Category Archives: Book Tours

Meet the Writer: Laura Ellen Scott #blogtour #HistoricalFiction #authorInterview @LauraEllenScott

Meet the Writer: Laura Ellen Scott #blogtour #HistoricalFiction #authorInterview @LauraEllenScott

­­Juliet blog tour icon

Grab The Lapels: First thing’s first: what would you like readers to know about your new book, The Juliet?

Laura Ellen Scott: The Juliet is a fun book, packed with secrets and eccentric characters, and by the last page the reader should feel like they’ve taken a rattling train trip out West. There are two alternating timelines—one covers 100 years in the history of a cursed emerald known as The Juliet, and the other follow seven days in 2005 during a record breaking wildflower bloom in Death Valley, when a retired cowboy actor comes out of seclusion and signs over the deed to his house to the first fan he meets. The fan happens to be a slightly deranged woman named Willie Judy who is convinced that the actor knows where to find the emerald because when she was a kid, the actor was the spokesperson for Nuggetz cereal, and inside each box was a piece of a treasure map that was supposed to lead to The Juliet’s final hiding place.

Do you remember Kit Williams’ picture book called Masquerade that inspired the armchair treasure hunt genre? The Nuggetz promotion is supposed to be a low rent, scammy version of that, but both Willie and the actor are swept up in its mystery more than 25 years after the cereal company went out of business.

GTL: Are there aspects of your writing that readers might find challenging to them?

LES: I was told that my first novel, Death Wishing, a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans, was not an “easy read,” so the prose is a lot more direct in this novel. I think the biggest challenge might appear to be all the plotlines, but no worries. Everything comes together. I know what I’m doing.

I do have some trouble with the “Western” label. That carries a lot of baggage. While The Juliet contains a lot of Western elements, it’s really a crime story where most of the interesting stuff happens outdoors.  Don’t expect any heroes on horseback.

GTL: Does The Juliet include any research? If so, why/why not, and can you talk about why you made that choice.

LES: Research was an enormous part of writing The Juliet, and, of course, because I am not a trained historian, the hard part was figuring out what questions were most important.  Rhyolite, Nevada, was the settlement that I used as a model for the ghost town of Centenary, and at some point I realized that source reliability wasn’t as important as a sense of voice—as if a town can have a voice—and anecdotes, mistakes, and outright fabrications from personal accounts and newspaper reports in the 1900s were more useful than meticulously researched studies. The same is true of contemporary accounts of Death Valley—I learned a lot more about the desert mindset by reading through message boards than any other resource.

We live under the illusion that everything you need to know is at your fingertips, and that might be true of some places, but Death Valley still keeps some secrets close to the vest. The next and most important step in my research was to go to Death Valley. I’d been twice before—once to hike the canyons, and once to see the wildflower bloom that I write about in the book. Those were pleasure trips, but this time I went specifically to tour ghost towns and focus on human history in the Valley. Ghost towns play on your spirituality in different ways—you can feel Rhyolite’s aspirational core in the crumbling monuments that sprawl across the basin, including a train depot, a bank, and two schools. Ballarat is spookier, though; even though there isn’t much there, it feels dangerous. It was in Rhyolite that I was introduced to the legend of Mona Belle, a prostitute who was supposedly buried behind the Jailhouse. Belle’s story became pivotal to The Juliet, and I wouldn’t have known anything about it if I hadn’t gone out there to see it myself.

Juliet cover

GTL: What was your writing process like? Which did you favor, starting or revising?

LES: The basic routine starts this way—I scrawl a few big ideas on a giant whiteboard in my home office, take time off work and tell everyone to leave me alone because I’m starting a new novel. Then I stare out the window for 7 to 10 days. As soon as I get back to my day job, the ideas come in a flood. My creativity doesn’t really fire up unless I’m neglecting other duties. If that’s true for other writers, it explains why we can be such jerks.

I love getting started, but the first third of a book takes twice as long to realize as the rest, and once you’re on that road it looks endless. Revising is a totally different adventure, especially when I uncover connections I didn’t recognize before. But the part I like best is being right smack in the middle of the draft—when you know it’s going to definitely be a book, but anything is still possible.

When I talk to people who have red The Juliet, their questions/comments are all over the place, but everyone comes back to the complexity of the story and how I built it. So here’s the thing about that: the book is way smarter than I am. I built it doing close-up work, and I feel lucky that it became large and whole. If I have a method to rendering plots, it’s that any event is defined/redefined at least three times, and I think that makes complexity. I’m not going to show you a postcard once and forget about it. That post card is going to keep coming back, delivering more meaning each time it does.

