Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This weekend I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and it was amazing. I can’t believe how much is packed into this little book! The story of two half sisters born in Ghana and the seven generations that follow them, we’re taken from the beginning of the slave trade to modern day, exposing those of us who need a historical and cultural awakening to the inexhaustible injustices the African and African American people have been forced to (and continue to) endure. The storytelling is rich and haunting, the diverging perspectives gives such a broad range of experiences. I think it should be required reading!


Book Review – Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

You’re going to want a box of tissues when you read Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Based on true events, Lilac Girls weaves narratives about WWII through Caroline, a wealthy philanthropist working for the French consulate in New York; Kasia, a Polish teenager caught working for the underground resistance movement; and Herta, the only female surgeon at the Ravensbruck women’s “reeducation” camp. ⠀

This novel, Hall Kelly’s debut, is simply stunning. Each character brought a unique voice to this incredibly tenuous and traumatic time in our world history. While I was completely wrapped up in each character’s story, I was glad for the transitions because I think reading any one of the characters for the whole book would have been too difficult. (For example, the “lightness” of Caroline’s story broke up the horror of Kasia’s, but would maybe have not held my attention for the entirety of the book).⠀

Despite the weight of the subject, Hall Kelly has a simple writing style that is easy to read and keeps you flying through the pages. With themes of resilience, forgiveness, and the enduring power of love through tragedy, you will be hard pressed not to find something that tugs at your heart strings. ⠀

If you liked All the Light You Cannot See, you will LOVE Lilac Girls. ⠀

What It’s Like to Be Published

Friends and Other Liars has officially been out in the world for one month, and many people have (naturally) asked how it’s doing. I haven’t come up with an easy answer for that yet. The real truth is, I’m not really sure. There is a thing called Author Central on Amazon that provides some pretty bleak numbers, but my agent tells me it doesn’t update as quickly as the publisher’s numbers, that it doesn’t include e-book sales, and that independent stores take longer to report. So it’s not an accurate picture. She tells me the numbers she’s seeing are a “modest, but not terrible,” beginning.

Which isn’t exactly comforting.

So, because I like to keep it real, I’ll tell you that I’ve had some hard days. Deep down I know this book is good, that it deserves to be read, that it will be successful. I also know that I’m the most impatient person in the world and my expectations of it soaring to number 1 overnight are entirely unrealistic (I’ve always known that, but you know, law of attraction and what not).

Being a published author is a dream come true. It really is. But that’s only the beginning of the dream. My real dream is to be a novelist. For this to be my career. To write a book a year. To have a readership who is excited for my next to come out. To support myself doing what I love. Everyone tells you this is impossible, that such a small percentage of writers get to this level. And yet, that’s what I want. That’s what I’m determined to get.

So while perhaps I should be focused on getting that first step crossed off, instead I’m trying not to freak out. As I’ve mentioned before, my publisher has until the beginning of May to decide whether they want to buy my next book. And on top of worrying if they’re going to even like it, I know a large part of their decision will be based on if I’ve hit their target with my first book.

No pressure.

I’m slowly moving into a place of peace about it. I’m not checking Author Central every day (I would like to not check it at all, but come on), I’m not refreshing Goodreads and Amazon every ten minutes to see if more reviews have posted (again, I do find myself checking every couple of days). I’m not worrying about the numbers, or obsessing over what I could do to boost sales. I’ve done practically everything within my power, and now it’s simply up to all the strangers out there who are browsing for a new book.

Instead, I’m focusing on all the wonderful people out there who have featured me on their blogs, (full list on my events page) – interviewing, reviewing, posting excerpts, and running giveaways. Book bloggers are da coolest.

I’m focusing on the fact that when I did check Goodreads the other day that 134 have rated it, 83 have reviewed it, and nine people are currently it. No, that’s not thousands or even hundreds, but that’s 134 individual people I don’t know who thought my book looked interesting and added it to their cart, who could be holding my book in their hands right now, in places from Spain to South Africa to Tanzania, (yes, I stalked them all).

One negative about this particular novel: it is the author’s debut, which means I can’t grab all her other work for immediate reading.

This may well be Kaela Coble’s debut novel but I am certain it won’t be her last.

I’ll miss them all [the characters]. I feel like I’ve lived it with them.

I’m focusing on all my friends on Facebook and colleagues who drop in my office to tell me they loved it, that they couldn’t put it down. Your support means everything!

And perhaps most importantly, I’m focused on writing the next thing. One way or another, it will be shared with the world.

