Monday, May 18, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Erin Zarro, Author, SciFi, Fantasy, Horror


Erin Zarro, Author
GRAVE TOUCHED
FEY TOUCHED
Erin Zarro likes SciFi and Fantasy because “anything goes.” She places her latest novel GRAVE TOUCHED, the second of the Fey Touched Books, in the science fantasy genre. Reviewers tout her “ability to write with such emotion and feeling” and appreciate her characters, which Zarro attributes to the “distinct voice” she gives each one.

Zarro is working on the third Fey Touched book in addition to the next novella in a series about women rescuing men. She also loves horror and believes it “speaks to the very core of a person.” She lives in Michigan with her husband and cat and, when not reading or writing, enjoys photography and camping and hopes to re-learn French.



Q: What draws you to write in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror? And in which genre would you place your newest novel, GRAVE TOUCHED (FEY TOUCHED BOOK 2)?

Erin Zarro: I'm drawn to sci-fi and fantasy because anything goes. You can make up your own world, or create a futuristic version of our world (which is what I did with the Fey Touched series) and there are no limits and no rules. As for horror, I think it has a lot to do with the horror novels I'd read throughout my life – horror speaks to the very core of a person in different ways. Everyone has a bit of darkness within. And, I'm on a mission to scare myself. ;)

I'd place my Fey Touched series in the science fantasy genre. There's genetic engineering and time travel mixed with alchemy (magic) and healing. The series is firmly in both, not one or the other.

Q: Can you explain your title, GRAVE TOUCHED – without spoiling the plot for future readers?

Erin Zarro: Grave Touched came along when I thought about the Hunters' afterlife, and what would happen if something went wrong. Except the Hunters don't bury their dead. So it was a challenge to come up with something that fit within the FT world because I really liked the name Grave Touched.

Q: How do you make your story believable? How important is credibility to readers of your genre?

Erin Zarro: Very important. I try to use actual scientific things that could be plausible in a few hundred years, such as telepathy, time travel using virtual reality, and...some other stuff I can't reveal. I try to build from what could happen and go from there. I hope I succeeded. ;) But yes, to tell a good story, it must be believable within the constraints of our world and future.

Q: A reviewer of the first FEY TOUCHED book praises your characters as “fascinating, their motivations clear and their storylines are compelling.” How do you engage your readers to care about your characters in a make-believe world?

Erin Zarro: I think voice had a lot to do with it. When I write characters, they all have a very distinct voice and way of looking at things. I try to go deep into the character's psyche and figure out what makes him or her tick. It's always an organic process – I never plan on those details ahead of time.

There is also my characters' motivations. I gave them some pretty heavy stuff. And that's what drove the story and their character progression.

Q: How helpful was the use of humor either to create your characters or tell your story?

Erin Zarro: I had a lot of humorous moments in FEY TOUCHED, and some in GRAVE TOUCHED. It goes back to a character's voice. Some characters use humor to cope with things. Others are just funny. I like having a bit of comedic relief, especially in tense scenes.

Q: Did you write GRAVE TOUCHED strictly to entertain or did you want to deliver a message or educate your readers?

Erin Zarro: Probably a bit of both. I wrote it primarily to answer a question I had that intrigued me. But I did want to show how important love is, how it can change absolutely everything.

Q: Does the concept of villains vs heroes apply to GRAVE TOUCHED? What makes a good villain? 

Erin Zarro: There were two main villains, and I had a blast writing them. There was a definite line in the sand with my Hunters and the villains. I think a good villain must have a driving force – something he or she wants so badly, he or she will do anything to get it. But I also learned that there was a human side to both villains, and that made them more real to me. So I think they need both a driving force and a human side to be a good villain.

Q: In addition to writing novels, you also have written and published books of your poetry. Do you still write poetry? What can you say in poetry better than in prose? Do you prefer one over the other?

Erin Zarro: I do write poetry sometimes, though not as much as I used to. Poetry is a different form of expression, and there are fewer words to express what you're feeling or thinking, so it's very challenging. I don't typically write formal poetry, but I will occasionally, and that's even more challenging to say what I need to say and follow the rules.