The Juliet ends in 2005, and I had not considered writing a sequel, but my mother had a brilliant idea that I need to use somehow: ten years later, someone finds a bleached human skull in the desert, and inside its jaw is The Juliet.

My next three books with Pandamoon Publishing will be a series set in a fictional college/prison town in Ohio (think Athens+Chillicothe), called the New Royal Mysteries. That means I have to start with a more defined plan than I usually do, and it’s going to be an interesting challenge. I’m used to discovering as I write, and I’m excited to see how that works when I already know how the big mystery will be solved.

GTL: What did you want to be when you grew up, and do you see any hints of those ambitions in The Juliet?

LES: That’s a great question—I knew I wanted to be some sort of artist, and my mother claims that I was trying to write books before I could read. In school I performed in the choir and in plays, and for a while I was serious about acting. I even faked my way into the cast of a college play when I was fourteen. No one knew until the after-play when I wouldn’t drink beer or smoke pot. However, I dropped acting like a dead cat after I was told I had to join the high school Thespian Club to be in any more plays. Not my thing.

Interestingly, The Juliet features a number of performer-characters, not the least of which is Rigg Dexon, the retired cowboy actor. There are also four other actors along with several characters with dual identities. Perhaps there’s some deep psychological reason I’ve written so many characters who aren’t satisfied with who they are; from a particular angle, it sure does look like I was working up a theme.

By the time I hit college, it became clear that writing was my real calling, and I haven’t looked back. My entire family is good with their hands, and everyone does a little something—gardening, quilting, mechanics, etc. That is how writing a novel feels to me. Like I’m doing something big that requires a crafter’s sense of attention.

GTL: Why do you think your book would be a good choice for a book club pick?

LES: I think the variety in the The Juliet means there’s something for any adult reader. History, lust, secrets, danger. There are plenty of characters to pick apart, none of whom are very good decision makers. Though I think this is a beer book, a flight of Californian wines would work just as well for a book club, and there could be some fascinating discussion about whether the ending was happy or sad.

I think the biggest appeal might be a sense of place. I like a book that feels like time out and away from where I live, and I worked hard to render Death Valley with realism and love. The Timbisha tribe of Native Americans called the valley tümpisa for at least a thousand of years before the 49ers renamed it. Tümpisa means “rock paint,” because of the red ochre color of the clay. There is a huge clash between public perception and reality in the Valley, and it was one of my goals to try to talk about its beauty.

GTL: I want to thank author Laura Ellen Scott for answering my questions! Also, thank you to The Next Best Book Club blog for asking Grab the Lapels to be part of The Juliet’s book blog tour. It’s been fun! Be sure to check out all the other great stops of the tour celebrating Scott’s newest novel:

July 11: Lovely Bookshelf

July 12: Lectito and A Literary Vacation

July 13: Rainbow of Books and Alternating Current

July 14: Historical Fiction Excerpts and The Book Wheel

July 15: Grab the Lapels and History from a Woman’s Perspective

Laura_in_Black_01(2)Laura Ellen Scott is the author of several novels including Death Wishing, a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans, The Juliet, a western about the search for a cursed emerald in Death Valley, and the New Royal Mysteries series set in a fictional college/prison town in Ohio. The first New Royal Mystery is The Mean Bone in Her Body, will be released in late 2016. Born and raised in Northern Ohio, Laura now lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and teaches creative writing at George Mason University.


Beautiful Ape Girl Baby book blog tour

Beautiful Ape Girl Baby book blog tour

BAGB Tour Banner (Correct Dates)

I’m so excited about the forthcoming book blog tour for author Heather Fowler! Heather is celebrating the forthcoming release of her first novel, Beautiful Ape Girl Baby. Forward Reviews describes the book beautifully:

Irreverent, unconventional, and hyperreal, Beautiful Ape Girl Baby tracks an ape born to wealthy parents. Heather Fowler’s dark, humorous novel is both the story of a psychological experiment gone wrong and an aching portrayal of a seventeen-year-old in search of love.

Born with the looks and violence of a primate, Beautiful is raised on a compound that includes friends who are paid to praise her, designer clothes, and a mother and father who shield her with elaborate lies. No one dares risk her displeasure, so when she escapes on a road trip to meet her idol—radio host of the Strong as Animal Woman Show—it’s with the reckless confidence born of having never been held responsible for her impulsive behavior. Beautiful’s instincts cause mayhem, while her genuine belief in her own superiority colors her perspective.

