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Poppies are a National Book Award Finalist, New York Times Bestsellers, USA Today Bestsellers, a Book of the Month Club Main Selection, a Globe & Mail Top 100, Indie Book award winners, Target and Costco Book Picks, and more.
We love connecting smart readers with smart books so we’re launching a new #PreFridayReads column. Each Thursday a Tall Poppy author will recommend a book she loved. So if you’re looking for a great recommendation for your #FridayReads and you 2017 Poppy Reading Challenge, check back each Thursday.
We’ll help you turn the page …
Is reading more on your list of resolutions/goals for the new year? If it is, we’ve got a fun reading challenge for you.
And please consider reviewing and recommending the books you read and enjoy. It’s the best gift you can give an author.
Today we’re marking the one-year anniversary of Kerstin March’s novel, BRANCHING OUT, which is the sequel to FAMILY TREES.
Nestled along the shores of Lake Superior, Meyers Orchard is where Shelby Meyers found unexpected love and strength—and now must forge a new life on her own terms…
Marriage marks both a happy ending and a new chapter for Shelby Meyers. She and Ryan Chambers have overcome tremendous odds to stand together in her grandparents’ orchard on the bluffs of Lake Superior, exchanging vows. Still, there are challenges old and new to contend with. Shelby struggles to find her niche among Ryan’s prominent Chicago family, while her own mother remains unreliable and unpredictable, impacting her life even from afar.
Though Shelby’s love for Ryan is as deep-rooted as the orchard, her rocky upbringing makes her hesitant to start a family. Before she can reconcile those feelings, a personal tragedy throws Shelby’s confidence, and her marriage, into crisis. To move forward she’ll have to go back—to her Lake Superior hometown and her mother, and to secrets she could never have guessed at, as she resolves to branch out on her own…
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
It’s that time of year again. The trees are sparkling with lights, doorways are dressed in ribbons and wreaths, and on the radio Perry Como croons, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”
As I write this, a snowstorm is brewing outside while I’m curled up in a big chair in the living room. I’m thinking about the word “home.” Literally speaking, a home is the place where people live their lives. Some people reflect upon the past and their childhood when they think of home. And for others, it is that intuitive sense of well-being and the feeling of being “at home.” For me, home also means family.
Looking back to last year, I think it was fitting that my novel Branching Out was released in December because it’s a story about importance of “home,” as well as family roots and how a person’s upbringing influences their life decisions.
Branching Out is the second book in the “Meyers Orchard” series, which began with Family Trees and a character named Shelby Meyers. Home is a safe haven for Shelby. She grew up under the care of her grandparents in a small northern Wisconsin town on Lake Superior, a place that was a blessing for her as a child, but is now a crutch that prevents her from moving on as a young adult. She meets an aspiring photographer named Ryan Chambers, an “out-of-towner” who’s grappling with his own sense of home and belonging. Over time, he inspires her to take a chance on a life that exists beyond the limits of her hometown.
“If your dream is to continue the life your family started for you here, then embrace it,” [Ryan] said gently. “But if it is to do something more, then don’t be afraid to pull up your roots and follow your own dreams. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I’m here.” (Family Trees)
When I set out to write the sequel, Branching Out, I wanted to further explore the relationship between Shelby and her estranged mother, Jackie. It was a fascinating process as a writer, because I could really delve into what motivated Jackie to mistreat Shelby in the first novel. I realized that while her actions were unforgivable, her intentions had always been good. Jackie wanted Shelby to have something she couldn’t provide – a loving home. And when Jackie and Shelby return home during the holidays, with Shelby now married and living in Chicago, there is a shift between them.
“You’re never gone, Shelby. Your presence is everywhere in that house, as it should be,” [Jackie] said. “I’m comfortable there because, for the first time in a very long time, it feels like home to me as well.”
Shelby let that sink in for a moment, the idea of home. It was ironic that her mother was now the one who felt settled on the family property, while Shelby was the one who felt detached. (Branching Out)
In Branching Out, when life becomes too much for Shelby, she retreats back to that safe haven. In fiction, as in life, there are times when you try to return to a place from your past, but it’s never truly the same. Life evolves. I decided that Shelby needed return to the comfort of her childhood home to escape a crisis, only to realize that her feelings of being “at home” had changed. In that moment, she was able to reconcile her past with her future.