I think some things can be said better in poetry, if they are handled right. I love using metaphor to express myself, and I think it's a bit easier in a poem.

I prefer novel writing, simply because I am long winded. ;)

Q: What’s next?

Erin Zarro: Well, I have a novella in the works that continues the story I started in UNDER HER PROTECTION, an anthology about women rescuing men. I'm also working on Fey Touched book #3, Ever Touched, figuring out plot and character stuff (although I do very little planning ahead), and I have an older project I'm rewriting on Sundays.

Q: Tell us about Erin Zarro. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Erin Zarro: Reading mostly. ;) Photography, watching TV (I have a few series I'm addicted to, such as Game of Thrones and Bones), camping in the summer, and relearning French.

About Erin Zarro

Erin Zarro is a poet and novelist living in Michigan. She's married to her Prince Charming, and they have a cat, Hailey, who she believes is part vampire.

To pay the bills, Erin works as an office manager for a small marketing firm. In her spare time (what's that?), she writes madly. She also enjoys photography, music, website design, and, of course, reading!

She is terribly hard to scare, loves a damn good story, and wants to be a full time novelist when she grows up. She self-published her first novel, FEY TOUCHED, through Turtleduck Press in 2012.  Currently she is working on Fey Touched book #3, Ever Touched, as well as a few other projects.
FEY TOUCHED – humans, genetically engineered for immortality and flight, tasked with protecting the rest of the world from rogue Fey...
GRAVE TOUCHED – dead souls in search of living bodies to possess, especially those who’ve had a brush with death...
When Fey Touched Hunter Emily wakes up in a hospital, she doesn’t know that she was in fact dead. Nor does she know that her lover, Nick, broke all kinds of rules to bring her back. But the grave touched do.
Fey Touched Healer Asha does know that her mate, Joe, saved her when her abilities nearly killed her. And she knows the voices in her head are the grave touched trying to stake their claim. Asha needs Joe’s help again, but unfortunately she’s the only one who believes the grave touched exist.
The grave touched are plotting to take over the corporeal world, and they’re gaining strength. Only Emily and Asha stand in their way – and both are about to be possessed.
Grave Touched.
Asha is the Queen of the Fey, genetically engineered immortal humans who feed on human souls to survive. But she's running from her people. When she is found by her enemy, one of the Hunters of the Fey, she expects to die. Yet he's oddly intrigued by her, and Asha finds herself falling in love with him, hoping she can find safety and the home she's been seeking. Then she's kidnapped, and everything changes.
Fallon is a Hunter. She's looking for her long-lost sister, using an addictive drug to search through the stream of time. Her addiction leaves her dangerously exposed to her enemies but, consumed by her search, she doesn't care...until her fellow Hunters start dying from a mysterious illness. She is torn between duty and desire, and must find an answer before they all die.
What Fallon doesn't know is that Asha might just be the key to saving them all, if only she can find her.
And time is running out.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Tom Reitze, Author

Who is Tom Reitze? What kinds of  stories does he write?

Tom Reitze wants to tantalize us by easing us into his writings one short story at a time in a collection he calls STORIES OF A DIFFERENT NATURE. He at least lets us know that he doesn’t write in a specific genre. Rather he says his “genre is somewhat like a tossed salad.”

He has written a book, but he’s holding that back, too. For now, he just wants to let you know about his first short story in his new collection, just published, titled DATE WITH A CHAIR. He’s only telling us that he didn't write it "to produce joy and happiness", but it might stir some controversy.

When he’s ready, he’ll let us know about his next story in our series of interviews. Until then, he’s revealing himself by responding to one question at a time. 

Q: Before I ask you specifically about your first short story, can you tell us what caused you to decide to write and release a series of short stories? Are they related to each other? What can you tell us about them in general? What genre are they?

Tom Reitze: About five or six years ago I wrote a full-length book that I desperately want to publish. I wanted to present my personal beliefs, which are based on logic and those developed by simply living, as a contrast against those that people have by accepting unbending doctrine. I hope I did a good job because it took four years to complete the book. But I will say it was no task of fatigue. I loved every minute writing it. It would take a big effort to publish it though, so as a first foray into the business I thought I would start with something smaller. I’ve found writing short stories to be very enjoyable. So once I started I kept going.