For a whole week, some amazing book bloggers will be celebrating the release of Heather’s novel by inviting her into their webspace to talk about this funny, kick-ass novel filled with magical-realism. You can watch the book trailer, which has snippets of the film discussed at the third tour stop!


Click the cover to pre-order now!


Monday, May 30th: Ever wonder how an author gets her book published? Heather visits Read Her Like An Open Book to talk about the long road to publishing Beautiful Ape Girl Baby, the novel’s origins, and when to follow your instincts in the book business.

Tuesday, May 31st: What exactly are authors thinking when they’re writing? At Lectito, you can read an excerpt of Beautiful Ape Girl Baby with footnotes from the author describing her frustrations, what she found funny, and some side tangents.

Wednesday, June 1st: Beautiful Ape Girl Baby develops into a different medium! At The Next Best Book Club blog, Heather describes what it was like watching a scene from her book be made into her short film!

Thursday, June 2nd: What do readers think of Beautiful Ape Girl Baby? Napoleon Split reviews the novel and interviews Heather Fowler.

Friday, June 3rd: TJ at My Book Strings wraps up the tour with a book review and interview. Interested in getting your hands on Beautiful Ape Girl Baby?

File May 14, 7 02 12 PMBio: Heather Fowler is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, librettist, and a novelist. She is the author of four story collections and a book of collaborative poetry written with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Fowler’s stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India,with her work appearing in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, Feminist Studies, and more. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine.


Links to Books:

Virtual Book Tour: The Brigid Series


Tour BannerAugust 17th: The Literary Counselor

August 18th: Barb Taub

August 19th: JMWW

August 20th: Limelight Literature

August 21st: The Next Best Book Club

I also want to thank the blogger at Ana’s Lair for reviewing Once A Goddess and Fiery Arrow as part of this tour!

To learn a LOT more about the first book, Once A Goddess, check out Sheila’s last virtual book tour!

FAAbout Fiery Arrow: Brigid, a gifted druid priestess, seeks to preserve Ireland’s ancient religion when Christianity broaches its shores. When she confronts Patrick, the charismatic leader of the newly-arrived Christians, she realizes they have a shared history, tied together by a bond formed lifetimes before. As Brigid persists in reminding him of their past and of his promise to help her revive the Ancient Ones, Patrick denies the deal he made as a lonely slave boy to a goddess he believed to be only in his imagination.

ChurckAbout Church of the Oak: When Brigid starts a rigorous druid training school called Cill Dara, she’s threatened with a lifetime of slavery. In order to survive, she must span two cultures and two faiths when the Christians and druids decide to teach their students together, an undertaking that places her in the priest Patrick’s path once again. Fifth-century Ireland is the backdrop for their turbulent lives, a place where history and myth live side by side.

Sheila Lamb received an MFA in Creative Writing  from Queens University of Charlotte and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. Her short stories have earned Pushcart and storySouth Million Writers Award nominations. She is a writer-in-residence at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities and is a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Sheila is the author of the Brigid of Ireland historical fantasy series, which tells the story of Brigid as goddess, druid, and saint.  Sheila has traveled  throughout Ireland and participated in the Achill Archaeology Field School. She loves Irish history, family genealogy, and is easily distracted by primary source documents. She lives, teaches, and writes in the mountains of Virginia.Author Photo

Once a Goddess: Virtual Book Tour



For the sake of peace, Brigid of the supernatural Túatha dé Danann enters into an arranged marriage with Bres, the next chieftain of the enemy Fomorian tribe, whose iron weapons and brute strength challenge Danann magic. Brigid is told to spy for her people, and to keep the source of their powers secret, dangerous tasks that complicate her desire of making the best of her forced union.

Sacrificing her own hope for love, Brigid faces the Fomorians alone. She must confront her rival, Morrigan, who tries to manipulate the tribe against her. At the same time, Brigid suspects that Bres is breaking the truce for reasons she doesn’t understand. When his tyranny threatens the very existence of the Danann, Brigid has no choice but to risk her life in order to save her people.
Set in a time when myths were reality, Once A Goddess brings the legend of Ireland’s magical Túatha dé Danann to life.
You can get your copy of Once a Goddess HERE!