Reading and Parties, and Press, oh my! (Friends and Other Liars Release Week)

My life has been so crazy these last few weeks. After my amazing release week, I went full throttle into house building/selling/packing mode, and there are days when I wake up and it takes me hours before I remember that my book is out in the world. My book!

But a post sharing my release week experience is long overdue.

The weekend before, I got some good press. My hometown paper, the St. Albans Messenger, ran a nice long piece about me and the book, quoting several passages and promoting the reading at the Eloquent Page (sorry, no link). A state-wide paper, SevenDays did a review. And I started getting pictures like this:


Which were surprising because I didn’t think it was supposed to be out yet! Then on Sunday, I experienced finding the book in Barnes and Noble, which was absolutely mind-blowing.


I smiled the rest of the day.

Tuesday, my actual release date, was actually kind of anti-climactic! My readings were scheduled later in the week, and since it was already kind of out there wasn’t much hullabaloo that day. But hubs brought me flowers and we ordered chinese, so all in all it was a good day.

Then came Wednesday night, the night I had been nervous about for a month, when I had a live interview on the local news, Channel 3’s WCAX. I’m a behind-the-computer type of person, not a TV kind of person. So after that, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders so I could just enjoy the rest of the week!

Thursday was a Big Night – my first reading and signing at Phoenix Books in downtown Burlington. Tod was so organized and great about introducing me, and so many friends, family, and book club members (and even 3 people who didn’t know me at all) came to hear me read. It was my first time reading my book aloud to people, so I was a little nervous and I think I could have held the book higher and been a little less shaky, but otherwise it went well. I got some great questions about the writing process, and what was the most fun was the signing! I got to talk to each person individually and thank them for coming and for buying the book, and that was awesome.

Afterwards, I went out with some friends to a delicious dinner and mixed actual champagne with the champagne of beers, and regretted it the following day. Especially when I tried to make cookies and, being impatient, sliced a cold stick of butter with a knife angled into my hand. Spent a little time at Urgent Care getting a couple stitches. Fun.


Saturday was a big day, too, perhaps the one I’d been looking forward to the most! I had my reading at the Eloquent Page in St. Albans. Friends and Other Liars is set in a fictional Vermont town called Chatwick, but everyone knows it’s largely based on St. Albans, so I thought it only fitting that I do a reading there as well. It was a totally different vibe, as I was sitting in a chair and others were surrounding me in a circle. The place was packed with friends and family, my “crew,” my Physical Therapist (no joke), and even an old English and Drama teacher who learned about the reading from the paper!

After that, it was time to party! Props to my husband and parents, who went to a lot of trouble to throw a celebration at Twiggs with my closest peeps. First of all, the CAKE!


But most of all, the PEOPLE!

We drank and ate and laughed into the late hours of the night (which, at this point in my life, was midnight). The next day I was, predictably, worthless.

So that’s my summary of Release Week. Thank you to everyone who sent supportive messages, flowers, and gifts; who attended an event; who bought the book; and who generally have made these big moments in my life so special!

A Note of Gratitude on My Release Day

I sit here on a day I’ve anticipated for a year and a half, and it’s hard to believe it’s finally here! Although I’ve gotten texts and emails and Facebook posts of Friends and Other Liars out in the wild, today is the official release of the book. Amazon pre-orders are either being delivered or on their way out the door, independents are stocking them on shelves, small stacks lay on the New in Paperback table that sits conveniently at the front of Barnes & Noble. As I’ve referred to them being out “in the wild,” I picture releasing a truckload of little book creatures into bookstores, where they climb on shelves themselves and jump into people’s arms and shopping bags, cooing as they are opened and the first pages are read. I’m allowing myself to be a little silly, clearly.

This day has been a long time in the making, and I can’t help but sit here in such complete gratitude. And I thought, today of all days, (this week of all weeks), that I should take the opportunity to say all the things I’m grateful for. Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one. But stick with it, because you will probably be mentioned!

I’m grateful that this little piece of my heart is out in the world, that no matter what happens, I will always be able to say I am a published author. I am grateful for the experience of finding my book on that table at Barnes & Noble. I am grateful that in just a few days, I will do my first reading and book signings, and be surrounded by people that love and support me and my work. I know that there are many writers out there who are still dreaming of these things, unsure if it will ever happen for them, and I remember what that’s like. I know that could just as easily still be me, if my book hadn’t found my agent, Stephanie Rostan, and my editors, Sara O’Keefe at Corvus and Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks, at the exact right time. I’m grateful that I never gave up.