The stories are not really related. But many of them do have a common thread of the supernatural. But they vary in nature from the series to the comical.

There are different styles of writing that I use, and I cross a wide range of subject matter. I think you will see that as more of the stories are released. I enjoy writing humorous material, but sometimes I’m pulled towards darker side of things. I think it depends on my mood, or perhaps some gray event that stirs my thought process .

Ha! As to genre, they’re splattered all over the place. I think I would get bored not letting my mind wander to any place it wants to. I think my genre is somewhat like a tossed salad.

Q: Do you believe paranormal fiction offers a useful vehicle to both tell your story and to deliver message or educate your readers? Or do you use it basically to make your story entertaining?

Tom Reitze: Yes I think that is true, paranormal fiction is a good method for conveying information. I’m not sure I believe in it, but I do think it is a good way to put some of my ideas out in the open. Many people are interested in the subject; maybe it will draw them to my work. Let the reader decide if what is presented is viable. I never want to present myself as understanding everything. I believe everyone’s opinion counts.

I think the entertainment value is what most people are looking for in these types of work. I also believe you can use the element of the paranormal to capture peoples attention and have them pay a little bit more attention to the details of the story. That way you can convey some ideas people would overlook otherwise. I think that goes for writing humorous pieces as well. Don't get me wrong, I'm not out to present some great insight I think I have. The stories are often presented as nothing more than what you see. Then there are times I will present some that are more serious. The intent then is to have the reader continue to contemplate the story after the last page is turned. You'll have to wait some time for one of those though. They are somewhat rare.

Q: What can you tell us about your first story, DATE WITH A CHAIR? Will it scare us? Amuse us? Make us happy?

Tom Reitze: This first story is not one I created to produce joy and happiness. Those are coming; don’t worry—along with tales of mystery, the supernatural, sheer craziness, and the power of love and kindness. I think this one will capture your attention in that it’s presented in an unusual location, with a strange juxtaposition between the main characters. A third character enters the scene and muddles the situation even further.

This story may present some controversy. I’m waiting myself to see the reaction to a few of the concepts it presents. Will it scare you? It’s not a deep thriller if that’s what you mean. But I think it is somewhat captivating and I hope people read it freely and with an open mind. I hope people capture the basic proposal that is the support of the story, and it makes them think a bit.

Q: What’s next? Or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s ready for release?

Tom Reitze: Well, I like to keep the specifics of what’s next locked in my closet. However, I will say again, my stories cover a wide range of topics. You could find any kind of tale popping up next. There are silly ones, and some I hope that might make the reader sit back and think about things a little differently. I hope people appreciate them, and maybe even allow their minds to be opened by a few of them.

About Tom Reitze by Tom Reitze

“I am a very opinionated individual and was sure I knew what was wrong with society and how to fix it. I planned to write a series of editorials and bind them into a book. Before I started, I realized no one in the world would give a damn about what this unknown writer had to say. I decided to expose my feelings in the form of fictional stories, something people would be more likely to read.

"My 22 lb. cat, Horus agrees. He is very opinionated as well. 

"I am contradictory. I will present one idea at one time, and then write another story that presents the opposite concepts. I like to believe I am a person willing to listen to and consider both sides of an issue. Some of my writing is serious, some of it is supernatural in nature, and some of it is humorous (I hope).”

About STORIES OF A DIFFERENT NATURE by Tom Reitze

“STORIES OF A DIFFERENT NATURE is my first foray into eBooks. One at a time they will sneak out and onto Amazon over the next several months. There is a novella ready to make a surprise appearance “between the stories” as well. Watch for them. Give them a try. Let me know what you think at dragonflybooksandart.com  and review them on Amazon.

"Horus and I are ready for you to read the stories. I hope you like them.”