Monday: Stop at TNBBC blog where Sheila takes part in the “Where Writers Write” feature.

Tuesday: Head over to The Book Cove for an interview focused on the content of Once a Goddess.

Wednesday: The blog Kelly Smith Reviews hosts the tour, and you can read an excerpt of Once a Goddess and read insights into some of Sheila’s decisions for the novel.

Thursday: Limelight Literature welcomes Sheila’s explanations of the two Brigids that exist: Brigid in Christianity and Brigid pre-Christianity.

Friday: The tour ends at JMWW where Sheila describes what it’s like having her book labeled too fantasy for literature, and too literary for fantasy!


Sheila Lamb received an MFA in Creative Writing  from Queens University of Charlotte and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. Her stories have earned Pushcart and storySouth Million Writers Award nominations. She’s also the journal editor for Santa Fe Writers Project.

Sheila has traveled  throughout Ireland and participated in the Achill Archaeology Field School. She loves Irish history, family genealogy, and is easily distracted by primary source documents. She lives, teaches, and writes in the mountains of Virginia.

Virtual Book Tour: Man of Clay


In the wilds of Civil War-era Arkansas, plantation owner John Crowley has lost faith in the war and in the South. With his daughter Clara, he awaits the return of his son from the War, filling his time with plans of a scientific journey of discovery. Enter Emet, a golem, with a name but no memory, sold to Crowley as a slave and brought to the plantation. The “unfinished Adam” learns from Othello, a slave driver and master storyteller, while bearing the brutality of the plantation overseer, Mr. Winfrey, and his cruel sons. After tragedy strikes, Master John devises a plan to leave the South behind, to destroy it entirely, including his most trusted slaves. Emet struggles to obey his master as he tries to save Othello and the other slaves. With elements of magical realism and a dash of steampunk, this funny, engaging story redefines what Southern Literature is capable of being.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule:

MONDAY: Read why CL Bledsoe became a writer and how he got to where he is with his writing today at Kelcey Parker’s blog PhD in Creative Writing.

TUESDAY: [PANK] welcomes CL’s virtual book tour and shares an excerpt of Man of Clay that includes author insights into characters, history, and personal inspirations (like a grumpy rat).

WEDNESDAY: Why do the characters talk like that? CL explores regional idioms from his youth in Arkansas and how they play a role in Man of Clay over at Book Puke.

THURSDAY: The Next Best Book Club blog is home to an interview with CL about the content of his novel, including some wild, real-life inspiration for characters.

FRIDAY: For the last stop of the tour, Man of Clay heads over to Out Where the Buses Don’t Run. CL describes the Big John slave narratives in his novel and why storytelling is such a big part of his life.

CL Bledsoe is the author of four poetry collections, one short story collection, and five novels, including the Necro-Files series and the forthcoming Man of Clay (now available for pre-order!). His stories, poems, essays, plays, and reviews have been published in hundreds of literary journals, including Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, New York Quarterly, Gargoyle, Nimrod, Arkansas Review, Pank, Potomac Review, and many others. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize thirteen times, Best of the Net four times, and has had two stories selected as Notable Stories of the year by Story South’s Million Writers Award. Bledsoe currently lives in Alexandria, VA, with his daughter.

Virtual Book Tour: The Abortionist’s Daughter


In 1910, before her father was convicted of accidentally killing a woman during an illegal abortion, Melanie Daniels was considered the most marriageable girl in her tiny Adirondack village. Now, six years later, the “Killer Doc” has been released from prison and the family are social outcasts. To cope with her fear of ending up an “old maid”, Melanie loses herself inside glamorous motion picture magazines. Until she meets James, a handsome stranger who promises adventure and a chance to leave the stifling small town life behind her. Shortly after they elope to New York, Melanie meets James’s ‘friend’ Gladys Dumbrille, a Broadway actress, and discovers he is not the man he seemed. In an attempt to re-invent herself, Melanie lies her way into Gladys’s new show. Their lives become intertwined in ways neither of them could have expected.

Excerpt + Insights

“Of the two, I prefer James.” [1] He took a step closer to her, bent slightly, and kissed her on the lips. Melanie [2] froze in confusion. She knew what she was supposed to do—­slap his face and call him names—but that wasn’t what she wanted to do. Not at all.

“How was that?” he asked, dropping his voice. He looked into her eyes.

“Are you making love to me?” [3]


“I liked it,” she replied, tilting her face up for more, thrilled with her own daring.