I thank these women and their entire teams for the incredible amount of work they’ve invested in my book. Special shout out to Liz Kelsch, my publicist at Sourcebooks, for organizing all the local press and my blog tour, and for setting up my readings and signings. As a debut author (especially one who works full-time), having someone to do this was invaluable.

I am grateful for Donna at Eloquent Page in St. Albans and Kristen and Tod at Phoenix Books in Burlington for hosting my readings and signings. I am grateful to all the reporters who have chosen to write about the book, getting the word out. I am so grateful to the book bloggers who are featuring me on their blogs this month (full list available here). I am grateful to every. single. person. who has read and reviewed the book on Goodreads, Amazon, and other platforms. I am overjoyed that so many people are liking the book, that people are holding it in their hands and allowing themselves to be caught up in the drama and the uniqueness of Chatwick.

I am grateful mostly for the people in my life who have and continue to support me. My husband, who as soon as he woke up this morning yelled “HAPPY RELEASE DAY, BABY!” He has championed me and my books for YEARS, reading early drafts and trying (sometimes successfully) to convince me they didn’t suck. He’s been there for every single rejection (all 189 of them) I received between two books. He’s never once shown doubt that I would make this dream come true. Without him to share this with, none of this would mean nearly as much.

I’m now going to rip off from the Acknowledgements of the book, to make sure I don’t forget anyone.

I am grateful to my friends and family, who have listened to me bitch about how hard it is to get published, without once outright saying that I should give up on the dream. Every time I learned I was going to be in a publication, the first thing I thought was, “My Mom is going to be SO proud.” And the most meaningful compliment I received, and will ever receive, about this novel came from my sister, Stina Booth, who said she teared up at the end, sad that the story was over. If you know her, you would know this is the highest praise conceivable. She is not a crier.

I’m grateful to all the other wonderful people who read this book in its early phases: Shayla Ruland, Cathy Wille, Meredith Tate Servello, Kristin Fields, Kathryn Saris, Loren Bowley Dow and my mom, Deborah Plant, (who, reverting to her schoolteacher days, put a checkmark at the top of every page that didn’t contain a spelling or grammatical error), and Louise Walters, my mentor through the WoMentoring Project. Without question, Louise’s honest feedback and relentless encouragement is what made this manuscript worth publishing.

To Meredith Tate Servello and Kristin Fields, I am grateful for all the advice and support you’ve offered me in the process of trying to get published. Thank goodness for Twitter, or I would never have met them! And to Amy Burrell Cormier, my writer friend, for understanding the trials and tribulations of being a writer. May we one day (tomorrow?) be sitting with a pitcher of margaritas, laughing about our naiveté in the first place.

I’m grateful also for the beta readers for my first novel: Rebecca Nichol, Brian Holmes, Jaci Mills, and Veronica Grenier. Even though that book was not published, they gave their time and patience as they slogged through my early drafts and offered constructive criticism and ideas. Perhaps almost as important, they helped me get used to receiving feedback without inhaling a Costco-sized chocolate cake in the process.

And last, but certainly not least, I thank the people who inspired the characters for this book. I won’t name you, even though I really really want to, because you deserve to be thanked, but I also want to protect your anonymity. In case you missed it, Friends and Other Liars’ dedication is:

To my crew, for the family kind of friendship that endures through all the drama, that feels the same no matter the time or distance between meetings, and that loves even when it doesn’t like.

Thank you all. So much.

Thank You






US Cover Reveal & Pre-order Info

The U.S. version of my book, with it’s slightly different title, is due out February 6. It feels so far away, but compared to the year and a half since signing my contract, it’s nothing – just 4 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days away. (But who’s counting). So without further ado, here is the U.S. Cover  (drumroll please)….


It’s a little more blue than what shows here (not sure what that’s about). What do you think?

Oh and for those of you who are just as excited as I am, you can pre-order FRIENDS AND OTHER LIARS here on Amazon.

“What’s Going on with Your Book?”

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and a lot of people have asked me what’s going on with my book. Unfortunately I have sort of a boring answer – nothing. The release of FRIENDS AND LIARS in the U.K. happened June 1st, and I got a lot of good reviews and did an interview and a guest blog post (full list here), and that was awesome and amazing and exciting. And now things are just sort of chugging along, and I have no idea if it’s selling well or if my book will fade into the massive noise of books never to be seen again (let’s hope it’s not the latter).

I CAN tell you that the June 1 release was only the initial launch to get some buzz, some reviews, some quotes, etc. to convince larger stores (especially supermarkets, which are apparently the major market over in the U.K.), to carry the mass market version, which will be released February 1, at the same time as the U.S. version of my book, FRIENDS AND OTHER LIARS, will be released here. Is that less confusing? Probably not!