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Monday, May 11, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Jaimie Hope, Author

Jaimie Hope, Author
THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO HOME:
THE SARA RHEA CHRONICLES
Jaimie Hope brings us a novel, THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO HOME: THE SARA RHEA CHRONICLES, based on her own experiences. Reviewers say there were “times when I laughed out loud and other times…my eyes were blurred with tears.” Hope admits it is a mixture of romance, new adult, and even suspense. She believes her characters become real when she puts them in “real-life” situations.

Hope also writes children’s books and has published a new adult novel along with her autobiobraphy, and she runs her own business, Back To Basics Publishing and Author Services. She is working on Book 2 of THE SARA RHEA CHRONICLES, along with many other works. When she’s not writing, she likes music, movies, and sports.

Don't miss the excerpt following the interview.

Q: You have based your book, THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO HOME: THE SARA RHEA CHRONICLES, on a true story. What inspired you to write it? Is it about your life?

Jaimie Hope: While I took a lot of creative licenses writing it, this story is based on real-life experience I had after moving back to New York from Florida.

Q: How would you characterize THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO HOME? Is it contemporary women’s fiction? New adult? Memoir? Suspense? Romance?

Jaimie Hope: Honestly, I would describe it as all of the above. Well, maybe not Memoir since I did add fiction to facts. However, it is definitely a Romance and a New Adult book. I didn’t realize it was Suspense until I started getting messages from readers asking if I was going to write a sequel so they could find out what happened.

Q: Your reviewers say the book caused them to feel deep emotions and that your characters were “easy to relate to.” How did you enable your readers to embrace your characters so that they cared so much what happened to them? Were your characters based on real people?

Jaimie Hope: The main characters were based on real people that I know well. While I think knowing their personalities helped, I think putting characters in real life situations gave them their relatability.

Q: How helpful is humor to telling your story and/or creating your characters?

Jaimie Hope: Humor is a key element to character development and plot for me. It helps the reader get out of their own heads and into the story when they can feel they are having fun along with the characters. Also, humor in a character helps make them relatable since most of the humor is by way of sarcastic interaction.

Q: Did you write THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO HOME primarily to entertain or were you trying to educate or deliver a message?

Jaimie Hope: I started out writing this book with the goal of entertaining, but there is most definitely messages in it.

Q: You have also written children and young adult books and your autobiography. Which do you enjoy more—writing a book for adult, child or youth readers? How do you approach one over the other?

Jaimie Hope: Each genre is so different that it’s hard to say I like writing this genre more than that genre.

Children’s books are much harder to write than novels for adults. Trying to write a full story in the confines of a few pages is harder than it looks. Then there is the task of balancing the words of the manuscript. The words can’t be beyond the comprehension of the age group, but it also can’t be so simple that it seems like you’re talking down to them. It also has to teach them something while being entertaining. After that is done, there’s the illustration list to be created. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.

That’s not to say that writing for Young Adults or Adults is any easier, it’s not. However, you don’t have page number constraints, your story ends when it ends. You also don’t have to worry as much about your word choice to get your point across. It sounds easier when you look at it that way, but that’s not necessarily true. Being able to write a book filled with as many pages as you deem necessary and whatever words fly out of your fingertips as you strike the keyboard gives you more time for your story to unravel. It’s important to pay attention to the characters and how they’re developing. If they aren’t developing, the story probably isn’t moving. A story that isn’t moving isn’t one anyone wants to read.

Q: Does the concept of “heroes vs. villain” play a part in telling your story? How would you describe a villain? Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Jaimie Hope: I didn’t do the hero vs. villain thing in my story. Readers might disagree with me and argue they thought one character was a villain of sorts, but it wasn’t what I intended. I define a villain as someone who purposefully tries to foil the plot for the main characters. None of my characters did that.

No, I don’t think you need to have a villain to have a hero. All that is necessary for a character to be considered a hero is for them to grow and overcome something.

Q: Your biography says that you decided to become a writer in high school. What made you decide to be a writer? Have you enjoyed it?

Jaimie Hope: I’ve actually had an interest in writing and telling stories since I was very young. At that time, I also wanted to do a number of different things as well. Writing for the school newspaper really fanned the flames and re-stoked the flames of writing for me. Now more than eight years and eleven books later I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.