“I’m glad,” he murmured.  He kissed her again, his lips soft, his mouth tasting of a hint of split pea soup. He put his nose in the hair just behind her left ear and took a deep breath.  The feeling of the tip of his nose on her skin was electric.  [4] It had been so long—years—since she had felt a man’s touch.  And that had been back at school, before the trial, a few chastely clumsy kisses in cloakrooms and in stuffy parlors.  Paul Clyde didn’t count.

“You smell so good,” he said, and kissed her again.  “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”  He lifted a finger and gently slid it from her chin to the top of her collar.  Melanie quivered.  She was afraid to make a move on her own. Half of her was awash with pleasure such as she had never known, the other half watched critically. [5] What would Olga Petrova do now? An image flashed through her mind of a predatory movie actress in black satin dishabille with her hair down her back. [6]Again, she knew she was supposed to do.  Melt against him (that was the alternative to slapping his face), but she couldn’t.  Her hands hung uselessly at her sides.

“Mr. Throckmorton, you shouldn’t be doing this,” she whispered.

“I know.  I can’t help myself.”  He kissed her again, a long, slow, lingering kiss.

“Please—please stop.”  Her words came out a little gasp.  She didn’t want him to stop.

Mr. Throckmorton took a step back, smiling, holding her arms.  “You are a peach of a girl, Miss Daniels.”

“Thank you.”  Melanie averted her face.  “I don’t know what you must think of me.”  Oh, she wanted him to kiss her again!  And again and again.

His left hand ran up and down her upper arm.  She felt as if little shivers of desire were following along with it.  “I think very highly of you.  That’s why I kissed you.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I’d like to see you again, Miss Daniels.  Soon.”  His hand closed around her upper arm.

It was an outrageous request.  He had taken liberties with her.  “I’d like that.”

“Could I come by your house tomorrow afternoon?  I have an appointment in the morning at the paper mill.”

“No, no, let’s meet here.”

Mr. Throckmorton gave her a quizzical look.  “Say, are you afraid of having your folks meet me?”

Melanie was flustered, because it was the truth.  [7]“They—they—I’m not ready for that, Mr. Throckmorton.  Please don’t ask me any more.”

“All right, Miss Daniels.”  He shrugged.  “Tomorrow, then.”

“Two o’clock?”

“Two o’clock.  I’ll count the hours.”

She insisted on walking home alone.  Her emotions were in a  tumult. “Nice girls” didn’t let men kiss them until they were engaged. In fact, more than one Muller’s Corners boy had been roped into marriage because of an errant kiss in the moonlight.  And a traveling salesman…goodness knows what sort of women he consorted with.  But he seemed to be almost as surprised as she was by what was happening between them.

Melanie had no words to express what she was feeling.  [8] She could not recall anything from the books she read that described this surging physical excitement. Oh, sure, she reflected, the novel she was currently reading, Lady Celia and the Temptress spoke of “voices husky with passion,” “pulsing necks,” and “burning lips.” But all of their passion seemed to die below the collarbone.

The smell of James’s cologne and the taste of his mouth were still with her. Every now and then she lifted the sleeve of her jacket to her face and sniffed it. [9]“James Louis Throckmorton, James Louis Throckmorton,” she chanted in rhythm with her steps as she swung along the muddy road. “Melanie Daniels Throckmorton.”  For the first time in years, the loneliness that she carried in the pit of her stomach had been replaced by something else…anticipation.  This was life, this was real, this was altogether different than the cocoon she had been in for six years.  [10] His face when he looked at her…she could not help smiling.

Insight Footnotes:

1.  James’s name is James Louis Throckmorton.  I know it’s a silly name, but I love the sound of it, so there.  He is a habitual liar who’s known by many names, as Melanie comes to find out after they arrive in New York City.  This scene is set beforehand, along a quiet road in the Adirondack Mountains in 1916, which is another reason I thought his name fits.

2) I love the name Melanie.  Several earlier drafts of other manuscripts have main characters named Melanie. Later I found out that Melanie Daniels is also the name of the Tippi Hedren character in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”.  Too damn bad, I love the name.  Like the title The Abortionist’s Daughter, she can’t be called anything else.

Before her father was sent to jail for accidentally killing a woman during a botched abortion, the Daniels family was ranked high on the scale of their small village’s society.  Her mother still maintains the dignity she had before the trial, and sees their family as fine people.  At the beginning of the story, she understands far more about her husband’s actions than his daughter does.