In other book news, I have submitted Book Two (working title REMEMBER THAT NIGHT) to my agent, who is getting feedback on this draft before sending it on to my publisher to see if they want to publish it. My deal was only for one book, so while they get the right to a first look, they don’t have to buy it. If they choose not to, I will have to go out on submission again to try to find a new publisher.

Just to tease you, REMEMBER THAT NIGHT is the story of two best friends. One of them kills the other one’s fiance in a car crash. There’s also a few romances in the background, but the main focus is on how the two women struggle to move on from such a devastating event in their lives and in their friendship. I hope you’re enticed, and I hope you actually get to read it!

And because I would go crazy if I don’t have a writing project, I’ve already started on Book Three, (working title THE GOOD FAMILY), which is about three sisters from a seemingly perfect family who get called home to recognize the 15th anniversary of their mother’s death. They are all hiding things from each other, without realizing that there is a dark family secret that will blow all of theirs out of the water.

I also wrote a few children’s books this summer, which my agent (who does not rep children’s books) said she liked and wanted a colleague of hers to take a look at. I’ve never pictured myself as a children’s book author, but when you have three adorable nieces as cute as mine, you can’t help but get inspired.

So that’s all for now. You know I’ll keep you posted with any other news!

Early Reactions to Friends and Liars

Hey all! Boy has June been a crazy month. First I officially became a published author when Friends and Liars was released in the U.K., then my husband and I headed off to Europe for our honeymoon/1-year anniversary for two weeks. Suddenly my life sounded terribly glamorous, didn’t it? (Don’t be too jealous, as incredible an experience our trip was, the reality of three countries in two weeks results in a lot of physically unappealing side effects I just won’t go into here).

Anyway, in case you missed it, in London Randy and I ducked into EVERY. SINGLE. BOOKSTORE. we saw in search of Friends and Liars, and we finally found it in Foyles on Charring Cross road:


The next day, I had lunch with Sara O’Keeffe, Susannah Hamilton, and Kirsty Doole, the team at Corvus in charge of birthing Friends and Liars into the world. We had a fabulous lunch and then headed back to their office, where they toasted my book with champagne and I signed books and it was wonderful, surreal, and completely disarming all at once. I wish I had snapped photos, especially because it was one of those “Is this really happening? To ME?” kind of moments, that I’m still half convinced it was all a dream.

Also while I was gone, a bunch of people read (and seemed to really like) the book. Here is some preliminary publicity:


Cover to Cover
Culturefly (20 Essential Summer Reads)
Liz Loves Books
The Bookbag
The Very Pink Notebook
The Chicklit Club

Interviews/Guest Posts:
Shaz’s Book Blog (Q&A with me)
We Heart Writing (my guest post about editing)

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what has been the most important reactions to my book, which are those of the people who I based Friends and Liars characters on. I won’t mention them by name, but their enthusiastic support of the book, (especially given the events of the book, which ARE, I must reiterate, completely fictional) took me by surprise. I set out to write a book about unconditional friendship, the kind that lasts through hardships and distance and major life changes, and here I am still learning how truly strong those bonds can be. So to these people, and to all of you who have read and championed the book so far, all I can say, even though this seems terribly inadequate, is THANK YOU. Thank you so much.

Happy UK Publication Day to Me!

Today I am officially a published author. My debut novel is coming out through Corvus today in the UK!!!

pub day

Me a few weeks ago when I received my advanced copies in the mail.

I really can’t find any kind of appropriate words to describe this feeling. I’m just flying. For the rest of my life, no matter what happens, no one can take this away from me.

To add to the “firsts” of the day, my first ever interview has also been posted on Shaz’s Book Blog. Check it out to get some insights on the book and the writing process!

For my US friends, I’m excited to tell you that you can pre-order the US version here; it will come out February 1st. Don’t forget to ask your local bookseller and library to carry it as well! And for those of you who really want to purchase both, you can purchase the UK version here on Amazon UK.



I Am Now a Goodreads Author!

I emailed the publicist at Atlantic Corvus, my U.K. Publisher to ask how I should go about getting my book on Goodreads, to which she replied: “Oh, it’s already on there.”

And I’m like, whaaaaaaa?

So I click on the link she sent me and what do you know – my book is on Goodreads! All I had to do was create an author profile and link to it. If you’re on Goodreads, you can follow me here.  That way when the US version becomes available you’ll be among the first to know!

And if you’re reading this from the U.K., I hope you’ll add Friends and Liars to your To Read list. It will be released June 1st!