseverance in the face of injustice and the transformational power of friendship.

You can purchase For Girls Who Walk Through Fire at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KIM DEROSE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of For Girls Who Walk Through Fire by Kim DeRose.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 6, 2023

Guest Post with Kerry Winfrey - Faking Christmas

Photo Content from Kerry Winfrey

Kerry Winfrey is the author of the romantic comedies WAITING FOR TOM HANKS , NOT LIKE THE MOVIES, VERY SINCERELY YOURS, and JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG, all published by Berkley. She’s also the author of two YA novels. She lives with her family in the middle of Ohio.


1. I wrote most of Faking Christmas in the middle of summer, which is a challenging time to get into the Christmas spirit! I listened to Christmas music whenever I was writing and kept a Christmas candle on my desk to get the right vibes even when it was 95 degrees outside.

2. Faking Christmas is inspired by one of my favorite Christmas movies, Christmas in Connecticut. A couple of years ago when I was watching it, I asked my husband, “Why has no one remade this?” And then I remembered that I’m a writer, so I could rewrite it! My version is very different from the original, but I kept the basic premise of a farmhouse and a woman who’s lying to her boss.

3. Okay, so there’s technically a remake of Christmas in Connecticut from 1992. It was made for TV and directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (!), but I’ve never seen it.

4. “Last Christmas” by Wham! is my favorite song of all time, so I had to make the Laurel love it, too. And since many people (with horrible taste!) don’t love it, it was easy to make that the source of another argument between her and Max.

5. One thing I love about Hallmark or other TV Christmas movies is their dedication to a theme, so I wanted to be as over-the-top about Christmas as possible. Hence the name of the main character and her twin sister: Laurel and Holly. And yes, they WERE born on Christmas.

6. I included many of my favorite Christmas movies as Laurel’s favorites. I cry during It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf!

7. “Snowed in” is my absolute favorite romance trope (closely followed by similar tropes “forced proximity” and “just one bed”) so it was a thrill to write a book that’s based around a group of people getting snowed in.

8. Max is a Lego fanatic, which was very easy for me to write because my husband is VERY into Lego. If you aren’t part of the Lego world, you’d be surprised by how many acronyms are involved, many of which found their way into the book.

9. I spent so much time reading about Beef Wellington for the scene where Laurel tries to make it, although I’ve never attempted it myself…maybe this is my year.

10. Christmas in Connecticut is a screwball comedy, and I tried my best to translate that screwball spirit into book form. It was fun to write something that’s supposed to be zany, wacky, and over the top, but also it’s very hard to bring that energy to the written word! It reminded me of why I love classic screwball comedies so much (my favorites are the ones with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, specifically The Awful Truth).

Laurel Grant is playing house for the holidays--complete with a fake husband and kids--in this delightful, cozy rom-com by Kerry Winfrey.

Laurel Grant works as the social media manager for Buckeye State of Mind, an Ohio tourism magazine and website. She is most definitely not an owner of a farm...but one tiny misunderstanding leads her boss, Gilbert, to think she owns her twin sister Holly's farm just outside of Columbus. Laurel only handles the social media for the farm, but she's happy to keep her little white lie going if it means not getting fired.

And keep it going she must when Gilbert, recently dumped by his wife, invites himself over for the farm's big holiday dinner (as advertised on Meadow Rise Farm's Instagram, thanks to Laurel herself). Laurel immediately goes into panic mode to figure out how she can trick Gilbert into thinking she's basically the Martha Stewart of rural Ohio and keep her job in the process.

Laurel and Holly come up with a plan--all Laurel has to do is pretend to own the farm for one dinner. But when Laurel shows up at the farm, an unwelcome guest is there: Max Beckett, her nemesis since Holly's wedding. The annoyingly attractive man she hates will be posing as Laurel's husband just for the evening, but when a snowstorm traps them all for the entire weekend, Laurel is going to have to figure out how to survive with her job and dignity intact. Whatever the case, this promises to be the most eventful Christmas in ages...

You can purchase Faking Christmas at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KERRY WINFREY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Faking Christmas  Kerry Winfrey.

a Rafflecopter giveaway