3) “Making love” meant flirting back then.  One of the fun things about writing a historical novel is replicating the way people speak.  I’m a natural mimic and it’s always enjoyable to write in other people’s voices.  It helps me get into their heads, as well.

The writing of the early 1910s to 1930s is some of my favorite writing.  It tends to be clear and to the point, as in Sinclair Lewis, or  M. Somerset Maugham.  One of my goals as a writer is to use language to say exactly what I mean.

4) When I was first dating, it was all completely new.  I had been fat in high school, then at 21 I lost 100 pounds.  I knew nothing about dating, sex, flirting, anything!  Those first years were amazing, experiencing so much for the first time.  I drew on those memories to create Melanie’s reactions.

5) There has always been this duality in me.  Something happens, I’m experiencing it, but at the same time I stand apart.  When I was a teenager, crying about some boy who thought of me as “just a friend,” another part of my brain went: “Never had she been in such pain.  She reeled around the room as she cried!  Pain crushed her heart” etc.  I’ve never been able to turn that off completely.  Sometimes in the middle of a crisis, in the back of my mind: “this will make great material”!

6) Insane movie buff here!  In high school I lived my life through old movies.  They remain one of my main interests.  Movies pre-1920 were for the most part melodramatic, with “good girls” and “bad women” (note the distinction; innocence was the most important quality a girl could have).  Olga Petrova was an actual star, billed as “Mme. Petrova”.  In reality she was born Muriel Harding, in England. Melanie idolizes actresses of the stage and screen, living vicariously through them the same way I did.

7) Melanie wants to keep James to herself, in part because she knows deep down he’s “disreputable.” I didn’t want my parents to meet my boyfriends, because they rarely lived up to my family’s standards. I was supposed to marry a CEO.  Until I met my husband, introducing my parents to my boyfriends never went well. Usually after the guy left, their opinions would be expressed in no uncertain terms.

8) This was one of the themes that made me write the book. What is it like to experience sex, sexual feelings, etc., where there is no vocabulary for them? NONE. You could look at a medical textbook, but as a woman, you had no access to pornography or anything mildly salacious. Men tended to be severely uneducated as well, some not knowing what to do on their wedding nights.  Some couples found each other’s genitals disgusting. Often, for women, the idea of having pleasure during sex was unthinkable. More so because men didn’t know about foreplay or that their wives were supposed to enjoy it. Melanie first sees James’s testicles and they remind her of “an funny mauve corsage, awkwardly pinned on.”

When she walks along trying to understand how she feels, the reader will note there is quite a bit of interior monologuing in this story. We see everything from Melanie’s POV. It’s considered an old-fashioned device. Again, it goes to my love for early 20th century literature. There’s probably only one-quarter of what older novels have, however!

9)  I love the way my husband smells. Smell is a huge part of physical attraction. I smell my husband’s pillow. After my father’s death, my mother admitted she went into a closet where his shirts were kept and buried her face in them.

10) Melanie is isolated and in modern terms, suffers from deep depression.  I’m bipolar, and my depressions flatten me.  At those times I feel alone, lonely. Everything darkens. She does not suffer the same level of depression I do.

ELISA DeCARLO was raised in Westchester County, New York. Her first novel, The Devil You Say (Avon, 1994) won both “Locus Best First Novel” and “Amazing Stories Best First Novel”, and received the CaB Magazine Special Achievement Award. Its prequel, Strong Spirits, was published by Avon in 1995.  Her humorous essays have been collected in the 2002 Random House anthology “Life’s A Stitch: The Best of Women’s Contemporary Humor”; Morrow Books “The Best of The New York Times’s Metropolitan Diary”; and Freedom Voices Books “Goddesses We Ain’t”.

Elisa’s been a working journalist, an audiobook abridger, magazine staff writer, and comic performer.  For 10 years she sold plus-size vintage clothing, both online and privately.  She has a keen knowledge of both fashion and show business history.

Virtual Book Tour: When We Became Three

Grab the Lapels is so happy to be a host on Jill Caryl Weiner‘s blog tour for her book When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family. Jill’s latest work is described as a way to chronicle the blissful chaos of pregnancy and parenting with this one-of-a-kind family journal. Together with your partner, record your journey through parenthood and your child’s transformation from baby bump to first birthday and beyond. A quirky, colorful memory book for the whole family, this keepsake will have you laughing, reflecting, and reminiscing for years to come.
Below, Jill answers questions for GTL’s “Meet the Writer” series. Thanks, Jill!