Q: What’s next? I assume since this is “Book 1” that there will be at least one more Sara Rhea Chronicle? Other books?

Jaimie Hope: There will always be another book! Book 2 is in the works, so is a new Children’s book and many other works.

Q: Tell us about Jaimie Hope. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Jaimie Hope: When I’m not writing I am usually doing something else in the creative/literary realm. In addition to writing, I am also a business owner. I own and operate Back To Basics Publishing and Author Services, which offers everything from editing to marketing assistance to authors. I am also a blog host with a blog tour company and an Internet radio talk show host.

When I’m not working I enjoy all things music, watching movies and sports.

About Jaimie Hope

Jaimie Hope was born November 3, 1976, in New York. It wasn't until high school, where she joined the newspaper staff, that she decided she wanted to be a writer. After graduation, the author went to college and received an Associate's degree in 1999. In 2002, she moved to Florida where she was an active volunteer in the local historical society and the Deltona Regional Library. In 2006, she moved back to New York where she released her first Children's book, The Adventures of Baby Jaimie. She followed it with a Young Adult novel, Bless The Broken Road. She also published her autobiography, Roll With It. She is planning to re-release book one of her New Adult Romance/Paranormal trilogy, The Sara Rhea Chronicles: The Road That Leads To Home and a new Children's Book series, along with releasing all her other self-published titles under her new publishing company, Back To Basics Publishing and Author Services in the fall of 2014.


Based on a true story…

Sara's life was going along peacefully until she got the early morning phone call that changed everything. Now she finds herself heading back where she began, home. Not only does she have to deal with a difficult older sister and helping to keep the family’s inn afloat; Sara has to work alongside her high school sweetheart, who still looks as gorgeous as ever and her feelings that she saw all this coming. Her dreams and nightmares seem to come true right before her eyes. It has to all be a coincidence, doesn't it?

Excerpt

“He was with someone when I came home from college.”

“No, not really. He went out with her once. He wanted you to think he had someone since he told you he wouldn’t wait for you. He wanted you to be jealous. Guess it worked. He was crushed when you moved to Florida. He really thought you were going to stay, everyone did.”

“So did I. It just didn’t work out that way.” Reflectively she added, “It's funny how things turn out. When I was growing up, I didn’t think I’d ever leave this area. I never wanted to. Most kids I went to school with couldn’t wait to graduate so they could travel, but James and I just wanted to stay here.”

“What changed?”

“I thought when I came back I would take my place here at the inn, but when I got here, I found out there really wasn’t a place here for me anymore.”

“You’re a Rhea, you always have a place here.”

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Monday, May 4, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Kristy Woodson Harvey, Author

Kristy Woodson Harvey, Author
DEAR CAROLINA
Kristy Woodson Harvey just released DEAR CAROLINA, described by a reviewer as a “great tale of love, complicated family relationships, and heart-wrenching sacrifice.” Harvey tells us that a friend originally sparked her story, and the birth of her own son amplified it emotionally. Set in the South, she also believes that southern lifestyle augmented the plot, although she looks forward to viewing how other areas of the world receive it.

Harvey is working on her next novel about family secrets and what we do to protect those we love, scheduled for release in Spring 2016. When she’s not writing her novels or blogging at Design Chic, she enjoys spending time with her three-year-old son and her husband.

Don't miss the excerpt from the book following the interview.

Q: What inspired the plot for DEAR CAROLINA? How authentic is the story?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: The story was inspired by a friend telling me years ago about a family he knew that adopted a child and essentially ended up adopting the birth mother as well. I hadn’t thought about it in years, but, when my son was born, I had this moment where I started to realize what an incredible gift giving up your child really was. Of course, you always know that, but it hit me on such a deep and profound level, far beyond what it had before. I wondered what would have to happen in a woman’s life in order to be able to give up her child and then, on the flip side, what both birth and adoptive mothers go through in an open adoption. The insecurities and fears…

The story and the characters really came to me sort of all at once, but then I did research as well. I have a lot of friends who are adopted and/or have adopted children, so they were generous with their stories and their feelings, and I read a lot of books on the subject as well. It isn’t “my story,” per se, but, all the same, writing it felt intensely personal. It actually took me months to sit down and write the book because facing Jodi’s story was so emotional for me at that time in my life.