The ferry was making its way to the marina, where she could see a line of cars waiting for their turn to cross Chequamegon Bay to Madeline Island. Farther out on the lake, a cluster of half a dozen sailboats were catching the last of the day’s winds before twilight set in. Their sails were full and bright against the steel-blue Lake Superior waters. [Shelby] heard the call of a gull in the distance and children laughing as they raced barefoot through the grass behind her.
She was home. (Branching Out)
Wishing you a happy holiday, from my home to yours.
Kerstin March is the author of Family Trees and Branching Out (Kensington Publishing, 2015), which were also released in German by LYX Egmont. She a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, and The Loft Literary Center. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and their three children.
Facebook: @ authorkerstinmarch
It’s the time of year when we agonize over finding the perfect gifts that show our nearest and dearest how much we care. If you have a book lover (or author!) on your list, the Tall Poppies have some ideas for you!
- Books: (Obviously!) Gift them your favorite titles of 2016, or if you’re not sure what books are up their alley, a gift card to your favorite indy bookstore or big box book vendor will always be appreciated. If your reader prefers e-books or audio, snoop around to find their format of choice.
- Warm beverages: Premium coffee, tea, or cocoa, along with their associated gadgets (and snarky mugs) find happy homes with readers. Nothing staves off the winter blues like a “cuppa” and a good book!
- Decadent throw blankets: The chair next to the fireplace is the reader’s natural winter habitat! Help them curl up in style!
- Bookplates: Is your reader an avid collector? Personalized bookplates or embossing tools that elegantly tag the volumes in their home library are a lovely and unusual gift.
- Literary scarves, gloves, etc.: New companies such as Storiarts and Litographs have infinity scarves, tees, fingerless gloves, and more with classic texts. If your reader is a passionate Austen fan, you can help her take Pride and Prejudice wherever she goes! Another neat feature of these sites are customizable items… fantastic gifts for authors to commemorate their work!
- Snazzy book marks and book lights: Fantastic stocking stuffers!
- Candles: Helps invoke a lovely ambiance for reading. Consider “old book” scented candles or those with flickering wooden wicks for a nice touch!
- Literary perfume: Yes, this is a thing! There are scents matched with books (A Room with a View and Game of Thrones!) as well as “eau de paperback” and “dead writers perfume” to be found with a simple online search.
- Book art: You can find beautiful creations made from classic books that will be appreciated on any book lover’s shelf. Some are folded into words, others are carved into designs–all of them are unique and lovely!
- Is your book lover an author, too? The kindest gift you can give is a review! The feedback on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and other sites make all help your favorite authors gain visibility!
So share with us, what other gifts have been hits with your bibliophile friends and family?
Today we’re celebrating the release of Amy Impellizzeri’s second novel, Secrets of Worry Dolls. Here’s a bit about the book (isn’t that cover gorgeous?!):
According to Mayan tradition, if you whisper your troubles to the Worry Dolls, they will do the worrying instead of you–therefore, it follows that Worry Dolls are the keepers of a great many secrets . . .
On the eve of the end of the world–according to the Mayan calendar–Mari Guarez Roselli’s secrets are being unraveled by her daughter, Lu.
Lu’s worry dolls are at-capacity as she tries to outrun the ghosts from her past–including loved ones stolen on 9/11–by traveling through her mother’s homeland of Guatemala, to discover the painful reasons behind her own dysfunctional childhood, and why she must trust in the magic of the legend
Amy shared her thoughts on release day …
I’m so excited to have Melissa Marino here today. Her debut, SO TWISTED, came out November 1, 2016. It’s fun, swoony, and a little bit steamy (okay, not just a little bit). Read more about her first novel below.
Callie has found the perfect job. As nanny for a single dad and his adorable daughter, she can pay off her student loans and live in a nice house in the heart of Chicago. There’s just one problem-her new boss. Definitely no dad bod here. Just six-plus feet of raw, sexual energy. Whoever heard of a dad being so hot? read more…
Today on the Tall Poppy blog, Amy E. Reichert is sharing some fun facts she learned while writing her newest book, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER (May 2017). Here’s a bit about the story.
Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.
Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.
Isaac Banks has spent years singlehandedly trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country from California where chance led them to Sanna’s orchard.
Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident, leaving her to care for him while running the orchard. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.