What kinds of writing do you do? 
Professionally I’m a freelance journalist. I write a lot about parenting and education, sports, New York City and people for publications and websites including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Mom365 and many other publications and websites, but I’m also moving into book writing. I broke into books with a whimsical twist on the baby memory journal called When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family because I saw that as a big gap in baby memory books. So I wrote one that parents would have fun filling out, that told their story as well as baby’s with all that great stuff that the baby is going to want to know when he or she is a little older. The book’s getting great reviews from Family Circle, Huffington Post. etc. Carpool Goddess just said it was “the most clever and creative baby journal I’ve ever seen.”  I hope everyone gives it as gifts for the holiday or baby showers, everything. Now, I am currently writing a book proposal about a former drug kingpin. I wrote about him for the New York Times and it’s just a fascinating redemption story. Yes, it’s a lot different than a baby book but I’m really excited about it, too.
In what ways has academia shaped your writing?  
My mom was a teacher; a reading specialist but she taught every level from K to college, so she brought academia home to my family. Books filled our apartment, my dad was constantly building book cases for them, and I think I fell in love with the sounds of words before I even really knew how to talk. My mom constantly quoted poetry–Rudyard Kipling, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Shakespeare–and I’d wake up with and go to sleep with Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Versus. Those poems opened up my world and added depth and perspective to my thinking; I gained a real love of and feel for language. She also told the greatest stories; every character had a backstory and conflicts, and so many of those stories were bittersweet.

In what ways has life outside of academia shaped your writing?
Everything shaped my writing: playing sports, watching movies, where I lived and everyone in my life. I grew up in the Wild West of Brooklyn in an apartment at least two rooms too small. There were so many contradictions at home and in the neighborhood; safety and love, yet chaos and danger; so many ironies, so many stories, so much fun and optimism yet heartbreaking sadness and danger lurking everywhere. I was the youngest and so many things just didn’t make sense. We broke rules; we followed rules.. All that made me both confident and insecure; it forced me to try to make sense of the world, which is very challenging and in a lot of ways what writing is about. Writing was a safe place where I could hide or try to make sense of the world on the page. Though the apartment, the buildings and the neighborhood were crowded; people always watching you or ignoring you, writing brought me to a private place; there was always plenty of room on the page.


What was the first piece of writing you did that you remember being happy with?
I grew up writing and it was often a sense of pride for me. I guess when my first big investigative piece ran on the cover of the Metropolitan Section in the Village Voice that was really exciting.  The research and the words came together on the page and it felt important. (Although there was a layout error so my byline was hard to read against the black and white photo). Then my first essay in the New York Times made me really proud. That piece was an essay I sent in cold and I knew I was the only person in the world who could write that particular piece that way. It was funny and showed how talented and knowledgeable women could be in sports including football yet men would still think that women couldn’t really play. It was about playing co-ed football and what it takes to catch the game-winning touchdown. It ran on Super Bowl Sunday and there was a big illustration to go with it. My friends and I played football in Central Park that day before watching the Super Bowl together and it was really fun to share the piece with them.

How do your friends and family respond to your writing?

My friends and family are generally really supportive people. My mom is involved in a lot of my writing. I bounce ideas off of her, she’s a wonderful editor, advisor, listener. My husband and kids tolerate all my writing questions and come up with their own suggestions too. Which is fun. Of course the stories of support aren’t as interesting as the others. I have a few of those, too, but they’re for another time.

Virtual Book Tour: Her Own Vietnam


For decades, Della Brown has tried to forget her service as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam. But in the middle of the safe, sane life she’s built for herself, Della is ambushed by history. She receives a letter from a fellow combat nurse, a woman who was once her closest friend, and all the memories come flooding back: Della’s nightmarish introduction to the Twelfth Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi, where every bed held a patient hideously wounded in ways never mentioned in nursing school. The day she learned how to tell young men they were about to die. The night her chopper pilot boyfriend failed to return from his mission.

Through these harrowing memories the reader encounters Della’s younger selves—the scared, naive nursing school graduate learning combat medicine on the job; then the traumatized young woman freshly returned from horrors no one wants her to speak about, masking her anguish with alcohol and cynical stoicism.

Even now, as a well-adjusted adult whose life is filled with meaningful work and the company of loved ones, Della has yet to come to terms with her painful history. She must also confront the fissures in her family life, the mystery of her father’s disappearance, the things mothers and daughters cannot—maybe should not—know about one another, and the lifelong repercussions of a single mistake.