Q: DEAR CAROLINA is described as Southern women’s fiction. How much did your upbringing in the South influence your story?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: The South is such a special place to me, almost more like a feeling, really. I wanted to write a book that captured the South—or at least a particular region of it—and some of the things that make it really special. The importance of family, in particular, is something that was extremely important in my upbringing and the book. And the focus on living near the land and the role that food plays in our lives is something that I think is even more sacred in Eastern North Carolina, where the book is set and where I live now. I learned a lot about it for this book, and it was fascinating.

Q: How relevant is Southern culture to the setting? Could the story have been as effective if set in California, for example?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: I think the South is really almost a character in the book. It influences every aspect. The growing seasons, for example, are critical to the plot, as is a certain Southern dialect. I think the story could have been set anywhere, but the Southern element adds a richness that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

Q: How would you characterize the genre “women’s fiction?” Do you think it’s different in the South, i.e., are southern women more likely to embrace a different type of story than northern women?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: To me, women’s fiction is anything that tells a woman’s story—and we have diverse and varied ones to tell! I will be very interested to see how this book is received in different parts of the country, but, as women today, I think, no matter where we live, we’re all facing similar challenges—and joys. Juggling children (if we have them) and work and family and following our dreams can be tricky. I do think the South still respects and honors the stay-at-home in a very real way, but there’s no doubt that women are largely finding ways to be great mothers but still pave a way for themselves in the world outside of that. Certainly motherhood isn’t a part of every woman’s story, but women without children are juggling a lot of demands on their time and energy too. In fact, in some ways, I think life has slowed down since I became a mother! So I think Khaki’s story in particular is one that women can relate to no matter where they live. I find it encouraging that my reviewers have been from all parts of the country, and I think the story has largely resonated so far.

Q: Would you characterize DEAR CAROLINA as “modern” women’s fiction? Do you think women’s fiction has changed as women’s interests and roles have changed?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: I’ll have to say yes and no to that question! I think the South in and of itself can tend to be a bit of a throwback (Khaki says that, actually!) so, in some ways, I think there are traditions and roles that maybe don’t even exist in other places anymore. But, in a very real sense, I think both Khaki and Jodi are very modern women. Khaki isn’t worried about cooking dinner and changing diapers. She’s worried about cooking dinner and changing diapers and her coffee table book edits and catching the red-eye to check a sofa in a huge client’s living room remodel. And Jodi is finding her passions and making her way in the world all on her own. There is romance involved, sure, but I think the men in these women’s lives make them more meaningful but certainly don’t define them.

My friends run the gamut from full-time, incredible careers to full-time, incredible stay-at-home moms to something in between, but, no matter what, we’re all making choices every single day and creating lives that we want to live within the constraints we have. I’m 29, so I’m at a time in life where my friends are at every life stage imaginable and we’re all really starting to navigate who we’re going to be for the rest of our lives. There’s no blueprint and there’s certainly no right or wrong, and that is very, very exciting! We’re all learning from each other, and, to me, that’s what being a “modern” woman is all about: choosing the path that’s right for you while cheering other women along on the path that’s right for them.

Q: Reviewers tout your characters as “rich” and with “strong voice.” What makes them so? How do you create characters that readers will embrace?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: These characters are totally real. Khaki is strong and loving, but she can be a little obnoxious and know-it-all. She has good intentions, but she thinks she always knows what’s best for everyone. You feel for Jodi and she’s totally lovable, but, at the same time, you want to shake her at times for decisions she makes. But flawed characters that you can fight for are the best kind, I think, because we’re all flawed and we’re all a little obnoxious sometimes!

I credit the birth of my son for the “strong voice” and not in some sweet and poignant way. When I had him I was sneaking in writing a few minutes at a time and I didn’t have time to worry about what it was “supposed” to sound like. When I let that go, I really heard these characters’ voices and that’s what I think made them come to life.