Here’s Amy to share her thoughts.
THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER is my third novel. That’s hard to wrap my head around. While writing, I learned a few things about my own writing process, plus some fun facts about the novel’s subject matter. So, dear reader, here’s what I learned…
- Everything in my writing life is better when I have a detailed synopsis to work from. With the help of my dear friend, Karma Brown–who helped me ask the right questions–I knew most of the story before I started writing page one. I knew my character arcs, I knew my setting, I sort of knew my timeline (I need to work on that), and I knew the big plot points. I still had plenty of surprises as I wrote, but having a map to follow made the entire process so much more fun.
- Most of California doesn’t have fireflies. This saddens me, but made for a sweet scene in my book.
- The US is the only country that refers to apple juice as cider. Anywhere else, if people are talking about cider, they mean hard cider, not the non-alcoholic stuff. And to be very clear, the titular cider in my book is definitely the hard stuff.
- I write very lean drafts. I like to make sure my plot and core character arcs work, then I add in all the meaty descriptions and internal drama. I really hate to cut words or rewrite large chunks of text–so this is my work around. I also come from a tech writing background, so I like to write efficiently. In cider, I added 20,000 new words during revisions–that’s 25% of the book.
- I can write a moderately decent first draft in about four months. This is good information to know when you’re on a tight deadline.
- Prohibition changed the apple industry in the US. Before prohibition, orchards were comprised of eating and cider apples, but once prohibition took effect, the cider apple trees were replaced with more eating apple trees. Therefore, many American ciders are made with eating apples rather than the more complex cider varieties. This is changing–which will result in a wider range of ciders in the future.
- Cider is closer to wine. IT IS NOT BEER! I feel quite strongly about this.
- I couldn’t do this without my fantastic editor, Kate Dresser. Her feedback and guidance is always the right combination of constructive without ever making me feel like I’m a talentless hack. Without her, I would need to write many more drafts to achieve the same result.
- There are no chain businesses in Door County north of Sturgeon Bay (the last big city as you enter the peninsula). This is one of my favorite things about Door County–every business is local!
- No matter how much time you give me to revise, there will always be at least one all-nighter per book. There’s something about that late-night, early-morning adrenaline kick that leads to some amazing words.
Amy E. Reichert, author of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE, and THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her local library’s board of directors.
As parents, we’re not supposed to have favorites between our kids. Not that I have personal experience with this – I have one. He’s definitely my favorite! I do have two cats, though, and while I’ll adamantly swear that I love them equally, there probably is a slight bias (I have a weak spot for the bigger boy and his soft, over-groomed belly).
As authors, we have lots and lots of kids. Every book has a motley collection of main characters, secondary characters, and even those incidental characters you pass in a scene with little more than a second thought. They’re all there for a reason and they were all “birthed” with love. read more…
Whether you’re hoping to publish your first novel or a veteran author looking to enhance your career, we’re thrilled to announce a new resource for all on the Tall Poppy blog today! AUTHOR IN PROGRESS — a book full of tips, tricks and valuable insights — was created by and put together thanks to Writer’s Digest, Writer Unboxed, and a dedicated group of authors who share their own experiences. Here’s the book’s editor, Therese Walsh, with more on the project and the book (which includes some of our own Tall Poppy writers, too)…
It’s Tuesday, which here on the Tall Poppy Blog means it’s time to celebrate awesome books and their fantastic authors! This week we cheer loudly for Aimie K. Runyan’s fantastic follow up to PROMISED TO THE CROWN. Welcome, DUTY TO THE CROWN! Aimie stopped by to share her experience and reasons for revisiting her characters!
Confession time: I never liked sequels. When I was a kid, so often my favorite movies and stories would get revisited and I ended up not only dissatisfied with the new installment, but also finding less enjoyment in the original for reasons I still can’t fully articulate. An aversion to selling out that tainted the original is my best guess. read more…
We’re excited to welcome Laura McNeill to the Tall Poppy blog today! Author of two suspense novels, Laura’s latest–SISTER DEAR–hit shelves April 2016, and RT Book Reviews had this to say about it: “… it’s an original twist on the wrongly accused victim trying to exonerate herself, and will keep readers interested throughout.” We’ve read it and couldn’t agree more!
Here’s more about SISTER DEAR … read more…