An unflinching depiction of war and its personal costs, Her Own Vietnam is also a portrait of a woman in midlife — a mother, a nurse, and long ago a soldier.


MONDAY: Over at Kelcey Parker’s blog, PhD in Creative Writing, read Lynn’s Q & A about how she became a writer.

TUESDAY: Lynn discusses her early years as a political activist, during the Vietnam War, at Book Puke.

WEDNESDAY: Guiltless Reading welcomes Lynn, who shares an excerpt of Her Own Vietnam and includes author insights.

THURSDAY:  What would you tell your 22-year-old self about forgiveness? This is a question Della Brown faces for nearly three decades. At The Next Best Book Club blog, several women answer this question.

*The tour also takes a little detour to visit Amy Sue Nathan‘s blog today.

FRIDAY: The tour finishes up at [PANK] where Lynn answers questions about the content of her novel in interview format.

Lynn Kanter is the author of the novels Her Own Vietnam (2014, Shade Mountain Press), The Mayor of Heaven (1997) and On Lill Street(1992), both published by Third Side Press. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Lost Orchard (SUNY Press), Breaking Up is Hard to Do, and The Time of Our Lives: Women Write on Sex After 40(both Crossing Press), and the literary journal Verbsap. Her nonfiction has appeared inReferential Magazine and the anthologies Coming Out of Cancer (Seal Press), Testimonies (Alyson Publications) and Confronting Cancer, Constructing Change (Third Side Press).

Lynn is a lifelong activist for feminist and other progressive causes, and has the T-shirts to prove it. Since 1992 Lynn has worked as a writer for the Center for Community Change, a national social justice organization. She lives with her wife in Washington, DC.

Virtual Book Tour: List


List is a curative mix of satire and sympathy. In these glimpses of middle America, lists order the characters’ lives, capturing their obsessions, cataloging their complaints, accounting for their desires, and serving as prayers toward ways of life that might work. Check out ratings and reviews, and add your own, of List on Goodreads!


Monday: Matt stops at Kelcey Parker’s blog, PhD in Creative Writing, to answer her questions about how he became a writer.

Tuesday: List ventures over to Book Puke where Matt lets readers into his brain with an excerpt + insights.

Wednesday: At [PANK] blog, you’ll get the answers to some probing questions about the content of List.

Thursday: Over at Words, Notes, & Fiction, read Matt’s list about the lists in List. Is that a meta-list?

Friday: The List tour concludes at The Next Best Book Club blog, where I ask what happened to Generation X using a close reading of Matt’s novel.

Matthew Roberson is the author of three novels, 1998.6,Impotent, and List, and the editor of a critical book,Musing the Mosaic. His short fiction has appeared in journals such as Fourteen Hills, Fiction International, andWestern Humanities Review. He teaches at Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

“The stories in List succeed by mixing the sting of satire with its antidote, a healthy dose of sympathy. While the stories skewer the ambitions and materialistic desires of readers, they also create an emotional landscape replete with the hilarity and humility of human vulnerability. This collection has a heart as big as the great Midwest.”
–Lynn K. Kilpatrick, author of In the House

From Here


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Monday, September 15th: Jen discusses how she became a writer at the blog PhD in Creative Writing.

Tuesday, September 16th: Jen shares an excerpt from a story in her new collection, and you get into the wild insights of this talented writer, at The Next Best Book Club blog.

Wednesday, September 17th: Over at [PANK], read an interview with Jen that answers some questions about her From Here.

Thursday, September 18th: Book Puke invites Jen to share some of the drawings and doodles that happen on the pages of her work in the process of writing.

Friday, September 19th: The tour’s final stop is HTML Giant. Here, Jen discusses endings (or non-endings) of short stories and how the last point on the page affects the reader.



Jen Michalski is author of the novel The Tide King, winner of the 2012 Big Moose Prize, and other works listed below. She is the host of the Starts Here! reading series, and interviews writers at The Nervous Breakdown. She also is the editor of the anthology City Sages: Baltimore, which Baltimore Magazine called a “Best of Baltimore” in 2010. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and tweets at @MichalskiJen. Find her at

The twelve stories in From Here explore the dislocations and intersections of people searching, running away, staying put. Their physical and emotional landscapes run the gamut, but in the end, they’re all searching for a place to call home.