Q: Why did you choose to tell the story from the perspective of letters from the adoptive and birth mothers?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: I’m not really sure except to say that that’s how the story came to me. Jodi was the character that really kept me up at night and I envisioned her telling this story to her daughter. And it went from there.

Q: Did you write DEAR CAROLINA to entertain or did you intend to deliver a message or educate your readers?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: In all honesty, I wrote it to entertain. But I think there are some definite touchstones that readers can take away from this book, the biggest one being that families don’t have to look any certain way to be “real.” There is a lot of talk in this book about family being the most important thing, and I hope it’s clear that that doesn’t only mean the people in your bloodline. And if you’ve ever wanted to can or make jam or decorate your own house you can probably get some good insight into that as well!

Q: What’s next?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: My next novel is coming out early Spring 2016, also from Berkley/Penguin, and I am beside myself! It’s all about family secrets and the things we do to protect the people we love. Both of these books have a lot to do with motherhood, simply because I was becoming a mother when I wrote them. But I look forward to telling so many other women’s stories in the future. I’m in the midst of three manuscripts right now, and they are all decidedly different from one another.

Q: Tell us about Kristy Woodson Harvey. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: I am first and foremost a mom to my three-year-old and a wife to my incredible husband. My mom and I have an interior design blog, Design Chic, that served as a lot of inspiration for this book and Khaki’s career, in particular.  Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I love to read and write (obviously!) and do yoga. Those are my “must-dos,” but right now, other than that, spending time with my son is my main activity! And he keeps me on my toes!

About Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of DEAR CAROLINA. She blogs at Design Chic about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life and loves connecting with readers at kristywoodsonharvey.com. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's school of journalism and holds a Master's in English from East Carolina University. She is a regular contributor for The Salisbury Post, Domino magazine and Houzz. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three-year-old son.


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

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

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

Excerpt

Khaki
Salad Greens

I designed a special scrapbook for each of my children. A custom-made blue or pink album with white polka dots and a fat bow tied down the side, the front center proudly displaying a monogram that was given to each of you. I take those books out every now and then. Sometimes I add a new photo or memento. Other times I gaze at the pictures and marvel at how quickly the eyes-closed-to-the-world phase of infancy morphs into the headfirst-plunging alacrity of toddlerhood.

Other times, like tonight, with your book in particular, my sweet Carolina, I sit on the floor of our family room overlooking my favorite field of corn and simply stare at the cover, running my finger across the scrolling monogram. It’s only a name, we have been reminded since middle school in what has now become perhaps the most cliché of Shakespeare’s musings. But, in what is certainly not the first exception to a Shakespearean rule, that name means more than the house your daddy built in this field where we spent so much time falling in love or the sterling silver service that has been in our family for generations.

It means more because that name wasn’t always yours. And you weren’t always ours.

I was, just like a mother should be, the first person to hold you when you were born. Your birth mother, after thirty hours of labor, fainted when she saw you, perfect and round and red as a fresh-picked apple. I felt like holding you first would be like stealing money from the offering plate. But as soon as the misty-eyed nurse placed you in the nest of my arms, you quit crying, opened your eyes, and locked your gaze with mine. That instant of serendipity was fleeting because it wasn’t more than a few seconds that your birth mother was out.

When she came to, and I was there, cuddling this lighter-than-air you that she had grown inside herself for nine long months, I begged for forgiveness. But she said, “I’m glad you got to hold her first. You’ve been here this whole dern time too.”

I had given birth myself before, and that teary first introduction to a new life after a forty-week hormone roller coaster was fresh in my mind, still damp like the coat of paint on the wall in your nursery. But I’d never been on my feet, outside the bed, when four were breathing the air and then, with one tiny cry, there were five. To experience that kind of wonder is like being born again.

Even in that resurrection moment, I couldn’t have known that one day, I would get to hold you, swaddled and warm, all the time. But I did swear that I would do everything in my power to protect you, love you, and make sure you grew up good and slow as salad greens.

Links

Twitter/Instagram: @kristywharvey
Pinterest: @mydesignchic